Sarah Rudolph of Wythe County took top honors Dec. 4 in Virginia Farm Bureau Federation’s annual Young Farmers Discussion Meet, held at the organization’s 2019 Annual Meeting in Norfolk.
First runner-up was Jonathan Grimes of Wythe County. Other finalists were Thomas French of Shenandoah County and Brandy Puckett of Carroll County.
The Discussion Meet competition is designed to simulate a committee meeting in which discussion and active participation is expected from each contestant. Competitors are judged on their discussion skills, understanding of important agricultural issues and ability to build consensus. This year’s topic was “How can Farm Bureau build upon collaborative relationships such as Farm Town Strong to combat nationwide crises such as opioid dependence and addiction and mental health issues?” It references a campaign by the American Farm Bureau Federation and the National Farmers Union to address opioid concerns in rural America.
The Virginia Farm Bureau Federation Young Farmers Committee honored Scott Sink of Blacksburg with their 2019 Warren Beach Award for his contributions to the VFBF Young Farmers Program.
Sink is the current VFBF vice president, as well as a producer and entrepreneur, and a past chairman of the VFBF Young Farmers Committee.
“We’re going to talk about something a little uncomfortable,” announced agriculture communicator and social media influencer Janice Person.
She was leading a Dec. 3 discussion titled Stepping into the Uncomfortable at the Virginia Farm Bureau Federation 2019 Annual Convention in Norfolk. Person was teaching farmers how they can have productive discussions about modern agriculture with friends, family and strangers.
“It’s like you’re an awkward kid in the first day of junior high again. It’s so hard to step up and have conversations with people who don’t understand modern agriculture,” Person said. “But the 98% of Americans who don’t farm for a living can really have an impact on our businesses and lives,” so it’s important for farmers to engage them.
American Farm Bureau Federation’s 5.9 million member families have a unified voice that is growing bigger and stronger in the face of economic uncertainties.
Dale Moore, AFBF executive vice president, said he works to ensure that voice is amplified throughout the corridors of Congress.
Moore was the keynote speaker Dec. 3 at the Virginia Farm Bureau Federation Annual Meeting in Norfolk. He touched on a breadth of topics important to farmers—from the anxieties surrounding U.S. trade, to the mental health of individual farmers.
Sharing her story and that of her late husband, Minnesota grain farmer Theresia Gillie addressed the topic of Stress on the Family Farm Dec. 3 at the Virginia Farm Bureau Federation Annual Meeting in Norfolk.
Gillie recounted diminished harvests in 2015 and 2016, when the couple lost $500,000 at their farm in Hallock, Minn. Faced with mounting financial losses and the prospect of losing the farm his family had operated since 1899, Keith Gillie took his own life on April 1, 2017.
The Daily News-Record in Harrisonburg captured Virginia Farm Bureau Federation’s 2019 Ishee-Quann Award for Media Excellence, the top honor in Farm Bureau’s annual Journalism Awards program. The newspaper, which serves one of the state’s most vibrant agricultural centers, also won in the award program’s daily newspaper category.
A moment 10 years in the making occurred Oct. 14 when seven bronze statues of Virginia women were unveiled in Capitol Square.
The statues are the first of 12 that will form the Virginia Women’s Monument, the nation’s first installation on the grounds of a state capitol to showcase the full range of achievements and contributions made by women. Voices from the Garden also features a wall of honor inscribed with the names of 230 notable women.
Land Use Assessment is a valuable tool in Virginia to allow localities to manage growth and provide tax equity. This method more closely aligns taxes with the productive value of the land in its current use. In addition, it more closely aligns taxes with the local government cost of providing services to qualifying land. The program is local option.
A lot of folks don’t realize the complexity in developing the values. The State Land Evaluation Advisory Council (SLEAC) contracts annually with the Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics (VTAAE) at Virginia Tech to develop an objective methodology for estimating the use value of land in agricultural and horticultural uses, with the Virginia Department of Forestry for the use value of land in forestry, and with the Department of Conservation and Recreation for the use value of land in open space.
Virginia Agriculture in the Classroom has awarded 62 grants to 38 Virginia localities for the 2019-2020 school year. Funding will be allocated to provide 25,000 youth with agriculture experiences related to gardening, animal agriculture, health and nutrition and leadership development.
“This year we had an outpouring of grant applicants reflecting pre-K through 12th grade education programs from schools across the commonwealth,” said Tammy Maxey, Virginia AITC senior education manager. “These schools and 4-H chapters will start gardens, provide nutrition and culinary experiences, begin school farms and create agriculture leadership opportunities. We look forward to visiting these grant sites and watching students learn.”