County Farm Bureau holds Annual Meeting

Mecklenburg County Farm Bureau held its 2016 Annual Meeting on Tuesday at the Moose Lodge in South Hill.
Brian Parks, producing agency manager for Mecklenburg and Brunswick counties, gave the insurance report, saying it has been a good weather-related year in spite of a major hail storm in February and storm loss this summer.
“Right now we’re in the heart of hurricane season, and thank goodness Matthew did not hit us directly here in Mecklenburg County,” he said.
Parks said Farm Bureau’s insurance arm has paid $3.6 million in claims to members in Mecklenburg County thus far this year
“We need everybody in here, tell everybody you know about Farm Bureau,” Parks said. “We’re doing some really good things to save our local food supply.”
Betty Upton gave the Mecklenburg County Farm Bureau Women’s Committee report, noting an active year. She said the purpose of the Farm Bureau women’s program is to promote agriculture and educate communities on the importance of the agriculture industry.
Upton said during Ag Literacy Week, the Women’s Committee read to 336 students at five schools in Mecklenburg County, Chase City Elementary, Clarksville Elementary, South Hill Elementary, LaCrosse Elementary and First Christian School. She said each child was given a seed bag consisting of a plastic sandwich bag with a cotton ball, vegetable seed and instructions on how to grow a seed.
In addition, the Women’s Committee sponsored a table at the Farm-to-Table Agriculture Dinner at Longwood University on Sept. 15. Both local high schools participated, and two students were recognized for winning a corresponding essay contest — Grace Eckler from Bluestone High School and Alexis Smith from Park View High School.
Upton said the Women’s Committee set up a permanent agriculture display at the Virginia Welcome Center in Bracey to share agriculture with the approximately 147,000 visitors who stop by the welcome center each year.
“I can’t think of anything else we could do to get agriculture out to 140,000,” she said.
The display utilizes the new “Agriculture is Everywhere” poster from Virginia Farm Bureau’s Agriculture in the Classroom program and features an interactive game in which commodities are matched with the regions in Virginia where they are grown.
Upton said Mecklenburg County is the first county in the state of Virginia to have anything in a welcome center.
Tammy Maxey, senior education manager for the Agriculture in the Classroom program, was the guest speaker.
She said the program, in its 24th year, has a goal and mission of connecting children to agriculture. It accomplishes this through training teachers, providing educational materials both digitally and in hard copy, participating in school events and providing grants for schools, etc.
She said the program is driven by volunteers and impacted more than 80,000 children in Virginia last year.
Maxey said three years ago Mecklenburg County Farm Bureau created the Tractors for Agriculture in the Classroom program in which producers would designate a tractor and donate a certain amount of money for each hour that tractor is utilized throughout the growing season.
While the program, which benefits Agriculture in the Classroom, originated in Mecklenburg County, in its second year other Southern Virginia counties participated.
“This year folks as far west as Bristol are participating in this same program that started right here in this county,” Maxey said.
Mecklenburg County Farm Bureau President Irvin Matthews said in three years, Mecklenburg County Farm Bureau has raised more than $7,500 through the Tractors for Agriculture in the Classroom program. He said this year $1,875 was raised.
Mark Moody gave the treasurer’s report, noting Mecklenburg County Farm Bureau has a current net worth of approximately $204,000 and a current membership of 1,706.
Glenn Price Hudson gave the legislative report, noting the Virginia General Assembly budgeted approximately $54 million for 2017 and $8.8 million for 2018 for agricultural best management practices, $1.8 million for reforestation of timblerland and an additional $345,000 for 2017 and $197,000 for 2018 to fund two additional weights and measures inspectors.
Jim Jennings gave the Resolutions Committee report and offered the following resolution: “We believe that language in the crop hail insurance policy should be modernized to refer to greenhouse plant production as opposed to plant bed production and that greenhouse production should be the production practice reflected in the calculation of tobacco production expenses when calculating claims.”
The membership passed the resolution.
David Brankley offered the Nominating Committee’s slate of nominations for officers and directors, including Irvin Matthews for president, Mark Moody for vice president, David Brankley for director, Bluestone district, Steve Upton for director, Boydton district, Samuel D. Piercy Jr. for director, Buckhorn district, Kent E. Hudson for director, Clarksville district, and Johnny Warren for director, South Hill district.
The membership approved the slate of officers and directors.
Matthews gave the president’s report, saying, “It’s been a real honor for me to serve as your county president. I could not have done my part without the help and support of the board of directors.”
Matthews said Farm Bureau is a nongovernmental, nonpartisan organization committed to protecting Virginia farms and ensuring a safe, fresh and locally grown food supply.
Mecklenburg County Farm Bureau is one of 88 county farm bureaus in Virginia. The Virginia Farm Bureau Federation consists of approximately 130,000 members.