Agriculture is the largest industry in Virginia. Along with forestry, it contributes more than $79 billion to the Commonwealth’s economy, creating 357,000 jobs on more than 47,000 farms. Virginia is a leader in livestock and poultry production and has maintained traditional row crops like soybeans and hay along with recently popular products like tomatoes and wine grapes. I was pleased to join my colleagues to finally pass a new farm bill in 2014. This bipartisan legislation strengthens the farm safety net, maintains critical nutrition assistance for the neediest Americans, directs funding to protect natural resources like the Chesapeake Bay, expands agricultural export markets, and bolsters local food networks to allow more businesses and consumers to buy from local farmers – all while saving $23 billion over the next decade.
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