Press Releases

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) released the following statement on the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) proposal to relocate two research agencies, the Economic Research Service (ERS) and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), from Washington, D.C. to Kansas City.

“USDA’s proposed relocation of the Economic Research Service and National Institute of Food and Agriculture will unnecessarily uproot hundreds of dedicated federal employees and could negatively impact the missions of both agencies,” the Senators said. “These agencies play a critical role in setting agricultural, nutritional, and environmental policy in the U.S. Disconnecting them from other vital research agencies in the National Capital Region will undoubtedly disrupt the work they carry out and impact their ability to attract and retain highly-qualified personnel. We have introduced legislation to block this ill-conceived move and will continue to work with our colleagues to keep these agencies in the National Capital Region.”

 In May, Sens. Warner and Kaine, along with other members of Congress representing the National Capital Region, sent a letter to Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue urging him not to relocate ERS and NIFA. The Senators have also introduced legislation barring the research agencies from leaving the National Capital Region. In addition, Sen. Warner has placed a hold on nominee Scott Hutchins for Undersecretary for research, education, and economics at the Department of Agriculture in opposition to the proposed relocation.

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WASHINGTON - Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) released the following statement following President Trump’s announcement that, beginning on June 10, the U.S. will impose a 5 percent tariff on Mexican imports. According to the Trump Administration, if Mexico does not stop immigrants from crossing the Southwest border, tariffs could incrementally increase to 25 percent by October 1 and remain at that level until the migration stops.

“President Trump’s escalating trade war will force families to pay more on everyday items and put 133,000 trade-supported Virginia jobs at risk. What this Administration fails to understand is that, just as Trump's family separation policy failed, hiking tariffs on Mexico won’t deter families escaping violence and instability in their native countries from crossing our border,” said the Senators. “Last year, Virginians saw the impact of retaliatory tariffs imposed by Mexico after this Administration imposed damaging steel and aluminum tariffs. Mexico continues to be an important trade partner for the Commonwealth, and strong-arming our allies will only hurt Virginians without solving our immigration challenges.”

Mexico is Virginia’s sixth-largest overall agricultural export market, according to the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS). In 2018, Mexico purchased more than $111 million in Virginia exports – a 3 percent decrease from 2017, a decline attributable in part to reckless trade and tariff Trump Administration policies. To ease the burden on Virginia businesses, manufacturers and consumers, Sen. Warner introduced and Sen. Kaine cosponsored bipartisan legislation that would restore Congress’ constitutional trade responsibilities. Sen. Kaine has also introduced legislation to limit the Trump Administration’s ability to levy tariffs without Congress.

Sens. Warner and Kaine have been vocal about the economic effect of the Trump Administration’s haphazard approach on tariffs.  In April, the Senators slammed President Trump after threatening – and later walking back – his threat to close the U.S.-Mexico border.  To tackle the root causes of migration, the Senators introduced legislation to provide a coordinated response to the humanitarian crisis in the Northern Triangle countries that have forced families to seek refuge in the U.S. They have also urged the Trump Administration to reverse its plan to cut national security funding to El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. 

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WASHINGTON – Today U.S. Senators Mark Warner (D-Va.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) introduced the Agriculture Research Integrity Act, which would bar the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) from reorganizing and moving the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) and the Economic Research Service (ERS) out of the National Capital Region. Experts agree that Secretary Perdue’s proposal would undermine their effectiveness and relevance, and the rank-and-file staff opposes the move – just yesterday, it was reported that federal employees at both agencies “have quit in unusually large numbers” since the Secretary announced he would relocate the offices.

“The proposed relocation of the Economic Research Service and National Institute of Food and Agriculture from the National Capital Region could severely impact the ability of these agencies to carry out their critical research missions,” said Senator Warner. “These agencies provide invaluable research that drives agricultural, nutritional, and environmental policy in the U.S. Removing these agencies from the National Capital Region would negatively impact their work by disconnecting them from other vital research agencies located in the region and could impact their ability to attract and retain highly-qualified personnel.”

“The experts at NIFA and ERS conduct the scientific research that helps grow the food our families eat. They need a seat at the table with decision makers,” said Senator Van Hollen. “This proposed move – coupled with other efforts to undermine their work – is part of a broader effort by the Trump Administration to banish facts and science from policy decisions. We are committed to fighting it tooth and nail.” 

“Once again, the Trump Administration is seeking to marginalize scientists and independent research, choosing to scatter federal employees and potentially politicize what has historically been the work of nonpartisan civil servants,” said Senator Cardin. “With this bill, Congress has an opportunity to show it’s respect for our federal workforce and their work in advancing agriculture, food, the environment, and rural America on behalf of all Americans.” 

“USDA is proposing to uproot more than 700 hardworking federal employees from the National Capital Region with no cost/benefit analysis and no obvious public benefit. These federal workers will be forced to sell their homes, take their kids out of school, and move across the country to a location to be determined. This suspicious process is currently under investigation by the USDA Inspector General. Until USDA gives Congress and its own employees some straight answers, this move should be stopped,” said Senator Kaine. 

“The National Institute of Food and Agriculture and the Economic Research Service carry out vital science and research missions that our nation’s farmers, consumers, and lawmakers rely on.  Uprooting those agencies and their staffs would undermine those missions.  That would be a ‘solution’ to a problem that doesn’t exist,” said Senator Leahy.

“The National Institute of Food and Agriculture and the Economic Research Service play a critical role in ensuring that our agriculture industry remains a global leader and can meet the needs of American families for generations to come,” said Senator Merkley. “There is no reason why taxpayer money should be wasted on moving these research facilities hundreds of miles away, far from the officials who make sure their findings are honest and not influenced by politics or food manufacturers. I’m urging all of my colleagues in Congress to protect the future of American agriculture by saying no to any plan to move these essential agencies.”

“We rely on these workers to provide quality research about our food, our farming and our rural economy, and they deserve a say in this process. Uprooting families and workers is a bad idea that undermines productivity,” said Senator Brown.    

“U.S. farmers face constant uncertainty – not least of which comes from the extreme weather variability brought on by a changing climate. Secretary Perdue has added fuel to the uncertainty by proposing to uproot, reorganize, and ultimately gut two research agencies essential to the stability of a productive and sustainable food system. Since the Trump administration has been unable to provide evidence of how this move will benefit farmers, eaters, and the public interest, Congress must stop the reorganization and relocation. We thank Senator Van Hollen for leading the way,” said Rebecca Boehm, an economist for Union of Concerned Scientists’ Food and Environment program

“Under the Trump administration, the USDA is suppressing the publication of scientific research that ERS employees conduct and has proposed upending employees’ lives by relocating the agency outside the nation’s capital,” said American Federation of Government Employees National President J. David Cox Sr. “Just like we have been standing up and fighting back against numerous other anti-worker proposals from the Trump Administration, we will join the employees at ERS and NIFA in fighting against efforts to relocate them and politicize their research. AFGE thanks Senator Van Hollen for introducing this important legislation that will aid in our fight for fairness for these federal workers.” 

“The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition and the farmers we represent from all regions of the country applaud the sponsors for introducing this bill.  We believe that nothing less than the future of public agricultural research and objective, policy-relevant economic analysis is at stake.  We encourage the Senate to follow the House lead and prohibit the misguided, unauthorized, and unfunded effort to move and undermine NIFA and ERS,” said Nichelle Harriott, Policy Specialist at the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC).

The House companion bill has been introduced by Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (D-Maine) and language prohibiting the ERS and NIFA move was included in the House Agriculture funding bill released yesterday. 

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) released the following statement after President Trump escalated the ongoing U.S. - China trade war by imposing a 25 percent tariff on $200 billion worth of Chinese exports. In retaliation, China announced that it is raising tariffs on $60 billion of U.S. products beginning on June 1.

“It’s been more than a year since President Trump first launched a haphazard, ill-planned trade war with China that raised taxes on a number of Virginia commodities. The escalation means continued uncertainty for Virginia’s soybean farmers, who continue to brace for the worst every time the word ‘tariffs’ is said in the Oval Office. With the Trump Administration slapping China with additional tariffs and China planning to hit the U.S. right back, there seems to be no solution in sight,” said the Senators. “It’s one thing to be tough on China’s unfair and illegal trade practices, but the longer this disastrous lack of a strategy continues, the more it’ll cost and the more of an impact it will have on Virginians’ bank accounts.” 

Sens. Warner and Kaine have raised concerns about how President Trump’s ongoing trade war could hurt Virginia businesses and families. According to the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS), China is Virginia’s number one agricultural export market for soybeans. In 2018, Virginia exported more than $58 million soybean products to China – an 83 percent decrease from 2017.

 

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WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) and Mike Crapo (R-ID) reintroduced bipartisan legislation to protect horses from the abusive practice known as “soring,” in which show horse trainers intentionally apply substances or devices to horses’ limbs to make each step painful and force an exaggerated high-stepping gait rewarded in show rings. Although federal law currently prohibits soring, a report by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Inspector General (IG) has found that some horse trainers often go to great lengths to continue this inhumane practice. 

“Horses have been a part of our Commonwealth’s history and culture since the settling of Jamestown, and like all animals, they deserve to be treated with care and compassion,” said Sen. Warner. “The PAST Act will further protect these animals from the cruel practice of inflicting deliberate pain and suffering for show purposes.”

“I support the humane treatment of all animals and the responsible training of horses,” said Sen. Crapo. “I remain committed to ending the cruel practice of soring, and will continue to promote enforcement of current animal welfare laws.”

“The American Horse Council – the voice of the nation’s equine sector which directly supports nearly one million U.S. jobs and contributes $122 billion in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) – applauds the leadership of Sens. Mark Warner (D-VA) and Mike Crapo (R-ID) for introducing the Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act of 2019. Although “soring” – which is the practice of inflicting pain on a horse’s limb to produce an accentuated gait – has declined since Congress enacted the Horse Protection Act in 1970, the PAST Act will build on this progress by modernizing inspection and revising penalties for violations,” said Julie M. Broadway, President of the American Horse Council.

“VVMA applauds previous legislation aimed to halt the inhumane practices of soring of horses, and the PAST act will strengthen the ban on these practices. This important legislation is strongly supported by the veterinarians of Virginia," said Kelly Gottschalk, DVM, President of the Virginia Veterinary Medical Association. 

“Horse ‘soring’ is one of the worse cruelties imaginable – where scofflaw trainers deliberately torture Tennessee walking horses to get them to fling their front legs high, just to win a cheap blue ribbon in a show ring.  It'd be like forcing an Olympian to wear broken glass in her shoes so the pain will make her leap higher over the hurdles,” said Sara Amundson, President of Humane Society Legislative Fund. “We are grateful to Senators Crapo and Warner for their leadership on the PAST Act, which has garnered overwhelming bipartisan cosponsors and support by the nation’s leading horse industry, veterinary, law enforcement and animal welfare groups.  We urge Senate leadership to allow a floor vote soon to finally end this abuse.” 

The Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act would:

  • Eliminate self-policing by requiring the USDA to assign a licensed inspector if the show's management indicates intent to hire one. Licensed or accredited veterinarians, if available, would be given preference for these positions.
  • Prohibit the use of action devices and pads on specific horse breeds that have a history of being the primary victims of soring. Action devices, such as chains that rub up and down an already-sore leg, intensify the horse's pain when it moves so that the horse quickly jolts up its leg.
  • Increase consequences on individuals caught soring a horse, including raising the penalty from a misdemeanor to a felony, which is subject to up to three years' incarceration, increasing fines from $3,000 to $5,000 per violation, and permanently disqualifying three-time violators from participating in horse shows, exhibitions, sales or auctions.

In 2017, the USDA Office of Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) moved to strengthen certain aspects of the Horse Protection Act by incorporating some of the major tenets of the PAST Act. However, the rule was not finalized before the end of the Obama Administration and the Trump Administration has halted the process. The PAST Act would codify these changes into law.   

The PAST Act was previously introduced in 2018 by Sens. Warner and Crapo, and in 2015 by Sen. Warner and former Sen. Ayotte (R-NH). Original co-sponsors of this bill include Sens. Jerry Moran (R-KS), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Susan Collins (R-ME), Ed Markey (D-MA), Steve Daines (R-MT), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Pat Toomey (R-PA), Wyden (D-OR), and Bob Casey (D-PA).

Numerous groups have endorsed the bill, including the American Horse Council, American Veterinary Medical Association, American Association of Equine Practitioners, Humane Society Legislative Fund, Association of Prosecuting Attorneys, American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and Virginia Veterinary Medical Association.

 

More information about this bill can be found here. A copy of the bill text is available here.

 

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Washington – U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) joined Sens. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), and a bipartisan group of 43 other Senators to urge the Trump Administration to rescind a proposed rule that would take away nutrition benefits from Americans struggling to find stable employment. In a letter to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Senators asked Secretary Sonny Perdue to withdraw this proposal, which would make it harder for states to provide Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits to communities experiencing economic uncertainty.   

“Congress recognizes that one-size-fits-all rules for SNAP and employment practices actually end up fitting no one,” the Senators wrote. “This proposed rule removes critical local input and flexibility. This proposal ignores the intent of Congress, would worsen hunger in this country, and would do nothing to help increase stable, long-term employment or move individuals to self-sufficiency. We urge you to immediately withdraw this proposed rule.” 

This proposed regulation, which could result in the loss of more than 178,000 jobs, comes in direct contravention of Congressional intent. In the 2018 Farm Bill, Congress chose to reject similar proposals by the President and some members of Congress that would have changed SNAP work rules and the ability of states to waive work requirements. In fact, an amendment to further restrict states from providing geographic waivers for able-bodied adults without dependents (ABAWD) was rejected by the House of Representatives by a vote of 83-330.  A similar amendment proposed in the Senate was rejected (tabled) by a bipartisan vote of 68-30.

Sens. Warner and Kaine have long stressed the importance of sustained funding for the SNAP program. In January, both Senators wrote to the Secretary of Agriculture to voice concern about the status of SNAP amidst the government shutdown. Additionally, Sen. Warner reintroduced a bill earlier this month to benefit low-income rural and urban communities with limited or no access to nutritious food by increasing access to grocery stores in areas designated as “food deserts.” 

In addition to Sens. Warner, Kaine, Stabenow, and Murkowski, the letter was signed by Sens. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Robert Casey (D-PA), Susan Collins (R-ME), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Doug Jones (D-AL), Angus King (ME), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Patrick  Leahy (D-VT), Joe Manchin (D-WV),  Edward J. Markey (D-MA), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Patty Murray (D-WA), Gary Peters (D-MI), Jack Reed (D-RI), Jackie Rosen (D-NV), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Charles Schumer (D-NY), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), Tina Smith (D-MN), Jon Tester (D-MT), Tom Udall (D-NM), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), and Ron Wyden (D-OR).

 

Full text of the letter is below and a copy can be found here.

 

The Honorable Sonny Perdue

Secretary of Agriculture

U.S. Department of Agriculture

1400 Independence Avenue, S.W.

Washington, DC  20250

 

Dear Secretary Perdue:

We write to raise serious concerns about the Administration’s recent proposed rule “Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program: Requirements for Able-Bodied Adults without Dependents (84 FR 980).”  Despite the Department’s intent that this rule would “improve employment outcomes and economic independence,” the proposed changes would take food assistance away from Americans struggling to find stable employment while doing nothing to help them to actually become permanently employed.  This is contrary to Congressional intent, evidenced by the passage of the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (P.L. 115-334), which rejected similar harmful changes to SNAP and passed Congress by a historic vote of 87-13 in the Senate and by 369-47 in the House of Representatives.

SNAP already has strict time limits that restrict access to food assistance to three months out of every three years for most working-aged adults.  Acknowledging the strictness of these policies and understanding the unique needs of our states and our constituents, Congress sought to mitigate the impact by providing states discretion to request waivers of the time limit and to utilize monthly exemptions based on local workforce circumstances.  Every state in the country but Delaware has utilized waivers when local conditions warranted.  While the use of time limit waivers peaked for many states during the great recession, the percentage of the population eligible for waivers of time limits has dropped to pre-recession levels, resulting in many SNAP recipients losing access to food assistance under current rules.  There is no evidence, however, that the re-imposition of the time limit in these areas has resulted in these individuals achieving self-sufficiency through new employment opportunities. 

 

Since the waiver process was formally adopted during the George W. Bush Administration, efforts to modify waiver criteria have always originated in—and been rejected by—Congress, instead of through executive action.  Most recently, Congress considered and chose to reject attempts to limit flexibility for states to request waivers for time limits in SNAP during both the 2014 and 2018 Farm Bills.  Instead, Congress has focused on improving employment and training activities through innovative pilots, workforce partnerships, and state-based employment and training initiatives that strengthen an individual’s ability to secure stable, long-term employment. These efforts recognize that many individuals face substantial barriers to employment that an arbitrary time limit or unemployment floor do nothing to address.

Noting that some states and regions experience a normal or near-normal unemployment rate, the proposed rule assumes that an average unemployment rate means every person seeking a job will be able to find one, and that wages from such employment would sustain a family.  However, rates of unemployment for individuals without a high school diploma or a GED and individuals in the service sector are often as much as double the average rates of unemployment in a community.  For example, in 2018, while the unemployment rate for workers with a bachelor’s degree or more was 2.1 percent, the unemployment rate for those with less than a high school education was 5.6 percent, and 10.4 percent for African-American workers with less than a high school education.  In addition, in some areas with insufficient jobs, a declining unemployment rate may not only imply that more Americans have gotten jobs, but also that some Americans may be leaving the labor force.

Many rural areas have had slow employment growth since the end of the great recession, and the gap between employment rates in rural and urban areas has widened.  In some rural and frontier regions, unemployment remains in the double digits.  The economic, transportation, geographic, and other challenges that contribute to high unemployment rates in some large regions of our country are unlikely to change.  It is unlikely, for example, that significant employment opportunities will come to regions that have very small populations, are unconnected by roads, and experience high energy costs.

Due to persistent discrimination in hiring practices, certain protected classes are also likely to be disparately impacted by this proposal, a fact that the proposed rule acknowledged, but did not resolve.  For example, field studies have consistently shown that white applicants receive more callbacks for job interviews than otherwise identical applications from African-American or Latino applicants.   Assuming generalized employment figures are representative of the ABAWD population targeted by this rule ignores the employment realities that many of these individuals face.  Early analysis also indicates that the proposed rule would have a disparate negative impact on American Indian and Alaska Native populations living in rural areas of the nation.

The proposed rule also is based on a faulty assumption that individuals that are receiving SNAP are choosing not to work.  In fact, most SNAP participants are working.  Many individuals that would lose access to food assistance because of this rule are employed, but have inconsistent hours or work in seasonal industries such as fishing and construction.  The proposed rule asserts that 74% of ABAWDs are not working.  That statistic is misleading and does not correctly represent the work status of most SNAP recipients.  Recent studies show that less than 2% of participants aged 18-49 are consistently working less than 20 hours a week, and less than 2% are always unemployed. Instead, the majority of these individuals fluctuated over a two-year period between working at least 20 hours a week in a given month, to falling short of a consistent 20 hours per work week.  Even those individuals who successfully meet the work requirement may lose their food assistance if they fail to correctly document their hours or submit required paperwork.  Asserting individuals facing inconsistent or unstable work circumstances are not seeking self-sufficiency does a disservice to our shared goals of helping American families to find consistent, stable employment that allows them to feed their families.

The proposed rule also wrongly assumes that those who are not qualified for work available in their community, region, state, or elsewhere in the nation can easily obtain job training.  In rural and frontier areas, job training is not available.  In most cases, job training opportunities located in urban areas cannot absorb additional trainees.  In addition, Congress has asked state and local Workforce Investment Boards to more closely align job training with actual job opportunities because it makes no sense to train someone for a job that does not exist.

 

We are also concerned about the impact these changes would have on state agencies.  The proposed rule would require additional oversight of and paperwork from an expanded number of people not currently subject to work requirements.  If finalized, states would be compelled to hire and train many additional caseworkers and in states with rural and remote regions, spend even more to provide on-the-ground oversight to ensure claimed work requirements were met.

Establishing an arbitrary unemployment floor would have a dramatic impact on participation.  According to the proposed rule’s estimates, establishing a 7% unemployment rate floor for waivers would affect 1.1 million SNAP participants, with nearly three-quarters of those participants, over 755,000 people, losing access to food assistance.  This estimate is likely low as it is based on economic growth rates that are not feasible.  This only clearly demonstrates that this proposed rule is not designed to help individuals gain stable employment. Instead, the outcome is simply more hunger.

In addition to being out of line with Congressional intent related to waivers, this rule also directly contradicts Congressional direction related to waiver submissions and carry-over exemptions included in the 2018 Farm Bill report.  This report, written by Chairman Pat Roberts, Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow, Chairman Mike Conaway and Ranking Member Collin Peterson and approved by the 369 members of the House and 87 members of the Senate, explicitly directs the Department not to make the changes made in this rule.  This unilateral Administrative action is in direct contradiction to the will of Congress.

The Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 Conference Report (H. Rept. 115-1072) specifically states that it was the intent of Congress that states will “continue to accrue exemptions and retain carryover exemptions from previous years, consistent with current law.”  The proposed rule’s elimination of unlimited carry-over exemptions blatantly disregards this direction from Congress.

Further, the Conference Report states that “The Managers intend to maintain the practice that bestows authority on the state agency responsible for administering SNAP to determine when and how waiver requests for ABAWDs are submitted…..It is not the Managers’ intent that USDA undertake any new rulemaking in order to facilitate support for requests from State agencies, nor should the language result in any additional paperwork of administrative steps under the waiver process.”  Congress was clear that we do not wish to establish any new requirements regarding state agency waiver submissions.

Congress recognizes that one-size-fits-all rules for SNAP and employment practices actually end up fitting no one.  While this Administration has promoted local control in many other sectors of federal policy, this proposed rule removes critical local input and flexibility. 

 

This proposal ignores the intent of Congress, would worsen hunger in this country, and would do nothing to help increase stable, long-term employment or move individuals to self-sufficiency.  We urge you to immediately withdraw this proposed rule.

 

Sincerely,

 

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), and Bob Casey (D-PA) today reintroduced bipartisan legislation to increase access to grocery stores in areas designated as “food deserts” by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). The Healthy Food Access for All Americans (HFAAA) Act would benefit low-income rural and urban communities that have limited or no access to nutritious food by providing incentives to food service providers such as grocers, retailers, and nonprofits who expand access to nutritious foods in underserved communities.

