Alternative energy in future of Farm Bureau members –

September 30, 2016 Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Google+ Uncategorized

More than 200 members of the Halifax County Farm Bureau gathered Tuesday night at Halifax County High School for the annual producer membership meeting listening to various committee reports, the recognition of special guests and comments by guest speaker, Andrew Smith, head of governmental relations — or as he put it “chief government lobbyist.”

Smith’s comments focused on alternative energy and timber sale contract provisions.

Halifax County Farm Bureau President Scott Crowder opened the meeting, delivering kudos to Cathy Younger, whom Crowder called “chair of this event and critical to its success.”

Also recognized for their support were Chad Francis, John Voss, Bruce Slagle, Ronnie Ratliff, Bill Abbott, Jimmy Anderson, Billy Arrington, Charles Fears, Bruce Pearce, Jay Reese, Page Wilkerson, Joe Wilkerson and Halifax County Supervisors J. T. Davis, Tom West and Larry Giordano.

ED-3 Trustee and School Board Chairman Kimberly Farson, former ED-1 school board member Phyllis Smith and ED-6 school board trustee Fay Satterfield were cited for their support of the local Farm Bureau.

Meeting attendees also recognized included Halifax County Planning Commissioners Hunter Ford and Ray Owen, Commonwealth’s Attorney Tracy Q. Martin, Treasurer Ruth Oakes, Sheriff Fred S. Clark, Ag

Marketing and Development Director Kimley Blanks, VFBF Women’s Committee Chairman Janice Burton and Angela Haskovec, Greg Maxey, Gerald Gardner and Ginny Crenshaw of the Virginia Farm Bureau.

Finally, Crowder recognized Halifax County Farm Bureau staff including Sandra Whitt, Charlene Hendricks—whom Crowder described as “always doing a great job”—Jennifer Craig, Page Seamster, David Ashwell and new agents Angie Milstead and Brigid Layman.

Hendricks was welcomed as a new member of the service team.

A review of the annual financial report and the insurance report was upbeat as well, bureau staff reporting financials are good, and sales are up.

VFBF Field Services Director Greg Maxey reviewed the benefits of membership and bureau products for guests and attendees before guest speaker VFBF Governmental Relations Director Andrew Smith delivered remarks focused on the how-to’s of timber sales and the increasing marketability of alternative energy.

Referencing the increasing importance of alternative energy to the global and U.S. market, Smith noted that “the big talk and movement today is in solar and wind—primarily solar in Virginia.”

Smith pointed to such production sites in Virginia as Southampton and the Isle of Wight and spoke to the differences between leases/pit property rights versus traditional land rental agreements.

Biofuels, said Smith, present a greater legislative challenge since the federal government provides less incentives apart from the Renewable Fuels Standard.

For landowners considering selling timber, Smith outlined a step-by-step protocol designed to safeguard owners’ rights and guarantee fair pricing.

Crowder closed the meeting by asking members to vote on the following resolutions:

• Lifting the moratorium on agriculture and forestry districts in Halifax County;

• Stricter enforcement of litter laws in Halifax County;

• Adequate funding for vocational and trades programs in schools;

• The right of farmers to work on their own tractors/equipment or select their own mechanic rather than be required to return equipment to dealers because software needed for repair is copyrighted and controlled by manufacturer and dealer;

• Reinstatement of the three-cent per gallon gas tax so funds can be used for highway maintenance;

• A temporary foreign worker program that includes the following:

» utilization of the average prevailing wage rate for foreign temporary workers, in a particular agriculture or forestry occupation and region, when wages required by law are in excess of the minimum prescribed in the Fair Labor Standard Act;

» referrals of workers should cease once the U.S. Department of Labor certifies the employer to utilize the H-2A workers;

» arbitrary surcharges above actual worker travel cost be disallowed;

» transportation costs and other expenses for foreign temporary workers be deferred until after 50 percent of the contract period is complete;

» job classification shall be determined at the beginning of the contract and based on the work expected for 75 percent of that period;

• VFBF/Halifax County Farm Bureau opposes an increase in minimum wage.

Nominations as recommended by Chad Francis, chair of the nominating committee, included the following:

Bruce Slagle, Bruce Pearce, Jay Reese, Jimmy Anderson, Joe Wilkerson and alternates Wanda Anderson and Rose Mary Reese as delegates to the 2015 convention;

President Scott Crowder, Vice President Chad Francis, Secretary-Treasurer John Voss as officers for 2016;

Billy Arrington and Page Wilkerson as directors for 2016-2017; and

Cathy Younger as Women’s Committee Chair.