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Local Farm Bureau members pressing issues with state lawmakers

Posted on Thursday, January 16, 2014 at 5:36 pm

County Farm Bureau leaders from across the Commonwealth will speak with state legislators about issues of interest to farmers during Virginia Farm Bureau Federation’s annual Legislative Day at the Virginia General Assembly on Jan. 23.

Caroline County Farm Bureau members recently met with Virginia Delegates Buddy Fowler, Keith Hodges and Chris Pease to discuss the upcoming session of the General Assembly.

The Caroline members at the meeting were Park Dodd, Henry Barlow, Nancy Barlow, Brian Criley, Kim Criley, John Broaddus, Bates Broaddus and Lynwood Broaddus. They were among 22 Farm Bureau leaders from five other county Farm Bureaus who participated in a regional meeting at Meadow Hall at the Meadow Event Park in Caroline County as part of Virginia Farm Bureau Federation’s legislative process.

Virginia farmers discussed the need for adequate funding for the Agriculture Best Management Practices Cost-Share Program and operational support and technical assistance for Soil and Water Conservation Districts.  With water quality being such an important issue, farmers need operational support and technical assistance as well as cost-share to continue to meet current and future requirements.

Continued funding for Virginia Tech replacement dairy facilities was also a critical issue, especially since the current facility was originally built in the 1940s, and needs to be updated.

Farmers are urging legislators to support legislation to set a baseline for the regulation of on-farm activities on agriculture operations.  Ag-tourism is becoming a new trend in some agriculture enterprises and in some cases farmers can find themselves at odds with county zoning.

Members are very concerned about protecting property rights and maintaining the current definitions of navigable waters to lessen the unintended consequences that could result from changes to current law.  Lastly, members are urging legislators to oppose any attempts to label food containing GMOs, or genetically modified organisms.  GMO’s have had exhaustive testing proving they are safe, with increasing populations farmers need to use all the technology available to continue to provide a safe and abundant food supply, said Lynwood Broaddus President of Caroline Farm Bureau.

“We are very pleased to have this chance to talk one-on-one with our legislators to help them understand issues important to farmers in this area,” Broaddus said.

“Emails and phone calls can be effective, but any legislator will tell you meeting face to face with them has the biggest impact,” said Kelly Pruitt, VFBF governmental relations grassroots coordinator. “Legislative Day gives farmers from all across the state the opportunity to let their legislators know what issues are important to them face to face.”

Caroline County Farm Bureau is one of 88 county Farm Bureaus in the Virginia Farm Bureau Federation.  With nearly 150,000 members, VFBF is Virginia’s largest farmers’ advocacy group.  Farm Bureau is a non-government, nonpartisan, voluntary organization committed to protecting Virginia’s farmers and ensuring a safe, fresh and locally grown food supply.