“Families in Virginia must be able to count on reliable access to healthy and affordable foods no matter where they live,” said Sen. Warner. “This legislation will increase the availability of dependable nutritious food for more than one million Virginians, and support grocery markets and non-profits in their efforts to serve the communities that need them the most.”

“Living in the breadbasket of our nation, it is easy to forget that chronic hunger is still prevalent in many of our own communities,” said Sen. Moran. “It is estimated that food insecurity threatens nearly 1 in 6 Kansans, and yet many grocery stores in both rural and urban communities are struggling to stay open. Our bipartisan Healthy Food Access for All Americans Act would incentivize food providers to establish and renovate grocery stores, food banks and farmers markets in communities that traditionally lack affordable and convenient food options. All Kansans and Americans, regardless of where they live, deserve access to healthy food.”

“Individuals and families living in rural communities – like many of those in West Virginia – often have a very difficult time accessing fresh and nutritious foods,” Sen. Capito said. “This legislation will help improve access to groceries and healthy foods across West Virginia and make it easier for businesses and non-profit organizations to serve our rural communities.”

“All Americans, no matter where they live, should have access to affordable and nutritious food,” said Sen. Casey. “I’m proud to join this bipartisan effort to help combat food deserts by incentivizing food service providers to reach new communities. We must swiftly pass this measure so that we can address the seriousness of hunger and food insecurity across the country.”

“Locally owned, independent grocers are the bedrock of their communities, spurring economic growth and providing access to healthy and affordable food choices. On behalf of our members, the National Grocers Association applauds Senator Warner for his efforts to work towards a solution that tackles the barriers to entry faced by grocers in rural and urban communities that are without a supermarket. We look forward to working with Congress on a bipartisan basis to move this important piece of legislation forward,” said Greg Ferrara, Executive Vice President of the National Grocers Association.

“Feeding America commends Senator Warner for confronting the unfortunate fact that the burdens faced by the 40 million Americans living with hunger are even worse for those who live in food deserts. Our network of 200 member food banks understands that areas without affordable, healthy food options have higher rates of food insecurity exacerbated by the lack access to adequate transportation to the nearest food pantry or grocery market. Feeding America supports the Healthy Food Access for All Americans Act and believes it is a critical step to give nonprofits and retailers support to increase food access in underserved areas,” said Kate Leone, Chief Government Relations Officer at Feeding America. 

“Everyone deserves access to fresh produce and a place to shop for groceries in their community. This legislation will create jobs, improve health, and prevent hunger by supporting the development of food banks, grocery stores and farmers markets in low-income, underserved areas,” said Yael Lehmann, President and CEO of The Food Trust. 

“Grocery stores and healthy, affordable food options are out of reach for many of the neighbors we help in the Richmond community. Imagine having to take a 45-minute bus, one way, just to get groceries for your family. There is no one solution for food deserts; to tackle this issue will require collaboration across the non-profit, for-profit and government sectors. The Healthy Food Access for All Americans Act is a significant step in the right direction. By empowering hunger-relief organizations like Feed More to improve access to nutritious food in low-income communities, we will be able to provide these neighbors with a hand up in their times of need,” said Doug Pick, President and CEO of Feed More.

“Bread for the World is encouraged to see a bipartisan effort to address food deserts and improve access to nutritious food in low-income and underserved communities in America. Hunger costs the U.S. economy at least $160 billion in poor health outcomes and additional health care costs every year. This bill is an important step to reduce hunger and improve health across the country,” said Heather Valentine, Director of Government Relations of Bread for the World. 

“Grocery stores and supermarkets play a vital role in the health and welfare of the communities we serve.  Developing a successful enterprise that can thrive financially and socially in the long-term is a multi-tiered process that requires community support, economic investment and creative partnerships.  The Healthy Food Access for All Americans Act is an important and common sense approach to addressing the problem of underserved communities and expanding access to healthy food choices.  It establishes incentives to bring together the elements necessary to create successful operations and expand healthy food options, while recognizing the opportunities presented by technology and the changing nature of the marketplace.  The HFAAA is an important step in addressing the issue of underserved populations and food deserts; Food Marketing institute is pleased to support this effort,”said Andy Harig, Senior Director of Sustainability, Tax, and Trade, Food Marketing Institute.

“To end childhood hunger in America, we must ensure that low-income families have access to healthy, affordable food options. Ending food deserts will help more families put food on the table and help children get the nutrition they need to grow up healthy, educated and strong. Share Our Strength supports The Healthy Food Access for All Americans Act and thanks Sens. Warner, Moran, Casey, Capito and Rep. Ryan for their leadership on this issue,” said Billy Shore, Founder and Executive Chair of Share our Strength. 

Currently, an estimated 37 million Americans live in food deserts – areas with no grocery stores within one or more miles in urban regions, and ten or more miles in rural regions. Individuals who live in communities with low-access to healthy food options are at higher risk for obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.

The HFAAA Act – which defines a grocery market as a retail sales store with at least 35 percent of its selection (or forecasted selection) dedicated to selling fresh produce, poultry, dairy, and deli items  – would spark investment in food deserts across the country that have a poverty rate of 20 percent or higher, or a median family income of less than 80 percent of the median for the state or metro area. It would grant tax credits or grants to food providers who service low-access communities and attain a “Special Access Food Provider” (SAFP) certification through the Treasury Department. Incentives would be awarded based on the following structure:

  • New Store Construction – Companies that construct new grocery stores in a food desert will receive a onetime 15 percent tax credit after receiving certification.
  • Retrofitting Existing Structures – Companies that make retrofits to an existing store’s healthy food sections can receive a onetime 10 percent tax credit after the repairs certify the store as an SAFP.
  • Food Banks  Certified food banks that build new (permanent) structures in food deserts will be eligible to receive a onetime grant for 15 percent of their construction costs.
  • Temporary Access Merchants  Certified temporary access merchants (i.e. mobile markets, farmers markets, and some food banks) that are 501(c)(3)s will receive grants for 10 percent of their annual operating costs.

Sen. Warner has long advocated for the healthy eating and physical wellness of families. Earlier this year, he called for USDA to ensure sustained funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) amidst the government shutdown.

The full text of the bill is available here and a summary can also be found here. The legislation was previously introduced in the 115th Congress. A similar bill is being introduced in the House by Reps. Tim Ryan (D-OH), A. Donald McEachin (D-VA), and Roger Marshall (R-KS).

 

###

 

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) sent a letter today to Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, stressing the importance of sustained funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). The lawmakers expressed concern with the agency’s ability to support states and grocery stores, following a decision by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to issue February SNAP benefits weeks ahead of schedule. The letter also highlights a lack of guidance for recipients who may be forced to go without the assistance if the government shutdown persists beyond the month of February.

USDA has been particularly impacted by the partial government shutdown. Nearly 95 percent of USDA Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) workers have been furloughed, affecting the agency’s ability to run SNAP—a program that 776,000 Virginians rely on to meet their basic nutritional needs. SNAP keeps more than 150,000 Virginians, including 79,000 children, out of poverty every year by granting families and individuals access to nutritious foods.

“Recently, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that it was taking the unprecedented step of issuing SNAP benefits a month early to ensure that individuals are able to receive their benefits for February. While we are pleased that USDA was able to identify funds to continue SNAP benefits during the shutdown, we are concerned the agency is not providing adequate support to states and grocery retailers, who are dealing with the massive logistical challenge of distributing SNAP benefits weeks earlier than normal,” wrote the Senators. 

The Senators continued, “In addition, we are troubled by the lack of information from USDA about its ability to continue SNAP benefits through March and beyond if this shutdown continues into February… We urge you to provide additional information on other funding options you have at your disposal to continue SNAP payments for March and beyond if the shutdown is not resolved in a timely manner… Given the importance of this program for many of our constituents, we ask that you do all you can to ensure the uninterrupted issuance of SNAP benefits as long as this shutdown continues.”

 

A copy of the letter can be found here and below.

 

The Honorable Sonny Perdue

Secretary         

U.S. Department of Agriculture

1400 Independence Ave., S.W.

Washington, DC 20250 

 

Dear Secretary Perdue:

 

We write today concerning the uncertainty surrounding the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) during the ongoing partial federal government shutdown. Recently, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that it was taking the unprecedented step of issuing SNAP benefits a month early to ensure that individuals are able to receive their benefits for February. While we are pleased that USDA was able to identify funds to continue SNAP benefits during the shutdown, we are concerned the agency is not providing adequate support to states and grocery retailers, who are dealing with the massive logistical challenge of distributing SNAP benefits weeks earlier than normal. In addition, we are troubled by the lack of information from USDA about its ability to continue SNAP benefits through March and beyond if this shutdown continues into February.

Every month, approximately 776,000 Virginians receive SNAP benefits to meet their basic nutritional needs. One out of every eleven Virginians received SNAP benefits in 2017 and almost 70 percent of SNAP participants were households with children. According to Michael McKee, CEO of Virginia’s largest food bank, Blue Ridge Area Food Bank, a funding lapse for SNAP will prevent food banks from feeding thousands of Virginians. Currently, SNAP provides about 12 times the amount of food as the nation’s food banks combined. A lapse in SNAP funding would be devastating for the thousands of Virginians that depend on this program each month. Low-income Virginians should not suffer the consequences of this unnecessary shutdown. 

Unfortunately, the ongoing government shutdown has impacted the ability of USDA to carry out this essential program. The Food and Nutrition Service, which processes SNAP benefits, has furloughed nearly 95 percent of its workforce. Even with a fully-staffed agency, it would be a tremendous undertaking for USDA and states to issue SNAP benefits weeks earlier than usual. Given the lack of available staff at USDA, the uniqueness of this situation, and the tight timeline, we are worried about the agency’s ability to support states as they rush to ensure their SNAP recipients receive their February benefits by the January 20th deadline. 

Additionally, we are concerned by USDA’s lack of guidance concerning SNAP benefits after February, should the government shutdown continue into next month. Last year, Congress provided USDA $3 billion for a SNAP contingency fund. While not an insignificant number, this fund would likely not cover a full month of SNAP benefits for current users, considering the average monthly cost of the program is $4.8 billion. This means that the nearly 40 million recipients of SNAP do not know when additional funds will be added to their benefit cards after January 20th. We urge you to provide additional information on other funding options you have at your disposal to continue SNAP payments for March and beyond if the shutdown is not resolved in a timely manner.

Beyond providing Virginians access to healthy and nutritious foods, SNAP is one of Virginia’s best tools to fight poverty. The program keeps more than 150,000 Virginians, including 79,000 children, out of poverty annually. Given the importance of this program for many of our constituents, we ask that you do all you can to ensure the uninterrupted issuance of SNAP benefits as long as this shutdown continues.

Thank you for your consideration and we look forward to your reply.

 

Sincerely,

###

WASHINGTON – Today, President Trump signed into law a compromise package that includes Virginia priorities championed by U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA). These include an increase in funding for Chesapeake Bay clean-up efforts, protections for Virginia agricultural products, increased protections to prevent animal abuse, and funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).The 2018 Farm Bill also includes a Warner-Kaine sponsored measure to legalize industrial hemp production, a crop which is already cultivated for research purposes in Virginia but which the agriculture industry cannot currently grow for commercial use.

