Northern Neck News: Spanberger: Using ‘on the ground’ experiences from VA to help shape U.S. Farm Bill

NORTHERN NECK NEWS, MICHELLE SMITH

According to Representative Abigail Spanberger, the voices of Virginians are helping to shape the forthcoming U.S. Farm Bill, or at least the contribution that she’s making to it.

A five-stop farm tour in Caroline and King George last Tuesday is one of the efforts Spanberger has been making to interact with Virginia producers and agriculture stakeholders this year. 

Spanberger commonly points out that she is the only member of the U.S. House Agriculture Committee from Virginia. Because of that, it is important to hear directly from Virginia producers, particularly this year in a Farm Bill year, she says.

The Farm Bill is a body of legislation passed every five years that covers policy on issues such as agriculture, farming, nutrition programs, wildlife, forestry, and even  broadband. It’s a bill that has significant implications for but also impacts the broader population.

The existing Farm Bill is set to expire at the end of September, and Congress is currently negotiating the 2023 version.

“Washington shouldn’t have a monopoly on ideas — and the changes we make in the 2023 Farm Bill should be based on feedback from the folks on the ground,” said Spanberger following the Farm Bill Summit she hosted in April that included producers, farm groups, conservation organizations, and rural advocates.

Last week’s farm tour was an effort to hear more about the challenges and priorities Virginia producers are facing. At one of the stops, for example, Spanberger spoke with a couple who are newer farmers that rent 35 separate parcels totaling about 1,100 acres. They discussed farming with over 20 landlords and the impact of losing acreage at a site where a large store is being developed, the congresswoman explained during a town hall on Wednesday.

The tour included Charity Hill Farms in Caroline, which offers direct-to-consumer beef, as well as Aspen Grove farm, a women-owned farm in King George.

“At each stop on our Farm Tour, I heard directly from those on the ground about opportunities, challenges, and areas where the federal government can support the producers who feed and fuel our country. Hearing the firsthand experiences of these Virginians, seeing how federal programs are implemented in day-to-day operations, and gaining firsthand knowledge helps me work to advance the priorities of the farmers and producers who call Virginia’s Seventh District home — and I will have these priorities in mind as we continue to put together the 2023 Farm Bill,” said Spanberger.

Last week’s farm tour was not Spanberger’s first. She also toured farm and cattle operations in Culpeper, Madison, and Greene Counties this spring to hear about their challenges.

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