Land Preservation Opportunity for County Farm Bureaus

As part of Governor McDonnell’s new project to increase the amount of working farm and forestland in Virginia, Virginia Farm Bureau has been working with interested parties on the development of the new “Working Lands Variant” Conservation Easement from the Virginia Outdoors Foundation.

Below is a letter from Matt Lohr presenting an opportunity and resources for those of you that may have interest within your county membership to hear more about an option for preserving your land.

Please contact Trey Davis, Assistant Director of Governmental Relations, at (804) 290-1017 or if you have further questions with the information contained in the letter.

Workshop trains processors to meet requirements of federal and state food laws

Photo by Meer

The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) today announced a training workshop sponsored by the Food Science and Technology Department of Virginia Tech, along with Virginia Cooperative Extension. The course takes place May 21-22 and is designed for processors of acidified food products such as pickles. The course will take place in Room 132 of Virginia Tech’s Food Science and Technology Building, located at 22 Duck Pond Road Blacksburg, VA 24061. The registration fee for the course includes a student text book, training, lunch on both days and examinations. The cost is $250 per person and space is limited to 36 people.

Topics include Microbiology of Thermally Processed Foods, Acidified Foods, Food Container Handling, Equipment Instrumentation and Operation for Thermal Processing Systems, Principles of Food Plant Sanitation, Principles of Thermal Processing, Recordkeeping for Product Protection, and Container Closure Evaluation for Glass, Flexible and Semi-rigid Containers. Instructors will give examinations throughout the course and will grade them quickly so that students are aware of their progress.

Successful completion of the Better Process Control School certifies supervisors in the requirements of the Code of Federal Regulations, Title 21, Part 114, which states: “All plant personnel involved in acidification, pH control, heat treatment, or other critical factors of the operation shall be under the operating supervision of a person who has attended a school approved by the Commissioner [of Agriculture] for giving instruction in food handling techniques, food protection principles, personal hygiene, plant sanitation practices, pH controls, and Critical factors in acidification.”

“During the previous legislative session, several producers expressed an interest in having this training available,” said Matthew J. Lohr, VDACS Commissioner. “I am delighted that Virginia Tech is able to offer these courses at such a low cost. This will be a terrific benefit to those wanting to sell pickles or other acidified foods.”

Pre-registration and payment are required by May 14, 2012. A registration brochure is available by calling VDACS at 804.786.3520. For additional information, interested parties should contact Dr. Karleigh Bacon at 540.231.6806 or

Va. agricultural exports reached record high in 2011

A view of the Port of Norfolk

Gov. Bob McDonnell announced on March 13 that the commonwealth exported a record $2.35 billion in agricultural products in 2011, an increase of more than 6 percent from 2010 and more than 2 percent from 2009.
McDonnell spoke during the opening lunch at the Governor’s Conference on Agricultural Trade.
“Agriculture and forestry are vitally important to economic growth in Virginia,” he said. “With more than one-quarter of farm cash receipts attributable to export sales, continuing to grow Virginia’s agribusiness exports is a priority for my administration. … Exports are key factors in keeping our economy moving forward, and they support jobs, from our farms to our outstanding air, land and sea ports.”
Virginia’s strong position in the global marketplace is due in part to its diversified portfolio of products and export markets. Top export products in 2011 included soybeans; poultry; wheat; pork; lumber and wood products; corn; animal feed; leaf tobacco; fats and oils; cotton; marine and aquaculture products; fresh vegetables; raw peanuts; hides and skins; processed foods and beverages, including wine.

Virginia’s top three ag export markets in 2011 were Morocco, with exports totaling more than $360 million in 2011; China, which saw its exports from Virginia grow to $304 million; and Canada, with exports of $220 million.

Todd P. Haymore, Virginia Secretary of Agriculture, said in a Op/Ed piece in the Richmond Times-Dispatch for every $1 of agricultural products exported, another $1.40 is generated by in-state activities, such as processing, packaging and shipping. Importantly, exports generated nearly 30 percent of annual farm cash receipts last year.

“Virginians have no doubt as to the superiority of our agricultural and forestry products. Now, with the help of an aggressive global marketing strategy implemented by McDonnell, more countries around the world are discovering what Virginia has to offer,” Haymore said.
There is concern, on the national level, about the Obama administration’s approach to a major Asian-Pacific free trade deal currently in the advanced stages of negotiations. The Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) aims to ease American exporters’ access to major Asian-Pacific markets, including Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Vietnam, Japan and Taiwan.

However, the administration is considering carving out tobacco leaf and tobacco products from the agreement, a move that would shut out Virginia tobacco farmers from countries that account for 40 percent of global trade and 75 percent of Virginia’s agricultural exports.

Virginia farming and business communities have joined the Farm Bureau and Commissioner Lohr in urging the Obama administration to negotiate a trade agreement that benefits all of Virginia’s farmers. This is something we are monitoring and will continue to keep you posted.

State officials participate in Ag Literacy Week

Virginia Commissioner of Agriculture Matt Lohr reads to
a Harrisonburg elementary school.
Photo by VDACS

This week is Virginia Agriculture Week and Agriculture Literacy Week, and Virginians are celebrating by reading to children in pre-school through the third grade at public and private schools throughout the state.

State officials, including Virginia Commissioner of Agriculture Matt Lohr and Virginia Secretary of Education Laura Fornash, as well as Farm Bureau members and other people involved in agriculture will visit local school, after‐school program, or day care and read From Our Fields…To You, a book written by Virginia farmer and teacher, Kellie Worrell., and provide other activities on Virginia agricultural products.

During their annual Legislative Day event, Virginia Farm Bureau members gave each state legislator a copy of From Our Fields…To You to read during Ag Literacy Week, or any time during the month of March since the General Assembly is still in session.