Virginia Farm Bureau achieves nine out of 11 budget successes

The General Assembly passed a budget on Wednesday, April 18. The next step is for the Governor to review the budget report and offer any amendments or veto the bill. If he signs the bill with no changes then the bill will become law on July 1, 2012.

Virginia Farm Bureau policy was achieved on nine out of 11 on the budget amendments. This brings our final total of successful issues for the General Assembly to 43 out of 51 policy issues.

Where Farm Bureau Policy Prevailed in the State Budget

Coyote Program: $40,000 was added each year of the biennium to bring the funding to a minimum amount of $120,000.

Reforestation of Timberlands Program; Computer Program Needed to Operate RT Program: $130,000 was added each year of the biennium to increase the amount of state matching fund to a total of $557,570. In addition, the General Assembly provided $120,000 each year of the biennium to replace the dysfunctional computer program used to distribute the funds to landowners. This was necessary to keep a functional RT Program.

Soil and Water Conservation District Operational and Technical Assistance Funding: The General Assembly restored $2.046 million for each year of the biennium for district operations. The General Assembly further requested the Secretary of Natural Resources to convene a stakeholder group to develop recommendations for a long-term adequate, consistent and reliable funding formula for local Soil and Water Conservation Districts. The General Assembly also prohibited the State Soil and Water Conservation Board or Department of Conservation and Recreation from changing any district boundary lines until after the General Assembly had time to respond and act upon the recommendations of the study.

Virginia Cooperative Extension: Both the House and Senate appropriated an additional $500,000 each of the fiscal years for a total of $1 million for the biennium.

Weights and Measures Program: The General Assembly eliminated the per device fee for weights and measures inspections. They added $250,000 for the first year of the biennium to the program to address the $2 million gap that has existed in the program for the last several years.

Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development Fund: The General Assembly maintained the $1 million in funding for each year of the biennium.

Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services International Marketing Opportunities: The General Assembly maintained the $260,000 each year of the biennium to support international marketing opportunities for Virginia agriculture and forestry products.

Beehive Grant Program: The General Assembly appropriated $250,000 to support the legislation creating the Beehive Incentive Grant Program.

Coyotes lose at the General Assembly

It’s bad news for coyotes this year at the General Assembly.

Both versions of the House and Senate budget restored $40,000 to a cooperative state and federal program to help landowners to learn how to control and abate coyote predation on livestock. This brings the program back to a minimal amount needed to continue.

The coyote population has been escalating based on surveys by the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. This is evidenced by a 32 percent increase in the reported sheep predation by coyotes and a 69 percent increase in calf predation by coyotes from FY2010 compared to FY2011.

This program was established in 1990. It is a cooperative service agreement between the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and USDA-APHIS-Wildlife Services (WS) established to provide necessary technical and operational assistance in identifying, controlling, and abating coyote predation to livestock. During FY2010, WS provided direct control services to 159 livestock farms in 24 western and southside counties in federal fiscal year (FY) 2010. During this period of time, 348 sheep, 35 calves, and 5 goats were reported and verified killed by coyotes in Virginia on these 159 farms. This level represents a 19 percent increase in reported sheep predation and a 6% increase in reported calf predation over the previous fiscal year. This only represents the number of farmers that were able to receive help. Many other farmers have suffered losses without assistance.

A big thank you should be extended to Delegate Poindexter and Senator Ruff and their General Assembly colleagues for tilting the scale back in the landowner’s favor by keeping tools in place to deal with coyotes’ depredation on the livestock industry.

Game Laws update: Coyote Control Program

Coyotes are on the prowl across Virginia. This worries Virginia livestock farmers. Virginia livestock farmers saw a 32 percent increase in the reported sheep predation by coyotes and a 69 percent increase in calf predation by coyotes from FY2010 compared to FY2011.

This is why Virginia Farm Bureau is working hard to keep the program at least minimally funded during these tight budget times. Virginia Farm Bureau hopes that during better economic times that a case can be made to fully fund the state’s portion of this program at $250,000.

The Virginia Cooperative Coyote Damage Control Program has been in place since 1991. This is a state and federal program serves Virginia livestock producers suffering coyote predation on livestock by providing technical assistance, direct control, and education.

Delegate Poindexter and Senator Ruff are carrying budget amendments to restore $40,000 to bring the program back to the bare minimum of $120,000 needed for a state and federal program to continue to operate.

While the coyote harvest has increased from 1,295 in the 1993-94 hunting season to 24,449 in the 2008-2009 hunting season, this hasn’t seemed to slow down the explosion in population of coyotes. More and more farmers are reporting livestock predation on farms that historically never had coyote predation problems.

A cost-benefit analysis on sheep alone determined that $7.78 was saved for every dollar spent on the coyote damage control program. This means real money and profits to Virginia livestock farmers.

We would like to know more about the problems that Virginia livestock farmers are facing from this predator. Please click Post a Comment below and tell us about how coyotes have hurt your livestock production.