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January 27, 2005

Farmers brave the cold for hot topics on Legislative Day

RICHMOND—More than 60 Farm Bureau members met with legislators Jan. 24 to discuss issues critical to the farming industry and to request their support during Virginia Farm Bureau Federation’s annual Legislative Day.

“Most everything there the General Assembly has seen,” said Henry T. Browning Jr., president of the Fluvanna County Farm Bureau, during a meeting with Sen. Frank Ruff, R-Clarksville. “Funding is the primary issue.”

Budgetary issues included fully funding $3.3 million for the Commonwealth Staffing Initiative for Virginia Cooperative Extension, increasing funding for the Virginia Horse Center and implementing an early detection system for soybean rust.

“Soybean rust can knock production back by 80 percent,” Lunenburg County Farm Bureau President Walter Thompson told Ruff. “A monitoring system would be a minimal investment with a large return.”

Ruff was receptive to many of the hot topics but cited the Chesapeake Bay as an issue that would most benefit from increased funding. “The most effective way to spend dollars is keeping the Chesapeake Bay clean,” he told Farm Bureau leaders.

Scott Sink, a Montgomery County producer and member of the Virginia Farm Bureau Federation Young Farmer Committee, echoed Ruff’s support for cleaning up the bay. “More funding for the Chesapeake Bay would help not just farmers, but all Virginians,” he said.

Farm Bureau leaders also asked legislators for their support on legislation that would tighten eminent domain procedures and regulations of a condemner’s right of entry. Eminent domain refers to the ability of government agencies and public utilities to acquire private property for public use. The VFBF believes property owners’ rights have been violated in recent years.

“Virginia Farm Bureau believes that there should be a level playing field between property owners and condemners and that property owners should receive adequate notification about the process and procedures conducted on their property,” said Martha Moore, VFBF director of governmental relations. In addition, she expressed Farm Bureau’s hope that related legislation will decrease the amount of eminent domain litigation.

Although attendance was down due to inclement weather, the VFBF’s presence was still greatly felt throughout the General Assembly Building.

“We all have concerns with different issues,” Sink said. “It helps our political clout when they see us here.”

Contact Moore at 804-290-1013.

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