Press Releases

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. 

 

###

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.

Warner, Kaine Voice Concern Over Lack of Progress in South African Poultry Negotiations

Senators warn that continued blockage of American poultry imports – in violation of international trade obligations – could affect trade relationship with U.S.

Mar 31 2015

Sens. Warner and Kaine joined a group of bipartisan Senate colleagues in expressing concern about the lack of progress being made in negotiations with South Africa over antidumping duties that have effectively blocked the import of American chicken for the last 15 years.