“We are proud this bipartisan legislation finally ending a ban that has held back our farmers from participating in the emerging industrial hemp market has been signed into law. This is an industry that will help bring new business to Virginia and create new jobs,” said the Senators. “This compromise bill is a big win for Virginia, adding measures to expand successful Chesapeake Bay clean-up efforts, protect Virginia commodities like dairy and cotton, and maintain funding for a nutrition assistance program that Virginia families depend on.”

Warner and Kaine’s priorities for Virginia in the 2018 Farm Bill include:

  • Hemp Farming Act: a bill that would remove hemp from the federal list of controlled substances, allowing Virginia farmers to grow and sell the plant as an agricultural commodity. States would be given authority to regulate hemp, and hemp researchers will be able to apply for USDA grants. Hemp farmers would also be eligible to collect crop insurance under this provision. The 2014 Farm Bill authorized industrial hemp to be made available for agricultural research purposes. Virginia Tech, Virginia State University, the University of Virginia, and James Madison University have been active in hemp research in recent years. However, Congress must act in order to legalize hemp production for commercial purposes. Hemp is distinct from marijuana in that it has a miniscule concentration of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), and thus no narcotic capability. The plant is estimated to be used in more than 25,000 products spanning agriculture, textiles, recycling, automotive, furniture, food, nutrition, beverages, paper, construction materials, and personal care.
  • Chesapeake Bay Farm Bill Enhancements Act: a bill which makes technical changes to the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) intended to bring more federal conservation funding into the Chesapeake Bay watershed. The Farm Bill triples mandatory funding for RCPP from $100 million to $300 million providing farmers with the tools they need to implement effective conservation practices within the Bay watershed. These changes will improve sustainability across the region and result in a cleaner, healthier Chesapeake Bay.
  • Healthy Food Financing Initiative (HFFI): includes a technical change to the HFFI program that would allow both retailers and enterprises to be eligible for loans and grants under HFFI. Currently, only brick-and-mortar operations are able to receive funding through the HFFI program. This technical change could allow more non-traditional food access projects – such as mobile markets, farmers markets, and food banks to access HFFI funds. These changes closely follow Sen. Warner’s efforts in the Senate to eradicate food deserts.  
  • Pet and Women Safety (PAWS) Act: a bill that expands existing federal domestic violence protections to include threats or acts of violence against a victim’s pet, and provides grant funding to programs that offer shelter and housing assistance for domestic violence victims with pets. The Farm Bill authorizes $3 million a year for FY2019-2023 for a grant program that will provide emergency and transitional housing assistance for victims of domestic violence and their pets. 

In the wake of President Trump’s ongoing trade war, the Farm Bill also includes a significant investment in trade promotion programs and activities. Trade Promotion is used by the United States to pursue trade agreements that support and create U.S. jobs while helping American manufacturers, service providers, farmers, and ranchers increase U.S. exports and compete in a highly competitive, globalized economy.

In addition, the bill includes measures to protect the U.S. dairy and cotton industry. It streamlines a program that allows dairy producers to insure margins—the difference between the prices of milk and feed—and increases its funding. The bill also makes cotton once again eligible toparticipate in federal crop insurance programs, which are used by farmers to protect themselves against either the loss of their crops due to natural disasters, or the loss of revenue due to declines in the prices of agricultural commodities. Livestock producers will also receive assistance through a new program that will give USDA the authority to operate a disease and disaster prevention program and a vaccine bank, including for foot and mouth disease. The bill also reauthorizes full funding to help vulnerable Virginia families put food on the table through SNAP.

For more information on the 2018 Farm Bill, click here.

###

WASHINGTON – Today, the U.S. Senate passed a compromise package that includes Virginia priorities championed by U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA). These include an increase in funding for Chesapeake Bay clean-up efforts, protections for Virginia agricultural products, increased protections to prevent animal abuse, and funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).The 2018 Farm Bill also includes a Warner-Kaine sponsored measure to legalize industrial hemp production, a crop which is already cultivated for research purposes in Virginia but which the agriculture industry cannot currently grow for commercial use.

“This compromise bill includes significant victories for Virginia, including measures to expand successful Chesapeake Bay clean-up efforts, protect Virginia commodities like dairy and cotton, and maintain funding for a nutrition assistance program that Virginia families depend on,”said the Senators. “And, after decades of waiting, states will be allowed to choose the best way to regulate production of industrial hemp. We are proud to support this bipartisan legislation that finally puts an end to a ban that has held back our farmers from participating in the emerging industrial hemp market, an industry that will help bring new business to Virginia and create new jobs.”

Warner and Kaine’s priorities for Virginia in the 2018 Farm Bill include:

  • Hemp Farming Act: a bill that would remove hemp from the federal list of controlled substances, allowing Virginia farmers to grow and sell the plant as an agricultural commodity. States would be given authority to regulate hemp, and hemp researchers will be able to apply for USDA grants. Hemp farmers would also be eligible to collect crop insurance under this provision. The 2014 Farm Bill authorized industrial hemp to be made available for agricultural research purposes. Virginia Tech, Virginia State University, the University of Virginia, and James Madison University have been active in hemp research in recent years. However, Congress must act in order to legalize hemp production for commercial purposes. Hemp is distinct from marijuana in that it has a miniscule concentration of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), and thus no narcotic capability. The plant is estimated to be used in more than 25,000 products spanning agriculture, textiles, recycling, automotive, furniture, food, nutrition, beverages, paper, construction materials, and personal care.
  • Chesapeake Bay Farm Bill Enhancements Act: a bill which makes technical changes to the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) intended to bring more federal conservation funding into the Chesapeake Bay watershed. The Farm Bill triples mandatory funding for RCPP from $100 million to $300 million providing farmers with the tools they need to implement effective conservation practices within the Bay watershed. These changes will improve sustainability across the region and result in a cleaner, healthier Chesapeake Bay.
  • Healthy Food Financing Initiative (HFFI): includes a technical change to the HFFI program that would allow both retailers and enterprises to be eligible for loans and grants under HFFI. Currently, only brick-and-mortar operations are able to receive funding through the HFFI program. This technical change could allow more non-traditional food access projects – such as mobile markets, farmers markets, and food banks to access HFFI funds. These changes closely follow Sen. Warner’s efforts in the Senate to eradicate food deserts.  
  • Pet and Women Safety (PAWS) Act: a bill that expands existing federal domestic violence protections to include threats or acts of violence against a victim’s pet, and provides grant funding to programs that offer shelter and housing assistance for domestic violence victims with pets. The Farm Bill authorizes $3 million a year for FY2019-2023 for a grant program that will provide emergency and transitional housing assistance for victims of domestic violence and their pets. 

In the wake of President Trump’s ongoing trade war, the Farm Bill also includes a significant investment in trade promotion programs and activities. Trade Promotion is used by the United States to pursue trade agreements that support and create U.S. jobs while helping American manufacturers, service providers, farmers, and ranchers increase U.S. exports and compete in a highly competitive, globalized economy.

In addition, the bill includes measures to protect the U.S. dairy and cotton industry. It streamlines a program that allows dairy producers to insure margins—the difference between the prices of milk and feed—and increases its funding. The bill also makes cotton once again eligible to participate in federal crop insurance programs, which are used by farmers to protect themselves against either the loss of their crops due to natural disasters, or the loss of revenue due to declines in the prices of agricultural commodities. Livestock producers will also receive assistance through a new program that will give USDA the authority to operate a disease and disaster prevention program and a vaccine bank, including for foot and mouth disease. The bill also reauthorizes full funding to help vulnerable Virginia families put food on the table through SNAP.

The bill now moves to the House for consideration. For more information on the 2018 Farm Bill, click here.

###

WASHINGTON – Today, the U.S. Senate passed, on a bipartisan 86-11 vote, legislation that includes Virginia priorities championed by U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA). Specifically, the 2018 Senate Farm Bill includes a Warner-Kaine sponsored measure to legalize industrial hemp production, a crop which is already cultivated for research purposes in Virginia but which the agriculture industry cannot currently grow for commercial use.

“This bipartisan bill would finally end an outdated ban that has held farmers back from participating in the industrial hemp market, allow states to decide the best way to regulate this emerging industry, and give farmers access to critical federal support to protect their investment. Legalizing industrial hemp production will bring new businesses to Virginia and create jobs,” said the Senators. “In addition, this legislation includes measures to continue successful Chesapeake Bay clean-up efforts, expand farm conservation, and preserve some of our most cherished public lands.”

The 2014 Farm Bill authorized industrial hemp to be made available for agricultural research purposes. Virginia Tech, Virginia State University, the University of Virginia, and James Madison University have been active in hemp research in recent years. However, Congress must act in order to legalize hemp production for commercial purposes. Hemp is distinct from marijuana in that it has a miniscule concentration of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), and thus no narcotic capability. The plant is estimated to be used in more than 25,000 products spanning agriculture, textiles, recycling, automotive, furniture, food, nutrition, beverages, paper, construction materials, and personal care.

Warner and Kaine’s priorities for Virginia in the 2018 Farm Bill include:

·         Hemp Farming Act: a bill that would remove hemp from the federal list of controlled substances, allowing Virginia farmers to grow and sell the plant as an agricultural commodity. States would be given authority to regulate hemp, and hemp researchers will be able to apply for USDA grants. Hemp farmers would also be eligible to collect crop insurance under this provision.

·         Chesapeake Bay Farm Bill Enhancements Act: a bill which makes technical changes to the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) intended to bring more federal funding into the Chesapeake Bay watershed. The Farm Bill doubles funding for RCPP from $100 million to $200 million providing farmers with the tools they need to implement effective conservation practices within the Bay watershed. These changes will improve sustainability across the region and result in a cleaner, healthier Chesapeake Bay.

·         Virginia Wilderness Additions Act: a bill that designates specified lands in George Washington National Forest in Bath County, Virginia as part of the Rough Mountain Wilderness area and the Rich Hole Wilderness area, adding those lands to the National Wilderness Preservation System. This provision adds a total of 5,600 acres of wilderness area within the George Washington National Forest in Bath County.

·        Healthy Food Financing Initiative (HFFI): includes a technical change to the HFFI program that would allow both retailers and enterprises to be eligible for loans and grants under HFFI. Currently, only brick-and-mortar operations are able to receive funding through the HFFI program. This technical change could allow more non-traditional food access projects – such as mobile markets, farmers markets, and food banks to access HFFI funds. These changes closely follow Sen. Warner’s efforts in the Senate to eradicate food deserts.  

In the wake of President Trump’s ongoing trade war, the Farm Bill also includes a measure that will revamp existing trade promotion programs and authorize $6 million in new funding for trade promotion activities. Trade Promotion is a technique used by the United States to pursue trade agreements that support and create U.S. jobs while helping American manufacturers, service providers, farmers and ranchers increase U.S. exports and compete in a highly competitive, globalized economy.

