Farm Bureau has 34 successes at General Assembly

Martha Moore
Vice President, Governmental Relations

As the General Assembly concluded without a budget, Farm Bureau policy positions prevailed on 34 out of 40 issues. This number will change once we know the outcome on the state budget.

A big thank you goes out to those of you who made legislative contacts when we asked you as well as those of you who participated in Legislative Day. We can’t emphasize enough how crucial it is for legislators to hear the issues and how they affect agriculture straight from Virginia farmers like you. Your contacts made all the difference this year, and we can attribute our success to you.

If you are a producer member and would like to receive our action alerts, please email Kelly.Pruitt@vafb.com.

Below are some highlights from this year’s session:

Animal Care

• Successful in defeating all legislation that place arbitrary and unscientific animal husbandry practice restrictions on farmers and prevented giving human rights to animals

Game Laws

• Made coyotes and feral hogs nuisance species so that this would allow some permanency beyond regulations for an open season on these nuisance species

• Defeated all bills that would have allowed Sunday hunting

Property Rights

• Passed a resolution placing a proposed constitutional amendment on the ballot in November 2012 to permanently protect property owners from eminent domain takings for private benefit

• Ensured that landowners are fairly compensated for factors that impact the fair market value as “lost profits” and “lost access”

Please stay tuned on this issue as we are working on developing a statewide campaign on getting the ballot initiative passed. Look for more information on how your county Farm Bureau can help ensure that are successful in a major final piece of achieving our policy position on protecting your property rights from eminent domain abuse.

Virginia Cooperative Extension/ Agriculture Experiment Station

• Passed a commending resolution on the Agriculture Experiment Station’s 125th Anniversary to highlight the programs that have helped support farm profitability

How Many Bills is Farm Bureau Watching and When Do Members Get Involved?

Virginia Farm Bureau is following approximately 200 bills in the General Assembly from the ones that have been introduced. There are hundreds and hundreds of more bills due out next week. For our county Farm Bureau leaders, we will be sending out a summary of all of the various bills that we are tracking on Friday, January 27.

This year our communications process has changed. If Governmental Relations can positively represent Farm Bureau members’ official policy position on these bills, we will not send out an action request through our electronic Capital Connections Action Request system. We activate our grassroots system on bills that we need an extra push on to help our lobbying efforts.

This has been the case regarding Virginia Farm Bureau’s position on Sunday hunting. We have asked our members to correspond with their legislators regarding our position. There is a grassroots movement pushing for its passage. Virginia Farm Bureau has had a policy position in opposition since 1993. We are joined by other agriculture groups including the horse industry and Virginia Agribusiness Council in opposing the passage of these bills. In addition, some hunting groups, religious groups and realtors are expressing their opposition.

Today, the Senate Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources Committee passed SB494 to allow Sunday hunting on private lands with landowners permission. This is one step in a multi-step process at the General Assembly. Today, Farm Bureau policy did not prevail but with grassroots support of our policies we can continue to fight for our member’s positions. If you haven’t signed up for our electronic action request system and you are a producer member, please email me at Kelly Pruitt at Kelly.pruitt@vafb.com. I will contact you to get you signed up.

2012 Virginia General Assembly convenes Jan. 11

This busiest time of year for the Governmental Relations team is upon us. The 2012 Virginia General Assembly will convene next Wednesday in Richmond, and we’ve been busy preparing to fight for the legislative priority issues that you, our producer members, deemed the most important.

A big thank you goes out to all of you who attended our Senatorial District meetings across the state, as well as our Field Services Directors who helped set up the meetings. We had a great turn out this year and were very successful educating our legislators about our issues.

We will be updating you on the statuses of these issues and other issues that affect agriculture as they arise in a few different ways. We will be updating the blog every Tuesday and Thursday with important articles, so please make sure you bookmark this page under your Favorites folder or subscribe by e-mail on the left of this page.

 We will also be sending out important action and information alerts on Wednesdays and Fridays. I can already foresee us calling on your support and action several times during this session, so please make sure you are receiving these important e-mails from the VFB Capitol Connections Action Center by e-mailing kelly.pruitt@vafb.com.

There is a change this year–we will only be sending out three paper General Assembly update mailings. Those will be on: January 27, February 17 and March 23. These are the only times we’ll be sending out updates through the mail, so, if you can, please sign up for the blog and the Capitol Connections Action Center when you can.

Legislative Day is January 24. We have an exciting day planned starting with the United States Farmers and Ranchers Alliance training session in the morning, lunch with Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, meeting with legislators and delivering the Stand Our Ground: Property Rights postcards, and ending with our legislative reception hosted by the VFB Women’s Committee. I know a lot of you have registered, and we look forward to seeing you at the Capitol.

Thanks to your action and support, we’ve had much success over the years at the General Assembly. We hope you will step up again to help us keep you and all of Virginia agriculture in business.

Thanks for all that you do,

Martha

Welcome to Plows and Politics

Hello and welcome to Plows and Politics, the official blog of the Virginia Farm Bureau Governmental Relations Department. We will be posting updates and articles relating to Farm Bureau’s state and federal critical issues, regulatory actions, announcements of public meetings, and the legislative activities of county Farm Bureaus.

Farm Bureau is a grassroots organization–What does that mean? That means you, our Farm Bureau members, tell us what to fight for in the General Assembly. But we can’t do it alone. Throughout the years, we’ve counted on your voice to help us educate our state and national legislators on issues that greatly affect the agricultural community.

Thanks to your letters, phone calls and visits, we’ve greatly influenced the way our legislators view agriculture. In 2010, Farm Bureau members responded to Action Alerts regarding federal legislation that would unfairly blame farmers and overestimate their impact on the Chesapeake Bay. Your efforts resulted in 28,000 contacts made to U.S. Sens. Warner and Webb and Virginia delegation in the House of Representatives, including personal visits, emails, phone calls and more than 18,000 letters. These contacts played a huge role in the defeat of the legislation.

If you’re interested in receiving our Action Alerts, please e-mail Kelly.Pruitt@vafb.com with your name, county, membership number and contact information. If you are a producer member, she will add you to our Action Alert system.

We hope you enjoy the blog! We will be posting information at least twice a week.

Thanks for reading,

Martha Moore
Vice President, VFBF Governmental Relations