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Virginia Green Industry Council

Spring Meeting Minutes
Friday, March 10, 2006
State Fair Offices

Meeting was called to order by Lin Diacont, President.

Present were: Paul Hartzell, Rick Baker, Bill Bonwell, Sylvia Wright, Jeff Miller, Cary Gouldin, Lorene Blackwood, Karen Kelly, Kathy Duncan, Gwynn Hubbard, Rich Johnson, Scott Sink

Mark your Calendars for these meeting dates:

June 9, 2006 State Fair Office-Meeting 9:00-1:00 (changed to Meadow Farm after this meeting)

August 2, 2006, State Fair Office-Meeting 9:00-1:00

October 2-4 (location to be determined)

Combined Meeting at Virginia Beach with MAC/ISA Annual Meeting

January 8, 2007 Meeting with Virginia Turfgrass Council Lawn and Landscape (location to be determined).

Activity Dates and Support Request for 2006

April 19 - Shad Planking Wakefield VGIC/VNLA/VTC Support—VGIC will provide the tent. Tickets are available through members

April 28 Arbor Day

Need volunteers for Ask The Expert with the Department of Forestry, Dave Terwilliger at Bryan Park 5K Run. Gwynn will contact Bartlett Tree Company and Nancy Herwig work with the Department of Forestry-Contact Lin Diacont

June 18 - 2nd Annual Hahn Horticulture Garden Gala, VA Tech- an invitation to members who would like to attend to contact Lin

August 2 Agribusiness Food Festival-Richmond Raceway Complex.

VGIC FUND RAISER

September 16 Virginia Garden Expo* in conjunction with the Lewis Ginter Plant Sale SEE CONCEPT, NOTES AND JOB DESCRIPTIONS ON NEXT PAGE. Greg Eaton will complete the final exit surveys by May for the VGIC.

September 22-23 Delivery day for VGIC plant donations at the State Fair Gardens

Since the Plant Sale is a fund raiser, Cary asked to receive a list of what will sell well best so that he can request those items when he is soliciting donations. The group felt like shrubs, trees and landscape would be a welcomed addition. Help is needed for unloading the plant material that is donated.

September 25 State Fair Gardens Set Up: CVNLA and Master Gardeners coordinate the set up along with Gwynn Hubbard. The Student Garden Theme is "Fun and Fabulous" featuring Red, White and Blue.

September 28-October 8 State Fair

October 9 VGIC Plant Sale , State Fair Gardens

Minutes of last meeting approved

Treasurers Report Approved See attachment

Membership - Mary Williams will set a membership committee meeting to develop an action plan for membership.

New Members:

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C.P. Mahew, Inc

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Wes Bray Lawns and Gardens Plus of Virginia Beach, Inc.

MEMBERSHIP

Membership letter in Association journals or newsletters

Ask allied associations to list VGIC Membership on their invoices and dues notices

POTENTIAL MEMBERS

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VA Small Fruit and Specialty Growers Association c/o Tony Bratsch (Jeff Miller)

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Virginia Christmas Tree Growers-Sue Bostic (Jeff-Lin)

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RPGMS-Lin-agreed to support when funds are available

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Virginia Native Plant Society-Jeff

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Virginia Golf Course Superintendents Association-Lin

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Virginia Golf Summit-coordinating with them and Golf Course guys

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Virginia Sports Turf Managers Association- check should be forthcoming

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Landscape Supply-Lin

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Virginia Irrigation Association-Lin

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Virginia State University-Winfrey S. Clarke-Associate Dean-Lin

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Virginia Department of Forestry-Dave Terwilliger

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Virginia Sod Growers

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Virginia Farm Bureau

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Virginia Farm Credit

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4-H

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RISE

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J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College

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Old Dominion Turf Equipment Mechanics Association –out of business

In Kind Considerations

FFA, Maymont, Lewis Ginter, Norfolk Botanical, Virginia Beach Flower Show, Belvedere Plantation Flower and Garden Show, Virginia Department of Forestry, Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, others

Sponsorships/Pledges Possibilities

VTC, VNLA, Va Flower Growers, etc

*Rick Baker Virginia Garden Expo Fund Raiser

Background and Fact Sheet The Virginia Garden Festival

The Virginia Green industry Council will sponsor its first annual garden show at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden on Saturday, September 16, 2006 in conjunction with and as part of the LGBG Fall Plant Sale.

