Agriculture and Natural Resources

Agriculture and Forestry is the top industry for the Commonwealth and Rockingham is the top ag-producing locality in Virginia. That’s why maintaining a healthy ag economy has been a consistent priority. I’ve supported legislation that incentivizes and removes barriers for burgeoning sectors of the ag economy such as agritourism enterprises and farm breweries and wineries. I also remain an advocate for personal property rights and tax and estate policies that allow families to keep their family farms in operation for generations to come. I’ve worked with members on the other side of the aisle in recent years to get much-needed relief for our struggling dairy industry that has been hit particularly hard by numerous market forces. The Dairy Margin Coverage Premium Assistance Program also serves as an incentive for environmental stewardship practices, requiring nutrient management plans for participating farmers. Finally, the pandemic has brought into focus a deficiency in our meat processing capacity in the Commonwealth – leading to challenges for producers and consumers. Last year I successfully commissioned a study to review the best approaches to address the issue and this year we were able to secure funding in the House budget to incentivize the expansion of processing capacity in the Commonwealth.  

We have a duty to preserve and protect our natural resources. I believe this can best be accomplished through cooperative effort where the state comes alongside as a partner. Virginia has made significant progress on Cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay, but there is still more work to be done. Two years ago, I worked to pass a voluntary enhanced tax credit for farmers wishing to implement best management practices on their farms that improve water quality. New tools such as this will allow us to meet our water quality improvement goals without the need for heavy-handed government mandates.