Public Comments for 01/20/2021 Agriculture Chesapeake and Natural Resources - Agriculture Subcommittee
HB1750 - Dairy Producer Margin Coverage Premium Assistance Program; established.
Last Name: Bayer Organization: Muhlenberg Lutheran Church Locality: Harriosnburg

As a person of Faith it is my calling to support these areas of concern and I ask you to consider how important these issues are and to vote to approve them!

Last Name: Johnson Organization: Leesburg Animal Park Locality: Leesburg

Dear Delagates, I am writing to OPPOSE HB2109. My name is Shirley Johnson and I own and operate Leesburg Animal Park in Leesburg. We are a small, privately owned zoo in Loudoun County. This bill would add a veterinarian as an "expert" regarding "companion animals". The problem is the definition of "companion animals" in the State of Virginia includes most zoo animals! How is a veterinarian trained in dogs or cats, able to competantly give expert advice on say Ring-tailed lemurs or White-handed gibbons? This is analogous to having a dentist give advice regarding heart surgery! I believe the best solution is to redefine "companion animals" to exclude exotic animals from this definition. Another solution is to have an animal advisory group to the Committee comprised of a person from various animal groups. This would give much more accurate information to the Committee. Thank you!

Last Name: Riddell Organization: Virginia Cattlemen's Association Locality: Louisa

Thank you Chairman Plum My name is Jim Riddell with the Virginia Cattlemen's Association representing thousands of cattle producers across Virginia. We ask you to support HB 1750 for our 442 dairies remaining in Va. 30 family dairies went our of business in 2020. This bill is a win-win for everyone. Its helps Va.'s dairy farmers stay in business, increases Nutrient Management plans and helps to protect our environment. Thank you for your support. Jim Riddell Virginia Cattlemen's Association * 25,000 family farms cattle operations

Last Name: Riddell Organization: Virginia Cattlemen's Association Locality: Mineral

Madame Chairwoman and members: I am Jim Riddell with the Va. Cattlemen's Association. We thank you for your support of House Bill 1750, Virginia agriculture and our dairy farmers. There are only 425 dairies remaining in Va. This is a win-win for everyone- It helps Va. dairy farmers while increasing Nutrient Management Plans, and protecting the environment. Thank you for your support. Jim Riddell Virginia Cattlemen's Association * 25,000 family farms cattle operations

Last Name: Calvert Organization: Virginia Conservation Network Locality: Charlottesville

Virginia Conservation Network (VCN) stands in support of HB 1750 & HB 2030. We hope that the subcommittee members will support each of these pieces of legislation.

HB2030 - Neonicotinoid pesticides; application in residentially zoned outdoor areas, civil penalty.
Last Name: Reichbauer Locality: Richmond

We need to protect these precious pollinators! Local government should be able to fine people/businesses who are poisoning the bee population.

Last Name: Long Locality: Richmond

As the assembly convenes at the science museum, this seems like a poetic no-brainer. VA govt needs to do its part to reverse the cataclysmic damage done to our pollinators. Not merely for love of nature, but for the good of our own communities

Last Name: Graessle Locality: Reston

Neonicotinoids are killing bees.

Last Name: Starkey Locality: Arlington

Pollinators, and bees especially, are vital for human food production, and for a healthy and stable ecosystem. The science is undeniable, Neonicotinoid pesticides are decimating our pollinator populations. Virginia must act now to help protect our pollinators before it is too late. Stand up to industry pressure and allow local communities ban these toxic pesticides now.

Last Name: Toher Organization: Beyond Pesticides Locality: Arlington

Beyond Pesticides' Supplemental Written Comments: On behalf of members and supporters in Virginia, Beyond Pesticides urges the committee to pass a strong HB2030 that protects Virginia’s declining pollinator populations from neonicotinoids (neonics) and other bee-toxic pesticides. We encourage inclusion of the bill’s original language allowing localities to enact restrictions. This will permit localities to protect unique ecological sites, such as wetlands, pollinator gardens, and monarch waystations from toxic pesticide exposure. Dangers of Neonics to Pollinators: • Honey bees and other pollinators account for 1 in 3 bites of food, but recent science shows these beneficial species are under threat from the use of systemic, persistent neonic insecticides. • Studies show these chemicals can be taken up by flowering plants and expressed in the pollen, nectar, and dew droplets honey bees and other pollinators feed on. • Neonics have been shown, even at low levels, to impair foraging, navigation, and learning behavior in bees, as well as suppress their immune system, increasing susceptibility to pathogens and disease. • Research shows neonics can alter feeding behaviors and reduce egg development in bumblebee queens, inhibit pollination skills among bumblebee workers, and reduce overall colony size. • Beekeepers in Virginia lost a reported 41.4% of their honey bee colonies in 2018/19 and 44.2% in 2019/20. This rate is unsustainable. Beekeepers have a challenging time absorbing losses greater than 15% each year; rates in Virginia and the country have averaged over 30% for the last decade. Not Just Bumble and Honey: Systemic Pesticides Harm a Range of Wildlife • Eastern monarch populations have declined by 80% since the 1990s. Research shows neonics are contributing to this decline. • Bird populations have declined by thirty percent since 1970, with losses totaling around 3 billion birds. Studies find systemic pesticides are contributing to songbird die-offs. • White-tailed deer exposed to neonics show higher rates of birth defects and malformations in offspring. • Systemic pesticides pose significant harm to water quality and aquatic organisms. As a result, Health Canada has phased out most neonic uses. EPA Regulation has Failed Virginia’s Pollinators • Many bee-toxic pesticides were first registered by EPA under a process known as "conditional registration," which has been criticized by the GAO for its unreliability. • EPA actions aimed at protecting pollinators have not adequately addressed the pollinator crisis. While other international regulatory agencies, including Health Canada and the European Food Safety Authority, have already enacted bans on neonics, EPA’s efforts have been limited to minor changes to certain pesticide labels. Growing Reforms at the State and Local Level: • The states of Connecticut, Maryland, and Vermont have all passed laws restricting consumer use of bee-toxic neonics in favor of alternative products and practices. • Over 150 communities throughout the United States have passed policies that restrict the use of bee-toxic pesticides. • HB2030 brings Virginia in line with the latest science on pesticide hazards, and takes an important step forward in reversing pollinator declines in the state. We urge passage of a strong HB2030 and remain available for any questions on this important issue.

Last Name: Bauhan Organization: Virginia Poultry Federation Locality: Harrisonburg

Virginia Poultry Federation respectfully asks that you not move forward with HB 2030. This bill imposes certain requirements for use of a neonicotinoid pesticide. This pesticide is used in crop production and also in products to control darkling beetles in poultry houses, a pest which can create significant and costly problems for poultry farmers. While the substitute is an improvement over the introduced bill, such products are appropriately regulated at the federal level, where they can be properly vetted based on scientific protocols.

