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Candidates discuss positions on Virginia agriculture issue

Candidates for governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general have partnered with Virginia Farm Bureau Federation AgPAC, a nonpartisan political action committee, to present their stances on agricultural issues that align with Farm Bureau policy.

While endorsements will not be not issued for individual candidates for the top spots in state leadership this year, farmers serving on the AgPAC board of trustees met with all six campaigns and briefed them on important agriculture and forestry issues. Candidates were then given the opportunity to present their agriculture and forestry platforms to the full AgPAC board of trustees. 

Both gubernatorial candidates, Democrat Terry McAuliffe and Republican Glenn Youngkin, embraced the opportunity to share their ideas on issues important to farmers. 

McAuliffe’s top priorities included full funding for conservation practices for farmers; delivering universal broadband; and increasing domestic and international markets.

“I am honored to receive the support of Virginia Farm Bureau Federation AgPAC. Agriculture and forestry are the backbone of Virginia’s thriving economy, but they need the commonwealth’s support as we continue to rebuild a stronger post-COVID economy and move Virginia forward. It’s time to take Virginia agriculture and forestry to the next level, and together we will get it done,” McAuliffe said. 

Youngkin’s top priorities included full funding for conservation practices for farmers; refraining from mandating unfunded practices; revitalizing the agricultural processing industry for all farms; and expanding exports to create new jobs.

“Virginia’s farms are a critical contributor to our economy and have served as the backbone of our communities for centuries,” Youngkin said.

Three other statewide candidates agreed to meet with the AgPAC board—Republican lieutenant governor candidate Winsome Sears and candidates for attorney general, Republican Jason Miyares and incumbent Democrat Mark Herring.

Sears supports fully funding the Virginia Agricultural Best Management Practices Cost-Share Program, or else refraining from mandating practices. She outlined a need for increased funding for Virginia’s land grant universities, and advocated for a tax system that helps family farms continue to thrive from one generation to the next.

Herring wants funding for the BMP programs that will allow the state to be a full partner with farmers in achieving Virginia’s water quality goals. He promotes the utilization of science-based animal husbandry practices for livestock, and recognizes the current state code distinction between companion animals and livestock. He also supports evaluating the presence of utility-scale solar facilities to minimize the impact on prime agricultural lands. 

Miyares advocated for the defense of farmers in court against a federal or state regulatory framework that enacts water quality requirements making it unfeasible for farmers to operate. He also supports limiting executive oversight and restricting the expansion of regulatory agencies’ power to develop regulations beyond legislative authority. He stands against changes to state code that would undo the current distinction between companion animals and livestock.