National Affairs Update: The Local Impact of National Policy

Ben finalBy Ben Rowe, National Affairs Coordinator

In my first few weeks with Virginia Farm Bureau, I have enjoyed the opportunity to meet with our members from across the Commonwealth, and represent your interests in our nation’s capital and our statehouse in Richmond. We have enjoyed a busy July at VAFB where we have been focused on several national policy issues ahead of Congress’ August recess.

Earlier this month, I traveled with a group of Southwest Virginia Young Farmers to DC to meet with their representatives and discuss four policy areas important to these young farmers: farm bill, trade tariffs, broadband connectivity and expansion, and electronic logging devices and trucking hours of service. This trip was a valuable opportunity for our members to sit across the table from their legislators and discuss the impact of these policies on their operations, and districts.

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Virginia Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Co. Named to Ward’s 50

fof-logoVirginia Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Co. was named among the prestigious 2018 Property-Casualty Ward’s 50 Companies.

The list is compiled by Ward Group, a consulting firm specializing in the insurance industry and a leading provider of industry benchmarking.

“To be named one of the 50 top P&C companies in the country is a tremendous honor,” said Darlene Wells, VFBMIC executive vice president and general manager. “It is a privilege to work for an organization that strives for and delivers excellent results. It is a testament of employees’ fortitude, focus and discipline on growing our company in a healthy, financially responsible manner that gives us a stronger financial position to grow and better serve our policyholders for the long term.”

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VFBF Women’s Committee Announces Award Changes

WomensChanges are coming to the state Women’s Committee Awards. New to the program, the Distinguished Farm Bureau Woman Award will recognize a woman for her contribution in either farm business and community activities; agricultural business and community activities; or agricultural leadership and community involvement. This award is open to all Farm Bureau women producer and associate members. It will replace the Farm Woman of the Year recognition.

The state women’s committee will also honor an Outstanding Woman in Agriculture. The recipient will be selected by the state committee and will recognize a woman’s achievement in the agriculture industry. The Farm Bureau Ambassador program will see a minor change, as each finalist will now receive $200 for their efforts, beginning at the 2019 Women’s Spring Conference.

Unfortunately, after much deliberation, the Lady Leader contest will no longer be offered.

Visit the Virginia Farm Bureau Women’s Program page at www.vafb.com for more information later this summer

Virginia Agriculture Gains New Leaders as VALOR Graduates Latest Class, Announces New Class

VALOR IIIThe Virginia Agriculture Leaders Obtaining Results (VALOR) program, the commonwealth’s premier agriculture-leadership training program, celebrated the graduation of its third class of leadership fellows at the Hotel Roanoke on July 14.

The program, which is housed at Virginia Tech within the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, is also preparing to welcome its fourth class of fellows, and has announced the names of those invited to begin this fall.

The Cohort III fellows, who engaged in a service project and professional development activities during the past two years, enjoyed an evening reception and dinner ceremony at the historic hotel and closed their fellowship experience with an alumni networking brunch. Each reminisced about experiences and knowledge gained throughout the program.

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Virginia Ag Expo Highlights Precision Agriculture

Ag ExpoThe theme of this year’s Virginia Ag Expo on Aug. 2 is “Utilizing Precision Agriculture to Manage Challenges.”

That theme will be explored during the state’s largest agricultural field day, which will be held at Cloverfield Farm in Essex County.

A field tour will feature corn and soybean variety test plots, and the discussion will focus on precision agriculture, a management practice that makes farming more accurate with the use of information technology.

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Trade War Endangers Farmers, Farm Bureau Tells Congress

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AFBF Vice President Scott VanderWal

American Farm Bureau Federation Vice President Scott VanderWal and Texas Farm Bureau President Russell Boening today warned Congress that many farms will lose money and even go out of business entirely if the growing trade war continues. Each called for a resumption of talks and removal of tariffs that are undoing decades of progress in trade.

Kevin Paap, president of the Minnesota Farm Bureau, testified separately for his state’s organization. “Agriculture has been and continues to be the tip of the spear,” the corn and soybean farmer told the committee. “Once you lose a market, it is really tough to get it back. We cannot afford to lose our place as a leader in the agricultural global marketplace.”

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Young Farmers Talk ELDs, Broadband with DC Representatives

By Emmalee Edwards, Craig County Young Farmers

Corn tobaccoOn July 10-12, a group of Farm Bureau Young Farmers from Southwest Virginia took on Washington, D.C. to meet with Congressmen and organizations such as National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, Animal Ag Alliance, and BIO. We spent July 11th on Capitol Hill, meeting with Congressman Garrett and Congressman Griffith.

We divided the group between the two congressmen; those in Congressman Garrett’s district met with him, and those of us in the 9th District met with Congressman Griffith. We had four key issues to bring to Griffith’s attention: electronic logging devices (ELDs), rural broadband access, trade tariffs, and the Farm Bill. Our time with our Congressman was limited as he had been called into an important meeting (top secret, of course), so we had only five minutes to discuss the first issue – the effect of ELDs on livestock transportation. The requirement for livestock haulers to use ELDs would be detrimental to beef cattle operations in the district, where the best option for feeder calves is to ship them via trucks from Virginia to Midwest feedlots. Griffith agreed that livestock haulers should be exempt from using ELDs, and is currently pushing for further reprieve from compliance for those transporting animals.

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