Revitalized State Fair, property rights reform top Farm Bureau successes
November 28, 2012
The continuation of a 158-year tradition and passage of a private property rights amendment to the Virginia Constitution top the successes of the Virginia Farm Bureau Federation this year, according to VFBF President Wayne F. Pryor.
In his Nov. 28 address to voting delegates at the VFBF Annual Convention in Chantilly, Pryor praised Farm Bureau members for their grassroots action to win passage of Question 1 on the Nov. 6 ballot.
“This victory was the result of seven years of hard work,” Pryor said. “I firmly believe this will go down as one of the major political achievements of Farm Bureau for decades to come.”
The amendment enshrines current state law in Virginia’s constitution regarding the proper use of eminent domain by governments and utilities. Under the change, all eminent domain takings must be for public use, not for expanding private business purposes, and they must include the land necessary for the project at hand only, not future needs. Landowners must be compensated not only for the fair market value of their land, but also for lost economic opportunities if a taking limits their business practices.
Farm Bureau also was instrumental in keeping the State Fair of Virginia alive in 2012. In March the previous owners declared bankruptcy, and the fair property was sold at auction. It was purchased by Tennessee-based Universal Fairs LLC, which announced plans to continue the fair with only 70 days to organize the event. That’s when Farm Bureau stepped up to help ensure the fair remained true to its agricultural roots, Pryor said. Farm Bureau purchased 50 percent of the venture and formed Commonwealth Fairs and Events LLC with Universal Fairs to run the fair and other activities at The Meadow Event Park in Caroline County.
“I want to thank all of you who helped during this extremely busy summer to put on the fair. We recreated the agricultural exhibits and most of the other fair exhibits that the public enjoys,” Pryor told Farm Bureau members. “We put on a great show, and now Farm Bureau is known as the group that saved the fair. Our challenge for the coming year is to design and carry out a fair that is even more successful in spreading the good news about Virginia agriculture.”
Pryor also told convention delegates that Virginia Farm Bureau programs have earned national acclaim. The American Farm Bureau Federation recently selected Virginia Farm Bureau for five of its Awards of Excellence this year, for work in education and outreach; leadership development; member services; policy development and implementation; and public relations and communication.
With nearly 150,000 members in 88 county Farm Bureaus, VFBF is Virginia’s largest farmers’ advocacy group. Farm Bureau is a non-governmental, nonpartisan, voluntary organization committed to protecting Virginia’s farms and ensuring a safe, fresh and locally grown food supply.