HENRICO, V.A. – U.S. Representative Abigail Spanberger—a Member of the U.S. House Agriculture Committee—concluded her two-day, nine-stop 2019 Farm Tour across Central Virginia.
During the Farm Tour, Spanberger met 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. Throughout the tour, she was joined by representatives from Virginia agriculture organizations—including the Virginia Farm Bureau, Farm Credit of the Virginias, and the Virginia Agribusiness Council.
“As a proud Member of the House Agriculture Committee, I’m committed to understanding and advancing the priorities of Central Virginia farmers. Throughout our 2019 Farm Tour, I heard directly from those on-the-ground about the challenges facing the Virginia agriculture economy—the Commonwealth’s number-one private industry,” said Spanberger. “As I met with local farmers, they expressed their concerns related to the volatility of markets, trade uncertainty, the unreliability of high-speed broadband internet access, and the continued need to recruit qualified employees. But I also witnessed a tremendous amount of community spirit, family, and agricultural tradition, and these values continue to sustain our rural communities. I was honored to spend time with the dedicated men and women who feed and fuel our Commonwealth, our country, and the world—and I hope they will continue to inform me about how I can best represent them in the U.S. House.”
“Farm Credit is excited for the opportunity to showcase the diversity of agriculture in Virginia’s 7th Congressional District, and honored that Congresswoman Spanberger is spending time visiting the farmers and agribusinesses who are so integral to the vitality of this area,” said Peery Heldreth, CEO, Farm Credit of the Virginias.
“We appreciate the farmers, farmer cooperatives, researchers, and industry members who opened their doors for us to learn more about their operations,” said Paul Franklin, CEO, Colonial Farm Credit. “Farm Credit is passionate about rural communities and agriculture and supports them with reliable, consistent credit and financial services.”
“We appreciate Congresswoman Spanberger taking time to visit farms and agricultural operations in her District this week. Virginia’s 7th District has a great diversity of agriculture, reflective of the productive soils and entrepreneurial farmers in the area,” said Ben Rowe, National Affairs Coordinator, Virginia Farm Bureau. “This tour will give the Congresswoman firsthand knowledge of both the challenges and opportunities facing agriculture, and enable her to better represent the farmers of the 7th District in Washington.”
“We are grateful for Congresswoman Spanberger taking the time to meet with our members in the agribusiness industry,” said Kyle Shreve, Executive Director, Virginia Agribusiness Council. “Agriculture remains Virginia’s number one industry and a hallmark of the 7th Congressional District. Our members, from farmers all the way through the supply chain, appreciate her taking the time to sit down with them and hear about the issues they are facing with their businesses.”
On Tuesday, Spanberger toured farms and agribusinesses in the northern area of Virginia’s Seventh District. At the Virginia Cattle Company, Spanberger learned about the sale and transportation of cattle from Central Virginia to other areas of the country. She then visited the Culpeper Farmers Co-Op Farm & Home Center in Culpeper and met with store management and agribusiness transporters to discuss challenges facing the commodities transportation industry. Spanberger followed this visit with a tour of Commonwealth Greenhouses in Culpeper County to learn about their growing processes, and she held a roundtable discussion at the Kean Family Cattle Farm with members of the Virginia Cattlemen’s Association and the Central Virginia Cattlemen Association to discuss trade issues and the impacts of federal regulations. Her final stop was at Dragonfly Farms in Louisa County, where Spanberger—Chair of the House Agriculture Committee’s Conservation and Forestry Subcommittee—learned about the farm’s successful conservation and soil management practices alongside staff from the Virginia League of Conservation Voters.
On Wednesday, Spanberger visited areas in the southern portion of Virginia’s Seventh District. At Triple R Farms near Crewe, Virginia, the Congresswoman heard about the impacts of the delayed U.S. Department of Agriculture Dairy Margin Coverage program implementation on the financial health of Central Virginia dairies. Then at the Shepherd Grain Farm in Nottoway County, Spanberger discussed the effects of the administration’s escalating trade war with China on Central Virginia soybeans. Her 2019 Farm Tour continued with a tour and roundtable discussion at Virginia Tech’s Southern Piedmont Agricultural Research and Extension Center in Nottoway County, where she learned more about ongoing soil and water conservation efforts in the region. Spanberger’s Farm Tour concluded with a visit to Richlands Dairy near Blackstone, Virginia, where she heard about issues related to expanding rural broadband internet access, attracting employees to the region, and growing a business.
Spanberger’s 2019 Farm Tour builds on her August in-district work period theme of “Securing the Future.” Over the course of August, Spanberger is meeting with working families, farmers, first responders, small business owners, and educators across Central Virginia. Her goal is to better understand the specific needs of the Seventh District’s communities—and then return to Congress in September with additional ideas on how to pursue legislation that secures a stronger future for all Central Virginians.
Since arriving in the U.S. House, Spanberger has focused on securing long-term certainty and financial security for Central Virginia farmers and agribusinesses.
Through her work to expand access to high-speed broadband internet, Spanberger is championing increased connectivity as a means to attract new businesses and employees to Central Virginia’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.
Additionally, Spanberger has been involved in conversations with the administration related to the impact of ongoing trade negotiations on Central Virginia farmers and manufacturers—and she has called for certainty and stability amid ongoing escalations of the administration’s trade war with China.
Spanberger serves as Chair of the House Agriculture Committee’s Conservation and Forestry Subcommittee. The Subcommittee is responsible for legislation related to soil conservation, resource management, forestry, and water quality. In her role as Chair, Spanberger is working to advance priorities on the Subcommittee that are important to Central Virginia’s crop and livestock producers, including issues related to improving soil health and water quality—and she is also focused on examining how farmers can balance conservation programs with the practices they need to grow their businesses.