|Congressman Bob Goodlatteâ€™s Weekly Column: March 3, 2017|
Agriculture is a Vital Part of Americaâ€™s Economy
|By Congressman Bob Goodlatte|
Washington, DC (March 3, 2017) -
Driving through the Sixth District, itâ€™s hard to miss the rows of crops, livestock dotted pastures, and barns and silos that represent the local agriculture community. The impact of agriculture is much larger than just the farms you see â€“ itâ€™s also agritourism stops like farmerâ€™s markets, wineries and breweries, and food stands that are drawing more and more people to our part of Virginia. With roughly 46,000 farms and 311,000 related jobs in Virginia, the agriculture industry plays a particularly important role as the largest contributor to the state economy.
Given the importance of agriculture to the Sixth District, I am honored to serve on the House Committee on Agriculture. During my service on this Committee, Iâ€™ve had the opportunity to meet individuals from nearly every aspect of agriculture and hear how federal policies coming out of Washington directly impact their livelihoods. In the 115th Congress, the Agriculture Committee will have the responsibility of crafting a new Farm Bill, which sets our nationâ€™s policy on issues ranging from commodities, crop insurance, rural development, forest management, conservation, nutrition, and food safety. It is important that we have a fiscally responsible, reform-minded farm bill that will help ensure that agriculture remains a vital part of the American economy.
The Committee has already held several hearings to seek input on the next Farm Bill, and many more are planned for the coming weeks as this process continues. While I look forward to learning more about the needs of the agriculture community from these hearings, I also want to hear from those in the Sixth District about what you would like to see in the Farm Bill. To submit a comment, please visit my website at Goodlatte.House.Gov.
Like many industries, the threat of wide-reaching and difficult to implement federal regulations has a significant impact on agriculture. Just a few days ago, in a victory for many in rural America, President Trump signed an Executive Order that would set the course to rescind the controversial Waters of the United States rule. The concerns of many farmers and small businesses in the Sixth District that this unworkable rule would drastically expand the Environmental Protection Agencyâ€™s authority over regulating waterways were echoed across the country. Protecting Americaâ€™s waterways is critical, but this should be a collaborative approach. We need common sense policies that will protect water quality without limiting economic growth and unfairly over-regulating agricultural producers, small businesses, municipalities, and local economies.
Later this month, on March 21, we will mark National Agriculture Day â€“ a celebration of the abundance provided by agriculture. It is important that Congress put forth federal policies to help ensure that American agriculture can continue to meet the needs of our nation and prevent federal red tape that would make it impossible for farmers to continue producing abundant and affordable products. Agriculture is not just a part of our heritage as a nation; it also plays an essential role in the future of America.