Virginia Farm Bureau believes very strongly that every locality needs at a minimum of one agriculture agent, one 4-H agent and one administrative staff person. Senators Edwards and Hanger and Delegate Sherwood carried budget amendments to help VCE get one step closer towards meeting this goal. The amendments were partially accepted in the proposed versions of the House and Senate budgets that were released this week. Both the House and Senate included $500,000 in each year of the biennium for additional extension agents. This will be part of the ongoing discussions regarding the budget this will be passed by the General Assembly over the next few weeks.
In July 2011, VCE had 179 agents across Virginia. By January 2012, with the funding provided, Virginia Cooperative Extension is projecting to have over 210 agents across Virginia. While this is a huge improvement, there are still vacant positions across Virginia and every locality fails to have at least one agriculture and 4-H agent and one administrative staff person. While the budget amendment will not completely meet Virginia Farm Bureau members’ wishes, we are pleased that the General Assembly’s intentions are clear that they are still willing to continue to work towards this goal by filling a few critical vacancies in many localities across Virginia.
As the front door to the land-grant university system, VCE uses objective, research-based educational programs to lead to more productive lives, families, communities, farms, and forests while enhancing and preserving the quality of the commonwealth’s natural resources. VCE provides every citizen of the state local access to the wealth of knowledge available through our two land-grant universities, Virginia Tech and Virginia State University. Recognizing that knowledge is power, Extension uses the resources of the land-grant university system to deliver educational programs through a network of 106 local, county, and city offices; six 4-H Educational Centers; and 11 Agricultural Research and Extension Centers. Extension is funded through the cooperative efforts of local, state and federal governments. In addition, over 40,000 citizen volunteers contribute millions of hours every year helping identify and deliver needs-driven educational programs.