Board of Game and Inland Fisheries Passes Elk Management Plan

ElkThe Board of Game and Inland Fisheries passed the Virginia Elk Management Plan 2019-2028 at their meeting on March 21, 2019. This 10-year plan will guide the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries’ management of the elk population in Virginia through 2028. The goals set forth by the plan were developed by a 17-member stakeholder advisory committee, representing a variety of interests, including farmers, hunters, homeowners, forest landowners, animal and ecological health interests, business and tourism industries, motorists, and government agencies.

Virginia Farm Bureau State Board Member Emily Edmondson served as a member of the Stakeholder Advisory Committee and worked for many years developing the Elk Management Plan, as well as providing public comments in front of the General Assembly and Board of Game and Inland Fisheries. Thank you to Emily for her leadership on this issue!

Nebraska Farm Bureau Launches Disaster Relief Fund and Information Exchange Portal

Farm Misty Water Flood Nature Fog LandscapeRecord flooding devastates Nebraska, ag damage could top $1 billion

The Nebraska Farm Bureau has launched relief efforts to aid Nebraska farmers, ranchers and rural communities suffering from the natural disasters that have impacted the state. The relief efforts include the establishment of a disaster relief fund and launch of an online agriculture disaster exchange portal to connect those in need with those who can help.

Money donated to the Disaster Relief Fund will be targeted to aid Nebraska farmers, ranchers and rural communities affected by recent storms and flooding. Priority will be given to efforts to restore health and safety in rural communities and to farm and ranch households that have been damaged or displaced by the natural disaster.

To donate or apply for aid from the Disaster Relief Fund, utilize the Agriculture Disaster Exchange portal, or access other disaster assistance resources, visit www.nefb.org/disaster.

Farm Bureau Explores Federal Budget

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Ben Rowe, right, with Nottoway County Young Farmer John Shepherd

With the 2019 Virginia General Assembly session adjourned, I have turned my full attention from the state capital back to our nation’s capital, and the federal issues that impact your farm. Since the 116th Congress convened in January, we have seen more than 2,900 bills introduced, as well as the Administration’s FY2020 budget proposal. As we move into another year of low commodity prices and farm income, the federal agriculture budget is more important than ever. Let’s dive into the federal agriculture budget and how it would impact your operation, both positively and negatively.

On March 11th, the President released the administration’s federal budget for FY2020. The $4.75 trillion budget is the largest in federal history, yet calls for a 15 percent reduction in funding for the USDA. The total budget request for USDA amounts to $20.8 billion, which is $3.6 billion below current levels. The proposed cuts affect both discretionary funding (set through the annual budget and appropriations processes) and proposed legislative changes to programs authorized and funded in the 2018 Farm Bill.

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Rapidly Evolving Industry Attracts Virginia Farmers to Hemp Summit

Industrialhemp2The second Industrial Hemp Summit took place Feb. 25 and 26, on the heels of the 2018 Farm Bill’s passage in December. That legislation lifted restrictions on growing hemp in the U.S.

Legalization is just the first step in building America’s hemp industry, and summit participants discussed the opportunities and challenges ahead. The event drew more than 300 people from 18 states, Canada and Great Britain. Entrepreneurs, university researchers, farmers and other stakeholders discussed issues of establishing a supply chain and building markets for hemp products such as food, paper, clothing, building materials and personal care products.

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Farm Groups Demand Justice for North Carolina Hog Farmers

pig-214349_1920A judgment stemming from a $50 million verdict must be overturned, farm groups told a federal appeals court in Richmond, Virginia, yesterday.

Earlier last year, juries in three separate trials in Raleigh, North Carolina, awarded punitive damages of more than $500 million to neighbors of North Carolina hog farms. Plaintiffs claimed the odor and truck noise related to the farms should be declared a nuisance. The first judgment from these trials is the subject of this appeal.

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Farm Bureau to Help Honor Ag Entrepreneur in Va. Women’s Monument

MonumentThe state’s largest agricultural organization has made a significant donation to honor an ag entrepreneur in the Virginia Women’s Monument.

Leaders from Virginia Farm Bureau Federation presented a donation of $100,000 to the Virginia Capitol Foundation on Feb. 25 to support installation of a statue of Laura Copenhaver of Smyth County. About one-fifth of the donation came from county Farm Bureaus.

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Trade Conference Highlights Winter of Discontent, Hope for Spring

Trade Conference 2019Speakers’ remarks evoked a mix of hope and frustration at the 11th annual Virginia Governor’s Conference on Agricultural Trade. The event was held March 5 in Richmond and drew more than 300 participants, including representatives from 15 foreign embassies.

Gov. Ralph Northam made brief luncheon remarks, reporting that, as of November 2018, Virginia farm and forestry exports for the year were valued at $2.7 billion, which represents a 16 percent increase over exports for all of 2017.

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