Last Name: Ferree Locality: Fairfax County

I wanted to share an experience my wife and I had encountering mosquito fogging this past summer. We were in our neighbors backyard doing maintenance to our fence when we noticed that the neighbors yard behind was being fogged (presumably for mosquitos). The gentleman was wearing a respirator, goggles, long pants, and long sleeves. As we saw the fog drift towards us we started yelling at him to stop and that there were bees behind the fence. He noticed us and quickly left. My wife and I were then immediately affected by the fog that reached us, causing us to cough and gasp for air. We then retreated back to our house and recovered. My bees survived this incident, probably due to the six foot fence not allowing most of the fog to reach them. Thank you. John E Ferree

Last Name: Coron Organization: Virginia Pest Management Association Locality: Stafford County

Virginia Pest Management Association (VPMA) Comments on HB 2030 Established in 1948, the Virginia Pest Management Association has been serving the information and business needs of Virginia's pest management professionals for over 70 years. The pest management services provided by our members in Virginia help to protect the health and property of every citizen of the Commonwealth by insuring that homes, restaurants, hospitals, office buildings, and other public spaces are pest free. The professional structural pest control industry and our certified commercial applicators and registered technicians use neonicotinoid pesticides in, on, and around structures to protect public health and property. Our industry professionally manages structural pests with neonicotinoids such as ants, bed bugs, carpenter ants, cockroaches, flies, termites, and many others. We appreciate the opportunity to share our views on HB 2030. It is known that structural pest control uses of neonicotinoid pesticides are unlikely to pose a threat to pollinators, as a recent Cornell University study on neonicotinoid pesticides illustrates: “Negligible risk to pollinators from household pest control and antiparasitic uses… Such applications are unlikely to lead to substantial exposure for insect pollinators” (1). VPMA acknowledges the importance of pollinator health, applauds Delegate Krizek for his dedication to protect pollinators, and drafting a bill that allows for the professional structural pest control industry to protect public health and property with neonicotinoids. VPMA stresses the impact that the structural pest management industry has on pollinators is nominal. The content in HB 2030 reflects this reality. Pesticide risks to pollinators are not only focused on the toxicity of a chemical, but also the potential for exposure. Structural pest control is very unlikely to lead to exposure. Similarly, exterior treatments applied to the structure and other areas around the structure are also unlikely to result in significant exposure. VPMA members support, teach, and implement Best Management Practices (BMPs) developed by the National Pest Management Association, and cited in the Virginia Pollinator Protection Plan (2). We are pleased to see that local governments do not have the ability to regulate pesticides in this amended version of the bill. Local governments regulating pesticides complicates enforcement matters for pest management professionals that operate in many local government jurisdictions and unfettered municipal pesticide bans would create an inability to control disease vector pests that pose human health threats. (3) We support strong state regulation from the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS), as HB 2030 in its amended form maintains this. In conclusion, we are supportive of provisions in HB 2030 that allow for the structural pest control industry to continue protecting public health and property with neonicotinoids. Sincerely, Andrea Coron Executive Director Virginia Pest Management Association 1) https://pollinator.cals.cornell.edu/pollinator-research-cornell/neonicotinoid-report/ 2) http://www.vdacs.virginia.gov/plant-industry-services-pollinator-protection-plan.shtml 3) https://www.cga.ct.gov/2019/ENVdata/Tmy/2019SB-00076-R000318-Dykes,%20Katherine,%20Commissioner-Department%20of%20Energy%20and%20Environmental-TMY.PDF

Last Name: Vassey Organization: Virginia Manufacturers Association Locality: Richmond

The VMA and Virginia Chemistry Council (VCC) appreciate Delegate Krizek introducing a substitute to HB2030 that exempts wood and plastic applications. We are also appreciative of the removal of the delegation of regulatory authority to local government. With these amendments in the final bill, the VMA and VCC are neutral.

Last Name: Miller Organization: Virginia Grain Producers Association Locality: Henrico

The Virginia Grain Producers Association is opposed to Delegate Krizek’s proposed bill, HB 2030. VGPA supports the long-established, rigorous, and science-based pesticide registration review process established under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). Unlike other federal environmental statutes, FIFRA requires EPA to engage in a risk-benefit analysis in its regulation of pesticides. A thorough and holistic approach that relies on sound science and robust data ensures that risk conclusions are as closely tied to real-world conditions as practicably possible. FIFRA requires that EPA ensure that pesticides registered for use in the U.S. do not pose unreasonable adverse effect on man and the environment. FIFRA requires that EPA engage in risk-benefit balancing that weighs potential risk against the economic and society benefits of pesticide use. The unreasonable adverse effects standard does not require an elimination of any and all risk, and will mean that some small fraction of non-target insects, including pollinators, may be harmed. Overall EPA’s risk assessments for neonicotinoids indicate that widespread adoption of these products do not pose a significant risk to pollinator health. In particular, EPA has not found seed treatment with neonicotinoid products of significant risk.

Last Name: Miller Locality: Clifton

The science is still conflicted. From Cornell: https://pollinator.cals.cornell.edu/threats-wild-and-managed-bees/pesticides/neonicotinoids/ "Overall, the majority of laboratory and semi-field research demonstrates neonicotinoids can be harmful to honey bees; however, the majority of field studies find only limited or no effects on honey bees." Best to leave regulation to the experts at VDACS and EPA. Local governments have no ability to scientifically make these decisions.

Last Name: Etro Organization: Turf-Vu Locality: Prince William

The well-meaning notification process will cause an expensive burden on the businesses and persons applying a neonicotinoid product and it will have no impact on the environment and pollinators that it supposes to protect. It will be a nuisance to all involved because upon receipt of the notice there are no actions that can be taken except to shelter all pollinators and restrict their access to the pollen sources inside the ½ mile danger zone for an amount of time, unspecified by HB 2030. It is an impossible set of tasks and it has no relationship to the potential dispersion of the neonicotinoid product. Businesses involved in the application of pesticides are trained and licensed in their use. Fundamental to applying any neonicotinoid product is to avoid flowering plants, apply it when pollinators are least active, and when the wind is calm so as to prevent drift. The Commonwealth of Virginia likely set the responsibility to regulate pesticides and their use in the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to prevent well-meaning persons from implementing nescience based regulations that would have no impact on the intended purpose of the regulation. Leave responsibility to regulate pesticides and their use in the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

Last Name: Garland Organization: Friends of Accotink Creek Locality: Vienna

Friends of Accotink Creek supports HB 2030 regulating neonicotinoid pesticides. Landscaping companies will say their products are safe for bees and other non-mosquito insects. Science tells another story. As regards honey bees, the workers in many tests will continue to fly and forage for a while, but queen bees are devastated by neonics thiamethoxam and clothianidin. "The queen, as the sole egg-layer and the primary source of colony cohesion, is the most important individual in the colony; without her the colony will eventually fail." https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/10/151013103118.htm Of course, neonics afffect the whole hive. They do not obliterate hive outright, but kill it over extended periods of time. https://www.pbs.org/newshour/science/neonicotinoid-pesticides-slowly-killing-bees Other studies have shown that queen bumble bees (non-honey bees) also fare very badly with neonic pesticides. http://cues.cfans.umn.edu/old/pollinators/pdf-BBcolony/2012Whitehorn.pdf Neonicotinoid pesticides (neonics) are less toxic to vertebrates than common older insecticides, but they are still harmful. They persist in the soil, leach into the environment, and harm pollinators, including honeybees and our native bees. This bill aims to protect pollinators in our community from outdoor spray, especially hives kept by Virginia suburban beekeepers. This bill addresses only outdoor spray, not indoor treatments for pests like bed bugs and roaches, toward which neonicotinoids are most effective. While the bill does not ban the sale, use, and distribution of neonics throughout the state, it does authorize localities to prohibit the sale of all, or certain neonics, and other pesticides deemed to be harmful to pollinators. It also allows localities to regulate or prohibit outdoor use in areas zoned for residential, business, commercial, or industrial use. This is a major progress. That means we may write to our town councils and demand an end to neonic spraying. Those of us with bee hives or pollinator/butterfly gardens will be very pleased. For jurisdictions who choose not to regulate neonics, the bill does mandate that everyone within a ½ mile of the neonic application get a 72-hour warning. This offers a form of limited protection. Homeowners with pollinator gardens or bee hives will have time to throw tarps or sheets over the area they need to shield from these poisons. Thank you, Delegate Krizek, for sponsoring this measure.

