Economist Optimistic 2020 Will Be a Better Year for Farmers

farm-pexelsLast year was a “terrible production year,” but Dr. John Anderson predicted that farmers will be able to recover in 2020.

Anderson, agribusiness economist and department chair of the College of Agriculture at the University of Arkansas, shared his perspective on the farm economy future during a workshop at the American Farm Bureau Federation annual convention last month.

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Growing Stress Affecting Farmers’ Mental Health

Suicide prevention buttonThe number of farmers affected by stress, anxiety and depression is growing as they face bankruptcy, selling out or leaving lifelong careers in agriculture.

A 2016 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study found those working in agricultural industries were 3.4 times more likely than other American workers to die by suicide. With operating costs skyrocketing, commodity prices dwindling and debts accumulating, tough times are mounting for farmers.

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Virginia Agriculture in the Classroom Awards $9,000 in STEM grants

Ag in the ClassVirginia Agriculture in the Classroom has awarded 20 STEM grants to schools and a 4-H chapter for spring 2020.

The grants total $9,000 and will provide 8,000 youth in 19 localities with agriculture experiences incorporating science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Projects include topics like hydroponics, animal agriculture and leadership development.

Grants were made possible through funding from the Virginia Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom.

“Agriculture in the Classroom STEM grants provide an opportunity for educators to integrate science, technology, engineering, agriculture and mathematics,” explained Tammy Maxey, Virginia AITC senior education manager. “The spring STEM grants enable students to have an agricultural experience while integrating higher-level STEM concepts.”

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VFBF President Wayne F. Pryor: Farmers Feel Legislators Heard Their Pleas for a Continued Water Quality Partnership

This column written by VFBF President Wayne Pryor ran in the Richmond Times-Dispatch on Friday, Feb. 7. 

WP2For years, Virginia’s farmers, conservation groups, and soil and water conservation districts have worked diligently to address legitimate barriers to farmers being able to adopt on-farm conservation practices. Those include stream exclusion fencing and nutrient management plans.

And because good stewardship is part of good citizenship, farmers have made great strides in voluntarily introducing those practices and others.

Barriers to the practices have included a lack of adequate cost-share funding in recent years; a lack of funding for soil and water conservation districts to provide adequate technical assistance; and a lack of flexibility to address legitimate site-specific issues that farmers encounter.

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Agricultural Trade Conference to Focus on Global Exports

Ag Trade 2020U.S. trade officials and agricultural representatives will meet March 10 at the Richmond Marriott for the 12th annual Virginia Governor’s Conference on Agricultural Trade.

Co-hosted by the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Virginia Farm Bureau Federation, the Virginia Port Authority and Virginia Tech’s Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics, the conference will include remarks from Gov. Ralph Northam on Virginia’s trade progress and priorities.

“The conference is a once-a-year opportunity for Virginia farmers, exporters and buyers to be in the same room talking about trade,” said Wilmer Stoneman, VFBF vice president of agriculture, development and innovation. “The conference benefits everyone from the farmers producing crops all the way to buyers and consumers of those products in other countries.”

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New Clean Water Rule Offers Regulatory Clarity for Farmers

beautiful-clouds-countryside-1537136Virginia farmers are celebrating a new clean water rule that brings clarity to the regulatory requirements and enforcement of the Clean Water Act.

The new rule was issued by the Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to replace the 2015 Waters of the U.S. rule. The Trump administration rescinded that rule last year and implemented the replacement on Jan. 23. The new rule eliminated requirements for landowners to get EPA approval for certain modifications on their own lands. It also removed many seasonal streams, small waterways and wetlands from restrictive federal oversight.

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