SB 615, the North Carolina Farm Act of 2017, was approved by both the Senate Finance Committee and the Rules and Operations Committee this week. The bill is scheduled to be considered on the Senate floor on Monday. SB 615 would clarify that farm buildings or structures used for agritourism are exempt from county zoning if the farm holds a qualifying farmer sales-tax exemption certificate or is enrolled in the present-use value program. Further, it would clarify the definition of agritourism activities to include weddings, receptions, pick-your-own operations and other events held on a farm because of its rural setting. In accordance with these clarifications, the “farm building” definition provided by the state’s building code would be streamlined. The bill would also remove a redundant statute authorizing counties to zone swine farms that have more than 600,000 pounds steady state live weight; clarify that a farmer does not have to hire professional engineers to close a hog lagoon; incorporate grazing fees into PUV income calculations; and allow for the sale or disposal of animals left at a livestock facility after two months without payment under a boarding contract. NCFB strongly supports this bill.
Finally, the House and Senate began negotiations to finalize the proposed budget for 2017-2019. The two chambers have appointed conference committees to work through the differences in their versions of the budget. It is possible an agreement could be reached shortly.