This activity will be partially funded by money from the VGIC / FSMIP grant. The balance of costs will be covered by the sale of exhibit space and the solicitation of sponsors. It is our plan to at least break even this first year on costs vs. income and then grow to a major profit maker for VGIC in the future.

We have called this event the "Green Expo" during the initial discussions about what, when, where and how. It will now be called: The Virginia Garden Festival

It is our intention to provide an activity for the family, the new gardener and the established gardener that will interest them in coming, educate them about some aspect of gardening and protecting the environment and stimulate them to go home and do something in the yard. A tall order, but one I think we can handle with the talent and energy available to the cause. Each of our VGIC member groups and beyond will be asked to do their part in helping us put this Virginia Garden Festival together.

The Festival will include the following:

As much promotion and advertising as we can generate

Keynote speakers in the education building auditorium

Activities for kids

Active demonstrations of tree trimming, stone wall building, water gardening, etc Industry Exhibitors — equipment — tools — services — landscaping — and more Virginia's Finest Foods — several exhibits of Virginia favorites

Craft Exhibits — that compliment and do not compete with the LGBG Plant Sale Plant Sales — will work closely with the LGBG Plant Sale committee to find additional Virginia growers that want to participate

Support and Educational Groups — Master Gardeners, wildlife habitat with Carol H

We will set up in the parking lot next to the outside entrance to the gift shop, in the grass at the front of the main building and possibly in the upper front parking lot (dingo derby)

It looks great on paper, but will take a lot of work. The Virginia Garden Festival will be managed by the committee of Bill Bonwell, Karen Kelly, Sylvia Wright and Rick Baker. (Let's hope they are still talking to each other on September 17). Your support and participation is needed and appreciated.

We will use the remaining FISMIP money for promotion through Lewis Ginter.

There will be four levels of Sponsorships:

  1. Presenting Sponsor $1,000

  2. Gold $500

  3. Silver $200

  4. Bronze $100

Identify sponsor benefits and have in on our web site. For higher sponsors, provide links to their web site.

Contact Rick for leads and interest in sponsorships or vendors. Rick.baker@vdacs.virginia.gov

Legislative Issues: Lorene Blackwood reported that the Agribusiness’ main focus on the state level has been Fertilizer Pre-emption, Fertilizer Labeling, Water, Eminent Domain and Commodity Surveys.

Nationally, the Immigration Laws will be the hot topic.

A formal report will be sent out next week of all the legislative issues that relate to the Green Industry. (see attached file)

Communications, Public Relations - Sylvia will send out press releases and stories of interest regarding the VGIC. She will be in contact with Washington Garden Magazine, House Trends, Virginia Women and other publications. Sylvia is also writing an article with an overview of the green industry and will emphasize its impact on the economy in the state.

Agribusiness Banquet and Food Festival - Many thanks to the following who provide plants for the Agribusiness Banquet: The Green Industry was well represented by the Agribusiness President, Louis Brookings. In his remarks to over 1,000 guests that were in attendance he emphasized the economic importance of the Green Industry to Virginia. Well done Louis!! The plants are a huge hit and make an impact with the legislators and government officials as well as other guests. Agribusiness will send out thank you notes to all that donated time, material and labor for the Banquet. Many thanks to the following people that provided labor, plant material and support for the banquet:

