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.

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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

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.