Last Name: Garland Organization: Friends of Accotink Creek Locality: vienna

Friends of Accotink Creek support HB 1902, the ban on expanded polystyrene food and drink containers. 1)EPS containers can leach harmful chemicals into food and drinks: EPS contains styrene, a lab animal carcinogen and possible human carcinogen and neurotoxin. Styrene can migrate from polystyrene containers into food and drink when heated, or in contact with fatty or acidic foods. Low-income communities often lack access to grocery stores and are forced to rely on fast food options, which are often stored in EPS containers. 2) The EPS manufacturing process can harm the health of factory workers: Workers are exposed to many toxic chemicals including Styrene, Toluene, Xylene, Acetone, Methyl Chloride, and Methyl Ketone. 3) The EPS manufacturing process pollutes the air: All blowing agents currently used in EPS manufacture pose dangers to the environment. The CFCs damage the ozone layer. The blowing agent pentane creates earth-level smog and has already been restricted in some regions for air quality reasons. 4) EPS is too expensive to recycle: The NY City Dept of Sanitation recently determined that that it is not economically viable to recycle EPS foam food containers. 5) EPS is not biodegradable, it litters our parks and streams: Polystyrene containers break into smaller pieces, creating trash that is harder to collect and remove. After the CA cities of Santa Cruz and Pacific Grove banned EPS foam food containers, EPS litter on local beaches decreased up to 71%. EPS containers are bad news, the sooner they are banned the better. Thank you, Delegate Carr, for introducing this bill.

Last Name: Curling Organization: Ordinary Citizens avoiding RoadRage Locality: HamptonRoads area

EPA & VDACS already regulate pesticide industry; Virginia localities don't have enough regulations without adding more affecting the Landscape &Turfgrass businesses? Rather, how about a bill prohibiting motorists from driving with their dog in their laps? Or a bill requiring an annual driver's test for everyone over 80 years old? Do something constructive!

Last Name: Taylor Organization: Concerned citizen Locality: Henrico

RE: HR 2030 -- relating to neonicotinoid pesticides; local regulation and notice; penalty. Date: January 19, 2021 Please vote NO on HR 2030 HR 2030 was written to protect citizens, environment and insects, especially bees from the effects of this pesticide. HR 2030 has 2 major issues 1. The ability of notify every member of the public within ½ mile of the treatment site cannot be accomplished. 2. State Law does not allow for localities to write their own regulations on this issue. Do we need HR 2030? There is a lot of regulations effecting these products from EPA. The Federal Government has invested in a lot of research as to the best way to handle the situation. I cannot tell the true reason for this bill. If it is to protect the bee population or to follow the EU’s regulation, there are a better ways. Also, is it needed? Since the requirement of certified applicators, the amount of exposure to this type of chemical is reduced despite increased use. There are better ways of approaching this issue without negative effect on another envirnomental issue

Last Name: Sheetz Organization: VA Turfgrass Council Locality: Chesterfield

Many bills brought to committee often deserve a second look. Many people in our state/country today see companies spraying an immediately think all is bad. Please ask professionals in their respected fields before making brash bill decisions because a few constituents believe in "more legislation." In our profession, we are heavily regulated by VDACS and go through licensure and recertification courses. We are NOT out just spraying without a purpose and every chemical is measured and calibrated carefully. I would like to bring up the fact that many homeowners are able to get their hands on many of these chemicals on-line. Are these homeowners trained to apply these chemicals? The answer is NO! Just like homeowners that can go to a box store an apply fertilizer at whatever rate they wish, not understanding runoff or leaching. I 100% disagree with this bill because it will jeopardize the green industry. Do you as a state representative contact every one within a 1/2 radius every time you go to work? Can these chemicals cause damaged if not used correctly? Yes, but the industry you are hurting are the people that understand chemicals, are stewarts for the enviroment, and know the risks of not applying insecticides at the right time.

Last Name: Buffey Organization: Va Turfgrass council Locality: Henrico

2030: If this passes you will cause great expense to the landscape contractors in the state and probably cause people to lose their jobs. You have regulated us enough. Please let it go and let us do our job that we have been trained for.

Last Name: Burbank Locality: Virginia beach

GET RID OF ANY/all polystyrene containers. No good for the environment on the production OR usage of said items. NEONICOTINOIDS are killing pollinators by the billions. STOP USAGE OF ALL NEONICOTINOIDS, period!! Senior citizens have been paying exorbitant fees/taxes in VB; the very least you can do is let us park for free. Nit only in parks, but all public parking facilities in Va. Beach!! BALLOONS KILL ANIMALS. Intentional balloon release is ridiculous, and should not be allowed. Proven to kill hundreds (if not thousands) of animals/sea life per year. Production of balloon is poison to our ecosystem; release of them is folly and unnecessary. They take WAYYYY TOO LONG TO DECOMPOSE. They pollute waterways and forests. Outlaw the release of ANY balloons.

Last Name: Calvert Organization: Virginia Conservation Network Locality: Charlottesville

Virginia Conservation Network (VCN) stands in support of HB 1750 & HB 2030. We hope that the subcommittee members will support each of these pieces of legislation.

Last Name: Ware Organization: N/a Locality: Tappahannock

As a citizen who lives in the state and on the Rappahannock river and has seen the impact of poor stewardship, I ask that the General Assembly support these bills.

HB2068 - Local Food and Farming Infrastructure Grant Program; established.
Last Name: Calvert Organization: Virginia Conservation Network Locality: Charlottesville

On behalf of our 150 partner organizations across the Commonwealth, Virginia Conservation Network (VCN) requests the General Assembly’s full support of Delegate Rasoul’s HB 2068. Case for SUPPORT: http://www.vcnva.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/HB2068-Food-and-Farming-Grant.pdf

Last Name: Scipio Locality: Orange County,, Locust Grove

In favor of programs to better facilitate the development and progress of my community.

Last Name: Haggard Locality: Henrico

I am in favor of Delegate Rasoul's grant bill and Delegate Filler-Corns food charity fund. These both seem great for farmers and the community as a whole.

Last Name: Costantino Organization: Virginia Foodshed Capital Locality: Richmond

My name is Francesca Costantino. I am a board member of VA Foodshed Capital, and represent a coalition of farmers, advocates, and environmentalists. I support HB 2068 (to establish a Local Food and Farming Infrastructure Grant Program) and HB 2203 (to establish the Virginia Agriculture Food Assistance Program). These two bills 1) address climate change, build a resilient, sustainable local food system, revitalize rural communities, and increase food access by investing in community food and farm infrastructure, and 2) help Virginia farmers provide agricultural products for food aid, while building farm livelihoods. For HB 2068, please consider amendments to: 1) remove the cap on maximum grant amount; and 2) to add additional language and definitions to establish criteria to target the grants to community infrastructure and sustainable agriculture. Thank you for your consideration.

Last Name: Kuhn Locality: Albemarle

Dear subcommittee members, I am a concerned citizen who believes that building a local food network based on sustainable agriculture is good for local economies, promotes healthful eating, and provides resilience when distribution chains are interrupted. Regenerative agricultural practices also help store carbon and contribute to carbon reduction goals. This year during the pandemic, the Charlottesville area was blessed with several farmers markets, operated by pre-order and drive-through pick-up, that enabled us to access farm fresh produce. I was grateful for this resource, and relied on it heavily. A non-profit organization, Local Food Hub, operated a couple of these markets, and provided “Farmacy Shares” of locally raised food to families in need. I hope you will support the growth and development of resources like these across the state. I ask you to support the following bills, which will promote local agriculture and the distribution of farm products to needy families: HB 2068 - Delegate Sam Rasoul’s bill for grants to establish a state-administered fund and grant program for community infrastructure development projects that support local food production and sustainable agriculture. Please consider amendments to the existing bill text to remove the cap on maximum grant amount and add additional language and definitions to establish criteria to target the grants to community infrastructure and sustainable agriculture. HB 2203 – Delegate Eileen Filler-Corn’s bill to establish the Virginia Agriculture Food Assistance Program for Virginia farmers and food producers to provide agriculture products to charitable food assistance organizations. Respectfully submitted Beth Kuhn Charlottesville area