Donations For Virginia Agribusiness Annual Appreciation Banquet

DonorContactDonationAddressCityState
      
Battlefield FarmsJerry Vanhoven200 4 in. Primula23190 Clarks Mountain RdRapidanVA
Brookmeade Sod FarmLouis Brooking Sod for stage14328 Medley Grove LnDoswellVA
Chadwick & SonArt Chadwick25 6" Asst. Orchids1420 Dorset RdPowhatanVA
Stones GreenhouseRuss Stone50 4 in. CyclamenP.O. Box 1128Glen AllenVA
Whites GreenhouseTal White500 5 in. table top daisy mums3133 Old Mill RdChesapeakeVA
Willow Run Comp.Pete Gyory50 4.5 in. Wicker BasketsPO Box 6ElkwoodVA
Yoder Bros.Bill Rasbach Pres.96 Finished 6 in. Azalea115 3rd Street SWBarbertonOH
Lin's LandscapingLin DiacontSent truck to Strange's to pick up plants, crew to decorate hall, and podium, at least 35 hrs7388 Polegreen RdMechanicsvilleVA
Boulevard FlowersMark Landa84 6 in. Blue Pansies3018 BoulevardColonial HeightsVA
The GreenhouseGeorge Miles30 6 in. CyclamenPO Box 1066Glen AllenVA
Weber's NurseryMike Weber40 4 in. Cyclamen, 24 6 In Cyclamen937 Martinsburg PikeWinchesterVA
Smallwood'sCarol SmallwoodSet up at Arthur Ashe Center approx 5 hrs14202 Chula RdAmeliaVA
State Fair of Va.Gwen HubbardPut Speed Covers on plants at Strange's and set up at Arthur Ashe Center, 5 hrs day before and 5 hrs. day ofPO Box 26805RichmondVA
Swift Creek Berry FarmClyde GoodePlaced Plants at Arthur Ashe Center, greenhouse thurs. am, 5 hrs day of17210 Genito RoadMoseleyVA
Piedmont GrowersBill Miller74 4 in. Yellow Violas19529 Williams Dr.CulpeperVA
Holtkamp Greenhouses Inc.Margit Nentwig30 4 in. finished Optimara VioletsPO Box 78565NashvilleTN

 

Food Festival August 2 – the VGIC will host the "Ask the Expert" booth –Volunteers are needed for set up and work two shifts. VGIC and Turfgrass cosponsor the "Ask an Expert" booth. Volunteers are needed to set up, be the expert. Shifts are two hours each. Numbers will be limited, remember, this event supports Agribusiness to insure that our legislative needs are heard downtown during the General Assembly. Cary will solicit plant material for the booth and to give away. Contact Lin if you would like to volunteer.

Review of VGIC 2005 Accomplishments

Quarterly email Newsletters were started this past fall, along with monthly Bulletins on current events and updates.

Five VGIC banner displays were produced and made their debut at the January 9th meeting and at the VTC Conference. They are available for your use at your trade and consumer events.

The first consumer education expo event has been scheduled for Saturday, September 16 at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden in conjunction with their fall plant sale.

Consumer gardening news releases through the VGIC have reached over 464,000 readers in non-daily newspapers

Jim May, Virginia Certified Horticulturist has been hired to provide monthly gardening columns

A partnership has been established with the national organization RISE (Responsible Industry for a Sound Environment®) to provide consumer educational info

A committee has been working with the State Fair of Virginia to guide the development of the new horticulture area at the new State Fair location at The Meadow in Caroline County

A PowerPoint presentation on the benefits of the VGIC was developed and has been presented at non-member organization board meetings, resulting in several new association members

"Ask the Experts" booths were staffed at the Virginia Agribusiness Food Festival and the Fall Jubilee in Richmond

The trade website www.VirginiaGreen.org continues to be the "to go to" website for the most extensive green industry calendar of events, as well as industry information and resources

The consumer website continues to grow with resources and information for Virginia Gardening information at www.VirginiaGardening.com

The VGIC provided all the decorations for the Virginia Agribusiness Council Appreciation Banquet through the various VGIC association members

Respectively submitted, Lorene Blackwood, Secretary

 

SUMMARY OF THE 2006 GENERAL ASSEMBLY

VIRGINIA AGRIBUSINESS COUNCIL CAPITOL REPORT #11 – April 4, 2006

The General Assembly adjourned its 2006 "regular" session on time on Saturday, March 11, but did not complete its work. A new 2-year State budget was not passed and several key issues were left unresolved. Over 3200 bills were considered of which 1748 passed and have been submitted to the Governor for his action. The Virginia Agribusiness Council staff reviewed each one of the legislative proposals for its potential beneficial or adverse impact on our industry and identified over 100 bills of interest.

Governor Kaine called the General Assembly back into "special" session to work out differences in the State budget hoping that it would include resolutions of the State’s transportation challenges. To date, this has not occurred and the "special" session continues….

The General Assembly will reconvene for a one-day session on April 19 to consider recommendations and vetoes from the Governor on bills passed during the "regular" session. Should there be negative action taken on any issue of importance to agribusiness, we will notify you immediately and seek your assistance.

