USDA NASS Seeks Feedback About 2019 Crops

Soybean_fields_at_Applethorpe_FarmDuring the next several weeks, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service will conduct two major mid-year surveys, the June Agricultural Survey and the June Area Survey. The agency will survey 2,000 farms across Virginia to determine crop production and supplies levels in 2019.

“Due to the widespread and significant impact of its results, these are two of the most important and well-known surveys NASS conducts,” said Herman Ellison, Virginia State Statistician. “When growers respond, they provide essential information that helps determine the prospective production and supply of major commodities in the United States for 2019. Everyone who relies on agriculture for their livelihoods is interested in the results.”

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Virginia’s Agricultural Hot Spot is the Shenandoah Valley

Shen valleyVirginia farmers earned $4 billion from the sale of all agriculture products in 2017, and half of that income was generated in the state’s top 10 ag counties, according to recently released findings from the 2017 Census of Agriculture.

“If California has Silicon Valley for tech companies, Virginia has the Shenandoah Valley for agriculture,” commented Tony Banks, commodity marketing specialist for Virginia Farm Bureau Federation. “Augusta and Rockingham counties were heads and shoulders above most other counties in the state for farm income. And the Valley’s Page and Shenandoah counties also are among the top 10.”

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National Poll Finds Mental Health Concerns in Rural Communities are Increasing

field 2Two in five rural adults say stress and mental health have become more of a problem in their communities in the past five years, according to a recent Morning Consult poll sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation.

Results were released at the beginning of May to kick off National Mental Health Month. The poll surveyed rural adults, farmers and farm employees to better understand factors affecting their mental health.

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Ongoing Trade War with China Hurting U.S. Farmers

27785818639_cc8c9b5d6a_oThe recent escalation in the trade war between China and the U.S. will make things even more difficult for struggling farmers.

American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall sent a letter to President Trump asking that trade negotiators make a deal as soon as possible to end recent tariffs. Duvall wrote that the tariffs “are slashing our exports, destroying a once-promising market for agriculture, worsening the farm economy and contributing to high levels of stress and uncertainty for many farm and ranch families.”

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Update on the Federal and State Industrial Hemp Regulatory Landscape

hemp2In recent years, we have seen growing interest in industrial hemp production among Virginia’s farmers. The crop presents an economic opportunity to produce hemp for fiber, oil, or seed and there is a great deal of optimism and enthusiasm surrounding the fledgling industry.

The 2018 Farm Bill included provisions establishing a regulatory framework for the commercial production of hemp and allowed states wanting to have primary regulatory authority over the commercial production of hemp to prepare a plan under which the state will monitor and regulate hemp production. During the 2019 Virginia General Assembly Session two bills, HB 1839 and SB 1692, were passed and essentially conformed Virginia law to that language found in the Farm Bill. This change cleared the way for farmers to commercially produce hemp without having to participate in the existing hemp research program.

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Virginia Dairy Farmer Selected as 2019 Agriculture Advocate of the Year

Debbie BrubakerThe National Agriculture in the Classroom Organization (NAITCO) and National Grange have selected Virginia beef and dairy farmer and educator Debbie Brubaker as the winner of its Agriculture Advocate Award for 2019.

Brubaker won the award for expanding her ‘Dairy Day’ event into one that covers 20 different commodities to educate students about local agriculture, participating in STEM school events to demonstrate to students the important role agriculture plays in science and the natural world, reading as part of Virginia Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom’s Agriculture Literacy Project and hosting hundreds of students at ‘Dairy Days’ at the Franklin County Fair each year. Brubaker estimates she has reached about 60,000 students with the message of the importance of agriculture over the years. But it’s Brubaker’s graphic design skills that make her special.

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Hunting Seasons, Methods, Bag Limits, and License Fees: Public Comment Period on Proposed Regulation Amendments

deerFollowing a public scoping period where ideas on changes to wildlife regulations were reviewed, the proposed amendments to Virginia’s regulations governing fees, hunting, trapping, and terrestrial wildlife. A public comment period is currently ongoing through May 15, 2019.

After hearing public comment on the proposed amendments at the May 30, 2019 Board meeting, the Board anticipates adopting final regulation amendments that will be effective for 2019–2020. You can read the proposed changes and provide feedback here.