Additional Meeting on Uranium set for Sept. 17

Andrew Smith
Senior Assistant Director
Governmental Relations

An additional meeting has been planned on the possibility of the mining and milling or uranium in Virginia. The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) will hold a public meeting on issues related to the proposal to mine and mill uranium in Virginia.

During this meeting there will be presentations by the VDH summarizing the comments and questions received to date by VDH regarding private wells and recreational water issues related to uranium mining and milling. This follows the recent set of meetings held by the VDH around the state seeking the public’s input.

In addition to the VDH, the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) will make a presentation on ground water, surface water and air quality issues related to uranium mining and milling.

The public will have the opportunity to make comments at the meeting. The meeting is open to the public and pre-registration is not required.

Date: September 17, 2012
Time: 1:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Location: Old Dominion Agricultural Center, 19783 US Highway 29 South Chatham, VA 24531

Additional information may be found at the Uranium Working Groups website: http://www.uwg.vi.virginia.gov/

Uranium Working Group Sets Public Meetings

The Uranium Working Group established by Governor Bob McDonnell has been busy with their work, which includes holding a series of public meetings held around the state. The most recent was held at Chatham High School in Chatham.

You will remember from previous reports, the working group was established to “to provide a scientific policy analysis to help assess whether the moratorium on uranium mining in the Commonwealth should be lifted, and if so, how best to do so.”

Virginia Farm Bureau has been monitoring the progress of the group’s work, including attending each of the public meetings. In addition, VAFB has submitted questions for consideration on the issue from an agricultural standpoint. These questions were the result of surveying each of the County Farm Bureaus for concerns they felt needed to be addressed.

We encourage all of our members to read the current reports on the issue and, if possible, participate in the public meetings. Members can access the reports and also provide comment to the working group through their website at http://www.uwg.vi.virginia.gov/

VAFB will continue to monitor the issue and keep member’s concerns before the Working Group and policy makers. The remaining public meeting dates and locations have been set except the final one, which will be held in Richmond. The actual location and date has yet to be set.

Should you have any questions or comments please contact Andrew Smith in the Governmental Relations Department at andrew.smith@vafb.com or 804-290-1021.

Remaining Public Meetings on the Uranium Working Group

• August 2, 2012 – 6 pm (joint meeting with NRC)
Old Dominion Agricultural Complex
19783 US Highway 29, Suite G
Chatham, VA 24531

• August 28, 2012 – 6 pm
Virginia Beach Convention Center
1000 19th Street
Virginia Beach, VA 23451

• October 17, 2012 – 6 pm
Old Dominion Agricultural Complex
19783 US Highway 29, Suite G
Chatham, VA 24531

• November 2012 (TBA)
Richmond, VA

Clearing up ‘Farm Use’ Confusion

Hello! I am Andrew Smith, and I am Senior Assistant Director of Governmental Relations. One of the issues I handle for Virginia Farm Bureau is transportation.

I wanted to take a moment to let you know about a bill that passed this year in the General Assembly that we hope will clear up some confusion that began in 2010 when the legislature was attempting to limit the use of unregister farm vehicles (Farm Use) to the appropriate type of vehicles. In that year the types of vehicles were listed that are allowed to use the exemption with the intent to rule out the use on passenger vehicles.

In doing so, the language caused some confusion, even though when read properly, it was correct. To clarify the issue, the General Assembly passed House Bill 746 which breaks the vehicle types down with numerically as opposed to using commas which currently used in the “farm use” section of Virginia Code. This legislation passed both Chambers unanimously.

The wording that will be official beginning July 1 of this year will read:

“The provisions of this section shall only apply to (i) pickup trucks, (ii) panel trucks, (iii) sport utility vehicles, (iv) vehicles having a gross vehicle weight rating greater than 7,500 pounds, and (v) trailers and semitrailers.”
This language will appear in each of the appropriate Code sections. Even though this doesn’t change the meaning of the law, it is intended to make it easier to read and clear to the average person reading this Code section that benefits many in our industry.

VFBF News Lead: Hand-held phone ban to take effect Jan. 3 for all commercial drivers

This story appeared in the Dec. 22 edition of News Leads:

Farmers and others who drive commercial motor vehicles will be subject to stricter rules governing the use of hand-held mobile phones starting Jan. 3, 2012.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration have amended their respective regulations to restrict the use of hand-held phones by CMV drivers. The change is intended to help prevent distracted driver-related crashes involving commercial vehicles.

The regulatory changes will apply to anyone operating a commercial motor vehicle, including farmers and farm employees who are exempt from having to secure a commercial driver’s license to transport farm products.

“We are encouraging our members who farm to be mindful of this change,” said Andrew Smith, senior assistant director of governmental relations for Virginia Farm Bureau Federation, the state’s largest farm organization. “This is for everyone’s safety and stands to benefit all drivers.”

Essentially, CMV drivers will be restricted from holding a mobile phone to conduct voice communication; dialing such a phone by pressing more than one button; or reaching for the phone in an unsafe manner, such as when it is under the driver’s seat or in a sleeper berth.

CMV drivers who want to use a mobile phone while driving will need to use a compliant phone such as one that is hands-free.

A limited exemption will be in place for drivers who need to use a hand-held mobile phone to communicate with law enforcement or other emergency service providers.

The SMCSA and PHMSA also are implementing new disqualification sanctions for drivers who do not comply with the restriction for new drivers who have multiple convictions for violating state or local laws that restrict hand-held mobile phone use.

Additionally, motor carriers are prohibited from requiring or allowing CMV drivers to use hand-held mobile phones.