VFBF Legislative Committee Comments on 2015 Critical Issues, Part 1

Earlier this month, the Virginia Farm Bureau Federation announced its critical legislative issues for 2014. These are the issues Governmental Relations staff believe will be at the forefront during the next year’s General Assembly.  These issues are also discussed at Senatorial District meetings, regional legislative briefings for legislators held across the state during November and December. Here are three of those issues with remarks from members of the Virginia Farm Bureau Legislative Committee, who identified these issues as critical.  If you are a producer member and would like to attend your region’s Senatorial District Meeting, please contact your Field Services Director for dates and locations.
Agriculture Best Management Practices Cost-Share Program & Soil and Water Conservation District Funding

Virginia Farm Bureau urges legislators to:
  • Adequately fund the Agriculture Best Management Practices Cost-Share Program (Ag BMPs) in order for farmers to meet Virginia’s Watershed Implementation Plan (WIP) goals by 2017 and avoid mandatory agriculture best management practices requirements
  • Adequately fund operational support and technical assistance for Soil and Water Conservation Districts (SWCDs) so they can administer Agriculture Best Management Practices Cost Share Program; assist farmers in developing Resource Management Plans; and track voluntary conservation practices to help document water quality improvements

“To implement all the BMP’s to meet Virginia’s WIP goals by 2017 would be a huge financial strain.  We could not financially support our day to day operations without support from state funding. Believe me, the farmers I know have a passion to do what’s best for the land, their livestock, etc. but to perform these acts based on what the state dictates is costly.  If they want us to perform by their rules, we need financial support to make it happen.”- Faye Hundley, Essex County

Farmland Preservation

Virginia Farm Bureau urges legislators to:
  • Support maintaining the Land Preservation Tax Credit (LPTC) as it is an incentive for farmers to preserve working farms and forests 
  • Avoid cuts to the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) Purchase of Development Rights (PDR) program which leverages local dollars to help maintain working farms and forests to help stabilize resources to keep a strong agriculture and forestry industry for the future

“We picked Farm Land Preservation because keeping land out of development keeps agriculture as Virginia’s largest industry. A good slogan would be “Without farmland there are no farmers and without farmers there is no food”. Preserving farm and forest land helps water quality by keeping runoff to a minimum.  It helps with air pollution 1. By preventing urban sprawl, helping promote concentrated development 2. Trees and crop production remove carbon from the air thereby slowing global warming.”- Leigh Pemberton, Hanover County
VDACS Weights and Measures Program

Virginia Farm Bureau urges legislators to:
  • Maintain the funding such that the integrity of the VDACS weights and measures program is not compromised to ensure that Virginia consumers receive the products they paid for, that businesses are competing fairly, and that state government is providing appropriate oversight to the system

“I think the government should maintain or increase funding for the weights and measures program. I see the importance of this program from two sides.  I sell products directly to consumers and look forward to having my scales checked and calibrated each year by this department. It is always nice to be able to point to the updated sticker on the scale to prove the scales are accurate to skeptical customers.

On the other side of this is me being a consumer and purchasing fertilizer. Weights and measures spot checks loads of blended fertilizer from dealers to make sure the actual analysis of the blend is what the farmer ordered. This is very important to farmers because small blend mistakes can cost big time in money and yield lost in crops.

The weights and measure field people have been saying for the last few years how they are having to cover more area and can’t get around to everyone they need to check. I’ll see stickers on fuel pumps at gas stations that are several years old sometimes.”- Steve Berryman, Surry County

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