Robert Hurt: Agriculture critically important in Virginia

robert hurtThis past week, I had the privilege of joining the Pittsylvania County Farm Bureau for their annual meeting in Chatham.  Each fall, local farm bureaus gather farmers across the Commonwealth and the country for fellowship and to discuss policies at the federal, state, and local levels that will support an industry that has been vital to our nation since its inception.  Farmers and their families gather together to recognize another year of hard work and the bounty it produces, which not only feeds the country and the world, but it also essential to the economies of our rural communities.

Agriculture is the backbone of our economy in Virginia and remains a critically important factor in our economic wellbeing.  Combined with forestry, agriculture represents the largest segment of Virginia’s economy, generating more than $70 billion annually and accounting for nearly 415,000 jobs across the Commonwealth.  Our nation owes much of its prosperity to its deeply rooted history of agriculture, and we continue to rely heavily on its significant contributions to our economy and our country.  Preserving and fostering our great legacy of family farming in Virginia has always been one of my top priorities and its importance continues to transcend generations.

At the federal level, there is no question that excessive environmental regulation remains a top concern for our family farmers, which has only become more problematic under this Administration.  Last year, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers finalized a rule that would unilaterally expand the Clean Water Act’s scope to essentially any body of water – including ditches, culverts, and farmland ponds. This unilateral decision by EPA bureaucrats has significantly increased both uncertainty and costs on our family farmers while ignoring the fact that Congress is the only institution with the authority to change the law.

Luckily, a federal appeals court put this regulatory overreach on hold, and it is my hope that the agencies’ effort is scrapped entirely considering the consequences it could have for our agricultural producers.  Our nation’s farmers, and all those involved in agriculture, invest significantly in clean water to ensure the sustainability of the environment, as it is essential to their livelihood.  It is my hope that our next president is much more supportive and appreciative of our agricultural economy and will stand to support these jobs through a more reasonable regulatory approach.

I cannot help make the government more responsive to the needs of agriculture without hearing from our local growers and producers, so I always greatly appreciate the opportunity to meet with some of our hardworking Fifth District Virginians.  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 or if we may be of assistance to you, please visit my website at 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 of Virginia in Congress.

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