Last Name: Gagnon Locality: Williamsburg

My name is Abram Gagnon, Williamsburg resident: This is to ask you to support a bill that addresses climate change, builds a resilient, sustainable local food system, revitalizes rural communities, and increases food access by investing in community food and farm infrastructure and help Virginia farmers provide agricultural products to charitable food aid organizations. Supply chain disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated the importance of strong local food systems. Local food systems of small- and mid-sized farms using regenerative agricultural practices contribute to economic development and jobs, as well as resilience and sustainability, while increasing food access for the good health and nutrition of our communities. Helping Virginia farmers provide food to people who need it during a crisis builds farm livelihoods, while increasing food access, a win-win. We are seeking your support on HB 2068 - Delegate Sam Rasoul’s bill for grants to establish a state-administered fund and grant program for community infrastructure development projects that support local food production and sustainable agriculture. We ask that you consider amendments to the existing bill text to remove the cap on maximum grant amount and add additional language and definitions to establish criteria to target the grants to community infrastructure and sustainable agriculture. Thank you for your consideration. Abram Gagnon Williamsburg

Last Name: Campblin Organization: Green New Deal VA Coalition Locality: Fairfax

The COVID-19 pandemic spotlighted the vulnerabilities in our food supply chain and demonstrated the importance of maintaining strong local food systems. We witnessed our local farmers struggle to make ends meet, while communities experience food shortages. HB2068 is intended to help address this disparity. HB2068 will help to expand community infrastructure to support more local food production, as well as sustainable agriculture. Using regenerative agricultural practices will not only promote resiliency and sustainability but will also contribute to economic development and jobs, while improving food access for our communities. Our small/ mid size farmers are extremely important to Virginia’s health, economy, and environment which is why I ask that you support this bill and vote yes.

Last Name: Mehta Locality: Arlington County

This statement is in strong support of HB2068-Local Food and Farming Infrastructure Grant Program, introduced by Chief Patron Delegate Sam Rasoul. Agriculture continues to be Virginia’s largest private industry by far, seeing an economic impact of over $70 billion annually and with jobs totaling close to 350,000. HB2068 is not just a smart agriculture bill, but also a strong labor policy. It holds the potential to strengthen thousands of local Virginia farms at a time when small businesses are fighting to compete with bloated taxpayer-subsidized corporate agro-industrial companies that participate in worker exploitation and destruction of our environment through unsustainable farming practices. Delegate Rasoul’s HB2068 would incentivize local food and farming initiatives with critical startup funds up to $25,000 needed to sustain their efforts during and throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. At a time where we are seeing Great Depression-era levels of hunger and food insecurity, this is exactly the type of legislation we need to empower local food justice efforts and prioritize small independent Virginian farms over corporate agribusiness that are destroying our planet with harmful unsustainable farming practices. On HB2068 I urge you to consider two amendments to the existing bill: 1. To remove cap on maximum grant amount and 2. Add language to secure all grant funds for small independent farming business and prohibit any grant funds from being distributed to corporate agribusinesses. I urge the subcommittee to pass these amendments and pass HB2068 to uplift Virginia’s local food and farming infrastructure for non-corporate independent farms. — Karishma Mehta Preschool teacher for VA HD-49

Last Name: Furgurson Organization: Real Local RVA Locality: Richmond

My Name is Beth Furgurson, and I am the Executive Director of Real Local RVA. Real Local is a membership organization dedicated to building a more collaborative and networked local food community in Richmond and our surrounding area. Our mission is to educate, support and raise awareness of the local food movement and choices in the Greater Richmond area. We have 118 members representing a variety of small businesses within the local food system. Our members include farmers, farmers markets, independent grocery stores, value added producers, restaurants, breweries, colleges, nonprofits and distributors. We support sustainable agriculture and sustainable communities. On behalf of our members, I urge you to support HB 2068. I am constantly hearing from our farmers and producers the challenges they face with distribution, aggregation and marketing of their products. Investing in and allocating money to our local food system is one of the most important steps we can make towards building stronger communities, something I think we learned the hard way over this past year. With agriculture situated as Virginia’s largest private industry and an economic impact of over $70 billion annually we believe it is an important sector of the economy to invest in. We request amendments to the existing bill text to: 1) remove the cap on maximum grant amount; and 2) to add additional language and definitions to establish criteria to target the grants to community infrastructure and sustainable agriculture. Thank you for your consideration. Beth Furgurson beth@reallocalrva.com

Last Name: Hamilton Locality: Fairfax

I would like to express my support for both of these important bills. HB2068 and HB2203 are critical steps to both support local farms and food businesses and increase food access for thousands of Virginians.

Last Name: Kelsey Organization: Green New Deal Virginia Locality: Richmond

Thank you to the members of the committee who have co-patroned this legislation and those who supported this bill last legislative session. I would like to express our strong support for this bill. Local food systems of small- and mid-sized farms using regenerative agricultural practices contribute to economic development and jobs, as well as resilience and sustainability while increasing food access for the good health and nutrition of our communities. Helping Virginia farmers provide food to people who need it during a crisis builds farm livelihoods, while increasing food access, a win-win. Thank you.

Last Name: Bateman Organization: Virginia First Cities Coalition Locality: City of Richmond

The Virginia First Cities Coalition and our 16 member cities urge your support for Del. Rasoul's bill. Our urban, core cities have consistently supported healthy food financing and investments to ensure our cities and citizens have access to thriving, sustainable food options. In addition, we are working very hard to connect our community small businesses and infrastructure development. Delegate Rasoul's bill is a very positive step in this regard.

Last Name: Miller Locality: Richmond

As we work strongly this session to limit the contribution to the environment of transportation emissions, we must work equally hard to support those systems that can sequester carbon. That means our agricultural and forestry assets. As a member of RVALocal, a group committed to the support of local food systems and local eating, and as a supporter of Virginia Foodshed Capital, an organization also devoted to providing support to small Virginia food producers, I urge you to support Del Rasoul's bill 2068. As a physician, I routinely prescribe more fruits and vegetables and eating local and pesticide free. The citizens need you to support local food.

Last Name: Costa Organization: The Virginia Youth Climate Cooperative (VAYCC) Locality: Roanoke

Dear Delegates, My name is Tallulah Costa, I am a 17-year-old resident of Roanoke, Virginia (24015), and I am the Policy Director of the Virginia Youth Climate Cooperative - a youth-run organization committed to climate action and justice. Today, I am asking you to support two bills that address climate change, build a resilient, sustainable local food system, revitalize rural communities, and increase food access by investing in community food and farm infrastructure and help Virginia farmers provide agricultural products to charitable food aid organizations. Supply chain disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated the importance of strong local food systems. Local food systems of small- and mid-sized farms using regenerative agricultural practices contribute to economic development and jobs, as well as resilience and sustainability, while increasing food access for the good health and nutrition of our communities. Helping Virginia farmers provide food to people who need it during a crisis builds farm livelihoods, while increasing food access, a win-win. My organization and I are seeking your support for two bills: HB 2068 - Delegate Sam Rasoul’s bill for grants to establish a state-administered fund and grant program for community infrastructure development projects that support local food production and sustainable agriculture. For HB 2068, we ask that you consider amendments to the existing bill text to remove the cap on maximum grant amount and add additional language and definitions to establish criteria to target the grants to community infrastructure and sustainable agriculture. HB 2203 – Delegate Eileen Filler-Corn’s bill to establish the Virginia Agriculture Food Assistance Program for Virginia farmers and food producers to provide agriculture products to charitable food assistance organizations. Thank you so much for your consideration. Please know that when you support bills like these, you are investing in my future and the futures of all the young people across the Commonwealth. Please don't let us down. Kindly, Tallulah Costa Roanoke, Virginia 24015 540-798-7416

Last Name: Costantino Organization: Virginia Grassroots Coalition Locality: Richmond

I am working with a coalition of farmers, local food and sustainable agriculture advocates, and environmentalists to promote sustainable local food systems. Please support two bills that address climate change, build a resilient, sustainable local food system, revitalize rural communities, and increase food access by investing in community food and farm infrastructure and helping Virginia farmers provide agricultural products to charitable food aid organizations: HB 2068 to establish the Local Food and Farming Infrastructure Grant Program and HB 2203 to establish the Virginia Agriculture Food Assistance Program. Supply chain disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated the importance of strong local food systems. Local food systems of small- and mid-sized farms using regenerative agricultural practices contribute to economic development and jobs, as well as resilience and sustainability, while increasing food access for the good health and nutrition of our communities. Helping Virginia farmers provide food to people who need it during a crisis builds farm livelihoods, while increasing food access, a win-win. For HB 2068, please consider amendments to the existing bill text to remove the cap on maximum grant amount and add additional language and definitions to establish criteria to target the grants to community infrastructure and sustainable agriculture. Below is a summary of the changes we would like to see in the final bill for HB 2068: 1. Remove the cap on maximum grant amount (or if there must be a cap, increase it dramatically, to at least $200K) 2. Add additional language to establish criteria to target the grants to community infrastructure and sustainable agriculture, as well as to underserved communities, both rural and urban. 3. Add some definitions for clarity: - add "community" to infrastructure - add a definition of preference "given to communities where there is a general lack of such infrastructure and/or underserved communities and/or environmental justice communities" - define the terms used in this targeting language, including sustainable agriculture, community infrastructure, environmental justice community, and underserved community. Thank you for your consideration.

