WASHINGTON (Gray DC) -- As farm bill talks face a tight deadline, Virginia farmers are front and center. Our Alana Austin interviews GOP Congressman Bob Goodlatte on how a digging up ag policy could lift up Virginia.
Goodlatte says family farmers have faced challenges in recent years. But with the bill shaping up in Washington, he sees some fresh opportunities for producers.
Goodlatte says dairy, poultry and beef farmers of Virginia produce great products but now he wants to see government get out of the way and weed out some regulations. He’s also pushing for changes to federal laws on growing industrial hemp, as that’s still technically banned on American soil.
Goodlatte argues this could be a big opportunity for Virginia farmers and the economy overall.
Hemp is the non-psychoactive plant that looks just like marijuana and can be used to make clothing, wine and paper products. Goodlatte says hemp got choked off in the past because people confused it with marijuana.
“It would benefit Virginia farmers. There’s a lot of interest in it, in the Shenandoah Valley and in Southwest Virginia, and it can be used for thousands of commercial products," said Goodlatte.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has been pushing for loosening of hemp laws, but it remains to be seen if the House will get on board to make the changes in the current farm bill.
Goodlatte and other members of Congress are feeling the pressure to get a farm bill to the President’s desk this month.
They want it signed into law so farmers can keep seeing federal support without any uncertainty. The current farm bill expires on September 30th.