Trade Aid welcome, but Farmers still Favor Resolution

PortVirginia farmers are among those who stand to benefit from a second round of federal aid designed to offset income losses from foreign trade disputes.

But many farmers would still prefer to see a resolution to trade conflicts rather than a government check.

“We continue to be grateful for help in these desperate times, but we must have a congressionally approved trade deal with our major trading partners: Canada, China and Mexico,” said Wilmer Stoneman, Virginia Farm Bureau Federation vice president of agriculture, development and innovation. “A trade deal now is what’s needed to improve the economic outlook for Virginia farmers.”

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Botetourt and Lee Young Farmers Earn Honors

RoseTwo outstanding Virginians earned statewide accolades July 27 during the Virginia Farm Bureau Federation Young Farmers Summer Expo in Shenandoah County.

Rose Jeter of Botetourt County was named this year’s VFBF Young Farmers Excellence in Agriculture Award winner. Robby Burchett of Lee County was named this year’s VFBF Outstanding Young Agriculturalist.

The Excellence in Agriculture Award recognizes individuals for involvement in agriculture, leadership ability and involvement and participation in Farm Bureau and other organizations. Jeter was the 2018 runner-up for the award.

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Michael H. McDowell of Halifax Named 2019 Virginia Farmer of the Year

VA-McDowellNestled in the rolling hills and timberland of the southern Piedmont area of Virginia, Locust Level Farm is in a part of the state where, historically, fields of two to fifteen acres produced tobacco, supplemented by row crops. Michael McDowell is the fourth generation to practice stewardship on this land—designated a Virginia “century” farm—but he has taken some decidedly different directions from those of the past.

At the age of sixteen, McDowell says that his father offered him three acres of flue-cured tobacco under a sharecropper arrangement to produce funds for future college expenses. “I can’t say how important it was to take that step. It taught me early on the value of responsibility and about the challenges and rewards of working the land to provide for my needs.” He went on the graduate from Virginia Tech in Blacksburg with a double major in animal science and agronomy.

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VDACS Announces Path Forward for Industrial Hemp Processors

hemp2Industrial hemp has been one of the most exciting and talked-about crops in Virginia this past year. The inclusion of hemp in the 2018 farm bill had many people — both inside and outside the agriculture sector – racing to figure out the potential market for this agricultural product. The March 2019 passage of hemp legislation in Virginia only added to this fervor.

As of July 3, the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) has issued 847 Industrial Hemp Grower Registrations, 161 Industrial Hemp Processor Registrations, and 36 Industrial Hemp Dealer Registrations. Grower registration applications indicate that these Registered Industrial Hemp Growers plan to plant over 8,500 acres in industrial hemp this growing season.

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Resource Reminder: 2019-2020 Hunting and Trapping Regulations Digest

Hunting GuideThe 2019-2020 Hunting and Trapping Regulations Digest is available on the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries’ website. This guide contains hunting rules and regulations, including season lengths, bag limits, local firearms ordinances, and more. The digest is a useful tool for Virginia hunters to ensure that they are operating legally. Refer to the “What’s New” section for an overview of the latest regulatory changes. In addition to the online version, download the free “GoOutdoorsVA” app for easy, quick reference, or keep an eye out for a hard copy at your local license agent retailer.

Virginia Ranked 15th in the Nation for Rural Road Fatalities

Road sign of slow moving tractor in Holmes County, Ohio. OriginaVirginia ranks 15th among U.S. states with the highest number of fatalities on rural roads, according to a 2019 report from TRIP, a national transportation research group.

The report found that for every 100 million vehicle miles of travel, the average number of traffic fatalities on rural, non-interstate roads in Virginia is 2.34. That is more than four times the average number of fatalities on all other roads in Virginia.

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Virginia Farmers Will Benefit From Broadband

broadband (1)A new national report found that Virginia agriculture could grow by 18% if broadband technology is extended to underserved communities.

“In the western part of the state and elsewhere you have huge spots where they not only don’t have high-speed internet, where they can’t upload the quantity of data, they also don’t have access in general,” said Ben Rowe, national affairs coordinator for the Virginia Farm Bureau Federation.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture report A Case for Rural Broadband argues that farmers in rural America need access to broadband for high-speed uploads and downloads. The Federal Communications Commission defines broadband as 25 megabits per second download speed and 3 megabits per second upload speed. Even a farmer with that level of broadband would spend significant time waiting to upload photos.

In Virginia, 28.9% of rural residents do not have broadband access, according to the FCC.

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