Get Ready to Go Hands-Free in 2021

Andrew Smith, Associate Director

Are you ready for 2021? Nah, I’m not piling on the anti-2020 wagon, but oh, what a year it’s been! I am, however, hoping to make sure everyone gets ready for Virginia’s law about handheld devices going into effect January 1, 2021. Most laws go into effect on July 1 of that year, but with the “hands-free” law, there was a delayed enactment. So, make sure you are prepared because, after the ball drops ringing in the New Year, don’t pick up that phone while driving.

It’s been against the law for several years to use a handheld device while driving a commercial vehicle as mandated by Federal law. Still, for all other motor vehicles, it starts in just a few weeks here in Virginia.

With the advancement of technology, most new cars come equipped with hands-free systems to connect your cell phone, which is very convenient. But for some, we need to figure out what to do. The far safest thing to do is wait until you get to your destination to take or make a call or send a text. But for those calls you need to take while driving, seek out a way to connect hands-free to avoid a ticket.

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County Farm Bureaus Recognized for Community Efforts

Carroll County Farm Bureau and King William County Farm Bureau were honored by the Virginia Farm Bureau Federation for projects completed in their communities in 2020.

Carroll County Farm Bureau, whose president is Bennie Quesenberry, received a first-place VFBF County Award of Excellence.

The county Farm Bureau organized a call-to-action campaign with members and other local citizens to save Carroll County’s land use assessment program. By speaking at virtual public hearings, holding informative discussions with members of the Carroll County Board of Supervisors, working with a special committee, and launching a direct mail campaign, Farm Bureau members helped inform county supervisors about the importance of land use assessment to the farming community. As a result, the Carroll County land use assessment program remains intact and unchanged.

Second-place winner for the County Award of Excellence was King William County Farm Bureau, led by President Charles Piersa. County Farm Bureau leaders and the organization’s women’s committee raised $4,300 to donate to local families affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. King William County Public Schools helped identify 36 families in need of assistance, and the county Farm Bureau gave those families gift certificates to six local restaurants that had been affected by pandemic-related dining restrictions. Each gift certificate provided $15 per family member.

Poll Shows Americans’ Unwavering Trust in Farmers and Approval of Sustainability Practices

A majority of U.S. adults have a positive view of farmers’ sustainability practices, and an overwhelming majority trust farmers, according to a new national public opinion poll from the American Farm Bureau Federation.

The survey of 2,200 U.S. adults found that more than half (58%) rate the sustainability practices of U.S. farmers positively, with broad agreement from a majority of adults across demographic groups.  

Nearly nine in 10 adults (88%) trust farmers, a 4% increase from AFBF’s June 2020 polling, which is evidence the public recognized that food supply chain challenges brought on by the pandemic were not within the control of farmers and ranchers.

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Virginia Agriculture in the Classroom awards $29,000 in grants for educational projects

Virginia Agriculture in the Classroom has awarded 62 grants to 44 Virginia localities for the 2020-21 school year. Funding will be allocated to provide 22,000 youth with agriculture experiences related to gardening, animal agriculture, STEM, health, nutrition and leadership development.

“Grant applications for 2020 reflected the needs for both hands-on and virtual learning,” said Tammy Maxey, Virginia AITC programs director. “Projects represented a wide range of plant and animal educational projects—from the creation of division-wide virtual agri-science videos to revitalizing school gardens. We are pleased to have representation from pre-k through 12th-grade educators from across the commonwealth.”

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Cotton, peanut harvests delayed amid damp fall

Virginia’s cotton and peanut harvests are lagging due to a series of disruptive weather events, and the threat of additional rain could further dampen farmers’ efforts.

According to the National Agricultural Statistics Service Nov. 9 crop report, Virginia’s cotton and peanut harvests are just 35% and 65% complete, respectively.

At this time last year, Virginia farmers had completed the peanut harvest and harvested 74% of the state’s cotton.

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