Virginia Farm Bureau members learn about Gov Relations tools, participate in policy discussion at annual convention

Rob Hall of Northumberland/Lancaster County Farm Bureau and Ricky Kurtz from Gloucester/Mathews County Farm Bureau visit the Governmental Relations booth in the exhibit hall at the Virginia Farm Bureau Federation’s Annual Convention.

Virginia Farm Bureau members from across the state are meeting in Norfolk this week for the organization’s annual convention. Along with attending workshops and other programs, members will discuss and set policy for the upcoming year.

On Tuesday, members stopped by the Governmental Relations booth in the convention’s exhibit hall to learn about five of Farm Bureau’s critical issues: animal care, property rights, Virginia Cooperative Extension funding, water quality and game laws. They also learned about receiving Capital Connections Action Alerts from the GR Department, as well as how to sign up to receive e-mail alerts on new posts on the Plows and Politics blog (hint: enter your e-mail address under FOLLOW BY E-MAIL in the top left of this page). Both are very important tools to keep members updated and active during the General Assembly and Congress on issues that may need legislative contacts.

On Wednesday, members heard from Secretary of Agriculture Todd Haymore at breakfast. Afterwards, members entered General Session where they heard from updates from the insurance company and participated in policy discussions.

During the remainder of the convention, members will set policy, determine what county representatives will attend the American Farm Bureau Federation’s annual meeting in January, and hold elections for the VFB Board of Directors.

Virginia Farm Bureau members will set policy at annual meeting next week

As many as 900 farmers and others with an interest in agriculture and agribusiness will gather next week for the Virginia Farm Bureau Federation’s annual convention at the Norfolk Waterside Marriott.

This is a very important step in Farm Bureau’s legislative process. During general sessions of the convention, voting delegates from each of Virginia’s 88 county Farm Bureaus will discuss and cote on the organization’s state and federal legislative policies for the coming year. They also will elect members of the VFBF board of directors to represent Districts 1, 4, 7, 10 and 13.

With the theme “Ag Trade: Growing Opportunities,” this year’s Virginia Farm Bureau Federation Annual Convention will focus on how farmers can increase their profitability through trade.

Topping the conference is a keynote speech by J.J. Keever, senior deputy executive director of external affairs for the Virginia Port Authority, titled “Agriculture & Maritime: Partnering for a Brighter Future.” Keever will talk about how farmers can take advantage of the Port of Virginia to increase agricultural exports.

Participants also will have the opportunity to attend two educational conferences: “Port of Virginia: Proximity & Potential Profit” and “Conservation Easements: The Right Fit for Your Farm?”

Greg Edwards, director of external affairs for the Virginia Port Authority, will piggyback on Keever’s keynote speech and offer farmers tangible ways to get involved in exporting their products through the Port of Virginia.

Lisa Anne Hawkins, Kevin Schmidt and Laura Thurman will participate in a panel discussion on conservation easements and how farmers can benefit from them. Hawkins is a founding partner of the law firm Lenhart Obenshain PC and has worked on easements to preserve thousands of acres of land in Virginia. Schmidt is the coordinator of the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ Office of Farmland Preservation. Thurman is the easement project manager for the Shenandoah Valley region of the Virginia Outdoors Foundation.

Stay tuned to the blog for live updates from convention next week. And if you’re a producer member attending the convention, stop by the Governmental Relations booth in the exhibit hall to learn more about our 2012 critical issues.

Happy Thanksgiving!