Review Program Helping Produce Growers Prepare for Federal Compliance

Dana BoyleDana Boyle welcomed the group of visitors to her family’s farm, adding, “I’m not nervous about this. I don’t know whether I should be.”

Boyle, whose family operates Garner’s Produce in Westmoreland County, took part in an On-Farm Readiness Review, offered by the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and Virginia Cooperative Extension, on April 4. The review program was developed by the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture to help produce growers comply with the Food and Drug Administration Food Safety Modernization Act’s Produce Safety Rule.

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Agriculture Census Finds Contrasts in Virginia’s Largest Industry

pexels-photo-248837The recently released results of the 2017 U.S. Census of Agriculture are full of contrasts.

For example, the census found Virginia farmers are getting older, but more than a quarter of them are new or beginning farmers. Net farm income is up, yet the number of farms is down.

The number of Virginia farms totaled 43,225—6.1% fewer than the 46,030 operations identified in 2012. The total number of farmed acres was 7.8 million, also 6.1 percent less than the 8.3 million acres farmed in 2012. But the market value of agriculture products sold in 2017 was $3.96 billion, up 6 percent from $3.75 billion five years earlier.

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VA FAIRS and Lulus Local Food to Hold Photography Workshop for Farmers

CameraJoin VA FAIRS– Foundation for Agriculture, Innovation & Rural Sustainability and Lulus Local Food for a half-day workshop with two professional photographers on Thursday, May 2  from noon-4 p.m. at the Virginia Farm Bureau West Creek office in Richmond. Learn basic photography and key elements for storytelling and showcasing your products on Instagram. Bring your own photography equipment (whether it’s an iPhone or a Nikon) and sample farm products to practice your photography.

Talented presenters include Tisha Lyn McHouston, and Amanda Miles with Amanda Miles Photography

This is a free event, but seating is limited! This event will be live streamed on webex for those who cannot join us in person. RSVP today to reserve your spot!

Virginia First Lady Announces Farm-to-School Goal, Connecting Schools to Virginia Growers

adorable-beautiful-child-208191Virginia First Lady Pamela Northam, Secretary of Education Atif Qarni, and Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Bettina Ring are calling on the Commonwealth’s school nutrition programs to increase annual statewide local food purchases to at least $22 million by 2022. Mrs. Northam announced the goal last month in Hampton during the annual Virginia Farm-to-School Conference.

”Serving locally grown food products in our schools is a great opportunity to connect our exceptional agricultural resources with Virginia’s greatest resource—our children,” said First Lady Northam. “Children benefit from wholesome and fresh food to nourish their growing brains and bodies while learning the importance of agriculture and food production in their communities and across Virginia.”

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Farm Bureau Honors Three Women for Impact on Agriculture, Communities

Women Winners 2019Virginia Farm Bureau Federation recognized three women on March 30 for their service to and accomplishments in agriculture and their communities. The organization held its annual Women’s Spring Conference March 29-31.

Dr. Megan Seibel of Botetourt County was named inaugural recipient of the VFBF Outstanding Woman in Agriculture Award. The award was introduced this year to honor women for achievements and contributions to the agriculture industry.

Seibel is a Virginia Cooperative Extension specialist in Virginia Tech’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and inaugural director of the Virginia Agriculture Leaders Obtaining Results Program. She previously served 18 months as deputy secretary of agriculture and forestry under former Gov. Terry McAuliffe. She has served on the Roanoke County Farm Bureau board for 12 years and is in her third term as that organization’s president. In 2015, she was named America’s Farmers Southeast Mom of the Year in a recognition program sponsored by Monsanto.

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State Study Indicates Accomack Poultry Regulations are Effective


A recent environmental study in Accomack County indicates strict new poultry farming regulations approved by county supervisors are doing their job, local farmers say.

In February 2016 the Accomack County Board of Supervisors approved local zoning regulations for new poultry houses. Two years later a series of tests by the Virginia Institute of Marine Science found little evidence of nutrient contamination in waterways near new poultry farms.

“We required a lot with buffer strips and drainage requirements and designs,” said Lynn Gayle, president of Accomack County Farm Bureau and a member of the county planning commission. The commission spent 18 months developing the new standards, he noted. “We feel this is the best that technology has to offer for preventing contamination away from the houses, and the study substantiated this. They were sampling in areas with large poultry operations and determined there were no water quality issues relative to chicken houses.”

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Water Quality Efforts Working, Bay Program Reports

BayThe Chesapeake Bay Program announced March 26 that water quality in the bay met its highest level since monitoring began in 1985, besting its previous record reported in 2017.

According to preliminary data, an estimated 42 percent of the bay and its tidal tributaries met clean water standards for clarity, dissolved oxygen, and chlorophyll-a between 2015 and 2017. The 5 percent increase from the previous assessment period is due in large part to reductions in chlorophyll-a, an indicator of algae growth, and increases in underwater grass abundance and dissolved oxygen in open waters. New research conducted by Chesapeake Bay Program experts and published in Science of the Total Environment described the changes as “positive and statistically significant trends” in the bay.

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Virginia Representatives Sign on to Livestock Hauler Dear Colleague Letter

Livestock haule 3If you have been following our federal outreach and advocacy related to livestock hauler Hours of Service and Electronic Logging Devices, you know this is a priority issue for Farm Bureau and our members. The ability to safely and efficiently haul livestock is critical not only for animal welfare, but for the viability of Virginia’s livestock operations. Farm Bureau recognizes that livestock haulers need flexibility in the hours they are permitted to be on the road so they can address the unique challenges of hauling livestock. Farm Bureau has been working towards hours of service reform in recent years and continues to push for reasonable and workable reforms.

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