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Agriculture: 2015 Virginia Beach Farm Bureau resolutions

BY THE VIRGINIA BEACH FARM BUREAU

Ed. — The following is a summary of Virginia Beach County Farm Bureau 2015 Resolutions approved by producer members Thursday, Oct. 8. These have been edited for style and length.

Locally, Virginia Beach Farm Bureau:

Rural Road Funding(1) Requests that adequate and sustainable funding be added in the capital improvement program to address necessary improvements to the road system in Virginia Beach. Our rural road network is being called upon to accommodate increasing levels of traffic from a diverse variety of vehicle types with many unsuitable and unsafe conditions. (2) Requests managing easements by moving ditches in by 10 feet, allowing wide farm equipment to safely avoid vehicular traffic. Future residents should be required to move the ditch to the edge of the easement. For many years, the city has acquired 10 foot highway-widening easements before approving residential construction permits.

Safety on Rural Roads – Recognizes the concern residents have for highway safety, substandard roads and increase in traffic, especially the recreational bicyclist.

Private Property Rights – Supports the need of private landowners to convert their land to other uses. If a government agency wished to severely restrict farm land use for whatever reason, the land owners should be justly compensated at the fair market value at the time of taking.

Drainage in Rural Areas – (1) Requests the city fund existing major drainage systems maintenance. The snag and drag program by the sherriff’s work force should be reinstated. Major drainage outfalls and conveyance structures were constructed in the 1950s and 1960s with federal cost shares and not maintained. (2) Supports land owners and farmers in their efforts to maintain good drainage and ability to shape and grade their property.

Forestry & Timber – Supports making the city Department of Agriculture the first point of contact for issues involving forestry and timber cutting [i.e. permits].

Use of Biosolids – Supports the continued use of biosolids to be applied to farmland as a source of fertilizer.

Back Yard Chickens – Oppose any backyard chicken ordinance in non-agriculture zoned land.

Low Hanging Utility Lines – Low hanging utility wires should be raised to a minimum height that is the same as wires crossing roadways.

Weight Limits on Rural Roads – Weight limits on rural roads for farm vehicles should be given some leniency, especially when in route directly from the field to the granaries.

State Funding for Farmland Preservation – State money for farmland preservation will be used to encourage enrollment in local preservation programs.

Maintenance of Low Hanging Tree Limbs – Cutting of low hanging tree limbs over roadways will be monitored by our members and will be reported to the city Department of Agriculture for assistance.

Federally Owned Farm Land – Farmers need to be able to farm these lands without additional restrictions [i.e. roundup ready, GMO seeds]. The goal is to keep agriculture land in production. If farmers cannot profitably continue to farm these lands, they will revert to a vegetative state. Many will become fire safety hazards. The overall goal to keep these lands agriculture productive will be lost.

In Virginia, we:

Legislative Briefings – Request our legislators attend regional meeting with Farm Bureau directors when the General Assembly is not in session. This will keep them better informed on current agricultural issues.

Private Property Rights – Support the need of private landowners to convert their land to other uses.

Non Tidal Wetlands – Believe wetlands legislation and regulation only affect tidal wetland that have hydric soils saturation for 21 days and the presence of vegetation and exclude all prior converted farmland and “farmed wetlands.”

Use Values Assessment and Taxation – Support the existing Virginia Use–Value Assessment law. We are opposed to any increase in roll back provisions. Land use taxation is crucial to agriculture in Virginia. The public needs to be educated about the values of agricultural lands to the community as open space and those agricultural lands generated tax revenues that exceed cost of services. [Land uses values should not increase more than the rate of inflation.]

Animal Care and Husbandry – Support best management and husbandry practices for livestock and poultry as provided by our land grant colleges and other institutions. We support an educational program oriented toward the general public, as well as our members on the current movement to regulate the livestock and poultry industry. We oppose any type of pro-animal rights legislation. We also oppose public funding for studies of animal rights issues by any group other than the land grant colleges of agriculture.