During the session there were a number of times when we requested your grassroots contact with legislators. We thank each of you who did so. Your efforts were extremely valuable and contributed greatly to the favorable outcomes on those bills. The Virginia Agribusiness Council and our membership faired quite well in this session as you can see from the following summary of key bills that we specifically supported or opposed and that which were of interest to our industry.

While this Capitol Report is lengthy, we hope that you will scan it for issues of interest to you. If you would like additional information on provisions of the legislation or its implementation, please contact us.

BUDGET ISSUES –TO BE DETERMINED

All budget items have yet to be decided as we await efforts by the General Assembly to craft the State budget. We will report on these items when such action is taken.

ISSUES OF INTEREST TO AGRIBUSINESS

AGRITOURISM - SB38 Summary: Limits the liability of persons engaged in the business of providing agritourism activities for the public when certain conditions are met such as posting a warning notice, ensuring that no dangerous conditions exist, and the owner is not negligent. Patron: Sen. Reynolds (D-Henry) VAC Position: Supported Status: Passed.

AIR QUALITY - HB1055/SB651 Summary: Establishes a schedule for electric generating units in Virginia to reduce their emissions of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, and mercury and requires the Air Board to adopt the Federal Clean Air Mercury Rule as well as adopt a state-specific rule for mercury. DEQ is required to conduct a detailed assessment of mercury deposition in Virginia as well. Patrons: Del. Reid (R-Henrico) and Sen. Puckett (D-Russell) VAC Position: Supported Status: Passed

BEEKEEPERS - SB101 Summary: Would have exempted persons with 50 or fewer hives from requirements to process honey in a certified establishment. Patron: Sen. Blevins (R-Chesapeake) VAC Position: Concerned Status: Patron dropped legislation and included provisions into the Beekeeping Study.

BIO-FUELS

HB680&1423 Summary: Establishes the Biofuels Production Incentive Grant Program & Fund for ten years which provides grants to producers of biodiesel or ethanol fuel that produce (or increase) at least 10 million gallons a year using feedstock originating within the U.S. The incentive grant amounts to $.10 per gallon sold in a calendar year beginning with 2007. Patrons: Del. Wittman (R-Westmoreland) and Del. Barlow (D-Isle of Wight) VAC Position: Supported Status: Passed. However, the amount appropriated for the incentive payments will be determined in the budget.

HJ148 Summary: Requests state agencies to implement the use of biodiesel fuels, where feasible, in fleet vehicles owned or operated by the agency and report to the General Assembly next year on the progress made towards implementing use of biodiesel in fleet vehicles. Patron: Del. Landes (R-Augusta) VAC Position: Supported Status: Passed

BIOSOLIDS

HB1134 Summary: Requires the Board of Health to establish a fee for permit holders of $5000 for permit issuance and up to $1000 for re-issuance and permit modifications. Patron: Del. Cline (R-Rockbridge) VAC Position: Supported Status: Passed

HB688 Summary: Would have prohibited the land application of biosolids beginning January 1, 2007, unless applied in the same locality in which it was generated and would have required the Health Department and DEQ to certify that bio-solids are applied in a manner to protect human health and the environment. Patron: Del. Abbitt (I-Appomattox) VAC Position: Opposed Status: Failed in House Agriculture, Chesapeake, and Natural Resources Subcommittee.

HB690 Summary: Would have prohibited biosolids from being stored at the site where it is being land applied for more than three days prior to application. Patron: Del. Hogan (R-Halifax) VAC Position: Opposed Status: Failed in House Agriculture, Chesapeake, and Natural Resources Subcommittee.

HJ101 Summary: Would have required the Departments of Conservation and Recreation and Environmental Quality to study the impact of the land application of biosolids on the quality of Virginia's waters. Patron: Del. Byron (R-Campbell) VAC Position: Opposed Status: Failed in House Rules Committee.

EMINENT DOMAIN (Council Critical Issue) -

HB94/SB394 Summary of Original Version: The original version of the primary Eminent Domain legislation would give a new, specific definition of "public use". It also specifies instances in which the condemnation of real property may be used by a public entity to convey property to a nongovernmental person or entity, restating current provisions of the law. Patrons: Del. Suit (R-Va. Beach) and Sen. Stolle (R-Va. Beach) VAC Position: While this version was amended early in the General Assembly Session to address some of our concerns, the approach of specifying instances of condemned land being conveyed to a nongovernmental person or entity is still concerning.

