Virginia Farm Bureau’s strength has always been rooted in our membership. Our members live in every corner of the Commonwealth, raise an unbelievable variety of crops and commodities, and carry diverse views that all come together through our grassroots structure to serve as a united representative of the Virginia agriculture industry.
This week, we were proud to have four of our members travel to the White House to represent our membership, our industry, and rural Virginia at an event focused on an issue that impacts all of us: burdensome regulation.
Regulation is not inherently bad, and many regulations are beneficial, based on science, and form the structure on which our industry thrives. For example, certain inspection requirements give our customers certainty that American food is safe; trade regulations ensure we have a fair position in the world economy; and grain regulations ensure farmers receive fair compensation for their crop. However, over-regulation is another story and has been a major, and growing, issue in our industry.
VFBF District Board members M.L. Everett, Leigh Pemberton, Russell Williams, and Bedford County Farm Bureau President Amy Johnson had the honor of participating in the event on the South Lawn of the White House where the President and Administration representatives discussed the multitude of regulations that have been eliminated or modified. Many of these have been to the great benefit of the agriculture industry and rural Virginia, including the replacement of WOTUS with the new Clean Water Rule, deregulation and expansion of telemedicine, and improvements to trucking regulation.
Bedford County Farm Bureau President and nurse practitioner, Amy Johnson, shared her unique perspective on the impact of telehealth deregulation and expansion in rural Virginia. “Since the deregulation of telehealth restrictions and expansion of guidelines through CMS, we’ve had the opportunity to integrate video and audio visits as part of our patient care experience. During the [beginning of the] COVID crisis, there were days when almost all of my visits were done via telehealth. This allowed me to continue to care for my patients, including those that were the most vulnerable, without risking exposure to illness by bringing them into the office setting.”
Johnson continued on the importance of telehealth deregulation and expansion, “As a farm safety specialist, I can see the use of telehealth expanding to offer more services to our farming population and rural Americans, including much-needed mental health services, which are unfortunately very sparse.”
We were all proud to see our members at their best representing rural Virginia and the agriculture industry, and speaking up for our 33,000 producer members who desperately needed these regulatory victories at a time of unprecedented headwinds. After the event, our members went back to their farms, changed out of their business attire, and went back to doing what they REALLY do best: cutting hay, raising corn, soybeans, peanuts, and other row crops, and doing the hard work necessary to keep our country fed.
To view the event in its entirety, go here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BRnq5mgQdag