Update on the Federal and State Industrial Hemp Regulatory Landscape

hemp2In recent years, we have seen growing interest in industrial hemp production among Virginia’s farmers. The crop presents an economic opportunity to produce hemp for fiber, oil, or seed and there is a great deal of optimism and enthusiasm surrounding the fledgling industry.

The 2018 Farm Bill included provisions establishing a regulatory framework for the commercial production of hemp and allowed states wanting to have primary regulatory authority over the commercial production of hemp to prepare a plan under which the state will monitor and regulate hemp production. During the 2019 Virginia General Assembly Session two bills, HB 1839 and SB 1692, were passed and essentially conformed Virginia law to that language found in the Farm Bill. This change cleared the way for farmers to commercially produce hemp without having to participate in the existing hemp research program.

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Virginia Dairy Farmer Selected as 2019 Agriculture Advocate of the Year

Debbie BrubakerThe National Agriculture in the Classroom Organization (NAITCO) and National Grange have selected Virginia beef and dairy farmer and educator Debbie Brubaker as the winner of its Agriculture Advocate Award for 2019.

Brubaker won the award for expanding her ‘Dairy Day’ event into one that covers 20 different commodities to educate students about local agriculture, participating in STEM school events to demonstrate to students the important role agriculture plays in science and the natural world, reading as part of Virginia Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom’s Agriculture Literacy Project and hosting hundreds of students at ‘Dairy Days’ at the Franklin County Fair each year. Brubaker estimates she has reached about 60,000 students with the message of the importance of agriculture over the years. But it’s Brubaker’s graphic design skills that make her special.

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Hunting Seasons, Methods, Bag Limits, and License Fees: Public Comment Period on Proposed Regulation Amendments

deerFollowing a public scoping period where ideas on changes to wildlife regulations were reviewed, the proposed amendments to Virginia’s regulations governing fees, hunting, trapping, and terrestrial wildlife. A public comment period is currently ongoing through May 15, 2019.

After hearing public comment on the proposed amendments at the May 30, 2019 Board meeting, the Board anticipates adopting final regulation amendments that will be effective for 2019–2020. You can read the proposed changes and provide feedback here.

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, https://www.tishalyn.com/ and Amanda Miles with Amanda Miles Photography https://www.amandamilesphotography.com/

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 Molly.Harris@vafb.com 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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