From WVIR: Agriculture is, by far, Virginia's biggest industry. Farmers from all across the commonwealth will be watching, as congress begins debate on the 2012 farm bill. Friday, an informal public meeting gave farmers a chance to weigh in.
For five years at a time, the federal farm bill sets policy in everything agriculture, from subsidies to foreign markets to environmental regulations. Friday's forum was in Rockingham, Virginia's number one farming county.
Clear mountain waters run straight through the Twin Oaks Farm, on their way to the Chesapeake Bay. Owner Bob Threewitts has welcomed the government's help in protecting this resource.
"We work with the Soil and Water Conservation District. What more to a farmer is dear than soil and water. That's what we are all about, so we know we have to protect our ground," said Threewitts.
Conservation programs are part of the federal farm bill set to expire at the end of this summer. So Threewitts is hosting this public forum on what should and should not be in the 2012 version. Congressman Bob Goodlatte says he knows where to start.
"Most importantly, not having excessive regulations. But where we do have regulations that are necessary and farmers are required to change, those are the kind of programs that I think are most helpful to my farmers here in the Shenandoah Valley," said Goodlatte.
Other producers worry that excessive mandates make farming too costly for this generation, and those to come.
Threewitts asked, "How are we going to be demanded to do things in a short time, that are physically and financially impossible to attain?" "Because of that sometimes people just give up," he said.