September 2019 Federal Issues Update: USMCA, WOTUS, Hemp & Labor

Wayne and ZipThis week, all members of the House and Senate returned to Washington from their August recess. Members of Congress took time to conduct town halls and meetings in their districts, and better get to know the people, industries, and communities that they represent. Virginia Farm Bureau took full advantage of this month-long opportunity to meet with legislators and their staff, and host roundtables and farm tours. We met with members of the House, the Senate, Democrats, Republicans, and representatives from rural and urban districts. We found common ground on issues like broadband expansion, free trade, rural health, nutrition, and transportation issues.

We hope that Virginia’s delegation has returned to Washington with firsthand knowledge and experience of the issues facing agriculture and the rural economy, and will use this to better represent our industry. It is also our job, as Farm Bureau members, to ensure that our voice continues to be heard in Washington and the issues most important to us stay at the forefront of political dialogue.

Below you will find a rundown of top issues facing agriculture, with ways that you can directly engage and advocate. Regardless of your commodity, the size of your farm, or where in the Commonwealth you live, at least one of the following issues will impact your operation. Continue reading

Farm Bureau Members Save $5 on State Fair Tickets and Get Discounts on Food and Beverages!

SFVA17_KW_51_DSCF3429Use your Farm Bureau membership to save $5 on State Fair of Virginia tickets. Then use it again at the fair to save on food and beverage purchases.

To use the admission discount, present a coupon available from your county Farm Bureau office to get discounted tickets. Coupons will be available starting Sept. 1 and are good for $5 off adult, child or senior ticket purchases on any day of the fair. The discount coupons must be presented at the fair’s Ticket Plaza, along with a Farm Bureau membership card, when purchasing a ticket at the gate. Limit: two discount coupons per transaction per membership card.

To use the food and beverage discount, show your membership card when placing your order. Participating vendors will display signage indicating their special pricing available to Farm Bureau members.

Selling Timber? Learn about the Process at VSU Workshops

TimberThere’s a lot to consider when selling timber, and landowners unfamiliar with the process could find themselves at a loss.

To help landowners navigate the process, the Virginia State University Small Farm Outreach Program is offering three workshops to share insight with farmers and landowners interested in selling timber.

Dr. Jerry L. Bettis Sr., Virginia Cooperative Extension forestry specialist at VSU, will lead the workshops. He will cover topics like selecting a professional forester for consultations, and understanding the local timber market and pricing.

The free workshops are open to the public and will be held Sept. 18 at the Appomattox County Extension office, Oct. 9 at VSU’s Randolph Farm Pavilion; and Nov. 6 at the Emporia/Greenville Extension office. Pre-registration is required. To register online, visit ext.vsu.edu/calendar. For more information, contact Bettis at jbettis@vsu.edu or 804-524-6967.

Explore ‘Farm Bureau Land’ at the State Fair of Virginia

State Fair FerrumVisitors to this year’s State Fair of Virginia will have the chance to learn about agriculture from the state’s largest farm advocacy group.

Virginia Farm Bureau Federation will have indoor and outdoor displays at the Meadow Pavilion during the fair, which will be held Sept. 27 through Oct. 6.

“Just look for the big red barn,” said Kelly Roberts, VFBF assistant director of member engagement and co-chair of the fair exhibit. “You can’t miss us.”

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Virginia Conservation Fund Surpasses 100 Easements

Messick PDRThe Virginia Farmland Preservation Fund reached a milestone by securing more than 100 conservation easements for working farm and forest land.

Through matching funds that support local purchase of development rights programs, the farmland preservation program empowers localities to limit development on the farm and forest land that each community has deemed a priority for conservation.

Jimmy Messick, a Fauquier County farmer and owner of Messick’s Farm Market, has enrolled 700 acres of farmland in the program. His farm was where Gov. Ralph Northam announced the achievement and issued a proclamation commemorating the milestone.

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Watershed Plan offers Mixed Bag for Virginia Farmers

Stream exclusionVirginia’s largest agricultural advocacy group has mixed feelings about Gov. Ralph Northam’s recently released restoration plan for Virginia’s portion of the Chesapeake Bay.

“There are a lot of positive elements in the plan, but some of the mandatory requirements concern us,” said Martha Moore, vice president of governmental relations for Virginia Farm Bureau Federation.

The plan, referred to as the Phase III Watershed Implementation Plan or WIP III, was designed to meet the state’s commitments to reduce nutrient and sediment pollution and restore the health of the bay and its tributaries by 2025. The recent version was released April 5, and public comments were accepted through June 7.

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VFBF AgPAC Endorses 126 Candidates for General Assembly Seats

2017 AgPAC logo

Virginia Farm Bureau Federation AgPAC, Farm Bureau’s political action committee, announced in mid-August its endorsement of 39 candidates for the Virginia Senate and 87 candidates for the Virginia House of Delegates.

The endorsements are based on recommendations of local committees of farmers. “Candidates are evaluated through a grassroots process on their understanding of the needs and challenges that we as farmers face in today’s times,” said Wayne F. Pryor, VFBF president and chairman of the VFBF AgPAC board of trustees. “Those who have received the AgPAC endorsement have a history of supporting issues important to agriculture or have demonstrated their commitment through their participation in the evaluation process.

“We believe these candidates will help protect the agriculture and forestry industry and ensure that it remains the No. 1 industry in the commonwealth.”

The non-partisan VFBF AgPAC was created in 1999 and employs in-kind contributions and endorsements to support candidates who can best support agriculture and Farm Bureau issues.

Click here to see a list of endorsed candidates: https://www.vafb.com/membership-at-work/farmers-in-action/political-endorsements

 

Trade Aid welcome, but Farmers still Favor Resolution

PortVirginia farmers are among those who stand to benefit from a second round of federal aid designed to offset income losses from foreign trade disputes.

But many farmers would still prefer to see a resolution to trade conflicts rather than a government check.

“We continue to be grateful for help in these desperate times, but we must have a congressionally approved trade deal with our major trading partners: Canada, China and Mexico,” said Wilmer Stoneman, Virginia Farm Bureau Federation vice president of agriculture, development and innovation. “A trade deal now is what’s needed to improve the economic outlook for Virginia farmers.”

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Botetourt and Lee Young Farmers Earn Honors

RoseTwo outstanding Virginians earned statewide accolades July 27 during the Virginia Farm Bureau Federation Young Farmers Summer Expo in Shenandoah County.

Rose Jeter of Botetourt County was named this year’s VFBF Young Farmers Excellence in Agriculture Award winner. Robby Burchett of Lee County was named this year’s VFBF Outstanding Young Agriculturalist.

The Excellence in Agriculture Award recognizes individuals for involvement in agriculture, leadership ability and involvement and participation in Farm Bureau and other organizations. Jeter was the 2018 runner-up for the award.

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