RICHMOND—Farmers from all over Virginia will meet with their state senators and delegates Jan. 26 for Virginia Farm Bureau Federation’s annual Legislative Day.
Farm Bureau leaders will share their thoughts on legislative issues relevant to agriculture and explain why the organization has taken some of the specific stands it has.
“A lot of our elected officials don’t have an agricultural background,” said Trey Davis, VFBF political education and legislative specialist. “That’s why it’s important for our leaders to educate them on bills that will adversely affect their farming operations.
“Most of our representatives are receptive to our annual visits and really take the time to listen and understand where we’re coming from.”
This year’s top concerns include opposing unfunded water quality mandates in reaction to threats from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; prohibiting restrictions on the way farmers care for their animals; keeping Virginia’s estate tax dead; protecting private property rights; and pushing for monetary support for programs that support agriculture and forestry.
Farm Bureau is urging the General Assembly not to give in to federal threats to mandate that farmers implement conservation practices without funding. “The current voluntary incentive-based program is already woefully underfunded at the state and federal levels,” said Martha Moore, VFBF director of governmental relations. “Farmers are committed to utilizing cost-share dollars when they are appropriated and when they can afford measures without any cost-share help.”
Farm Bureau also is concerned about the cumulative effect of budget cuts on governmental agencies farmers use as resources, including the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services; Virginia Cooperative Extension and its Agricultural Research and Extension Centers; the Virginia Department of Forestry; and local soil and water conservation districts.
In the past two fiscal years, VDACS has suffered nearly a 21 percent budget reduction. Extension and the ARECs budgets have been reduced 14.3 percent. The Department of Forestry suffered close to a 20 percent cut over the past two years, and local soil and water conservation districts have taken a 22 percent cut.
Contact Davis at 804-290-1017 or Moore at 804-290-1013.