HENRICO, V.A. — On Tuesday, U.S. Representative Abigail Spanberger — a Member of the U.S. House Agriculture Committee — conducted a five-stop Central Virginia Farm Tour.
During her Farm Tour, Spanberger met with Central Virginia crop and livestock producers, farm families, and agribusinesses to learn more about how they are responding to the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, how Congress can both provide assistance and cut red tape, and how she can use her position as Chair of the Conservation and Forestry Subcommittee to support voluntary conservation initiatives throughout the region. Throughout her tour, she was joined by representatives from the Virginia Farm Bureau Federation, Farm Credit of the Virginias, and the Virginia Agribusiness Council.
“As the only Member of the Virginia delegation serving on the House Agriculture Committee — and as Chair of the Conservation and Forestry Subcommittee — hearing directly from Central Virginia’s local farmers and agricultural producers guides my work on Capitol Hill,” said Spanberger. “At each stop on our Central Virginia Farm Tour, I heard directly from those on the ground about the opportunities and challenges facing Virginia’s agriculture economy — the Commonwealth’s number-one private industry. I always appreciate the opportunity to learn from the dedicated women and men who feed and fuel our Commonwealth, our country, and our world. I’m committed to both gaining firsthand knowledge of the techniques being used in our region and advancing the priorities of farmers in Central Virginia and across our country — and I look forward to these experts continuing to inform how I can best represent them in the U.S. House.”
Spanberger first visited Carter Farms, a Piedmont farm in Orange County that specializes in growing organic plants and vegetables. The farm also hosts educational programs — such as workshops, seminars, and lectures — on the history and traditions of its wide range of produce. Additionally, the Congresswoman learned more about the programs the farm hosts highlighting the history of Black farmers, as well as their challenges and contributions to agriculture — in both Virginia and across the country.
At Greenstone Farm in Culpeper County, Spanberger learned more about the farm’s horse operations and discussed the conservation and pasture management techniques that allow the business to succeed. In particular, Greenstone Farm uses cover crops and rotational grazing to farm sustainably.
Spanberger followed this visit with a tour of Old House Vineyards in Culpeper, Virginia’s only joint winery, brewery, and distillery. At this family-owned and -operated business, Spanberger was able to learn more about their operations and 30-acre vineyard.
Spanberger then visited the Ardent Mills Culpeper Facility — the largest wheat mill in the five-state area. The Congresswoman and other attendees learned more about how the mill grinds approximately 3.5 million bushels of wheat each year, almost entirely sourced from more than 250 Virginia farmers that are harvesting during this season.
On the fifth and final stop of the Central Virginia Farm Tour, Spanberger visited Heaven’s Hollow Farm, a veteran-owned family cattle farm that employs rotational grazing, stream exclusion, and hardened crossings to ensure that their cattle have continuous access to fresh pasture at all times. Spanberger also learned more about how the farm’s cattle and hogs are supplemented with grains from local farms and craft breweries, as well as how they are strengthening their land management practices with a focus on animal welfare and wellbeing as they seek to maintain a high-quality, locally focused product.
Spanberger’s Farm Tour builds on her continued efforts to provide resources and support to Central Virginia’s farmers and producers. Earlier this summer, Spanberger hosted U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack in Amelia County for a roundtable discussion with local farmers about issues facing the farm economy as it recovers from the COVID-19 crisis.
In 2019, Spanberger traveled across Virginia’s Seventh District for a two-day, nine-stop Farm Tour, meeting with Central Virginia crop and livestock producers, farm families, and agribusinesses to learn more about how she can support economic growth and help build conditions for greater opportunity in the Seventh District’s rural areas.
Since arriving in the U.S. House, Spanberger has focused on supporting Central Virginia’s farmers and agribusinesses and removing the barriers for them to utilize climate-smart agricultural practices.
In April 2021, Spanberger and U.S. Representative Don Bacon (R-NE-02) reintroduced the Growing Climate Solutions Act, which would break down barriers for farmers, ranchers, and foresters interested in participating in carbon markets and reward them for embracing climate-smart practices. In June 2021, the Senate passed the legislation by a vote of 92-8.
Also in April 2021, Spanberger and U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) introduced the Climate Stewardship Act, which would increase federal investment in voluntary farm and ranch conservation programs, as well as strengthen support for reforestation and wetlands restoration across the United States.