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Congressman Morgan Griffith

Congressman Griffith's Weekly E-Newsletter 10.31.16
By Congressman Morgan Griffith
Washington, DC (Oct. 31, 2016) -

Foundations of Farming and Forestry

Recently, I highlighted ways nations build wealth – make it, mine it, or grow it.  This week, I highlight the third way to build wealth.

The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) lists agriculture as our Commonwealth’s largest private industry.  The economic impact of agriculture and forestry is $70 billion a year and provides 415,000 jobs in the state.  Furthermore, these jobs each support another 1.6 jobs in the state economy.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s most recent data, as of 2012, counties in the Ninth District are home to farms with livestock such as cattle, lamb, and poultry that mostly produce eggs.  In August, among other places, I toured Green Valley Poultry Farm - Dutt and Wagner, a family farm processing an average of 680,000 eggs a day.  I also visited the award-winning cattle farm, Hillwinds Farm in Dublin.  The Ninth is also home to alpacas, horses and other equine, emu, geese, goat, hogs, llamas, ostriches, rabbits, sheep, and tilapia.

We also produce products such as apples, apricot, asparagus, beets, blueberries, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cherries, corn, cucumbers, eggplant, grapes, kiwifruit, lettuce, melons, mushrooms, nectarines, onions, okra, peas, pears, peaches, peppers, plums, potatoes, pumpkins, soybeans, squash, spinach, strawberries, sweet corn, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, and turnips.  In fact, Carroll County is Virginia’s largest pumpkin producer, according to Agriculture in the Classroom.

Farmers in this region also grow grains, nuts, flowers, and Christmas trees.  Further, we harvest honey and maple syrup. 

Although many people don’t realize it, forestry is also a way to generate wealth through growing.  Coincidently, the third week in October is National Forest Products Week.  Forestry provides jobs and income to many, including jobs at WestRock in Covington and Henry County.  In addition to jobs, forestry products play an important role in our day-to-day lives, filling a variety of needs in American houses, schools, and places of business, and are used for construction, fuel, and other assorted byproducts.

We are blessed to live in a place with so many opportunities to “grow” wealth.

Farming and forestry provide a way of life, and these traditions for us stretch back hundreds of years.  In Virginia, nearly 90 percent of farms are still owned and operated by families or individuals, according to VDACS. 

Further, VDACS also tells us that in the 1960s, one farmer supplied food for 25.8 people.  Today, one Virginia farmer provides food for 155 people in the United States and abroad. 

On top of the jobs, food, and products, VDACS outlines additional benefits of farming in the state, including opportunities for recreation, tourism, biodiversity and wildlife habitation, flood mitigation, and the ability to improve soil stabilization and water quality.

In support of the family farm, I voted to eliminate the Death Tax (H.R. 1105). Because of the value of land and equipment, the Death Tax is a threat to our family farms. I hope the Senate will join the House to eliminate this tax.

Another major threat to our agriculture industry is the Environmental Protection Agency’s Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule, a controversial rule that redefines the scope of waters protected under the Clean Water Act. In doing so, it vastly expands EPA’s authority over various wet areas.  I voted to support the Regulatory Integrity Protection Act (H.R. 1732) which would require the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers to withdraw their overreaching rule. 

I also voted for a Congressional Resolution of disapproval to negate WOTUS, S. J. Res. 22.  This resolution passed both the House and Senate, but was vetoed by the President.  I will continue to fight against harmful rules like the current proposed WOTUS rule.

The Ninth District is also fortunate to be the home of Virginia Tech.  At Tech, they research and test cutting-edge technology that can improve the agriculture industry.  They support research in livestock management, field crops, wine production, biofuels, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.*

In 1787, Thomas Jefferson told George Washington, “Agriculture is our wisest pursuit, because it will in the end contribute most to real wealth, good morals, and happiness.”

I am thankful for all who “grow” wealth in the Ninth District, and appreciate their hard work in providing much-needed food and products.  The farming and forestry industry have been pillars of the American economy since our founding, and will continue to provide valuable contributions to our economy.

If you have questions, concerns, or comments, feel free to contact my office.  You can call my Abingdon office at 276-525-1405 or my Christiansburg office at 540-381-5671.  To reach my office via email, please visit my website at  www.morgangriffith.house.gov.  Also on my website is the latest material from my office, including information on votes recently taken on the floor of the House of Representatives.


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