Farm Bureau hosts annual picnic

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The Craig County Farm Bureau recently hosted their annual picnic and meeting for their members. In addition to home-cooked food, a silent auction was added for fun. The message was, “Farm Bureau is more than insurance.”

Pam Dudding
Contributing writer

Farm Bureau offers more than just insurance, and at the annual picnic and meeting, all of the resources were made abundantly clear.

On June 7, the local Farm Bureau representative, George Foster, along with his staff, hosted its annual picnic and meeting which informs the members of what they have done in the past year and their goals for the future.

The Board members who were introduced include: Vice President Jeannie Dudding, Secretary John Crawford, Directors Sandra Dudding, Ben Flinchum, John Hunter, Andrew Keffer and J C Winstead, Chairman of Young Farmers Committee Ashton Keffer, Chair of Women’s Committee Dianne Brown, Grassroots Development Specialist Paige Pratt PhD, County Members Service Specialist Robin Garst, Regional Sales Manager Ron Shelburne and State Board Member for the District Gordon Metz.

“Your membership does a lot of things,” Mary Hunter, President of the Craig County Farm Bureau, said. “Fifty percent of your membership fees stay in Craig County.”

Membership pays for several things:

•To support Ag programs, activities and farms that produce family’s food.

•To provide programs and educational tools, events to help agriculture grow

•To get legislation in place to benefit agriculture.

“We do a lot of work in Richmond with our legislators to ensure that we get laws in place that benefit agriculture and try to keep those out that make it difficult for our farmers to farm,” said Hunter before adding, “As we all know, if we didn’t have agriculture, we would not be able to survive without food, clothes, homes, etc.”

As a bonus, Farm Bureau has partnered with other businesses to provide discounts for their members who can download an app to participate. “If you use the app on your phone, you can get your annual membership fee back,” Hunter added. “You can get an additional 10 percent off your meals at our local restaurants like Pine Top.”

Hunter also gave highlights of what CCFM had accomplished.

•Stayed in touch with the Virginia Extension Service regarding the need of a 4-H extension agent in Craig

•Worked on new resolutions to share with the other counties in hopes to gain support and take their ideas to Richmond legislators.

•Provided a $500 scholarship to Laurel Pollock who will be attending Emory and Henry this fall to study Equine and Sociology

•Made donations to support school activities, Hooked on Fishing, the Annual Military Dinner, Ronald McDonald House, Ag in the Classroom and the State Youth Livestock Show.

Hunter emphasized that the Board of Directors strive to support the youth in the county, especially ones going into Agriculture.

“We are very pleased to have George Foster join us as our County Agent,” Hunter announced. “He has been visiting a lot of farms and will review your policy to assure you are up to date. He can also meet with you at home or at the office.”

In addition, the Women’s Committee have been very active, and Brown invited others to join. Among the things they have done include:

•Held two quilting classes and won runner up in the Midwest District for outstanding activities for the quilting classes

•At McCleary, organized an ‘Ag in the Classroom’ workshop for teachers, read to grades K-3 during Ag Literacy week and had a booth at One School One Book Family Night

•Gave a $500 Scholarship to Benjamin Deplazes who will be attending Grove City College to pursue a degree in Entrepreneurship and to play football

•Provided a scholarship for a student to attend 4-H camp

•Attended a Midwest District outing, touring a sheep farm in Pulaski and provided a farm-related activity for first grade students who were visiting

•Attended Women’s Spring Conference in Bristol, Virginia

•Provided funding to the high school Ag program for chickens and raised beds for their garden

•Made a quilt to raffle and held silent auctions to raise funds for programs

In the coming weeks, there will be more events. On Thursday, August 8, a Mid-west District annual meeting at Camp Easter Seals (program will be on the CC Quilt Trail) will hold a training program for First Responders to teach them how to handle issues related to farm accidents and its equipment. A Medicare Education seminar will also take place on that day.

Pratt brought people’s attention to the flyers that were displayed on each table, showing discounts from such companies as: Caterpillar, John Deere, Grander, Wyndham and Choice Hotels, Advance Auto Parts, Dress Barn and Arby’s.

She also informed the members that they work diligent on the state and federal levels too, “protect our food and livelihood.”

“We worked heavily on Waters of the US – a rule put into effect that EPA could come on your farm, test the water in a puddle, and find you a substantial amount if your puddle was not in compliance (approximately $30,000 per day). It was supposed to be navigable waters, but that got mudded up in the EPA talk and it went all the way down to puddles,” she said. “We have worked with new EPA Administration who is rolling out a new rule which will be more favorable to farmers, with clearer regulations.”

“If anyone is interested in receiving these alerts, I will show them how they can get emails or texts when we need your help with our legislators,” she added.

Pratt also noted that one legislator told them, “It is great to hear from the lobbyist, and we trust that they are representing your voice, but when we hear from your members on these action alerts, we know that it is extremely important to them.”

She also went over details to owners who have any running water on it, concerning proposals that will mandate stream exclusions on farms.

“We at Farm Bureau are very much for opportunities for farmers to participate in such programs, we are very much not in favor of taking someone’s private property rights away and telling them what they can and cannot do with their stream and what they must do with their livestock,” she added.

There has been a proposal to ask private citizens to become patrollers of Ag land, without any training or certification. It calls for citizens to more aggressively report problems that they see in agriculture land and waters. “We are not against being held at the highest standard, but we are not sure that ordinary citizens are qualified to do this. We would rather have people who are trained,” she added.

A warm meal was served that included ham, sweet potato casserole, cinnamon apples, macaroni and cheese and rolls, topped off with ice cream and popcorn.

Door prize and raffle item winners were also announced, and all were thanked for attending.

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