Posts Tagged ‘Support for Farmers’

Wilt Dairy Bill First to be Signed by Governor Youngkin

February 14, 2022

RICHMOND- On Monday Governor Youngkin signed his first bill into law. It happened to be legislation patroned by Shenandoah Valley Delegate Tony Wilt (R-Rockingham). Taking office in mid-January, Delegate Wilt’s was the first to make it to the Governor’s desk due to the emergency status of the legislation. The bill makes several adjustments to the recently established Dairy Margin Coverage Premium Assistance Program.

“As the Commonwealth’s top industry, it’s fitting to have the first bill signed into law be one that supports our farmers and agriculture economy,” said Wilt. “This bill makes some necessary improvements to our Dairy Margin Coverage Premium Assistance Program that was established last year. Providing some assistance to our dairy farmers while also further incentivizing conservation practices is something that I have worked on for several years. I’m glad we had the opportunity to get something across the finish line last year and can build on that progress now.”

“Thank you, Governor Youngkin and Delegate Wilt, for your work to expand eligibility to the Virginia Dairy Producer Margin Coverage Premium Assistance Program,” indicated Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) Commissioner Joseph Guthrie. “Now, more of the Commonwealth’s dairy farmers can participate in the federal Dairy Margin Coverage program and receive tier 1 level reimbursement for their participation, when they have a resource management plan or nutrient management plan that is certified or undergoing certification by the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation or a local soil and water conservation district. This is a win for Virginia agriculture, for the consumer, and for environmental stewardship.

The legislation that has now become law ensures farmers can participate in the state premium assistance program, despite recent delays in the rollout of the federal farm bill program. The federal program works like an insurance policy to guard against low and volatile milk prices. The state premium assistance program helps small to mid-size dairy farmers in covering their costs to sign up for the federal program. The bill also ensures that farmers that choose to work with the federal Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) on their conservation practices are still able to participate in the premium assistance program. Dairy farmers that are interested in participating should contact VDACS for more information.

This year is the long 60 day session and is set to conclude in mid-march. Delegate Wilt has served in the House of Delegates since 2010 and represents the City of Harrisonburg and a portion of Rockingham County.

Governor Signs Wilt Ag Legislation into Law

March 13, 2021

Harrisonburg- On Friday Governor Northam signed a bill into law that many in the agriculture and conservation community believe will be a helpful new tool to encourage local producers to implement water quality improvement practices. The bill, sponsored by Delegate Tony Wilt (R-Broadway), will offer an enhanced tax credit to farmers that implement certain best management practices on their farms.

Delegate Wilt first introduced similar legislation during the 2020 Regular Session, but that bill did not make it out of the Appropriations Committee. However, after a diverse coalition of agriculture, conservation and environmental groups spoke out strongly in support of the measure it found success in the legislature this year. The new credit will cover 50% of the cost of the practice and farmers interested in pursuing the credit will work with their local Soil and Water Conservation District office.

“The idea of an enhanced tax credit for our farmers was one of the recommendations included in the latest roadmap for restoring the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries, so I’m glad to see it come to fruition,” said Wilt. “Along with existing cost-share and other programs this will further assist in the effort to improve water quality and meet our goals without the need for heavy-handed government intervention.”

Senator Emmett Hanger (R-Augusta) carried companion legislation in the Senate this year and that bill was also signed into law Friday by the Governor. In addition, Delegate Wilt served as the chief co-patron of another agriculture initiative sponsored by Delegate Wendy Gooditis (D-Clarke) that seeks to aid the struggling dairy industry through a Dairy Margin Coverage Premium Assistance Program. That bill is still awaiting the Governor’s signature, but it is expected he will sign the legislation. Delegate Wilt has championed targeted support for the dairy industry the last number of years as farmers have had to contend with extremely low milk prices and other compounding factors.