In addition, the bill includes measures to protect the U.S. dairy and cotton industry. It streamlines a program that allows dairy producers to insure margins—the difference between the prices of milk and feed—and increases its funding. The bill also makes cotton once again eligible to participate in federal crop insurance programs, which are used by farmers to protect themselves against either the loss of their crops due to natural disasters, or the loss of revenue due to declines in the prices of agricultural commodities. Livestock producers also receive assistance through a new program authorized by this bill that will give USDA the authority tooperate a disease and disaster prevention program and a vaccine bank, including for foot and mouth disease. And the bill reauthorizes full funding to help vulnerable Virginia families put food on the table through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

The bill now moves to the House for consideration. For more information on the 2018 Farm Bill, click here.

###

WASHINGTON – Today, the Senate Agriculture Committee advanced bipartisan legislation that includes Virginia priorities championed by U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA). The 2018 Senate Farm Bill includes Warner-Kaine sponsored bills to increase Chesapeake Bay funding, legalize industrial hemp production, and protect Virginia public lands. As President Trump’s trade war continues to escalate, it also includes other technical measures that will help support and protect Virginia farmers. The bill passed out of committee on a bipartisan 20-1 vote and now awaits full consideration on the Senate floor.

“We are pleased that the Senate Ag committee passed a Farm Bill that includes key measures we’ve introduced to help Virginia continue Chesapeake Bay clean-up efforts, expand farm conservation, and preserve some of our most cherished public lands,” said the Senators. “This bipartisan bill would finally end an outdated ban on hemp production that has held back Virginia farmers from taking part in this emerging market. And it protects Virginia commodities like dairy and cotton while maintaining funding for nutrition assistance that Virginia families depend on. We will continue working with our colleagues so that this bill receives an expeditious vote on the Senate floor and is signed into law.”

Warner-Kaine sponsored bills in the FY18 Farm Bill include:

·         Chesapeake Bay Farm Bill Enhancements Act: a bill which makes technical changes to the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) intended to bring more federal funding into the Chesapeake Bay watershed. The Farm Bill doubles funding for RCPP from $100 million to $200 million providing farmers with the tools they need to implement effective conservation practices within the Bay watershed. These changes will improve sustainability across the region and result in a cleaner, healthier Chesapeake Bay.

·         Hemp Farming Act: a bill that would remove hemp from the federal list of controlled substances, allowing Virginia farmers to grow and sell the plant as an agricultural commodity. States would be given authority to regulate hemp, and hemp researchers will be able to apply for USDA grants. Hemp farmers would also be eligible to collect crop insurance under this provision.

·         Virginia Wilderness Additions Act: a bill that designates specified lands in George Washington National Forest in Virginia as part of the Rough Mountain Wilderness area and the Rich Hole Wilderness area, adding those lands to the National Wilderness Preservation System. This provision adds a total of 5,600 acres of wilderness area within the George Washington National Forest in Bath County.

·         Pet and Women Safety (PAWS) Act: a bill that expands existing federal domestic violence protections to include threats or acts of violence against a victim’s pet, and provides grant funding to programs that offer shelter and housing assistance for domestic violence victims with pets. The Farm Bill authorizes $3 million a year for FY2019-2023 for a grant program that will provide emergency and transitional housing assistance for victims of domestic violence and their pets. 

Agriculture is Virginia’s largest private industry, with an economic impact of $70 billion annually that provides more than 334,000 jobs in the Commonwealth. President Trump has targeted imports from some of the United States’ closest allies, sparking the announcement of retaliatory tariffs that will hit key Virginia agricultural exports. Most recently, Mexico announced it will be placing a 20 percent tariff on pork imports, a step that will directly hurt Virginia farmers who exported roughly $68 million in pork to that country last year.  

In the wake of President Trump’s ongoing trade war, the Farm Bill includes a measure that will revamp existing trade promotion programs and authorize $6 million in new funding for trade promotion activities. Trade Promotion is a technique used by the United States to pursue trade agreements that support and create U.S. jobs while helping American manufacturers, service providers, farmers and ranchers increase U.S. exports and compete in a highly competitive, globalized economy.

Sens. Warner and Kaine added, “President Trump should play close attention to the way the Senate is trying to lend a hand to some of the same people that will be hurt by his irresponsible trade war. Instead of picking fights with some of our closest allies, he should work with us to help pass legislation that will improve the livelihood of Virginia farmers and open new markets where they can sell their products.” 

In addition, the bill includes measures to protect the U.S. dairy and cotton industry. It streamlines a program that allows dairy producers to insure margins—the difference between the prices of milk and feed—and increases its funding. The bill also makes cotton once again eligible to participate in federal crop insurance programs, which are used by farmers to protect themselves against either the loss of their crops due to natural disasters, or the loss of revenue due to declines in the prices of agricultural commodities. Livestock producers also receive assistance through a new program authorized by this bill that will give USDA the authority to operate a disease and disaster prevention program and a vaccine bank, including for foot and mouth disease.

For more information on the FY18 Farm Bill, click here.

###

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine have cosponsored the Hemp Farming Act of 2018, a bipartisan bill that would legalize and clearly define hemp as an agricultural commodity, removing it from the list of controlled substances. Currently, hemp falls under the definition of marijuana in the Controlled Substances Act and, while it is cultivated for research purposes in Virginia, the agriculture industry cannot currently grow it for commercial use. Hemp is distinct from marijuana in that it has a miniscule concentration of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), and thus no narcotic capability. The plant is estimated to be used in more than 25,000 products spanning agriculture, textiles, recycling, automotive, furniture, food, nutrition, beverages, paper, construction materials and personal care.

“The American agricultural industry should not be held back by outdated restrictions on hemp production that prevent us from creating more jobs and growing our economy,” Warner said. “Hemp products are already bought, sold, and consumed right here in the United States. This bipartisan bill will help Virginia farmers, manufacturers and small businesses benefit from the economic growth we have seen in this industry.”

“Agriculture is Virginia’s leading economic sector, and I am always on the lookout for ways to support our agricultural economy,” Kaine said. “Hemp was grown in Virginia by Thomas Jefferson, and research and input from Virginia agricultural stakeholders, agricultural scientists at JMU and Virginia Tech, and economic development leaders like the Tobacco Commission have shown that it is safe and holds economic promise for rural Virginia. I’m satisfied that this bill takes sensible steps to address law enforcement concerns and, in turn, that it makes sense to remove industrial hemp from the federal controlled substance list.” 

The legislation will also give states the opportunity to become the primary regulators of hemp; allow hemp researchers to apply for competitive federal grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture; and make hemp farmers eligible to apply for crop insurance. The legislation also addresses law enforcement concerns about hemp’s similarity to marijuana by requiring states to submit hemp growth and production plans for USDA approval. The 2014 farm bill authorized industrial hemp to be made available for agricultural research purposes. Virginia Tech, Virginia State University, the University of Virginia, and James Madison University have been active in hemp research in recent years.

 

View full text of the bill, here.

 

###

 

WASHINGTON — Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Joe Manchin (D-WV), and Tim Kaine (D-VA) introduced bipartisan legislation that would rename the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) as the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development. The change would accurately reflect the Department’s increasing focus on improving the quality of life of more than 45 million Americans living in rural areas. The Department already provides significant financial resources and technical assistance to rural communities in the form of loans, loan guarantees, and grants that help support economic development in these areas. Renaming the agency would help highlight its mission of providing rural communities with access to critical infrastructure, broadband, telecommunications connectivity, capital, healthcare, and other essential resources.

“President Lincoln called USDA ‘The People’s Department’ because, dating back to its founding in 1862, it has always been the primary government entity charged with boosting economic development in rural communities. But at the time of USDA’s creation, nearly half of all Americans lived on farms, compared to just 2 percent today,” said Sen. Warner. “This bipartisan bill would highlight the USDA’s ongoing efforts to help rural communities thrive and underscore that part of its mission is increasing economic opportunity in rural America.”

“USDA plays an instrumental role in improving the lives of millions of Americans living in rural areas—especially in states like West Virginia,” said Sen. Capito. “The department has provided West Virginians access to increased broadband connectivity, improved health services, and critical infrastructure, and remains an important partner in these and other efforts. Renaming USDA will make it possible to recognize the agency’s role in creating more economic opportunity in rural communities, as well as its increasing role in rural development.”

“Today, the Department of Agriculture does more than provide assistance to farmers, it provides residents in rural areas in West Virginia with financial and technical assistance to confront the challenges many areas currently face,” said Sen. Manchin. “That’s why I believe the Department should be renamed and known for the services it should be focusing on, such as improving access to critical infrastructure, broadband, telecommunications connectivity, capital, healthcare, and other essential resources. Last year, I co-chaired the Appalachia Initiative where I discussed ways to address the challenges the rural communities in West Virginia face. This legislation will help shine a light on the Department of Agriculture’s vital work to ensure rural America does not get left behind.”

 

“USDA plays a critical role in promoting infrastructure and economic development in rural America. Too many rural communities lack clean drinking water, reliable broadband internet, and adequate health and transportation resources,” said Sen. Kaine. “The rural development mission of USDA is just as important as its agriculture, food safety, and nutrition missions and should be reflected in its title.”

President Abraham Lincoln signed into law an act of Congress in 1862 that established the United States Department of Agriculture. Currently, USDA is made up of 29 agencies and offices with nearly 100,000 employees who serve the American people at more than 4,500 locations across the country and abroad. The Department is the federal agency in charge of meeting the needs of farmers and ranchers, promoting agricultural trade and production, working to assure food safety, protecting natural resources, fostering rural communities and ending hunger in the United States and internationally. In 2012, USDA commemorated its 150th anniversary.

“Rural communities are a key pillar of America, however, they are often challenged by geographic isolation and persistent poverty. For the residents of rural America that continue to feel left behind in today’s economy, The Department of Agriculture and Rural Development Act of 2017 offers a renewed focus on the economic matters specific to their community. BPC Action hopes this step by Sens. Mark Warner (D-VA), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), and Joe Manchin (D-WV) will better focus federal efforts around conditions in rural America and produce pragmatic solutions such as those recommended by BPC’s Appalachia Initiative,” said Michele Stockwell, Executive Director of BPC Action.

“The National Cotton Council greatly appreciates the work and support of Sen. Warner to help address economic challenges facing the cotton industry and broader concerns in agriculture and across rural America.  We support the Senator’s efforts to highlight the critically important role of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in providing rural development support and economic opportunities in our rural communities,” said Reece Langley, VP of Washington Operations of the National Cotton Council.

"America's turkey farmers appreciate Sen. Warner's support for the rural communities that supply our farm inputs and where many of the facilities that process the turkeys we raise are located. This effort to rename the Department of Agriculture "the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development" reinforces the importance of rural development in the mission of the Department and to rural communities. The National Turkey Federation thanks Sen. Warner for working to ensure the communities where our families, friends and neighbors work and go to school have access to the infrastructure and resources needed to thrive and grow" said Joel Brandenberger, President of the National Turkey Federation.   

“Historically, Rural Development programs have not been a priority within the Agriculture Department, regardless of political party in charge. We believe renaming the Department would elevate the Rural Development mission area and better reflect the importance of these programs for rural communities across the country,” said Robert A. Rapoza, Executive Secretary of the National Rural Housing Coalition.

