Women’s Committees PB&J Drives Helping the Hungry

PB&J Food DriveCounty Farm Bureau Women’s Committees across Virginia are banding together to help the hungry in their communities with a classic lunchtime staple—peanut butter and jelly.

Sponsored by Virginia Farm Bureau Federation Women’s Leadership Committee, participating county Farm Bureau women’s committees are collecting peanut butter, jelly and other non-perishable food items to help support regional food banks, local food pantries and Virginia families.

The idea for the statewide effort started when Faye Hundley, chairman of VFBF Women’s Leadership Committee, heard about the spike in people seeking food assistance and wanted to help. She reached out to the women’s committees and began organizing the effort.

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USMCA Takes Effect: Welcome News for Struggling Farmers

USMCAThe United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) goes into effect July 1, at a crucial time for farmers struggling to recover from COVID-19 losses and a depressed agricultural economy. The expected $2 billion annual increase in U.S. agricultural exports and overall increase of $65 billion in gross domestic product will provide a welcome boost.

USDA estimates COVID-19 contributed to a $50 billion decline in commodity value alone for 2019, 2020 and 2021 production totals. This does not include all of agriculture’s losses, which would be billions more.

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Farm Bureau Farm Dog of the Year Nominations Accepted Until Aug. 20

black-and-white-border-collie-3523317Farmers are invited to submit nominations for the 2021 Farm Bureau Farm Dog of the Year contest, with support from Purina. This is the third year of the contest, which celebrates farm dogs that work alongside farmers and ranchers to produce nutritious food for families and their pets across America.

The grand prize winner – Farm Bureau Farm Dog of the Year – will win a year’s worth of Purina dog food and $5,000 in prize money. The winner will be recognized at a Farm Dog of the Year award ceremony at the American Farm Bureau Federation Convention in January. Up to four regional runners-up* will win $1,000 each in prize money.

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New Bills Would Help Processors Meet Demand

Peanuts108Farm Bureau is backing two recently introduced bills that would help more small meat and poultry plants sell their products in other states and better meet nationwide demand for beef, chicken and turkey.

Introduced on July 2, the Requiring Assistance to Meat Processors for Upgrading Plants (RAMP-UP) Act would establish a program to make facility upgrade and planning grants to existing meat and poultry processors to help them move to federal inspection, which will allow them to sell their products across state lines. The legislation would also require USDA to work with states and report on ways to improve the existing Cooperative Interstate Shipment program.

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Governor Northam Announces Expansion of Hydroponic Greenhouse Facility in Northampton County

Shore Breeze Salad KitGovernor Ralph Northam today announced that Shore Breeze Farms will expand operations at its hydroponic greenhouse facility in Northampton County, increasing its production of Virginia-grown leafy greens by thirty percent. The company provides Virginia-grown lettuces to Virginia public schools, local restaurants, and farm stands on the Eastern Shore and in Virginia Beach. This is the first Governor’s Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development (AFID) Fund grant awarded to Northampton County.

“It is exciting to see homegrown companies like Shore Breeze Farms harnessing new agriculture technologies to bring fresh, local vegetables to their communities,” said Governor Northam. “Shore Breeze Farms has long been known for innovative product offerings, and I am especially proud to see how they are branching into new markets during the ongoing COVID-19 crisis to offer pre-packaged salad kits to Virginians on the Eastern Shore.”

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Acreage Report Shows More U.S. Corn, Soybeans Planted in 2020

Hammock09Results from an annual survey of more than 71,000 farmers showed a jump in planted corn and soybean acreage, and a dip in cotton and wheat, compared to 2019.

The National Agricultural Statistics Service estimated 92 million acres of corn was planted in the U.S. in 2020, up 3% from last year. Planted soybeans are estimated at 83.8 million acres, up 10%. Extreme wet conditions hindered the amount of corn and soybeans planted in 2019.

Robert Harper, grain division manager for Virginia Farm Bureau Federation, said Corn Belt states had ideal weather this spring, and their crops were planted quickly compared to last year.

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Proposed Bill Would Help Farmers Participate in Carbon Markets

no tillBipartisan legislation to make it easier for farmers and foresters using conservation practices to participate in carbon markets has been introduced in the House.

Virginia Rep. Abigail Spanberger, D-7th, and Rep. Don Bacon of Nebraska, a Republican, recently proposed the Growing Climate Solutions Act. The bill is supported by a wide range of farming, environmental and industry organizations in Virginia, Nebraska and across the country.

The proposed bill would create a certification program through the U.S. Department of Agriculture to help remove barriers that prevent farmers and foresters from participating in carbon credit markets. Through the program, USDA would act as a liaison between farmers and private sectors.

American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall told Congress that American agriculture accounts for less than 10% of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, far less than transportation, electricity generation and industry sectors. He added that carbon sequestration from forestland, grasslands and farmland converted to forestland “more than offset agriculture’s total greenhouse gas emissions.” Continue reading

Invasive Spotted Lanternfly Threatening Plants and Crops

600600p3769EDNmainimg-lanternfly-7201Virginians may not need to worry about murder hornets, but they should be on the lookout for another invasive pest—the spotted lanternfly.

First seen in Virginia in 2018, the pest is a threat to 70 ornamental plants, trees and various crops, including apples, grapes, hops and stone fruits.

Once limited to Winchester and Frederick County, the pest is quickly expanding its territory despite vigorous prevention measures. Adult spotted lanternflies were found in Clarke County last fall.

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Virginia Farmers Welcome Recent Wet Weather

rainbow 2Hoping to bounce back from an unusually cold spring, some Virginia farmers are now embracing the early summer rainfall.

Many localities across the state have seen steady rain since June 1, resulting in favorable soil moisture levels. According to the National Agricultural Statistics Service’s end of June crop report, Virginia’s topsoil moisture was rated at 85% and subsoil moisture was 91%.

The satisfactory soil conditions and influx of rain have helped fortify some summer crops after freezing temperatures in mid-May damaged or delayed much of Virginia’s wheat harvest and corn planting.

“The rain has provided a silver lining for some farmers,” said Mike Parrish, a Virginia Cooperative Extension agent in Dinwiddie County. “Cotton is pushing along really well after a slow spell, and tobacco, peanuts and soybeans are being helped along by the rain.”

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