This past week on our Route 15 Agriculture Tour, I traveled across the Fifth District making over 30 stops in Madison, Rappahannock, Fauquier, Albemarle, Fluvanna, Cumberland, Buckingham, Prince Edward, Appomattox, Pittsylvania, Charlotte, Mecklenburg, and Danville. I met with farmers and members of the agriculture community at dairy farms, tobacco farms, cattle farms, cattle auctions, orchards, vineyards, rural country stores, greenhouse operations, and farming equipment distributors.
Agriculture is the backbone of our economy in Virginia, with an annual economic impact of $52 billion, and it is vital that we advance policies that support, not impede, our family farmers. Last week’s Agriculture Tour was an important opportunity to listen to Fifth District Virginians about their concerns and hear exactly how the policies coming out of Washington are affecting their farming operations and businesses.
When I visited a cattle farm in Appomattox, I spoke with the farmer about the rising cost of fuel, which is among his largest expenses as it powers the tractors and vehicles that allow him to transport hay and cattle. At a vineyard in Fauquier, I heard about their health insurance premiums rising 70 percent. I talked with the owner of another vineyard in Pittsylvania County about how his family has transitioned from growing tobacco to grapes. In each of these instances, the federal government’s policies are making it more difficult for these family farms to succeed.
Preserving and fostering our great legacy of family farming in Virginia is one of my top priorities, and as I met with farmers across the district this past week, it remains clear that the federal government is often out of touch with the needs of our family farmers and agribusinesses.
Agricultural producers are substantially impacted by the tax, energy, and regulatory policies coming out of Washington. Since I took office, I have worked to promote policies that make it easier for our family farms to succeed. I introduced a bipartisan bill, the Preserving Rural Resources Act, to ease regulatory burdens on how farmers use their land for normal agricultural activities and co-sponsored legislation to reform our convoluted tax code with one that is fairer and simpler for all Americans. I have also co-sponsored several bills to maximize our domestic energy supply to help bring down the cost of fuel, reduce our dependence on foreign supplies of oil, and create jobs in Virginia.
Increasing our energy independence, reforming our tax code, and reducing unnecessary government regulations that burden family farms in the Fifth District will enable agriculture to continue thriving in Central and Southside Virginia. I appreciated the opportunity to meet with so many hardworking Fifth District Virginians during our district work weeks, and I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues to put forth policies that support our robust agriculture industry.
If you need any additional information, please visit my website at hurt.house.gov or call my Washington office: (202) 225-4711, Charlottesville office: (434) 973-9631, Danville office: (434) 791-2596, or Farmville office: (434) 395-0120.
Robert Hurt represents the Fifth District in Congress.