MOULTRIE -- As of Thursday, agribusinesses using their own trucks to ship their products might realize some savings in standardized registration fees thanks to a new Georgia law ran home in the Senate by Sen. John Bulloch, R-Ochlocknee.

"It tries to make some standardization for these trucks that are hauling their own products or their customers' products, and that's the only thing they're using it for is to haul those products," Bulloch said.

If a gin has a cotton module truck crossing state lines, the new law will lower the registration fee from $400 to $31, for instance. Also, any truck that exclusively hauls agricultural products will now have lower International Registration Plan (IRP) fees but at lesser savings.

"For more than 20 years, owners of trucks hauling fertilizer or milk have paid one fee while owners of trucks hauling cotton or nursery plants have paid another" Bulloch said. "Trucks used to transport farm crops will now be able to take advantage of a consistent fee, ranging from $31.00 to $220.00 which could result in savings of up to $400. per truck for some operators," he said.

Local agribusinesses were pleasantly surprised by the potential savings.

Patrick Gibbs Farms of Omega uses two 18-wheelers to ship produce out-of-state.

An IRP tag for those trucks costs from $1,500 to $1,800, said employee Betty Griner.

Funston Gin Co. has five module trucks and pays around $800 for each tag.

"We'll take any savings we can get," said employee Denna Conley.

"It's not a lot of money, but anytime there is a savings ... and it just makes it simpler and standardized as to the tag costs for these trucks," Bulloch said.

"Until you see that there's this discrepancy in there, nobody knows to correct it. It really got brought to our attention by the author of it, Rep. Jay Roberts (of Ocilla). Jay owns a cotton gin."

"Some ginners found out the hard way last season," Roberts said in a release, pointing out that trucks operating in Georgia and across state borders require different registration requirements and fees.

The legislation should have a negligible fiscal impact to the state, but according to Gary W. Black of the Georgia Agribusiness Council "the savings by some operators should be partially offset by others simply purchasing the proper tag." "We wish to thank Rep. Roberts and Sen. Bulloch for their leadership on this important agricultural bill" said Black.

Bulloch agreed.

"It's very little cost to the state or county but puts everybody on an equal playing field," he said.

Trucks used exclusively to transport turfgrass, vegetables, cotton, peanuts or any other farm crop will qualify for the new fee structure.

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