HB94/SB394 Summary of Amended Version: The amended version specifically defined what a "public use" is and also defined what a "public use" is not, stating that it does NOT include economic development or private development, an increase in the tax base, tax revenues, employment or general economic health and welfare. The amendment also specifies that taking property for the primary purpose of transferring it to a private party is not a "public use". Finally, it does not restate the current provisions of the law which allows for condemnation of property by a public entity to be conveyed to a nongovernmental person or entity in specific instances. Amendment Patron: Del. Joannou (D-Portsmouth) VAC Position: The language and approach of this version is more closely aligned to our original efforts, language, and intent for this legislation.

Status: No final action taken. Due to the varied approaches taken by the House and Senate, the bills were left in a Conference Committee without resolution. However, they are expected to be addressed by a Subcommittee over the summer. The Council continues to be active on this issue, working with a group of rural private property rights interests.

Note: If you would like to serve as a resource to the Council on this issue, have personal experiences with Eminent domain, or know of legal counsel who may be interested in this issue, please contact Katie Kyger Frazier.

HB1099 Summary: Increases the amount of maximum payment from $50,000 to $75,000 for relocation expenses for persons displaced from their business or farm operation as a result of condemnation in certain circumstances. Patron: Del. Griffith (R-Salem) VAC Position: Supported Status: Passed

HB923 Summary: Included profit losses for a period of up to three years after adjudication for agricultural operations only as part of compensation for condemned property. Patron: Del. Landes (R-Augusta) VAC Position: Supported Status: Referred by the House Courts Committee to the Housing Commission for study this year.

HB925 Summary: Provided that a property owner had the right to recover costs against VDOT should the property owner prevail at the condemnation proceeding. Patron: Del. Landes (R-Augusta) VAC Position: Supported Status: After negotiations and a commitment to work on this issue from VDOT, carried over to 2007.

EQUINE - HB963 Summary: Allows taxpayers who have equine that create a need for agricultural BMPs to qualify for the agricultural BMP tax credit, beginning January 1, 2007. Patron: Del. Bulova (D- Fairfax City) VAC Position: Supported Status: Passed

HB644 Summary: Would have provided an exception from the practice of veterinary medicine for the practice of equine dentistry, including the floating or filing of the points of a horse's molars and the routine extraction of single rooted teeth by trained equine dental technicians while engaged to so practice by the owner of the animal regardless of whether employed by a veterinarian. Patron: Del. E. Scott (R-Culpeper) VAC Position: Still to be determined

Status: Patron carried the bill over until 2007 to allow interested parties to develop a consensus.

ESTATE TAX REPEAL (Council Critical Issue) - HB40/SB504 Summary: The Senate amended version exempts "working farms" and "closely held businesses" and estates valued up to $10 million from Virginia’s estate tax and the House version provides for full and permanent repeal. Patrons: Del. Tata (R-Va. Beach) and Sen. Norment (R-James City) VAC Position: Support full repeal.

Status: The differences in the two competing bills were not resolved during the "regular" session as this issue was being held "hostage" as another budget-related issue (land conservation tax credits) was being negotiated. Both issues appear in the Senate’s new proposed budget; therefore, we hope to see resolution during the "special" session.

FARMERS MARKET REGULATIONS - HB689 Summary: Would have exempted local retail farmers markets that have been established by a locality from the Board of Health's requirements for licensure of restaurants and other food services. Patron: Del. Abbitt (I-Appomattox) VAC Position: Concerned Status: The patron dropped the legislation after the situation was addressed by delegating VDACS responsibility for inspections of all farmers markets.

FARM WINERIES - HB1288 Summary: Would allow in and out-of-state wineries that qualify for the federal Small Producer Tax Credit to self distribute their wine in Virginia. Patron: Del. Saxman (R-Staunton) VAC Position: Supported Status: Failed in Subcommittee of the General Laws Committee. Without the ability to "self-distribute" their wine, Virginia’s 100 wineries will struggle to market their products. The wine industry is pursuing establishing an agricultural marketing cooperative to fill the marketing void created when this legislation failed.

HB1435 Summary: Originally would have exempted licensed farm wineries from local special use permit requirements for promotional activities. Patron: Del. Albo (R-Fairfax) VAC Position: None

Status: Final bill places a moratorium on new local regulations until July 1, 2007, and calls for a study by the Secretary of Agriculture & Forestry (with Council participation) on the economic viability of the farm winery industry, the relationship between farm wineries and the local communities, and agri-tourism in Virginia.

