**VIDEO/AUDIO: Seventh-District Resident Dustin Madison Delivers Testimony on Virginia Implementation of Precision Ag, Cutting-Edge Conservation Practices
***VIDEO/AUDIO: In Opening Statement, Spanberger Highlights Need for Expanded Precision Ag Adoption in Virginia & Across the Country***
****Click Here for Photos from the Hearing****
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Representative Abigail Spanberger—Chair of the U.S. House Agriculture Committee’s Subcommittee on Conservation and Forestry—today led a hearing focused on expanding the financial and conservation benefits of precision agriculture technology.
During the Subcommittee hearing, Spanberger heard from Dustin Madison—a farmer and crop consultant from Louisa County in Virginia’s Seventh District—about how farmers can use precision ag tools to achieve tangible conservation benefits. In his testimony, Madison also discussed the challenges that prevent growers from maximizing the potential benefits of these technologies. Click here to watch his opening statement.
In her opening statement, Spanberger highlighted how precision agriculture technologies give Central Virginia crop and livestock producers additional capacity to increase their yields, monitor growing conditions, lower costs, and deliver environmental benefits. She also noted how other key rural infrastructure and economic issues—such as reliable broadband access and volatile market conditions— can affect whether farmers adopt these cutting-edge approaches. Click here to watch the full hearing, and click here to watch her opening statement.
“Agriculture remains Virginia’s number-one private industry. And through exciting technologies like satellite mapping, in-field data sharing, and remote management, Central Virginia producers stand to see continued success. These innovations not only allow our region’s growers to boost their yields and to save time in the fields—but they also give farmers the ability to think ahead about the best long-term, sustainable practices for the future of their operations,” said Spanberger. “As Chair of the Conservation and Forestry Subcommittee, I’m committed to scaling up precision ag practices that can both increase production and support voluntary conservation efforts. During today’s hearing, I was honored to hear from Mr. Madison as he described the implementation of precision ag techniques in Louisa County and across the Commonwealth—and I’d like to thank him for answering questions from the Subcommittee. Going forward, I’ll keep looking to amplify the voices of farmers and conservationists like Mr. Madison—and as precision ag tools increasingly become a central part of Virginia farming, I’ll continue fighting to make sure our district’s growers have the high-speed internet access they need to take advantage of these new technologies.”
“Farming has evolved a great deal from both a conservation and precision agriculture perspective in just the last 30 years—and it will continue to do so, especially here in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed, where we symbolize so much on a national scale. If we as producers continue to be innovative and earn the support from the non-farming community that we so badly need, there is no limit to what we can accomplish in the years to come,” said Dustin Madison, Louisa County. “I appreciate the invitation to speak before the Subcommittee on this important topic, and I’d like to thank Congresswoman Spanberger for her continued focus on the intersection of the farm issues and conservation issues in Central Virginia.”
Madison also serves as a Technical Service Provider with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).
Today’s hearing builds on Spanberger’s efforts to examine how farmers can balance conservation programs with the practices they need to grow their businesses. During her first hearing as Chair of the Subcommittee in May 2019, Spanberger asked NRCS Chief Matthew Lohr and USDA Farm Services Agency Administrator Richard Fordyce about the progress of 2018 Farm Bill implementation—particularly related to the timeline to implement changes to USDA’s conservation programs. And in her opening statement, she highlighted the history of federal conservation programs and how sustainable agriculture practices can help address current challenges related to declining farm income, extreme weather, and climate change.
In June 2019, Spanberger led a bipartisan, roundtable discussion about federal efforts to protect and restore farmland and wetlands through the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP). During the meeting, Spanberger and her colleagues heard from USDA NRCS Acting Associate Chief Kevin Norton about the management of ACEP and how NRCS can improve its financial and technical assistance to farmers, ranchers, non-profit organizations, and local governments—including in Virginia.
As Chair of the Conservation and Forestry Subcommittee, Spanberger is responsible for oversight and legislation related to soil conservation, resource management, forestry, and water quality.
Since arriving in the U.S. House, Spanberger has worked to amplify the voices of Central Virginia farmers, understand economic issues facing the district’s rural communities, and give crop and livestock producers a seat at the table in the federal decision-making process. During her two-day farm tour last August, she met with producers, farm families, and agribusinesses to learn more about how she can support economic growth and help build conditions for greater opportunity across the Seventh District. Her nine-stop tour included a visit to Dragonfly Farms in Louisa County, where Spanberger learned about the farm’s successful soil management practices.
Spanberger has also focused on securing financial certainty for Central Virginia farmers through the adoption of cutting-edge technologies and the expansion of reliable high-speed internet access in the Seventh District’s rural communities. In June, Spanberger successfully led the fight to approve a bipartisan amendment that would increase federal rural broadband infrastructure funding by 10 percent—and earlier this year, she introduced and passed an amendment to improve the Federal Communications Commission’s broadband mapping data.
And in August 2019, Spanberger hosted her 2019 Rural Broadband Summit in Louisa County, where she and representatives from USDA and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration heard more about how a lack of reliable broadband internet access is impacting local families, farmers, first responders, and agribusinesses.