Advocating for Virginia’s farming future is the core mission of Virginia Farm Bureau Federation, and vocal support from the state’s farmers is key in accomplishing that objective.
VFBF representatives used their unified voice to discuss concerns about legislation affecting agriculture during meetings with state senators and delegates at the organization’s Legislative Day on Jan. 24.
The event also helped farmers build personal relationships with their legislators.
Representatives of Chesapeake and Nansemond County Farm Bureaus met with Del. Clinton Jenkins, D-Suffolk, to advocate for legislation involving additional analysis of solar facilities, funding for agricultural best management practices and crop protectant availability.
“We grow food and fiber—that’s what feeds this country,” said David Bosselman, a Suffolk grain and peanut farmer.
“There are so many people who depend on what we do as farmers, so we’re just looking for your support in backing us up a little bit,” Bosselman shared with Jenkins. “If you ever need to know something more about bills pertaining to agriculture, please give us a call.”
Jenkins was receptive to his constituents’ concerns, and shared stories about growing up and spending summers in the fields of his grandparents’ tobacco farm.
He noted bills involving agriculture—legislation that would provide full funding for BMPs, support for producers to properly protect their crops and other pressing issues—should be considered with farmers’ best interests in mind.
“Farmers need all the support they can get,” Jenkins told the delegation. “Folks just don’t realize how important your trade is for providing a good livelihood and a good source of food for people. I will not support legislation that is going to make it harder for farmers.”
A group of Southwest Virginia farmers met jointly with Sen. Travis Hackworth, R-Richlands; Sen. Todd Pillion, R-Abingdon; Del. Terry Kilgore, R-Gate City; and Del. Israel O’Quinn, R-Bristol; to discuss other important issues outlined by VFBF.
These included the increased need for dairy assistance, the establishment of a strategic plan to increase meat processing in Virginia, the usage of Farm Use placards and wildlife damage management.
Some Farm Bureau members visited with urban legislators for their meetings on Legislative Day. In 2021, Virginia Farm Bureau Federation AgPAC hosted four separate roundtable events in Hampton Roads and Northern Virginia to establish better working relationships with lawmakers from urban localities.
VFBF Young Farmers Committee chair and Lunenburg County beef cattle and hay producer Lindy Fimon met with Del. Paul Krizek, D-Alexandria, to discuss crop protectants and BMP funding.
“It’s incredibly important for us as farmers to continue to talk about the issues that directly impact our work,” Fimon said. “Whether those conversations are with our local delegates or those who represent a city in a different area of the state, these conversations matter and make a difference.
“That’s what makes Legislative Day such a great event. You get the chance to build those relationships.”