FERTILIZER - SB234 Summary: Labeling fertilizer products. Would require that specialty fertilizers include a label with directions for proper fertilizer use and precautionary statements to educate users. Specialty fertilizer means a fertilizer distributed for nonfarm use, including home gardens, lawns, shrubbery, flowers, golf courses, and nurseries. Patron: Sen. Ticer (D-Alexandria) VAC Position: Opposed. Additional labeling requirements for Virginia creates distribution problems for manufacturers. Status: Carried over to 2007 session.

SB594 Summary: Regulation of fertilizers. This bill was introduced at the Council’s request on behalf of the Virginia Crop Protection Association, Virginia Green Industry Council, and Virginia Turfgrass Council and would prohibit localities from regulating the registration, packaging, labeling, sale, storage, distribution, use, or application of fertilizer. Patron: Sen. Watkins (R-Powhatan) VAC Position: Supported Status: Carried over to 2007 session to allow us time to work with localities that opposed it.

FORESTRY - HB14 Summary: Would allow local governments to fully regulate silviculture activity for land when the owner, or his agent, submits an application for a rezoning, conditional use permit, special use permit, or preliminary subdivision plan approval to convert from an agricultural or rural to a residential, commercial or industrial use. Currently local governments are limited in the regulation of silviculture practices until after the change in zoning or use occurs. Patron: Del. Cole (R-Fredericksburg) VAC Position: Opposed. Status: Patron withdrew the bill after considering all of the concerns raised.

HB857/SB275 Summary: Green Buildings Act. Would require all major facility projects of state agencies and other projects funded with state money to meet the LEED silver standard as established by the U.S. Green Building Council Leadership in Energy and Environment Design. Patrons: Del Ebbin (D-Alexandria) and Sen. Whipple (D-Arlington) VAC Position: Opposed. While the forest community in Virginia supports the use of energy efficient and environmentally preferable building materials and encourages the establishment of ambitious goals in this regard, the LEED system as it is currently implemented is seriously flawed and provides a bias against certain classes of "green" building materials based on invalid criteria.

Status: After discussions with the industry, both Patrons carried the bills over to 2007.

GOLF COURSES - HB916 Summary: Clarifies that golf courses are included in the category of open-space land for purposes of special assessments for real estate tax purposes. Patron: Del. Oder (R-Newport News) VAC Position: Supported. However, we will monitor to ensure that this does not adversely impact the adoption of land use assessment by localities. Status: Passed

HUNTING ON SUNDAY - HB632 Summary: Would allow hunting on Sundays west of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Patron: Del. Phillips (D-Dickenson) VAC Position: Opposed on behalf of the Virginia Horse Council stating that Sunday is the only day horse enthusiasts can ride without fear of being shot. Status: Defeated in House Agriculture Subcommittee.

HB711 Summary: Would allow localities to authorize hunting on Sunday. Patron: Del. O. Ware (D-Roanoke) VAC Position: Opposed. Status: Defeated in House Agriculture Subcommittee.

SB87 Summary: Would allow hunting on the first Sunday of early archery deer season, early muzzleloader deer season, and general firearms deer season. Patron: Sen. Stolle (R-Virginia Beach) VAC Position: Opposed. Status: At the request of the Patron, the bill was carried over to 2007.

ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS - HB1048 Summary: Would have required employers to obtain proof that a prospective employee is legally eligible for employment in the United States, consistent with Federal Laws, but added an additional penalty from the State for violation of these laws. Patron: Del. Reid (R-Henrico) VAC Position: Concerned Status: Carried over to 2007 in Senate Commerce & Labor Committee

SB629 Summary: Would have allowed a business a cause of action against any other business in the same field if the other business employs persons it knew or should have known were ineligible for employment in the United States. The plaintiff would have been eligible to recover $500 for each such illegal alien employed by the defendant, in addition to economic damages. Patron: Sen. Cuccinelli (R-Fairfax County) VAC Position: Opposed Status: Failed in Senate Courts Committee

