VFBF President Wayne F. Pryor: Farmers Feel Legislators Heard Their Pleas for a Continued Water Quality Partnership

This column written by VFBF President Wayne Pryor ran in the Richmond Times-Dispatch on Friday, Feb. 7. 

WP2For years, Virginia’s farmers, conservation groups, and soil and water conservation districts have worked diligently to address legitimate barriers to farmers being able to adopt on-farm conservation practices. Those include stream exclusion fencing and nutrient management plans.

And because good stewardship is part of good citizenship, farmers have made great strides in voluntarily introducing those practices and others.

Barriers to the practices have included a lack of adequate cost-share funding in recent years; a lack of funding for soil and water conservation districts to provide adequate technical assistance; and a lack of flexibility to address legitimate site-specific issues that farmers encounter.

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Agricultural Trade Conference to Focus on Global Exports

Ag Trade 2020U.S. trade officials and agricultural representatives will meet March 10 at the Richmond Marriott for the 12th annual Virginia Governor’s Conference on Agricultural Trade.

Co-hosted by the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Virginia Farm Bureau Federation, the Virginia Port Authority and Virginia Tech’s Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics, the conference will include remarks from Gov. Ralph Northam on Virginia’s trade progress and priorities.

“The conference is a once-a-year opportunity for Virginia farmers, exporters and buyers to be in the same room talking about trade,” said Wilmer Stoneman, VFBF vice president of agriculture, development and innovation. “The conference benefits everyone from the farmers producing crops all the way to buyers and consumers of those products in other countries.”

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New Clean Water Rule Offers Regulatory Clarity for Farmers

beautiful-clouds-countryside-1537136Virginia farmers are celebrating a new clean water rule that brings clarity to the regulatory requirements and enforcement of the Clean Water Act.

The new rule was issued by the Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to replace the 2015 Waters of the U.S. rule. The Trump administration rescinded that rule last year and implemented the replacement on Jan. 23. The new rule eliminated requirements for landowners to get EPA approval for certain modifications on their own lands. It also removed many seasonal streams, small waterways and wetlands from restrictive federal oversight.

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Dry Spell Leaves Farmers Coping with Hay Shortage

Hay Rockbridge 1The impact of a dry spell can last long after it’s over, and Virginia farmers are still feeling the effects of 2019’s drought conditions.

The dry period, which began in the summer and lasted through the fall, caused a domino effect for farmers. Grass dried up, and farmers were forced to start feeding hay to their animals months earlier than normal, depleting their winter inventory.

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USDA Announces Details of Hemp Crop Insurance Programs

hemp2The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) this week announced the availability of two programs that protect hemp producers’ crops from natural disasters. A pilot hemp insurance program through Multi-Peril Crop Insurance (MPCI) provides coverage against loss of yield because of insurable causes of loss for hemp grown for fiber, grain, or Cannabidiol (CBD) oil and the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP) coverage protects against losses associated with lower yields, destroyed crops or prevented planting where no permanent federal crop insurance program is available. Producers may apply now, and the deadline to sign up for both programs is March 16, 2020.

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Farmers Appreciate Lawmakers’ Commitment to Water Quality Partnership

WIP3.1In recent years, Virginia’s farmers have worked alongside conservation groups and soil and water conservation district staff to address barriers to enacting on-farm conservation practices.

On Feb. 4 and 5 they made the case to state legislators for preserving that partnership rather than relying on regulatory mandates.

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