Local Farm Bureau makes resolutions

Published 3:56 pm Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Resolutions on solar power, Farm Use tags and crop insurance options were approved when the Southampton County Farm Bureau had its annual meeting on Aug. 24 in the Regional Workforce Development Center of Paul D. Camp Community College.

The first relates to proposals by two separate companies that want to establish solar farms. When the matter was brought up at the Planning Commission earlier this month, more people — particularly farmers — spoke against the idea. One objection is whether or not the county really benefits in the way of tax dollars or even access to the power generated by such farms.

Owing to the late hour, the commissioners postponed discussion and voting on whether or not to recommend the proposals to the Board of Supervisors.

Meanwhile, the resolution states, “We support a 12-month moratorium to further study and evaluate the positive and/or negative effects of solar energy projects.”

The second issue: “We support law enforcement efforts to police the misuse of Farm Use tag.”

Gary Cross, president, explained that the state allows farmers to have such a plate for equipment vehicles, some of which are used only a few times a year, such as for a granary. This measure also enables producers to save on the expense of tagging each vehicle.

There used to be a blanket insurance policy available for farm equipment vehicles, said Cross, but now now they have to have individual coverage, as well as pass inspection; he has an insurance card for each of his vehicles. That alone is expensive, but at least money can be saved by not having new $30 to $50 plates annually.

“Some people have found that they can buy these tags — such as at Tractor Supply in Franklin and Ag Supply in Petersburg — and the state and county police not wanting to harass farmers, will leave them alone,” said Cross. He said that farmers such as himself are seeing a lot of non-growers use the tags for when they transport dogs for hunting, taking a trailer of trash to a public dumpsite and even parking at church.

“In an effort to enforce the proper use somewhat, we want to work with the true farmer who produces products,” Cross said. “How we appear to the public is important and you don’t want a bad name for agriculture.”

He continued, “We just want to help local police that there is some misuse of the plates. We don’t feel we’re better than anyone else.”

The issue has come before state conventions in the past and will do so again in November.

“We challenge this every year at our state convention and some people say leave it alone,” Cross said.

Though based on past experiences, he was not optimistic it would pass this time, either.

The third resolution is to “support options in crop insurance that adequately provides for quality adjustments as well as fully covering the cost of production.”

In other business of the evening:

• Agency manager John M. Drewry said, “2016 is tracking for another good year if weather patterns hold up. Keep the fingers cross there are no hurricanes.”

He reported that in Southampton County, a little over $3.3 million was paid to members’ claims. He urged them to review their policies and make sure they have coverages they need to avoid any surprises. Further, Drewry said the Farm Bureau Bank has very competitive rates on automobiles, equipment loans and certificates of deposit.

• A $1,000 scholarship was presented to Chris and Rachel Pope of Drewryville on behalf of their Harrison Pope. He is attending Virginia Tech this fall, and participating in life sciences with plans to declare an agricultural major by the end of his sophomore year. Another $1,000 scholarship will go to Brianna Johnson of Boykins, daughter of Benjamin Earl Johnson and Dana Michelle Story. She is at the University of Mount Olive and majoring in agriculture production systems with a concentration in conservation. She plans a career in soil conservation.

• M.L. Everett Jr., one of the board directors, encouraged everyone to attend the State Fair at The Meadow Event State Park in Doswell. This takes place from Sept. 23 to Oct. 2. For details, visit www.statefairva.org.
• Barbara Blythe was recognized for his service to the local Virginia Farm Bureau; she’s retiring after 15 years as secretary.

• Entertainment this year was provided by Rusty Lowe from Berlin, who played guitar and performed a few songs.