PODCAST: Chesapeake Bay Regulatory Issues

Farmers in Virginia have been dealing with an increasing regulatory burden from federal agencies, particularly in the Chesapeake Bay region. Arkansas Farm Bureau’s environmental issues committee traveled to Virginia recently to see first-hand how farmers and ranchers there are responding to the regulatory challenges. In this conversation, Wilmer Stoneman, associate director of Governmental Affairs for Virginia Farm Bureau explains how Arkansas farmers and ranchers may prepare in the event they face similar regulatory issues in the future. Click here to listen: http://www.arfb.com/media-communications/press-releases/2016/podcast_chesapeake_bay_regulatory_issues/

 

National Survey, Virginia Program Noting Farms’ Conservation Efforts

creek crossover for cattle (2)

Creek crossover for cattle

The National Agricultural Statistics Service is conducting its second annual survey to measure the environmental benefits associated with conservation practices on agricultural land.

Virginia’s Resource Management Plan program, which just entered its third year, is also noting efforts by farmers to protect the environment.

Since Virginia launched its RMP program in July 2014, 320 plans have been developed for farms in the commonwealth’s portion of the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Created in the interest of meeting bay cleanup goals, the program encourages farmers to voluntarily increase their use of agricultural best management practices and documents their current practices.
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Farm Bureau hails Supreme Court Victory

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AFBF President Zippy Duvall

A unanimous Supreme Court today ruled landowners may challenge the federal government whenever the Army Corps of Engineers tries improperly to regulate land with regulations designed to protect water.

Landowners have attempted many times to challenge Corps rulings known as jurisdictional determinations, but the government successfully argued that those determinations were not “final agency actions” and the lawsuits were dismissed. Now, when the Corps asserts jurisdiction over low spots that look more like land than water, it will have to do so with the knowledge that its jurisdictional determination can be tested in court. Continue reading

VDH Schedules More Public Discussions on Uranium

The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) will hold a series of meetings to gather public input on the issues of water supply and recreational water to assess the impact of uranium mining and milling in Virginia. More specifically, VDH will collect public comments related to the following questions:

1. What are the public’s concerns about related to the impact of uranium mining and milling on water quality and quantity of private wells?

2. What are the public’s concerns related to the impact of uranium mining and milling on recreational use of surface water?

3. What role should VDH play in assuring that public health is protected in regard to private wells and recreational water use in regard to uranium mining and milling?

4. What safeguards should be in place to protect private wells and recreational water?

Evening meetings will be large meetings and VDH will receive comments from as many participants as time allows. Registration is not required to attend the public meetings that will be held in the evenings. Individuals who are unable to attend but want to submit comments or issues for consideration may do so at http://www.uwg.vi.virginia.gov/.

In addition to accepting comments in the public forum, VDH and other agencies will staff tables to provide information and collect questions and comments from the public. Staff will be available at these tables for one hour before the public meetings begin. Questions may be asked and comments made in the public forum, at the tables or both.

Schedule of VDH Large Group Meetings on Uranium Mining and Water:

August 7, 2012
6:00 – 8:00 p.m.
Chatham Circuit Court Building
3 North Main St. Chatham

August 15, 2012
6:00 – 8:00 p.m.
Warrenton The Barn, Lord Fairfax Community College
6480 College St. Warrenton

August 29, 2012
6:00 – 8:00 p.m.
Virginia Beach Meyera Oberndorff Library Auditorium
4100 Virginia Beach Boulevard Virginia Beach

Day-long issue discussion sessions will allow a small group of participants to engage in more focused and in-depth discussion of public concerns, health risks, and potential regulatory changes. These meetings will require participants to devote a full day to participation, and participants will be identified prior to the meetings. Although we expect that a large number of persons will be interested in serving on the discussion groups, because VDH would like to conduct a very in-depth discussion, only a small number of persons will be selected.

Members of the public who are interested in participating are invited to submit their name for participation in one of the discussion sessions listed in the schedule. A total of 15 to 20 persons will be randomly selected from the names submitted and VDH is suggesting that individuals indicate their interest or expertise in the following areas, in order to assure a robust discussion: the agricultural community, water service provider, general business community, business associated with recreational water, academic with a special knowledge of geology or groundwater, local government, or private homeowner. The only requirements for your participation are that you commit to attending the entire meeting, that you indicate your area of interest from one of the groups listed above, and that you are willing to join in an open discussion of the issues. These are public meetings and a summary of the discussion, along with a list of participants, will be made available to the public after the meetings. Please note that if you volunteer your name will be listed as a participant in the public summary of the meeting.

If you are interested please submit your name, your area of interest, address and telephone number, e-mail address and other contact information, and preferred meeting location to https://www.vdh.virginia.gov/ODW/publicmeeting. You must submit your information no later than August 3, 2012. Persons selected for participation will be notified beginning August 3 and notification of selections will be completed by August 6, 2012.

Schedule of VDH Small Group Discussion Meetings on Uranium Mining and Water:

August 8, 2012
8:00 a.m. – 4:15 p.m.
Chatham County Administration Building
1 Center St. Chatham

August 16, 2012
8:00 a.m. – 4:15 p.m.
Warrenton Warrenton Rescue Squad Building
210 Hospital Drive Warrenton, VA

August 30, 2012
8:00 a.m. – 4:15 p.m.
Virginia Beach Virginia Beach Health Department
Glass Conference Room (second floor)
4452 Corporation Lane Virginia Beach

Farm Bureau concerned about AgBMP Cost Share Funding

Creek crossover for cattle

Farm Bureau has raised concerns about the cuts to the local Soil and Water Conservation Districts. The Governor’s budget cut $2.046 million of support for operations and technical assistance distributed to the 47 local Soil and Water Conservation Districts.

This concerns Farm Bureau because of the water quality goals contained in the Watershed Implementation Plan for the Chesapeake Bay that apply to agriculture hinges on implementation of conservation practices by farmers. Local Soil and Water Conservation Districts are the “hands on the ground” in working with farmers in implementing voluntary and cost-shared conservation practices. Without a strong local delivery and reporting system, farmers may not be able to achieve the goals set forth that are applicable to agriculture.

Farm Bureau is encouraging its members to ask the members of the Virginia General Assembly to restore these funds and look at adequate and stable funding for this local delivery system.

Farm Bureau has also raised concerns about the funding available for farmers for implementation of agriculture best management cost share practices. While Farm Bureau appreciates the infusion of funding in the 2011 General Assembly, this infusion is not consistent for the next two fiscal years. Farm Bureau is awaiting the Secretary of Natural Resources Ag BMP Cost Share Needs Assessment analysis. Farm Bureau believes this analysis will show that this conservation practices cost share program will not be funded at a level in order to allow farmers to meet the water quality goals.