Sens. Warner and Manchin, along with Sens. David Perdue (R-GA) and Thom Tillis (R-NC), are co-chairs of the bipartisan Appalachia Initiative, a task force convened with the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) to find pragmatic, bipartisan solutions to Appalachia’s challenges. Last year, they released a report with a set of bipartisan recommendations to boost economic growth in Appalachia. Sens. Warner, Capito, and Manchin, along with Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS), have also introduced bipartisan legislation to expand economic opportunity in Appalachia. 

The text of the bill can be found here.

###

WASHINGTON — Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) expressed increased concern over how President Trump’s trade war would hurt Virginia’s soybean production, which is the Commonwealth’s number one cash crop. China’s Ministry of Commerce has recently announced they will begin proactively taxing Chinese companies that import some American agricultural products at 178.6% to discourage imports. The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) has confirmed that China is the Commonwealth’s biggest export market for agricultural goods and suggestedPresident Trump’s tariffs could hurt Virginia businesses and employees. Soybean production in Virginia accounts for roughly $187 million in economic output, which helps supports thousands of jobs in the Commonwealth. Amid escalating rhetoric by the Trump Administration, China announced that it is considering raising tariffs on soybeans, beef, and other critical agriculture commodities produced in Virginia.  

“Virginia’s soybean producers should not be held hostage to the uncertainty of President Trump’s trade games,” said Sen. Warner. “While China should be held accountable for its unfair trade practices, this should not be done at the expense of the hardworking soybean farmers in this country. President Trump needs to work with us to find the best way to resolve these disputes and avoid threatening an industry that creates thousands of new jobs and brings millions of dollars to rural communities in Virginia.”

“Clearly China is not taking President Trump’s threats lightly and we’re going to start feeling the pain of his rash actions. Our farmers deserve better than this,” said Sen. Kaine. “President Trump says he wants to create jobs and stimulate the economy yet his actions will have the opposite effect. His inflammatory, bullying tactics are going to hurt Virginians.”

“Exports are a vital source of income for Virginia’s farmers and here in the Commonwealth we have worked hard to open new markets around the world for our agriculture and forestry exporters. However, these efforts are jeopardized by threats of tariffs and trade wars at the national level,” said Bettina Ring, Virginia Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry. “I hope that our trade negotiators will keep our hardworking farmers and agribusinesses front of mind when working with their Chinese counterparts to solve this trade dispute.”

“The Virginia Soybean Association is concerned with the potential of trade wars within the global marketplace, including China. International trade is vital for the economic viability of the soybean industry,” said Nick Moody, President of the Virginia Soybean Association. “Uncertainty in trade agreements directly affect the stability of markets and price, which is a major concern for producers in a business that is already largely dependent on weather. Our hope is for the administration to work with leaders in international markets to create solid solutions to these trade disputes, which will not continue to disrupt soybean markets.”

According to VDACS, agriculture is Virginia’s largest private industry, with an economic impact of $70 billion annually that provides more than 334,000 jobs.The agriculture and forestry industries combined have a total economic impact of over $91 billion and provide more than 442,000 jobs in the Commonwealth. Every job in agriculture and forestry supports 1.7 jobs elsewhere in Virginia’s economy. Production agriculture alone employs 54,000 Virginians and accounts for more than $3.8 billion in economic output. Almost 10 percent of Virginia’s gross domestic product (GDP) is directly tied to agriculture and forestry.

Sens. Warner and Kaine previously raised concerns about how President Trump’s trade war with China could hurt Virginia businesses and employees, listing the set of products grown and made in Virginia that have been targeted by the Chinese for duties. They also wrote to the Administration last week warning that withdrawing from the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)—another significant source of agricultural exports for Virginia—would negatively impact Virginia’s agricultural industry.

 

Below is a detailed list of soybean producing areas in Virginia as of 2017. A comprehensive list can be found here

 

COUNTY

PRODUCTION (Bushels)

NORTHERN VA/VALLEY

 

Culpeper

524,000

Fauquier

642,000

Frederick

68,500

Loudoun

301,000

Madison

384,000

Page

25,400

Rockingham

405,000

Shenandoah

259,000

Other NOVA counties

314,100

 

 

CENTRAL VIRGINIA

 

Amelia

429,000

Bedford

20,300

Campbell

162,000

Caroline

1,056,000

Chesterfield

66,000

Cumberland

134,000

Goochland

183,000

Louisa

224,000

Orange

380,000

Prince Edward

48,400

Spotsylvania

180,000

Other Central Counties

1,413,300

 

 

EASTERN SHORE

 

Accomack

1,577,000

Charles City

434,000

Essex

971,000

Gloucester

284,000

King and Queen

718,000

King George

222,000

King William

740,000

Northampton

937,000

Northumberland

767,000

Richmond

779,000

Westmoreland

895,000

Other Eastern Counties

1,041,000

 

 

SOUTHSIDE

 

Charlotte

240,000

Halifax

299,000

Lunenburg

148,000

Nottoway

128,000

Pittsylvania

193,000

Other Southside Counties

253,000

 

 

HAMPTON ROADS

 

Brunswick

364,000

Dinwiddie

553,000

Greensville

353,000

Isle of Wight

728,000

Prince George

437,000

Southampton

992,000

Surry

592,000

Chesapeake

887,000

Suffolk City

898,000

Virginia Beach

454,000

Other HRVA Counties

1,459,000

 

 

TOTAL

25,960,000

###

WASHINGTON — U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) urged the Trump Administration to protect Virginia’s agriculture producers and the national agricultural economy as negotiations over the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) enter a critical stage. Last week, President Trump threatened to stop the free trade agreement as a way to pressure Mexico on border security.

“Throughout the negotiation process, we have been concerned by President Trump’s repeated threats to withdraw the U.S. from NAFTA, along with other protectionist trade policies being pursued by the Administration. Withdrawal from the agreement would have devastating consequences for the U.S. economy that would affect each state and nearly every job sector,” Sens. Warner and Kaine wrote in a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer.

According to the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, agriculture is Virginia’s largest private industry, with an economic impact of $70 billion annually that provides more than 334,000 jobs in the Commonwealth. The agriculture and forestry industries combined have a total economic impact of over $91 billion and provide more than 442,000 jobs in the Commonwealth. Every job in agriculture and forestry supports 1.7 jobs elsewhere in Virginia’s economy. Production agriculture alone employs 54,000 Virginians and accounts for more than $3.8 billion in economic output. Almost 10 percent of Virginia’s gross domestic product (GDP) is directly tied to agriculture and forestry.

“In Virginia alone, 46,000 to 96,000 jobs could be at risk if the U.S. exited the agreement. Thousands of these job losses would include farmers and workers in other agriculture and forestry-related industries across the country…actual withdrawal from NAFTA would seriously destabilize the integrated supply chains that have taken decades to establish and imperil the livelihoods of thousands of Virginians and millions more across the U.S.,” added the Senators.

“The Virginia Cattlemen's Association appreciates the support Senators Warner and Kaine are offering for continued negotiation of NAFTA, an important facilitator of continued trade between the United States, Canada and Mexico that has greatly benefited the vast majority of Virginia and US agricultural commodities,” said Jason H. Carter, Executive Director of the Virginia Cattlemen's Association & Virginia Beef Industry Council.

“The NAFTA markets are important to Virginia’s poultry industry, and it is critical that the current renegotiation not only preserve, but actually expand access to these markets,” said Hobey Bauhan, President of the Virginia Poultry Federation.

Sens. Warner and Kaine also pushed the Administration to negotiate greater access of U.S. poultry exports to Canadian markets. According to the Virginia Poultry Federation, Virginia’s poultry industry employs as many as 17,637 people across the Commonwealth and generates an additional 32,983 jobs in supplier and ancillary industries. As of 2016, Virginia ranks 10th nationally in broiler chicken production and 6th in turkey production.

Last week, Sens. Warner and Kaine similarly raised concerns about how President Trump’s trade war with China could hurt Virginia businesses and employees, listing the set of products grown and made in Virginia that have been targeted by the Chinese for duties.

A PDF of the letter can be found here. The full letter text is below.

The Honorable Robert Lighthizer

U.S. Trade Representative

Office of the U.S. Trade Representative

600 17th Street, NW

Washington, DC 20508

 

Dear Ambassador Lighthizer:

As negotiations over the North Atlantic Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) enter a critical stage, we write to you today to highlight the importance of a do-no-harm approach for Virginia’s agriculture producers and the national agricultural economy. In the face of an increasingly volatile global trade environment, we believe it is necessary to reiterate the importance of maintaining the core components of NAFTA for our agricultural community.

In Virginia, agriculture and forestry remain the largest private industries, accounting for a combined economic impact of $91 billion annually and providing more than 442,000 jobs. Each job in the agriculture and forestry sector in Virginia supports nearly two additional jobs elsewhere in the economy. Production agriculture alone employs 54,000 Virginians and accounts for more than $3.8 billion in economic output for the Commonwealth. Almost 10 percent of Virginia’s gross domestic product (GDP) is directly tied to agriculture and forestry.

The continued success of Virginia’s agriculture economy is in part due to the expansion of the global marketplace over the last several decades. Since the implementation of NAFTA, Virginia agriculture producers have witnessed tremendous growth in the number of exports to both Canada and Mexico. From 1996 to 2016, Virginia’s agriculture and forestry exports to Canada grew by 400 percent, from $58.4 million to $296.5 million. Exports to Mexico grew even faster during this time period, from $7.9 million to $113.6 million – an increase of over 1,300 percent. Today, Canada and Mexico represent Virginia’s first and third largest export markets, respectively.

While NAFTA has benefitted American agriculture producers, there are areas in which it can be improved. For example, under NAFTA, U.S. poultry exports have faced significant barriers in gaining access to the Canadian marketplace. Strict quotas and high tariffs implemented by the Canadian government have prevented American poultry producers from fully reaching this lucrative market. I am pleased this issue of market access was included in USTR’s negotiating objectives for NAFTA, and we look forward to continuing to work with you to expand opportunities for our agriculture community.

Throughout the negotiation process, we have been concerned by President Trump’s repeated threats to withdraw the U.S. from NAFTA, along with other protectionist trade policies being pursued by the Administration. Withdrawal from the agreement would have devastating consequences for the U.S. economy that would affect each state and nearly every job sector. A recent study predicted that if the U.S. left NAFTA, 1.8 million to 3.6 million jobs would be lost in the following years. In Virginia alone, 46,000 to 96,000 jobs could be at risk if the U.S. exited the agreement. Thousands of these job losses would include farmers and workers in other agriculture and forestry-related industries across the country. We are supportive of efforts to modernize NAFTA, including updating labor protections to reflect the May 10 Agreement and improving environmental protections. However, actual withdrawal from NAFTA would seriously destabilize the integrated supply chains that have taken decades to establish and imperil the livelihoods of thousands of Virginians and millions more across the U.S.

As NAFTA negotiations progress, we ask that you pursue a do-no-harm approach to modernizing free trade agreements and supporting the agriculture economy in Virginia and throughout our country. We look forward to working with you to ensure that our farmers have access to the global marketplace.

Thank you for your attention to this matter. We look forward to hearing from you.

 

Sincerely, 

###

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine raised concerns after Virginia’s Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services confirmed that proposed tariffs could hurt Virginia businesses and employees, as China is the Commonwealth’s biggest export market for agricultural goods. Yesterday China announced that it is considering raising tariffs on soybeans, beef, and other critical agriculture commodities produced in Virginia in response to President Trump’s proposed tariffs. President Trump recently tweeted that “trade wars are good.” 