INDEMNIFICATION FOR DESTROYED ANIMALS - HB983 Summary: Allows the VDACS Commissioner, with approval of the Governor and Secretary of Agriculture & Forestry, to pay to the appropriate persons a portion of the value of the destroyed animal. This applies to animals destroyed at the direction of the State Veterinarian for the control or eradication of an animal disease outbreak. Patron: Del. Lewis (D-Accomack) VAC Position: Supported Status: Passed

LAND CONSERVATION TAX CREDIT PROGRAM

HB450 Summary: Would remove the $100,000 annual credit limit that a taxpayer may take for qualified donations of conservation easements and requires the filing of a statement for less-than-fee interest donations that describes how such interest meets the requirements of IRS Code. A fee of 1% of the value of the donated interest, or $5,000, whichever is less, is imposed on any taxpayer who transfers unused tax credits. Patron: Del. Ware (R-Powhatan)

SB93 Summary: Would cap the tax credit for each parcel of land donated under the Virginia Land Conservation Incentives Act of 1999 to $600,000. Tax credit will be available for lands that meet guidelines established by the Virginia Land Conservation Foundation (those which describe the conservation values including BMPs, forest management plans, etc.) or land that the Secretary of Natural Resources determines has an exceptional benefit to the Commonwealth. Patron: Sen. Watkins (R-Powhatan) VAC Position: Continuing to monitor discussions due to some concerns.

Status: No final vote taken on either bill. Due to the differing approaches in the House and Senate, the legislation was sent to a Conference Committee where negotiations continued up until adjournment, but no agreement was reached on the amount of a program cap. This issue may be addressed in the "special" session along with the Estate Tax Repeal.

MEDICINES FOR ANIMALS - HB69/SB73 Summary: Exempts medicines for commercial farm animals from sales and use tax. Patrons: Del. Orrock (R-Caroline) and Sen. Houck (D-Spotsylvania) VAC Position: Supported on behalf of the Virginia Veterinary Medical Association. Status: Passed

ON-FARM SALES - HB124/HB1592 Summary: Would have allowed the on-farm sale of all products (non-hazardous like jams and jellies AND hazardous like meat and dairy) with no state inspection or regulation, similar to bills introduced in 2005. Patrons: Del. Kilgore (R-Scott) and Del. Tyler (D-Southampton) VAC Position: Opposed Status: Both Patrons agreed to strike legislation after we raised concerns.

POULTRY - HB982 Summary: As amended, allows the VDACS Commissioner to adopt regulations to prevent and control avian influenza in commercial and noncommercial poultry, including regulations that affect the live-bird marketing system, and authorizes the Commissioner to participate in the USDA Live Bird Marketing Program. Patron: Del. Lewis (D-Accomack)

VAC Position: Supported Status: Passed

TOBACCO - SB70 Summary: Provides a subtraction from income in computing state income taxes for payments to producers of quota tobacco and tobacco quota holders pursuant to the American Jobs Creation Act of 2004. Patron: Sen. Ruff (R-Mecklenburg) VAC Position: Supported Status: Passed; Approved by the Governor.

SB648 Summary: Virginia Indoor Clean Air Act. Originally would have instituted a statewide prohibition of smoking indoors in most buildings or enclosed areas frequented by the general public. Patron: Sen. Bell (R-Roanoke) VAC Position: Concerned

Status: After having passed the Senate 21-18, it was defeated by a House General Laws Subcommittee 6-0. Members of the Subcommittee expressed concerns about restricting a business owner’s right to decide on whether or not to offer smoke-free premises.

TRANSPORTATION – SHORT-LINE RAILWAY & DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM & FUND (Council Critical Issue)

HB977 Summary: Creates a Shortline Railway Preservation and Development Fund for improvements to shortline railways and development of railway transportation support facilities. Patron: Del. Abbitt (I, Appomattox) VAC Position: Support. The Council requested this legislation on behalf of all agribusinesses that face challenges related to reliable and affordable rail service. The "railway transportation support facilities" addition to the program is intended to provide state support of a 70% match to our agribusinesses that must make capital improvements to ensure rail service. This applies to any eligible business on any rail line.

Status: Passed unanimously; however, additional funding is yet to be determined subject to the budget deliberations. The Senate proposed budget includes a $5 million increase; the House proposed budget does not include an increase.

