Culpeper Times: Spanberger hosts agriculture discussions

CULPEPER TIMES, MARIA BASILEO

In a dual congressional and campaign visit to Culpeper on Aug. 8, Congresswoman Abigail Spanberger sat down with Virginia farm groups, crop and livestock producers to discuss challenges facing the agriculture industry as well as visited a cattle farm to learn more about first hand supply chain issues.

“We know that from rising fertilizer costs to to labor shortages, certainly there are concerns that (affect) producers from across Virginia,” Spanberger said. “We know that these concerns relate directly to the rising cost at the grocery store.”

First, Spanberger was joined by U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Under Secretary Jenny L. Moffitt to conduct a congressional roundtable discussion with about 15 representatives from varying parts of Virginia’s agricultural industry including those from CFC Farm and Home Center, Virginia Cooperative Extension and Virginia Dairymen’s Association.

During the roundtable discussion hosted at the George Washington Carver Center, Spanberger and Moffitt heard endless challenges facing the agriculture industry, including labor shortages, rooted in the inability to find employees at al coupled with the inability to find qualified candidates for specialized jobs such as meat cutting.

Additionally, the pair outlined the implementation of nationwide “Regional Food Business Centers,” which USDA announced in March.

In June 2022, the U.S. House passed the American Food Supply Chain Resiliency Act as part of Spanberger’s Lower Food and Fuel Costs Act, which includes multiple bipartisan provisions focused on lowering costs at the grocery store, reducing gas prices, strengthening food supply chains and leveling the playing field for America’s smaller livestock producers.

Following the roundtable, Spanberger made a campaign to a Culpeper cattle farm as a part of her “Field to Fridge” supply chain tour. The purpose of the tour was to follow the process from farm, to distributor, to grocery store and talk about how she is working to lower costs for consumers and address ongoing supply chain disruptions.

Spanberger met with Roy Whitlock, who has been farming for at least 45 years. In 2000, he bought the farmland she visited on Spring Creek Drive, so he’s been farming on that property for 22 years. The property is over 61 acres.

“Mr. Whitlock raises cattle from calf to cow, then ships his cattle across the country — a revenue stream that has helped him support his family and put his daughters through school,” Spanberger said. “Now, Mr. Whitlock recognizes that given the challenges facing producers, supporting a family might not be possible for a younger generation of farmers.”

Whitlock also gave Spanberger a tour of his farm while the two discussed legislation that directly impacted his farm.

“As the only member of Congress representing Virginia who sits on the House Agriculture Committee, I discussed with Mr. Whitlock my legislation to promote free-market competition in the meatpacking industry, in addition to my bill that would lower the costs of food and fuel at a time when so many Americans are feeling the impacts of inflation,” she said.

Spanberger then visited McLane Mid-Atlantic Food Distribution in Fredericksburg and finally Todos Supermarket in Woodbridge.

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