“President Trump should be making it easier for Virginia farmers and families to get ahead, not driving us head-first into a harmful trade war,” the Senators said. “The President’s reckless actions aren’t ‘good’ for the farmers and local businesses whose products would face huge taxes from China. And President Trump causing massive volatility in the stock market sure isn’t ‘good’ for our economy or Virginia families’ retirement savings. We wish the President would think about hardworking Virginians before making rash decisions with serious implications for our communities.”

China announced tariffs on 106 U.S. products yesterday, including items produced in rural communities in Central, Southern, and Southwest Virginia, as well as the Valley, the Eastern Shore, and the Northern Neck. Below is the full list of products that are set to be subject to duties, many grown in Virginia: 

1. Yellow soybean

2. Black soybean

3. Corn

4. Cornflour

5. Uncombed cotton

6. Cotton linters

7. Sorghum

8. Brewing or distilling dregs and waste

9. Other durum wheat

10.  Other wheat and mixed wheat

11.  Whole and half head fresh and cold beef

12.  Fresh and cold beef with bones

13.  Fresh and cold boneless beef

14.  Frozen beef with bones

15.  Frozen boneless beef

16.  Frozen boneless meat

17.  Other frozen beef chops

18.  Dried cranberries

19.  Frozen orange juice

20.  Non-frozen orange juice

21.  Whiskies

22.  Unstemmed flue-cured tobacco

23.  Other unstemmed tobacco

24.  Flue-cured tobacco partially or totally removed

25.  Partially or totally deterred tobacco stems

26.  Tobacco waste

27.  Tobacco cigars

28.  Tobacco cigarettes

29.  Cigars and cigarettes, tobacco substitutes

30.  Hookah tobacco

31.  Other tobacco for smoking

32.  Reconstituted tobacco

33.  Other tobacco and tobacco substitute products

34.  SUVs with discharge capacity of 2.5L to 3L

35.  Other vehicles equipped with an ignited reciprocating piston internal combustion engine and a drive motor that can be charged by plugging in an external power source. Cylinder capacity displacement exceeding 2500ml, but not exceeding 3000ml for SUVs (4 wheel drive)

36.  Vehicles with discharge capacity of 1.5L to 2L

37.  Other vehicles equipped with an ignited reciprocating piston internal combustion engine and a drive motor that can be charged by plugging in an external power source. Cylinder capacity displacement exceeding 1000ml, but not exceeding 1500ml for SUVs (4 wheel drive)

38.  Passenger cars with discharge capacity 1.5L to 2L, 9 seats or less

39.  Other vehicles equipped with an ignited reciprocating piston internal combustion engine and a drive motor that can be charged by plugging in an external power source. Cylinder capacity displacement exceeding 1000ml, but not exceeding 1500ml for 9 passenger cars and below

40.  Passenger cars with discharge capacity of 3L to 4L, 9 seats or less

41.  Other vehicles equipped with an ignited reciprocating piston internal combustion engine and a drive motor that can be charged by plugging in an external power source. Cylinder capacity displacement exceeding 3000ml, but not exceeding 4000ml for 9 passenger cars and below

42.  Off-road vehicles with discharge capacity of 2L to 2.5L

43.  Other vehicles equipped with an ignited reciprocating piston internal combustion engine and a drive motor that can be charged by plugging in an external power source. Cylinder capacity displacement exceeding 2000ml, but not exceeding 2500ml for off-road vehicles

44.  Passenger cars with discharge capacity of 2L to 2.5L, 9 seats or less

45.  Other vehicles equipped with an ignited reciprocating piston internal combustion engine and a drive motor that can be charged by plugging in an external power source. Cylinder capacity displacement exceeding 2000ml, but not exceeding 2500ml for 9 passenger cars and below

46.  Off-road vehicles with discharge capacity of 3L to 4L

47.  Other vehicles equipped with an ignited reciprocating piston internal combustion engine and a drive motor that can be charged by plugging in an external power source. Cylinder capacity displacement exceeding 3000ml, but not exceeding 4000ml for off-road vehicles

48.  Diesel-powered off-road vehicles with discharge capacity of 2.5L to 3L

49.  Other vehicles equipped with an ignited reciprocating piston internal combustion engine and a drive motor that can be charged by plugging in an external power source. Cylinder capacity displacement exceeding 2500ml, but not exceeding 3000ml for diesel-powered off-road vehicles

50.  Passenger cars with discharge capacity of 2.5L to 3L, 9 seats or less

51.  Other vehicles equipped with an ignited reciprocating piston internal combustion engine and a drive motor that can be charged by plugging in an external power source. Cylinder capacity displacement exceeding 2500ml, but not exceeding 3000ml for 9 passenger cars and below

52.  Off-road vehicles with discharge capacity of less than 4L

53.  Other vehicles equipped with an ignited reciprocating piston internal combustion engine and a drive motor that can be charged by plugging in an external power source. Cylinder capacity displacement not exceeding 4000ml for off-road vehicles

54.  Other vehicles which are equipped with an ignited reciprocating piston internal combustion engine and a drive motor and can be charged by plugging in an external power source

55.  Other vehicles that are equipped with a compression ignition type internal combustion engine (diesel or semi-diesel) and a drive motor, other than vehicles that can be charged by plugging in an external power source

56.  Other vehicles which are equipped with an ignition reciprocating piston internal combustion engine and a drive motor and can be charged by plugging in an external power source

57.  Other vehicles that are equipped with a compression-ignition reciprocating piston internal combustion engine and a drive motor that can be charged by plugging in an external power source

58.  Other vehicles that only drive the motor

59.  Other vehicles

60.  Other gasoline trucks of less than 5 tons

61.  Transmissions and parts for motor vehicles not classified

62.  Liquefied Propane

63.  Primary Shaped Polycarbonate

64.  Supported catalysts with noble metals and their compounds as actives

65.  Diagnostic or experimental reagents attached to backings, except for goods of tariff lines 32.02, 32.06

66.  Chemical products and preparations for the chemical industry and related industries, not elsewhere specified

67.  Products containing PFOS and its salts, perfluorooctanyl sulfonamide or perfluorooctane sulfonyl chloride in note 3 of this chapter

68.  Items listed in note 3 of this chapter containing four, five, six, seven or octabromodiphenyl ethers

69.  Contains 1,2,3,4,5,6-HCH (6,6,6) (ISO), including lindane (ISO, INN)

70.  Primarily made of dimethyl (5-ethyl-2-methyl-2oxo-1,3,2-dioxaphosphorin-5-yl)methylphosphonate and double [(5-b Mixtures and products of 2-methyl-2-oxo-1,3,2-dioxaphosphorin-5-yl)methyl] methylphosphonate (FRC-1)

71.  38248600a articles listed in note 3 to this chapter containing PeCB (ISO) or Hexachlorobenzene (ISO)

72.  Containing aldrin (ISO), toxaphene (ISO), chlordane (ISO), chlordecone (ISO), DDT (ISO) [Diptrix (INN), 1,1,1-trichloro-2 ,2-Bis(4-chlorophenyl)ethane], Dieldrin (ISO, INN), Endosulfan (ISO), Endrin (ISO), Heptachlor (ISO) or Mirex (ISO). The goods listed in note 3 of this chapter

73.  Other carrier catalysts

74.  Other polyesters

75.  Reaction initiators, accelerators not elsewhere specified

76.  Polyethylene with a primary shape specific gravity of less than 0.94

77.  Acrylonitrile

78.  Lubricants (without petroleum or oil extracted from bituminous minerals)

79.  Diagnostic or experimental formulation reagents, whether or not attached to backings, other than those of heading 32.02, 32.06

80.  Lubricant additives for oils not containing petroleum or extracted from bituminous minerals

81.  Primary Shaped Epoxy Resin

82.  Polyethylene Terephthalate Plate Film Foil Strips

83.  Other self-adhesive plastic plates, sheets, films and other materials

84.  Other plastic non-foam plastic sheets

85.  Other plastic products

86.  Other primary vinyl polymers

87.  Other ethylene-α-olefin copolymers, specific gravity less than 0.94

88.  Other primary shapes of acrylic polymers

89.  Other primary shapes of pure polyvinyl chloride

90.  Polysiloxane in primary shape

91.  Other primary polysulphides, polysulfones and other tariff numbers as set forth in note 3 to chapter 39 are not listed.

92.  Plastic plates, sheets, films, foils and strips, not elsewhere specified

93.  1,2-Dichloroethane (ISO)

94.  Halogenated butyl rubber sheets, strips

95.  Other heterocyclic compounds

96.  Adhesives based on other rubber or plastics

97.  Polyamide-6,6 slices

98.  Other primary-shaped polyethers

99.  Primary Shaped, Unplasticized Cellulose Acetate

100. Aromatic polyamides and their copolymers

101. Semi-aromatic polyamides and their copolymers

102. Other polyamides of primary shape

103. Other vinyl polymer plates, sheets, strips

104. Non-ionic organic surfactants

105. Lubricants (containing oil or oil extracted from bituminous minerals and less than 70% by weight)

106. Aircraft and other aircraft with an empty weight of more than 15,000kg but not exceeding 45,000kg

 

###

 

WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), a member of the Senate Chicken Caucus, joined a bipartisan group of Senators to introduce theFair Agricultural Reporting Method (FARM) Act. The bill would protect farmers, cattlemen, and livestock markets from burdensome EPA reporting requirements for animal waste emissions. These requirements were not intended to affect animal agriculture and instead were meant to address dangerous industrial pollution, chemical plant explosions, and the release of hazardous materials into the environment.

“Virginia cattlemen and farmers should not be burdened by regulations that were designed to apply to industrial pollution and toxic chemicals – not farms and production facilities,” said Sen. Warner. “Our local agricultural industry is an economic driver and job creator in the Commonwealth and this commonsense fix balances strong environmental protections with the needs of these hardworking livestock producers.”

“On behalf poultry farmers in Virginia, we greatly appreciate Senator Warner for his leadership on the FARM Act. This bill will ease the burden of Virginia turkey and chicken farmers from having to report low-level ammonia emissions from the natural decomposition of animal manure,” said Hobey Bauhan, President, Virginia Poultry Federation.

“The Virginia Cattlemen's Association is pleased that Senator Warner joined in patronizing the FARM Act and supporting a common sense approach to deregulation when unintentional targets like livestock production are included in a rule written for other industries.  We appreciate Senator Warner and others who signed on showing their commitment to making sure regulation is efficient and supportive of results over unnecessary bureaucracy,” said Jason H. Carter, Executive Director, Virginia Cattlemen's Association & Virginia Beef Industry Council.

The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) and the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) are laws on the books that require entities to notify authorities when they release large quantities of hazardous materials. In 2008, the EPA published a final rule exempting most livestock operations from the laws’ reporting requirements.

In April 2017, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled EPA did not have the authority to create this exemption for agriculture, creating confusion and uncertainty for America’s Ag producers.   

The FARM Act would:

  • Maintain the exemption for certain federally registered pesticides from reporting requirements within CERCLA.
  • Exempt air emissions from animal waste on a farm from reporting requirements under CERCLA.
  • Provide agriculture producers with greater certainty by reinstating the status quo producers have been operating under since EPA’s 2008 final rule.