Last Name: Calin Locality: Springfield

This is in support of two bills that address climate change, build a resilient, sustainable local food system, revitalize rural communities, and increase food access by investing in community food and farm infrastructure and help Virginia farmers provide agricultural products to charitable food aid organizations. Supply chain disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated the importance of strong local food systems. Local food systems of small- and mid-sized farms using regenerative agricultural practices contribute to economic development and jobs, as well as resilience and sustainability, while increasing food access for the good health and nutrition of our communities. Helping Virginia farmers provide food to people who need it during a crisis builds farm livelihoods, while increasing food access, a win-win. We are seeking your support for two bills: HB 2068 - Delegate Sam Rasoul’s bill for grants to establish a state-administered fund and grant program for community infrastructure development projects that support local food production and sustainable agriculture. For HB 2068, we ask that you consider amendments to the existing bill text to remove the cap on maximum grant amount and add additional language and definitions to establish criteria to target the grants to community infrastructure and sustainable agriculture. HB 2203 – Delegate Eileen Filler-Corn’s bill to establish the Virginia Agriculture Food Assistance Program for Virginia farmers and food producers to provide agriculture products to charitable food assistance organizations. Thank you for your consideration. Leon Calin leoncalin@hotmail.com

Last Name: Malone Locality: Blacksburg

Dear Delegates, This is to ask you to support two bills that address climate change, build a resilient, sustainable local food system, revitalize rural communities, and increase food access by investing in community food and farm infrastructure and help Virginia farmers provide agricultural products to charitable food aid organizations. I am seeking your support for two bills: HB 2068 - Delegate Sam Rasoul’s bill for grants to establish a state-administered fund and grant program for community infrastructure development projects that support local food production and sustainable agriculture. For HB 2068, we ask that you consider amendments to the existing bill text to remove the cap on maximum grant amount and add additional language and definitions to establish criteria to target the grants to community infrastructure and sustainable agriculture. HB 2203 – Delegate Eileen Filler-Corn’s bill to establish the Virginia Agriculture Food Assistance Program for Virginia farmers and food producers to provide agriculture products to charitable food assistance organizations. Thank you for your consideration. Morgan Malone morganfaemalone@gmail.com Blacksburg, VA

Last Name: Whitfield Locality: Blacksburg, VA

I am a resident of Blacksburg and writing to express my support for HB 2068 and HB 2203. Support and development of local agriculture enhances food security, builds the local economy, improves nutrient content of foods available and lessens climate impact from shipping foods long distances. All of these issues are important in our rural Montgomery County. I ask that you please vote in favor of these bills. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Last Name: Ware Organization: N/a Locality: Tappahannock

As a citizen who lives in the state and on the Rappahannock river and has seen the impact of poor stewardship, I ask that the General Assembly support these bills.

HB2109 - Agriculture and Consumer Services, Board of; expands membership.
Last Name: Hazard Organization: Humane Dominion Locality: FALLS CHURCH

On behalf of Humane Dominion, we strongly support the bill as originally written so as to provide one voice on this Board with expertise in animal welfare. We oppose the legislation as amended to provide for a veterinarian to fulfill this role as this is unnecessary as the Department is filled with veterinarians and this special expertise is not needed. The profession of animal welfare professional is one taught at the university level. It involves expertise much broader than that of a veterinarian and includes expertise on behavior, logistics, housing, training, interacting with the public and much more. Shelters are regulated by the department and should have one representative on a Board dominated by farmers. Farmers certainly understand animal welfare but large animal expertise is a different science than companion animal expertise. We urge a "no" vote as the legislation s amended but are hopeful the bill will be amended back to its original language.

Last Name: Armus Organization: The Humane Society of the United States Locality: Richmond

My name is Molly Armus and I am the Virginia State Director for the Humane Society of the United States. We supported the bill as originally filed given the board’s mandate, as well as the regulations and directives that come before them. We felt that an individual with companion animal expertise would ultimately benefit the Department as well as the board. However, as it is now amended, this bill is no longer aligned with the purpose for which it was introduced: to give animal welfare professionals a stronger voice on the VDACS Board that oversees more than 400 Virginia releasing agencies. We thank Delegate Fariss for introducing this bill, but respectfully request a motion to table or pass by this bill indefinitely. We would only be in favor of reporting the bill if reverted to its original language. Thank you.

Last Name: Harrington Organization: Virginia Federation of Dog Clubs and Breeders Locality: Arlington

1-27-21 - Alice Harrington for VA Federation of Dog Clubs and Breeders. We still OPPOSE HB 2109. While HB 2109 has been amended the changes do not significantly improve the bill nor do they add any additional expertise to the Board or VDACS. There are many veterinarians in VDACS and they are well connected to the Vet community. Have the Board and/or VDACS asked for any changes to the membership of the Board? Have they expressed a specific need that should be addressed? Perhaps it would be best to lay this bill on the table. Thank you for your consideration.

Last Name: Meinzer Organization: Virginia Federation of Humane Societies and Homeward Trails Animal Rescue Locality: Alexandria City

I respectfully ask you to vote NO to HB2109 as amended. I support the bill in its original language adding a spot for a companion animal welfare advocate from a releasing agency regulated by VDACS. However, I am opposed to the amendment, which would do nothing to guarantee a member of the Board with expertise in overall welfare of companion animals. VDACS regulates all shelters and rescues, and inspects shelters annually. It is vital to have someone with expertise regarding these issues to have a voice on the Board.

Last Name: strickland Organization: animals unlimited llc Locality: hanover montpelier

fyi code of VA 3.2-6500  definition " Companion animal" excluded  livestock, agricultural animals, game species and research animals regulated under federal law.

Last Name: strickland Organization: animals unlimited llc Locality: hanover montpelier

To whom this may concern, I oppose this bill as written to include within the definition of companion animal the following - non human primate, exotic or native animal, reptile, and exotic or native bird . Obviously these are not companion animals. That is why they are already regulated within the State of Virginia. By several agencies. 1-The Department of Game and Inland Fisheries , In Virginia they are not permitted to be kept within the state without a permit to include regulations. This is the law in Virginia in which all of these animals are already governed under. Because they are not companion animals. 2-USDA animal care by regulation and licensing to possess . Because they are not companion animals. 3-Many Counties within the state of Virginia also govern and regulate these animals thru permit. Clearly these animals are not companion animals by definition and should never be within a "companion animal" definition or category as is livestock is not. Jana Strickland Animals Unlimited LLC

Last Name: Griggs Organization: Virginia Federation of Humane Societies Locality: Norfolk

We supported HB 2109 as filed, which would have added a companion animal welfare expert employed by a releasing agency to the VDACS Board. The VDACS Board regulates animal shelters but there is no companion animal welfare expert on the Board, so adding an employee of a releasing agency is vital to the Board doing its best work in creating animal shelter regulations and policies. I OPPOSE the HB2109 SUBSTITUTE. There is no reason to add a veterinarian to the Board. Veterinarians are not expert in shelter operations and management. Furthermore, when policies regarding shelters are considered by the VDACS Board, the Department presents the proposed policies and the Department presenters are themselves veterinarians. Adding a veterinarian to the VDACS Board is redundant and not in keeping with the original intent of the bill. I urge you to oppose the HB 2109 substitute, insist that it be amended to its original form and passed as originally presented. Thank you.

