Get to know ag leaders with ‘Friends of the Farm Chats’ series

virginia farm bureau federationA new video series called “Friend of the Farm Chats” from the Virginia Farm Bureau Federation’s Governmental Relations Department debuted this fall.

The online series features conversations with legislators serving on the Senate and House agriculture committees, and is hosted by governmental relations staffers Andrew Smith and Stefanie Taillon.

Although elected officials discuss serious agricultural issues, the conversations are casual. Delegates talk about their backgrounds in farming, what compels them to preserve that way of life, and their favorite Virginia-grown products.

The first chat of the series debuted Oct. 14 with Del. Ken Plum, D-Reston, who chairs the House Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources Committee. He talked about growing up in Page County, and his proximity to farms in the Shenandoah Valley.

“A concern that I have, from having grown up in the country and loving Virginia, is the preservation of our natural resources,” Plum said, asserting that the farming industry and interest in natural resources can complement each other.

He recalled getting involved in agriculture as a youth when his family got into the poultry business.

“We raised some poultry to make a little extra money,” he said. “I remember the first time we sold 5,500 chickens … we made $100, and that bought our first television—which happened to be a black and white television.”

Other videos from the series include chats with agriculture committee vice chair Del. Wendy Gooditis, D-Boyce; Del. Margaret Ransone, R-Kinsale; Del. Tony Wilt, R-Harrisonburg; and Senate Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources Committee chair Sen. Chap Petersen, D-Fairfax, and committee members, Sen. Emmett Hanger, R-Mount Solon and Sen. David Marsden, D-Burke.

Ransone emphasized the crucial need for broadband infrastructure in the rural Northern Neck. She said internet connectivity is “almost nonexistent” in some parts, and farmers are reliant on that technology to operate successfully.

“The sooner I can get that to my district … the better off the farmers are going to be,” she said. “Broadband is a serious issue.”

Upcoming chats in the series will feature Del. Robert Bloxom Jr., R-Mappsville, and Sen. Jennifer McClellan, D-Richmond.

The chats range from 11 to 15 minutes, and can be viewed on VFBF’s Plows and Politics blog, on its Facebook page, or on YouTube.


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