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Farm Bureau goes on record against mining

A group of local Farm Bureau members and other concerned area residents voiced their united opposition to uranium mining in the state of Virginia and supported the continuation of the current moratorium on the mining and milling of uranium during the annual meeting of the Halifax County Farm Bureau Tuesday evening.

“We oppose uranium mining in the state of Virginia. We support the continuation of the current moratorium on the mining and/or milling of uranium in the state of Virginia. We believe farms and agri-interest should be protected and be adequately compensated if and when they are adversely affected,” the resolution reads.

Approximately 250 members gathered in the Bright Leaf Forum for the annual event that featured Matt Lohr, Virginia’s 14th Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services as guest speaker.

Lohr told Farm Bureau members he and Governor Bob McDonnell are working to ensure Virginia agriculture continues to thrive. 

Virginia agriculture and forestry account for $79 billion of Virginia’s economy, he pointed out, and are the number one and number two industries across the state.  

According to the ag commissioner, over a half million people are interested in forestry and agriculture careers, and there are at least 47,000 farms in the state.  

International exports are at an all time high with $2.35 billion worth of Virginia agricultural products being exported last year. 

Lohr listed three reasons why he is so excited about Virginia agriculture.

The first involves the number of opportunities available to get Virginia products around the world.

Lohr said that 96 percent of the world’s population lives outside of the United States “presenting plenty opportunity.” Last year, the Department of Agriculture opened up new trade offices in China and India, and it now is in the process of opening up offices in Europe and Latin America. 

The commissioner also pointed to eight trade missions conducted around the world promoting Virginia agricultural products in the past three years. 

He told Farm Bureau members there is a demand for Virginia agricultural products because of the quality of Virginia goods.

Secondly, Lohr said he is excited about the opportunities available in farming for younger generations. 

According to Lohr, 70 percent of farmland is expected to change hands during the next 15 years presenting a wealth of opportunities for the younger generation.

The advance in local grown foods and farms is the third reason Lohr said he is excited. 

The number of farmers markets has doubled in the last five years going from 85 to 220, Lohr said, and big retailers are contacting local farmers to sell local grown goods in their stores.

Lohr closed his comments with the story of Rodger Banister, the first man to run a mile in under four minutes. 

Doctors at that time said it was impossible, and it did take more than 75 years for someone to accomplish the feat.

However, Lohr said he finds it very intriguing it only took 49 days after Banister broke the record before someone else also ran a mile in under four minutes.  

Lohr said seven other runners were able to complete this task in 1954 pointing out that once they believed in their mind it was possible, they were able to make it happen. 

That, Lohr said, is the attitude needed in Virginia agriculture. When things seem impossible, Lohr said farmers need to keep on going and continue with the determination and optimism that has kept Virginia agriculture thriving over the years.

Republican incumbent Congressman Robert Hurt also spoke during the annual meeting Tuesday night calling it “a great honor” to represent the people of the 5th District and the agriculture and forestry interests that dominate it.

Like Lohr, Hurt also mentioned agriculture comprising $79 billion of Virginia’s economy.  The congressman said he keeps that in mind when he votes or raises issues to Congress that will make it easier for farming families and small businesses across the 5th District to be successful.

Hurt mentioned the new farm bill recently brought before Congress that will affect all of the farmers attending Tuesday night’s annual meeting.

Hurt said agriculture production in this country has got to be “a top priority” for jobs, families and national security.

“We’ve got to make sure we produce what we need to feed ourselves and clothe ourselves,” Hurt said.

He also mentioned the possibility of taxes going up assured those attending the meeting he was committed to making sure they didn’t go up.

In other business Tuesday night, Farm Bureau members adopted six new resolutions.

The first two resolutions opposed uranium mining in the state and supported the continuation of the current moratorium on the mining and milling of uranium.

The resolutions also opposed any attempts to regulate the use of any wood burning appliances as a source of heat or utility.

Other resolutions included supporting a temporary foreign work program, the permanent elimination of the estate tax and the current American Farm Bureau Federation policy on capital gains tax.

Members also adopted a resolution urging Halifax County Board of Supervisors immediately to resume the application process for agriculture and forestry districts in Halifax County.

The Farm Bureau membership also reviewed the financial statement for Jan.1 through Aug. 31 Tuesday night. According to the statement, total year to date income is at $37,127.71, and year-to-date expenses are at $30,072.53. Savings as of Jan. 1 were at $259,135.36 and as of Aug. 31 have increased to $259,871.42.

Also during Tuesday night’s meeting, members reviewed the property rights amendments and heard the women’s committee report and nominating committee report.