Last Name: Treloar Organization: Richmond SPCA Director of Communications Locality: Richmond

My name is Tabitha Treloar. I live in the City of Richmond and represent the Richmond SPCA. While the Richmond SPCA was initially prepared to support HB 2109 as it was introduced, last week the patron, Delegate Fariss, introduced a substitute before this subcommitee. As amended, this bill is no longer aligned with the purpose for which the bill was introduced: to give animal welfare professionals a stronger voice on the VDACS Board that oversees more than 400 Virginia releasing agencies. The welfare of companion animals goes beyond their medical health as addressed by the practice of veterinary medicine – it is about housing thousands of homeless animals, the operation of releasing agencies large and small, the logistics of rescuing and moving animals from a place of harm to a place of safety, training of animal control officers and much more. While we thank the delegate for having introduced this legislation, as it is now amended, we respectfully request a motion to table or pass by this bill indefinitely. We would only be in favor of reporting the bill if reverted to its original language.

Last Name: Meinzer Organization: Virginia Federation of Humane Societies and Homeward Trails Animal Rescue Locality: Alexandria City

My name is Heidi Meinzer and I am President of the Virginia Federation of Humane Societies Board, representing well over 100 shelters, rescues, animal control and advocates. I am also President of the Board for Homeward Trails Animal Rescue, a private animal shelter in Fairfax County that is regulated and inspected by VDACS. We support this bill as originally worded, and oppose the amendment. We believe that adding a companion animal welfare expert to the Board of Agriculture is vital. The amendment does not guarantee that the veterinarian will have dealt specifically with companion animals, or with the many releasing agencies who are regulated and inspected by VDACS. There are over 400 shelters and rescues in Virginia who report annually to VDACS. All are regulated by VDACS. Public and private shelters like HT are also inspected annually by VDACS. The Board and VDACS set policy and regulations for these organizations, but there is no companion animal welfare expert on the Board. You may hear the opposition say that an appointee may come from a releasing agency not inspected by VDACS. Although rescues are not inspected by VDACS, they are still subject to regulations like proper transportation of companion animals. Moreover, the over 250 rescues work hand in hand with the 111 public and 50 private animal shelters to produce life-saving outcomes for Virginia animals, and any suggestion that they are inferior is unwarranted. The opposition may also suggest that a representative of breeders should be added to the Board. However, the bill does not aim to place someone from a constituency – rather it is to appoint an individual with particular and broad expertise in companion animal welfare. There has also been a suggestion that the appointee would not represent the entire scope of animal welfare. That is hardly the point, and an impossible ask for any appointee to any Board or Commission. Just like other Boards and members, the Secretary of the Commonwealth will follow the same trusted vetting process by selecting a qualified individual from a list of applicants. Thank you for your time, and we respectfully ask that you oppose the amendment, or if put back to its original wording, we ask that you vote yes.

Last Name: reitman Locality: Springfield

thank you for bringing this bill forward. hope it passes.

Last Name: Wiley Locality: Suffolk

. I believe it is important for the Board to have a member with expertise in companion animal issues, and I ask that you vote in favor of HB 2109.”

Last Name: Devine Locality: Accomack

My name is Jennifer Devine, and I live in Accomack County. I believe it is important for the Board to have a member with expertise in companion animal issues, and I ask that you vote in favor of HB 2109.” Thank you for your time!

Last Name: Harris Locality: Leesburg

“My name is _____diane harris__________, and I live in _____leesburg/loudoun_________ City/County. I believe it is important for the Board to have a member with expertise in companion animal issues, and I ask that you vote in favor of HB 2109.”

Last Name: Johnson Organization: Leesburg Animal Park Locality: Leesburg

Dear Delagates, I am writing to OPPOSE HB2109. My name is Shirley Johnson and I own and operate Leesburg Animal Park in Leesburg. We are a small, privately owned zoo in Loudoun County. This bill would add a veterinarian as an "expert" regarding "companion animals". The problem is the definition of "companion animals" in the State of Virginia includes most zoo animals! How is a veterinarian trained in dogs or cats, able to competantly give expert advice on say Ring-tailed lemurs or White-handed gibbons? This is analogous to having a dentist give advice regarding heart surgery! I believe the best solution is to redefine "companion animals" to exclude exotic animals from this definition. Another solution is to have an animal advisory group to the Committee comprised of a person from various animal groups. This would give much more accurate information to the Committee. Thank you!

Last Name: Pearson Organization: Commonwealth's 26 Mounted Fox Hunts Locality: Hume

we support HB 2109 as amended

Last Name: Crosky Organization: Virginia Animal Owners Alliance Locality: wythe county

Mr. Chair and Members of the Committee, My name is Heidi Crosky and I represent the Virginia Animal Owners Alliance. We are a group of animal owners from across the Commonwealth. Our members are zoo owners, farm owners, and pet owners. We are asking that you please OPPOSE HB 2109, because one individual CANNOT have the knowledge and experience to define the care of all the different species of animals that are defined as companion animals under the code. Cats and dogs are one thing--tigers and cassowaries are quite another. Although the subcommittee accepted an amendment to require the expert to be a veterinarian, this still does not solve the issue. Like doctors, veterinarians have a certain expertise and our membership still has serious concerns that one individual cannot be qualified to define the care for all the different types of zoo animals in the Commonwealth. The following animals are ALL defined as "companion animals" under § 3.2-6500: " 'Companion animal" means any domestic or feral dog, domestic or feral cat, nonhuman primate, guinea pig, hamster, rabbit not raised for human food or fiber, exotic or native animal, reptile, exotic or native bird, or any feral animal or any animal under the care, custody, or ownership of a person or any animal that is bought, sold, traded, or bartered by any person. No agricultural animal, game species, or animal regulated under federal law as a research animal shall be considered a companion animal for the purposes of this chapter." If you look at the current wording of § 3.2-109, it involves many people and looks to those with practical experience. It states, "The Board shall consist of (i) one member from each congressional district, at least eight of whom shall be currently practicing farmers..." The two at-large members work with pesticides. If the state is seeking to add expertise to the Board it needs to be done the right way. It will require more than one individual and the appointees need to be those with practical animal experience, including zoo owners/managers, pet store owners, etc. We need people in the business who actually know the animals and how to care for them. Our legislators showed thoughtfulness and foresight in choosing members in the past. We ask that you do the same. Please OPPOSE HB 2109 in its current form. Sincerely, Heidi Crosky Virginia Animal Owners Alliance 276-637-6754 www.virginiaanimalownersalliance.com

Last Name: Meinzer Organization: Virginia Federation of Humane Societies and Homeward Trails Animal Rescue Locality: Alexandria City

As to HB 2109: This is written testimony to OPPOSE the amended version of HB 2109. We support the original wording of HB 2109. My name is Heidi Meinzer and I am President of the Virginia Federation of Humane Societies Board, representing well over 100 shelters, rescues, animal control and advocates. I am also President of Homeward Trails Animal Rescue, a private animal shelter in Fairfax regulated and inspected by VDACS. We support this bill as originally worded, and oppose the amendment. We believe that adding a companion animal welfare expert to the Board of Agriculture is vital. With the amendment, there is no guarantee that the veterinarian deals specifically with companion animals, or with the hundreds of rescues and shelters who are regulated by the Board. There are over 400 shelters and rescues in Virginia who report annually to VDACS. All are regulated by VDACS. Public and private shelters like Homeward Trails are also inspected annually by VDACS. The Board and VDACS set policy and regulations for these organizations, but there is no companion animal welfare expert on the Board. You may hear the opposition say that an appointee may come from a releasing agency not inspected by VDACS. Although rescues are not inspected by VDACS, they are still subject to regulations like proper transportation of companion animals. Moreover, the over 250 rescues work hand in hand with the 111 public and 50 private animal shelters to produce life-saving outcomes for Virginia animals, and any suggestion that they are inferior is unwarranted. The opposition may also suggest that a representative of breeders should be added to the Board. However, the bill does not aim to place someone from a constituency – rather it is to appoint an individual with particular and broad expertise in companion animal welfare. There has also been a suggestion that the appointee would not represent the entire scope of animal welfare. That is hardly the point, and an impossible ask for any appointee to any Board or Commission. Just like other Boards and members, the Secretary of the Commonwealth will follow the same trusted vetting process by selecting a qualified individual from a list of applicants. Thank you for your time, and we respectfully ask that you vote no on this bill as amended. If brought back in its original language, we ask that you vote yes.

