RICHMOND—Virginia agriculturalists got a preview of industry-related priorities Jan. 22 ahead of Virginia Farm Bureau Federation’s annual Legislative Day
Now in her third term, keynote speaker Del. Wendy Gooditis, D-Boyce, represents Virginia House District 10, serving parts of Clarke, Frederick and Loudoun counties. She earned VFBF’s AgPAC
endorsement in 2021.
“Del. Wendy Gooditis has made it a priority to ensure farmers’ perspectives be brought to the table and has been a champion of key issues for Farm Bureau, including farmland preservation, the dairy industry and bridging the rural-urban divide,” said Stefanie Taillon, senior assistant director of VFBF governmental relations.
Gooditis touched on those topics in her remarks, and shared personal sentiments on rural life. She is a member of the Agriculture Chesapeake and Natural Resources Committee and Agriculture Subcommittee.
Gooditis said she’s passionate about both agriculture and environmental protection.
“We have to work at the intersection of these,” she explained. “Yes, we have to preserve our greenspace, waterways and climate, but we must not burden our farmers beyond what they can bear. Remember, they feed us!”
Solar facilities are a legitimate source of clean energy, she said, but large-scale projects should be placed around urban regions with greater demand, instead of altering the rural landscape and hindering future use of prime farm and forest lands. She supported legislation requiring Virginia Cooperative Extension to develop and maintain a map of prime farmland in Virginia to promote responsible development.
Since her first session in 2018, Gooditis pledged to introduce a budget amendment every year to add more money to the historically underfunded Farmland Preservation Fund.
“Last year, the governor’s budget included $3.37 million for the fund per year, though the final budget only included $875,000—just a quarter of what was requested,” she said. “However, preserving it as ‘farmland’ means there will be more of it for lease, so beginning and existing farmers can expand without trying to find millions of dollars in the sofa cushions.”
Gooditis expressed pride in her co-sponsored legislation to establish the Dairy Producers Margin Coverage Premium Assistance Program, a reimbursement program to assist operators of Virginia’s 475 remaining dairy farms. And to serve rural Virginians in crisis, she is presenting a bipartisan bill this session to retain more Community Service Board staff.
“I’m dedicated to making sure the voices of our farmers and rural residents are heard loud and clear in the state capitol,” she concluded.
Media: Contact Taillon
at 804-363-9505 or Kelsey Wright
, legislative aide, at 804-698-1010.