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Farmers may lose access to funding

Already burdened by the unprecedented challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, Virginia’s farmers now face the prospect of losing access to vital funding for agricultural cost-share programs.

Ralph Northam

Gov. Ralph Northam introduced several amendments to Virginia’s biannual budget in April due to changing revenue forecasts amid the pandemic, and subsequently froze new state spending for fiscal year 2022.

In the amended budget, $18.6 million in funding for Virginia’s agricultural best management practices cost-share program was cut, leaving just $8.8 million in program funds for 2022.

With farmers required to comply with Phase III Watershed Implementation Plan mandates by 2025, Virginia Farm Bureau Federation is asking lawmakers to restore cost-share funds to help meet water-quality goals.

The Virginia General Assembly convened Aug. 18 to adopt a new biennial budget.

A budgetary imbalance would likely cause a workforce reduction at soil and water conservation district offices, which could lead to less personal and technical support for farmers.