The Virginia Farm Bureau Federation had a successful year in 2018, achieving membership growth and financial gains, said Wayne F. Pryor, VFBF president. But there are plenty of political challenges ahead, and it’s time for Farm Bureau members to step up their contacts with legislators, Pryor added.
“For the first time in many years it appears that folks in Washington are actually listening to the needs of farmers,” he told delegates to the 2018 VFBF Annual Convention. “Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue and American Farm Bureau President Zippy Duval have the president’s ear, and we’re seeing real policy changes. We’re making progress on amending the EPA’s over-reaching Waters of the U.S. regulation. We now have a proposal for year-round E15 ethanol blends in gasoline. And there’s a new dairy revenue protection program.”
Tax cuts approved at the end of 2017 gave a boost to the nation’s rural economy, he added. While trade disputes with China continue to reduce farm exports from Virginia and the U.S, a new U.S./Mexico/Canada trade agreement was recently announced.
“This long-awaited update to the North American Free Trade Agreement is great news for Virginia producers. Canada and Mexico are two of our top five export markets for agricultural goods,” Pryor said. “I’m calling on all Farm Bureau leaders to double your contacts and outreach to our elected leaders in the coming months. Speaking for farmers is our original purpose, and we need to keep pushing in the trenches.”
Pryor also congratulated the organization’s grassroots leaders for reaching a membership milestone of 129,069 households, an increase of more than 1,000 over membership in 2017. And he shared that the State Fair of Virginia attracted 250,000 visitors in 2018, the highest attendance since Farm Bureau became full owner in 2013. More than $88,000 in funds for scholarships and youth programming at the fair were raised this year.