TRUCKING

HB1430/SB523 Summary: Provides an exemption from the vehicle length limit for tractor-semitrailer combinations where the length of the semitrailer does not exceed 53 feet. Allows VDOT to restrict the operations of such tractor-semitrailer combinations from certain roads based on a safety and engineering analysis. Patrons: Del. D. Marshall (R-Danville) and Sen. Newman (R-Lynchburg)

VAC Position: Supported

Status: Passed; Approved by the Governor.

VIRGINIA LAND CONSERVATION FOUNDATION

SB238 Summary: Increases the amount of funding from the Virginia Land Conservation Foundation's unrestricted funds for both farmland preservation and forest preservation. Patron: Sen. Ticer (D-Alexandria)

VAC Position: Supported

Status: The Patron asked that the bill be struck after changes were made by a House Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources Subcommittee. We expect discussions to continue on this issue over the next year.

WATER QUALITY FUNDING

HB1150 Summary: As amended, instructs the Secretary of Natural Resources to develop a specific plan to address both point and nonpoint sources of pollution for the cleanup of the Chesapeake Bay and Virginia's waters designated as impaired by EPA, including measurable and attainable objectives, strategies, time frames, priorities, and reporting criteria. Patron: Del. Lingamfelter (R- Woodbridge)

Status: Passed

HB678 Summary: Would have imposed a $0.01 tax on newspapers, magazines, newsletters, or other publications on every such publication delivered and sold in Virginia with the revenue generated deposited into the Water Quality Improvement Fund. Patron: Del. Wardrup (R-Virginia Beach)

Status: Left in House Finance Committee and therefore dead for 2006 General Assembly Session.

SB413 Summary: Would have transferred $100 million of recordation taxes collected each year into the Virginia Water Quality Improvement Fund. Patron: Sen. Hanger (R-Augusta)

Status: At the request of the patron, continued until 2007 in Senate Finance Committee.

SB626 Summary: Would have established a $1 per day lodging fee on the sale of hotel, motel, and similar rooms, sending these revenues plus $40 million annually in recordation tax revenues to the Virginia Water Quality Improvement Fund for funding of water quality. Patron: Sen. Quayle (R-Suffolk)

Status: At the request of the patron, continued until 2007 in Senate Agriculture Committee.

WATER WITHDRAWAL RIGHTS (Council Critical Issue)

HB1185 Summary: Balances in-stream and off-stream beneficial use analysis during VWP Permitting process, specifies that all privately owned agriculture ponds, reservoirs, or other water retention facilities, constructed for agricultural water reserves are exempt from regulated water use. Riparian landowners with agricultural operations shall be authorized to withdraw reasonable amounts of water to the extent such withdrawals do not adversely impact other off-stream beneficial uses, fish and wildlife habitat, waste assimilation, or commercial navigation. Conditions and requirements of permits for water withdrawals by these agricultural operations shall only include annual reporting and minimal requirements necessary to maintain in stream flow for the protection of the limited beneficial uses. Patron: Del. Landes (R-Augusta)

VAC Position: Supported

Status: Passed. However, DEQ did not support this legislation and there may be action by the Governor.

OTHER ISSUES TO BE REVIEWED DURING 2006

STUDIES

SJ38 Summary: VDACS will study the problems encountered by beekeepers in Virginia and assess possible solutions to assist beekeepers. Patron: Sen. Blevins (R- Chesapeake)

VAC Position: Supported Status: Passed

HJ133/SJ94 Summary: Establishes a joint subcommittee to study the financing and programmatic options for preserving farmlands and the long-term funding sources for the purchase of development rights program. Patrons: Sen. Hanger (R-Augusta) & Del. Lewis (D-Accomack)

VAC Position: Supported Status: Passed

FENCES - The Council is planning to review Virginia’s fence laws as they relate to livestock, fence-in vs. fence-out counties, and updates to fence law specifications for livestock. If you have an interest in participating in this review, please contact Donna Pugh Johnson by May 1, 2006.

Virginia Agribusiness Council
P. O. Box 718, Richmond, VA 23218
Phone: 804/643-3555; Fax: 804/643-3556,
E-mail:
va.agribusiness@att.net
|Website:
www.va-agribusiness.org

Donna Pugh Johnson, President
E-mail: donna.agribusiness@att.net

Katie Kyger Frazier, Asst. Vice President–Public Affairs
E-mail:
katie.agribusiness@att.net

Mission - To be the unified voice of Virginia agribusiness and to enhance the real and perceived value of agriculture and forestry to all Virginians.

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