Last Name: Harrington Organization: Virginia Federation of Dog Clubs and Breeders Locality: Arlington

1-20-21, 12:30 pm - - After we are able to see what the substitute for HB2109, Delegate Fariss' bill on membership to the Board of Agriculture and Consumer Services, says we will provide comments. Thank you. Alice Harrington, Legislative Liaison, Virginia Federation of Dog Clubs and Breeders

Last Name: Sharon Adams Organization: Virginia Alliance for Animal Shelters Locality: Virginia Beach

The Virginia Alliance for Animal Shelters (VAAS) has some significant concerns with HB2109: 1. While we considered the possibility of adding an animal welfare representative a few years ago, in discussion with VDACS staff and members of the Board of Agriculture and Consumer Services, we were persuaded that given the tension within the animal welfare community, this could exacerbate the conflict. 2. There are many variations on the definition of “releasing agency” with no one overarching type. Should it be a public agency funded by taxpayers, or a private shelter primarily funded by donations or a rescue agency which is not even inspected within the regulations? What would be the prohibition against a representative whose agency has been found in violation of VDACS regulation? 3. Our experience with the Board has been one where there seemed to be a unanimity of purpose and goals. Without deep preparation and care, that consensus could be up-ended by a divisive appointee. 4. The current members of the Board reflect a wide array of agricultural and other interests across Virginia. This one representative could have an enormous amount of influence on issues related to hundreds of “releasing agencies” whose interests are not represented. Before any action is taken, we would urge there be a study which, at a minimum, develops responsible criteria for such a representative.

Last Name: Strouse Organization: Virginia Animal Control Association (VACA) Locality: Norfolk

While this bill is well intentioned, our organization, (VACA) has real concerns that there are no qualifications to be considered an animal welfare expert for appointment to the Board of Agriculture and Consumer Services. The bill contains no requirement that a person appointed even have any familiarity with or understanding of animal shelter regulations. It also does not require any tenure for such person to have been employed by a releasing agency. One could have conceivably been employed as an entry level staff member for two days, and as written such person would qualify as an animal welfare expert. This then paves the way for this to be a mere political appointment subject to being filled by unqualified individuals. On behalf of VACA we urge that this bill be laid on the table or carried over. If carried over, VACA pledges to work with the patron on crafting necessary safeguards. Thank you for your consideration. Kathy Strouse, Legislative Liaison Virginia Animal Control Association (VACA)

Last Name: Agrios Locality: Chesapeake

As a long time citizen of Virginia I am concerned about about the on going legislation that only consists of agricultural farmers and hunters. It is imperative that as a community that we seek a just system that fights for the rights conditions of all animals domestic and agricultural as well as wildlife. I am concerned of the biased approach and would like to be apart of these ongoing decisions. Thank you in advance for your efforts to make our cities and the whole state what it is.

Last Name: Meinzer Organization: Virginia Federation of Humane Societies and Homeward Trails Animal Rescue Locality: Alexandria City

My name is Heidi Meinzer and I am President of the Virginia Federation of Humane Societies Board, with membership from well over 100 shelters, rescues, animal control and advocates. I am also the President of the Board for Homeward Trails Animal Rescue, a private animal shelter in Fairfax County that is regulated and inspected by VDACS. We support this bill, and believe that adding a companion animal welfare expert to the Board of Agriculture is vital. There are over 400 shelters and rescues in Virginia who report annually to VDACS. All are regulated by VDACS. Public and private shelters like Homeward Trails are also inspected annually by VDACS. The Board and VDACS set policy and regulations on all of these organizations, but there is no companion animal welfare expert on the Board. You may hear the opposition say that an appointee may come from a releasing agency not inspected by VDACS. Although rescues are not inspected by VDACS, they are still subject to regulations like proper transportation of companion animals. Moreover, rescues work hand in hand with shelters to produce life-saving outcomes for Virginia animals, and any suggestion that they are inferior is unwarranted. The opposition may also suggest that a representative of breeders should be added to the Board. However, the bill does not aim to place someone from a constituency – rather it is to appoint an individual with particular and broad expertise in companion animal welfare. There has also been a suggestion that the appointee would not represent the entire scope of animal welfare. That is hardly the point, and an impossible ask for any appointee to any Board or Commission. Just like other Boards and members, the Secretary of the Commonwealth will follow the same trusted vetting process by selecting a qualified individual from a list of applicants. Thank you for your time, and we respectfully ask that you vote yes on this bill.

Last Name: Armus Organization: The Humane Society of the United States Locality: Richmond

My name is Molly Armus and I am the Virginia State Director for the Humane Society of the United States. We urge you to support SB 2109. SB 2109 adds a requirement that one of the at-large positions be filled by a companion animal expert working in a Virginia releasing agency, which includes both public and private animal shelters. Like other members of the VDACS board, this position will be filled by appointment of the Governor and confirmation of the General Assembly after vetting of qualifications. Given the board’s mandate, as well as the regulations and directives that come before them, we believe an individual with companion animal expertise will ultimately benefit the Department as well as the board.

Last Name: Griggs Organization: Debra Griggs Locality: Norfolk

I urge the subcommittee to report HB2109. The VDACS Board regulates animal shelters in Virginia but there is no companion animal welfare professional on the VDACS Board. Currently, the VDACS Board includes farmers and pesticide experts. Appointing a companion animal welfare expert is vital to the mandate of the VDACS Board and will increase the effectiveness of that regulatory body in creating policies and standards for Virginia's animal shelters. Thank you.

Last Name: Saveland Locality: Loudoun, Hamilton

I believe it is important for the Board to have a member with expertise in companion animal issues, and I ask that you vote in favor of HB 2109.”

Last Name: Lamartin Locality: Fairfax County

My name is Sita Lamartin and I live in Alexandria VA. I am 11 years old and we have many companion animals and I volunteer with the sanctuaries which have farm animals. I think the Releasing agency should represent the farm animals, The Animals deserve better, and are just our companions and based on their health it affects people who eat them, That's why I think the Releasing agency should represent farm animals for the agricultural department so they can at least be treated better. I suppose based on common sense, it is important for the Board to have a member with expertise in companion animal issues, and I ask that you vote in favor of HB 21094 wherein “Releasing agency” means (i) a public animal shelter or (ii) a private animal shelter, humane society, animal welfare organization, society for the prevention of cruelty to animals, or other similar entity or home-based rescue that releases companion animals for adoption.

Last Name: Fields Locality: Smyth County

I believe it is very important for the Board to have a member with expertise in companion animal issues, and I ask that you please vote in favor of HB 2109. Thank you for your time! Suzanne Fields Atkins VA Smyth County

Last Name: Mishra Locality: Alexandria

Thank you for taking your time to hear this important piece of bill. My name is Richa Mishra, and I live in Fairfax County. As an animal lover, my husband and I have worked with many individuals who had pigs, and they got overpopulated. Alongside with sanctuaries, we worked with VA155 to have the pig adoptions. Being a dogs and cats owner, we know they are no less than companion animals. The one thing we are asking for them is being represented by a "releasing agency" member to get a fair treatment in their life. It's been known the poor treatment of animals can be unhealthy for humans and the environment. Further it would aid the pet owners by giving them representation. I believe it is important for the Board to have a member with expertise in companion animal issues, and I ask that you vote in favor of HB 2109

Last Name: Fowler Organization: Va. Federation of Humane Societies Locality: Vienna (Fairfax Co)

I strongly recommend that you please speak on behalf of and support HB 2109 to add a Companion Animal Welfare expert to the Va. Board of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Especially in the current era, pets are very important to me and many other Va. voters. They need advocacy in our legislative process.