Ag Stewardship Act – Believe the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services should remain as the first contact agency for complaints against farmers, as the “Ag Stewardship Act” was intended.

Insurance Rates – Whereas Section 1., Article II of the By-Laws of Virginia Farm Bureau Federation states “…Voting members shall have complete charge and control of the Federation and shall be the only members entitled to a vote or voice in the management of its business and affairs…” now, therefore, be it resolved that when the Virginia Farm Bureau Federation board has proposed before them, a rate increase in excess of 20 percent affecting any county farm bureau on its membership, that the Virginia Farm Bureau board not vote until each affected county farm bureau is so notified.

Membership – Recommend that the Virginia Farm Bureau Federation board and the VFBMIC board take no action that is projected to reduce membership in any individual county by more than 10 percent in any one year.

Regulatory/Voluntary Programs – We urge careful consideration be given to maintain the separation of regulatory and voluntary programs that are currently being administered through such agencies as VDACS, DCR and DEQ [i.e. Virginia Soil & Water Conservation Board].

Use of Biosolids – Virginia Beach Farm Bureau supports the continued use of biosolids to be applied to farmland as a source of fertilizer.

Gross Vehicle Weight – Virginia Beach Farm bureau supports legislation to increase the gross vehicle weight to 90,000 lbs on loads of first origin timber, and all other agriculture commodities.

 Wetlands – Virginia Beach Farm Bureau supports that no further restrictions be placed on lands regarding wetlands.

 Feral Cats – Request the General Assembly not enact legislation on trap, neuter and release of feral cats.

► Low Hanging Utility Lines – Low hanging utility wires should be raised to a minimum height that is the same as wires crossing roadways.

 Sale of Unpasteurized Milk & Uninspected Meats – Oppose the sale of unpasteurized milk and uninspected meat.

 Federally Owned Farm Land – Farmers need to be able to farm these lands without additional restrictions placed upon them. …             The goal is to keep agricultural land in production.  If farmers cannot profitably continue to farm these lands, they will revert to a vegetative state.  Many will become fire safety hazards and the overall goal lands agriculturally productive will be lost.

 Conservation Tax Credits – Support Conservation Tax Credits and an increase back to 2013 level of $100,000 per year.

 State Funding for Farmland Preservation – State money for farmland preservation will be used to encourage enrollment in local preservation programs.

Nationally, we believe:

Private Property Rights – Landowners need the freedom to convert their land to other uses.  If a governmental agency wishes to severely restrict farmland use […] the landowner should be justly compensated at the fair market value at the time of taking, as required by the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

Non Tidal Wetlands – Believe that wetlands legislation and regulation only affect tidal wetlands that have hydric soils, saturation for 21 days and the presence of we vegetation and exclude all prior converted farmland and “farmed wetlands.”

Animal Care and Husbandry – We support best management and husbandry practices for livestock and poultry as provided by our land grant colleges and other institutions. We support an educational program oriented toward the general public as well as our members on the current movement to regulate the livestock and poultry industry. We oppose any type of pro-animal rights legislation. We also oppose public funding for studies of animal rights issues by any group other than the land grant colleges of agriculture.

Point Source Pollution – We oppose EPA regulations on the designation of sprayer nozzles as point source pollution.

Tree Replanting & Forest Preservation – We oppose the reclassification of tree planting labor workers from a Tier 1 pay grade level to a Tier 3 level. The opposed position is based on the increased cost associated with the pay grade change and the fact that the cost is passed on to the land owner.  The goal is forest replanting and re-growth, which must be done in a cost effective manner.

Federally Owned Farm Land – Farmers need to be able to farm these lands without additional restrictions placed upon them. The goal is to keep agriculture land in production.  If farmers cannot profitably continue to farm these lands, they will revert to a vegetative state.  Many will become fire safety hazards and the overall goal to keep these lands agriculture productive will be lost.

Wetlands – Support that no further restrictions be placed on lands regarding wetlands.

The Independent News

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