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About 220 people showed up for this month’s Farm Bureau annual dinner meeting. This is the largest crowd ever, according to Bill Nance, who heads the local organization.
“Every year it gets a few more,” he said.
The number of people who attend this dinner also makes it a good event for people seeking elected office to attend. Congressman Robert Hurt, who is seeking reelection to the 5th Congressional District House of Representatives seat, was there and spoke briefly. Hurt has been named a friend of farmers by the Farm Bureau.
Hurt said that there are a lot of farmers in Virginia and agriculture and forestry is a $75 billion business.
“What can we do to make things easier [for them],” is a question Hurt said he asks.
Hurt cites two House bills, designed to reign in the EPA, as examples of what the House is doing to help farmers. One is a farm dust bill, aimed at stopping the EPA from regulating farm dust. The other is a farm pond bill. Hurt said that the EPA wants farmers to have to get government permission to build a farm pond, an effort that he said would cost $30,000 and take more than two years. This bill would stop the EPA from doing this.
He also cited efforts to stop the “death tax” coming back at a 55 percent rate at the end of the year. The assessed value of most family farms would be large enough to trigger the inheritance tax.
“We on the House side have fought it and are waiting, still, for the Senate to act,” Hurt said.
Hurt also said that the farm bill has been stuffed with a lot of unrelated items. He said he hopes they can peel out the important programs and get them moving.
Gary Arrington, of Hunters for the Hungry, also spoke.
“If you’ve got crop damage permits, get in touch with us,” Arrington said.
Arrington said that the local Farm Bureau has given Hunters $13,000 since 2006. This has translated into 66,500 servings of venison which goes to needy people. Hunters accepts donated deer carcasses from successful hunters, but needs monetary donations to pay for processing them.
W. P. Johnson, chairman of the local Farm Bureau’s Young Farmers, told the gathering that young farmers are sponsoring a hay bale decorating contest. He also urged people to vote yes on a Virginia constitutional amendment, on the ballot in November, that will place eminent domain protection in the Virginia constitution.
“This applies to all of us,” he said. “Vote yes for property rights.”
Farm Bureau also honored Calvin Woodford with its Distinguished Service Award.
“Calvin Woodford has always served his beloved community, such as helping organize the Moneta Ruritan Club, and the Moneta Volunteer Fire Department, helping establish the Moneta Medical Center and serving on the Bedford Hospital Board of Directors and the Bedford Medical Foundation,” the resolution accompanying the award states.
Woodford, formerly a poultry farmer, started Moneta Farm Services in 1973.