The full text of the bill can be found here.

 

###

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Tim Kaine and Mark R. Warner introduced the Virginia Wilderness Additions Act, a bill to add a total of 5,600 acres to two existing wilderness areas within the George Washington National Forest in Bath County, Virginia. A wilderness designation is the highest level of protection for public land under federal law. These additions were recommended by the U.S. Forest Service in 2014 and endorsed by members of the GW National Forest Stakeholder Collaborative, a group of forest users that has worked together for seven years to agree on acceptable locations in the GW for wilderness, timber harvest, trails, and other uses.  

“The George Washington National Forest is one of Virginia’s most precious assets. We enjoy its wildlife; its scenery; its trails; and the benefits of responsible development of its resources,” Kaine said.  “Taking care of our nation’s outdoor resources is good for our economy and good for our environment. I applaud all stakeholders who came to the table – from local officials to conservationists to the timber industry – to work together on a plan that sets an example of how collaboration in public lands decisions can benefit everyone.” 

“I am proud to partner with Senator Kaine to introduce legislation that will add 5,600 acres to the George Washington National Forest in Bath County, Va. Our public lands are some of our most cherished resources, and it is essential that we take the necessary steps to conserve these lands for future generations to enjoy. This legislation is the result of seven years of collaboration among a diverse group of stakeholders and provides an example of what can be accomplished when everyone is willing to invest the necessary time and effort to find common ground on contentious land management issues,” said Warner.

 “The introduction of this bill is the direct result of years of hard work by the George Washington National Forest Stakeholder Collaborative, which includes representatives from diverse interests including the timber industry, wildlife managers, and recreational groups, to work together to meet very different goals. This added Wilderness area will result in ecological, economic and recreational benefits and is a win-win for all those stakeholders involved,” Mark Miller, Executive Director, Virginia Wilderness Committee, said.

“As an advocate of active management of the GW National Forest, I support the proposed Wilderness additions in this bill as part of a collaborative agreement among many groups and individuals. The GW is large enough to support a variety of ecological conditions as identified in the Forest Plan.  These goals can be met through increased timber harvesting and wildlife management while setting aside remote areas that are valuable for wildlife and recreation.  This proposal reinforces several year’s-worth of work and demonstrates the ability to accomplish this balance,” John Hancock, President, Virginia Forestry Association, said.

“More than half of Bath County is National Forest land.  This proposal to add thousands of acres of protected land to Rich Hole and Rough Mountain will mean an increase in visitation to the National Forest, and increased tourism in Bath County.  County leadership wholeheartedly supports this expansion and encourages Congress to act swiftly on this important bill that comes after years of important compromise among stakeholders,” Ashton Harrison, Bath County Administrator, said.  

“As a lifelong resident, fisherman, hunter and hiker of the George Washington National Forest, I believe our forests thrive when there is a combination of young growth and old growth. We can accomplish this with a combination of timber harvesting, wildlife management, and protecting special areas. Expanding the Rich Hole and Rough Mountain Wilderness areas adds to this diverse environment and ensures that there is an area where bear and large Red squirrels can thrive in the winter months,” Steve Nicely, Alleghany County resident and long-time hunter, said. 

###

Sens. Warner, Moran Introduce First Comprehensive Senate Bill To Encourage Food Service Providers To Help Eradicate Food Deserts

Bipartisan legislation would provide grocers, retailers, & nonprofits with incentives to service food-scarce communities

Aug 03 2017

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Bob Casey (D-PA), and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) introduced the first comprehensive legislation in the U.S. Senate to target food deserts by incentivizing food service providers such as grocers, retailers, and nonprofits to help eradicate these areas. The bipartisan Healthy Food Access for All Americans (HFAAA) Act sets up a system of tax credits and grants for businesses and nonprofits who serve these low-income and low-access urban and rural areas. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), an estimated 37 million Americans live in a food desert.  

USDA defines a food desert as an area where a grocery store is not available within a mile in urban communities or 10 miles in rural areas. This bill expands on that definition by adding U.S. census tracts with a poverty rate of 20% (or higher) or a median family income of less than 80% of the median for the state or metro area. The legislation also defines a grocery market as a retail sales store with at least 35% of its selection (or forecasted selection) dedicated to selling fresh produce, poultry, dairy, and deli items.    

“More than one million Virginians find themselves in low-income areas with no reliable source of healthy food, placing themselves at higher risk of diabetes, obesity, and heart disease,” said Sen. Warner. “Every person should have access to affordable and nutritious food regardless of where they live. By incentivizing food producers and sellers to go into communities where food access is a problem, we can help guarantee that fresh fruits and vegetables are available in the places where they are needed most.”

“Living in the breadbasket of our nation, we can often forget how prevalent hunger and the lack of access to healthy food in our own communities can be,” said Sen. Moran. “However, hunger and food insecurity are very real and threaten nearly 1 in 6 Kansans. The Healthy Food Access for All Americans Act would incentivize food providers to establish themselves in communities where people lack access to healthy, affordable food by encouraging the construction and establishment of grocery stories, food banks and farmers markets. All Kansans and Americans, regardless of where they live, deserve access to healthy food.”

“An estimated 37 million Americans live in food deserts in our country and Mayors understand how critically important it is to have the necessary tools to help address  this issue. Strengthening incentives and delivery systems for more local food production, sustainable farming practices, and better access to affordable and healthy food options, are key pillars of our organization’s work. We applaud Senators Mark Warner and Jerry Moran for their leadership on “The Healthy Food Access for All Americans Act” and believe this legislation is a strong step towards the elimination of food deserts in our cities,” remarked Tom Cochran, CEO & Executive Director, The United States Conference of Mayors.

“Independent retail supermarkets and the wholesalers that supply them play a vital role in the communities they serve through access to food items and as a contributor to the local economy. The National Grocers Association has long supported the bipartisan efforts to find solutions to address the lack of food access in rural and urban areas and working towards strong private-public partnerships to address the barriers to entry faced by grocers in these underserved communities.  We thank Senators Warner, Moran, Casey, and Capito for their efforts on the Healthy Food Access for All Americans Act and look forward to working with Congress to move this important piece of legislation forward,” said Greg Ferrara, SVP of Government Relations and Public Affairs for the National Grocers Association.

“Having access to healthy food options is critical to ending childhood hunger in America. Ending food deserts will help more low-income families shop for and prepare affordable, healthy meals; this has a powerful impact on the future health and well-being of our nation’s children. Share Our Strength supports The Healthy Food Access for All Americans Act and thank Sens. Warner, Moran, Casey and Capito for their leadership on this issue,” said Billy Shore, Founder and CEO of Share our Strength.

“Bread for the World is encouraged to see a bipartisan effort to address food deserts and improve access to nutritious food in low-income and underserved communities in America. Hunger costs the U.S. economy at least $160 billion in poor health outcomes and additional health care costs every year. This bill is an important step to reduce hunger and improve health across the country, said Eric Mitchell, Director of Government Relations for Bread for the World.  

The full list of organizations supporting the Healthy Food Access for All Americans (HFAAA) Act includes: Bread for the World, Environmental Working Group, Feeding America, Food Marketing Institute, Food Policy Action, Food Research and Action Center, the Food Trust, Local Initiatives Support Corporation, National Grocers Association, U.S. Conference of Mayors, the Reinvestment Fund, and Share Our Strength. 

In order to qualify for a tax credit or grant for servicing qualifying food deserts, business and nonprofits must be certified as a “Special Access Food Provider (SAFP) by the Treasury Department and USDA. The Healthy Food Access for All Americans Act qualifies as SAFPs those businesses and nonprofits who service food deserts through the following:

  • New Store Construction: Companies that construct new grocery stores in a food desert will receive a onetime 15% tax credit (of the property plan and construction) after receiving certification from a regional CDE and Treasury/USDA as an SAFP.
  • Retrofitting Existing Structures: Companies that make retrofits to an existing store’s healthy food sections can receive a onetime 10% tax credit after the repairs certify the store as an SAFP. 
  • Food Banks: Food banks that build new (permanent) structures in food deserts, will be eligible to receive a onetime grant for 15% of their construction costs, after certification as an SAFP. 
  • Temporary Access Merchants: Temporary access merchants (i.e. mobile markets, farmers markets, and some food banks) that are 501©(3)s will receive grants for 10% of their service costs for that year. 

Sen. Warner has been a strong advocate for initiatives that promote healthy eating and physical wellness. As Governor, he spearheaded the Healthy Virginia initiative, which encouraged policies and practices that promoted good nutrition and regular physical activity in schools and state government. As Senator, he introduced legislation to allow the President's Council on Physical Fitness & Sports to solicit private funds to expands on its efforts on exercise, nutrition, and wellness.

To read the full text of the bill, click here. A summary can also be found here

For a map of areas in the United States that would qualify to be served as food deserts under this bill, click here.  

Population of Virginians living in food deserts as defined in this bill*

 

City or County

Population

Albemarle

3765

Amelia

5777

Amherst

10217

Augusta

6689

Bath

4731

Bedford City

6222

Bland

3901

Bristol

13982

Brunswick

8041

Buchanan

4029

Buckingham

8400

Buena Vista

6650

Campbell

8756

Carroll

4767

Charlotte

12586

Chesapeake

12198

Chesterfield

14188

Colonial Heights

2629

Covington

3098

Cumberland

10052

Danville

13980

Dinwiddie

5720

Essex

8026

Fairfax

5280

Floyd

15279

Franklin

25439

Franklin City

3812

Frederick

10874

Fredericksburg

7567

Goochland

4263

Grayson

5277

Halifax

32142

Hampton

29365

Harrisonburg

15330

Henrico

37342

Henry

26005

Highland

2321

Hopewell

12120

James City

4014

King and Queen

3881

Lynchburg

38672

Manassas

7678

Manassas Park

6248

Martinsville

6166

Mecklenburg

15154

Montgomery

27237

Newport News

24016

Norfolk

35038

Norton

3958

Nottoway

9783

Orange

13756

Petersburg

15759

Pittsylvania

18926

Portsmouth

9507

Prince Edward

10624

Prince George

8543

Prince William

57728

Radford

12260

Richmond City

60545

Roanoke City

41329

Rockbridge

15873

Rockingham

11530

Salem

10424

Scott

7959

Shenandoah

9068

Smyth

3913

Southampton

7958

Spotsylvania

31964

Stafford

12818

Suffolk

4795

Sussex

6377

Tazewell

12740

Virginia Beach

35279

Warren

5562

Washington

3812

Waynesboro

5240

Winchester

5066

Wise

9566

Wythe

6773

Total:

1,048,359

 

*The last year for which data is available is 2015. 

 

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U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) and Thad Cochran (R-MS) today led a bipartisan group of 37 senators in urging the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to push the Chinese government to end its ban on the sale of American poultry products. The ban was instituted by China in 2015 due to the detection of a wild duck with Highly Pathogenic Avian Influence (HPAI) and continues to be enforced today, in contradiction of World Health Organization for Animal Health (OIE) standards.
U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), a member of the Senate Finance Committee, joined a bipartisan group of Finance Committee members in calling on the Trump Administration to protect Virginia jobs by addressing the harmful effects of unfairly traded Canadian softwood lumber on American mills and wood product companies.