Posted: Wednesday, February 1, 2017
Representatives from the Orange County Farm Bureau (OCFB) visited local legislators in Richmond as part of the Virginia Farm Bureau Federation (VFBF) Legislative Day Jan. 25.
Local representatives traveling to the General Assembly included: Vickie Gibson, JoAnne Speiden and Bill Speiden, OCFB Legislative Director.
The Orange delegation visited with six legislators’ offices promoting various Farm Bureau issues and attended the House Agriculture and Natural Resources committee meeting where they heard extensive positive testimony on a bill to remove restrictions on Virginia farmers who want to grow industrial hemp. All products made from industrial hemp (as opposed to marijuana) are legal in this country, but farmers are not allowed to grow it without going through an extreme licensing process.
Thirtieth District Delegate Nick Freitas—who represents Orange County—introduced the bill, which as of this writing, passed the House Agriculture subcommittee with a unanimous vote, and was sent on to the committee on appropriations.
There are other bills advancing in the legislature, which may expand the use of cannabis products to help with a myriad of medical issues via doctors’ recommendations.
Other issues concerning the Farm Bureau include funding for Best Management Practices cost-sharing for water quality requirements. There is a $30 million backlog on best management practices in Virginia cost-share. In the interests of meeting Virginia’s water quality goals, efforts are being made to restore some budget cuts in a problematic budget year. Several bills are up for consideration restoring cuts to Cooperative Extension and agricultural research. For every dollar invested in extension and research, $1.68 is returned supporting development and sustainability of the largest industry in Virginia, agriculture and forestry.