Brent Finnegan -- August 3rd, 2010
Del. Todd Gilbert fanned the flames of a debate over farmer’s rights and water quality at a Young Farmers expo in Woodstock this past weekend. The Republican delegate from Virginia’s 15th House district criticized legislators’ and regulators’ efforts to reduce farm runoff (animal manure) from the barn to the Bay.
Preston Knight reports for the Northern Virginia Daily:
The biggest issue for agriculture is the cleanup of the Chesapeake Bay and changing the views of urban legislators who, even with good intentions of providing clean water, blame farmers for all of the bay’s ills, said Gilbert, R-Woodstock.
“It’s totally unwarranted,” he said. “They stand around at wine-and-cheese parties and complain about all these things and restoring the bay … without any regard that agriculture produced the wine and cheese they are sipping on and nibbling on . . .
“You will owe your existence to a bureaucrat in Washington,” he told young farmers.
But if they fight for what they believe in, that threat can be minimized, Gilbert said. Gov. Bob McDonnell is on agriculture’s side and is fighting for farmers’ rights in what may amount to litigation, he added.
Gilbert’s comments were a reaction to what he called “unwarranted” environmental regulations, and legislation such as the Chesapeake Clean Water and Ecosystem Restoration Act, currently making its way through the U.S. Senate.
The EPA has said they will more strictly enforce regulations on “nutrient pollution” making its way through Virginia’s waterways, into the Chesapeake Bay. In March, the Washington Post reported that, “in the Chesapeake, runoff from animal manure accounts for about one-quarter of the nitrogen and phosphorus pollution that feed ‘dead zones’ downstream.”