Last Name: Sonifrank Locality: Alexandria

I appreciate Fariss raising this important issue and seeking to amend the existing code to include an expert in animal welfare. As an animal lover, I feel like this amendment is long overdue. I've worked with my wife and daughter on bulk spay and neutering projects for potbelly pigs which had overpopulated in people's backyards and started wandering and expanding off property. In multiple cases we've seen this over population spreading into nearby farms and property. It was concerning to us to discover such scenarios and issues would be outside the expertise of Board of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Amending the board here needs to be done and I support HB2109.

Last Name: Knecht Organization: Smyth County Humane Society and Smyth Animal Rescue Locality: Smyth

My name is _____Jennifer Knecht__________, and I live in _____Smyth County_________ City/County. I believe it is important for the Board to have a member with expertise in companion animal issues, and I ask that you vote in favor of HB 2109.” Thank you for your time!

Last Name: Hopkins Organization: Virginia Federation of Humane Societies Locality: Vienna VA

I wish to strongly support HB 2109 to expand membership in the Virginia Board of Agriculture and Consumer Services to add a Companion Animal Welfare Expert. As a Virginia Citizen and voter, this is extremely important to me and many others.

Last Name: Howard Locality: Suffolk

My name is Mercedes Howard, I live in Suffolk and wish to see HB2109 supported. Having a board member to focus on companion animals is essential. It better represents voters in a state where so many people are working for the good of companion animals and so many people care about their protection and interests.

Last Name: Zimmerman Locality: Warren

“My name is Kim Zimmerman, and I live in Warren County. I believe it is important for the Board to have a member with expertise in companion animal issues, and I ask that you vote in favor of HB 2109.”

Last Name: AKAR Locality: Fredericksburg

Hello, my name is Katarzyna Akar and I'm from Fredericksburg VA, Spotsylvania County. I strongly believe that having an expert present is a necessity. Please support HB2109. Thank you

Last Name: Brown Locality: Roanoke

My name is Matthew Brown, and I live in Roanoke County. I believe it is important for the Board to have a member with expertise in companion animal issues, and I ask that you vote in favor of HB 2109.

Last Name: Brown Locality: Winchester

My name is Sara Brown and I live in Winchester, VA. I believe it is important for the Board of Agriculture and Consumer Services to have a member with expertise in companion animal issues, considering its role in matters such as regulations over the operation of animal shelters, animal control training, and companion animal transportation. Therefore I ask that you vote in favor of HB 2109.” Thank you for your consideration of my request.

Last Name: Bove Organization: Loudoun Community Cat Coalition Locality: Leesburg

My name is Tom Bove and I live in Loudoun County. I believe it is important for the Board to have a member with expertise in companion animal issues, and I ask that you vote in favor of HB 2109.

Last Name: Bradley Locality: Scott

We strongly oppose this Bill in it entirety. No one “expert” should define all care for different species.

Last Name: Hall Organization: American Kennel Club Locality: Lycoming

On behalf of our over 100 affiliated clubs in Virginia, the American Kennel Club (AKC) provides the following written testimony on HB 2109. The Virginia Board of Agriculture and Consumer Services oversees a very broad base of issues, related to companion animals. However, the current structure of the Board does not provide for a member with expertise in companion animals. This bill seeks to correct this omission by expanding the membership to add an individual with expertise in this area. While we agree that an expert in companion animal welfare is important, we also believe that it is essential that the board provide a balanced and broad perspective. Unfortunately, this bill limits the appointment to just one expert on companion animal welfare and further limits perspective by limiting that expert to an individual who is employed by a releasing agency in the Commonwealth. As defined By Virginia law, a releasing agency is a public animal shelter or a private animal shelter, humane society, animal welfare organization, society for the prevention of cruelty to animals, or other similar entity or home-based rescue that releases companion animals for adoption. Animal welfare is much broader than rescuing and placing animals for adoption, a policy-setting board needs to be informed of and consider viewpoints from a broader spectrum of knowledge in animal welfare issues. As such, AKC recommends that should a member from a releasing agency be added, the Board should also include an additional at-large member who is licensed as a breeder in the Commonwealth, or a member of the Virginia Federation of Dog Clubs and Breeders. Such an addition would provide the Board with an at-large member with knowledge and understanding in animal breeding, service animals, search and rescue animals, security dogs, hunting and field trial sports. AKC clubs in Virginia area are comprised of a network of numerous responsible dog owners and breeders, many of whom have decades of expertise in proper dog care and animal husbandry. We believe that the wealth of knowledge and experience possessed by these experts would be of tremendous value to the Board and working in concert with an at-large member who is employed by a releasing agency would truly ensure that the Board has the necessary balance and broad perspective needed to truly benefit the welfare of companion animals in the Commonwealth.

Last Name: Mooney Locality: Fairfax County

My name is Aileen Mooney and I live in Springfield, VA. I believe it is important for the Board to have a member with expertise in companion animal issues, and I ask that you vote in favor of HB 2109. Thank you for your time! V/r, Aileen

Last Name: Treloar Organization: Richmond SPCA Locality: Richmond

Madam Chair, members of the committee, my name is Tabitha Treloar and on behalf of the Richmond SPCA, I ask that you report Delegate Fariss's bill. Our agency is one of more than 400 organizations sheltering companion animals in the Commonwealth that are regulated by the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. While existing code mandates that at least eight members of the VDACS Board be currently practicing farmers, presently there is no representation in matters of companion animal welfare. HB 2109 adds a requirement that one of the at-large positions be filled by a companion animal expert working in a Virginia releasing agency, which includes both public and private animal shelters. Like other members of the VDACS board, this position will be filled by appointment of the Governor and confirmation of the General Assembly. As is no doubt true among practicing farmers, professional viewpoints do vary among those working in the field of animal welfare, and it is the duty of the Secretary of the Commonwealth to vet applicants for service. Employment at a Virginia releasing agency ensures experience within a sector that has more than 400 sheltering organizations overseen by VDACS and is thus deserving of representation on the governing board.

Last Name: McVoy Locality: Richmond

My name is Robin, and I live in the City of Richmond. I believe it is important for the Board to have a member with expertise in companion animal issues, and I ask that you vote in favor of HB 2109.

Last Name: Steere Organization: Friends of Infinity Acres Ranch Locality: Ridgeway

please strike this text from the proposal: , and one of whom shall be an expert in companion animal welfare employed by a releasing agency in the Commonwealth; all members to be appointed by the Governor for a term of four years and confirmed by the General Assembly

Last Name: Crosky Organization: Virginia Animal Owners Alliance Locality: Wythe

Madam Chair and Members of the Committee, My name is Heidi Crosky and I represent the Virginia Animal Owners Alliance. We are a group of animal owners from across the Commonwealth. Our members are zoo owners, farm owners, and pet owners. We are asking that you please OPPOSE HB 2109, because one individual CANNOT have the knowledge and experience to define the care of all the different species of animals that are defined as companion animals under the code. Cats and dogs are one thing--tigers and cassowaries are quite another. The following animals are ALL defined as "companion animals" under § 3.2-6500: " 'Companion animal" means any domestic or feral dog, domestic or feral cat, nonhuman primate, guinea pig, hamster, rabbit not raised for human food or fiber, exotic or native animal, reptile, exotic or native bird, or any feral animal or any animal under the care, custody, or ownership of a person or any animal that is bought, sold, traded, or bartered by any person. No agricultural animal, game species, or animal regulated under federal law as a research animal shall be considered a companion animal for the purposes of this chapter." If you look at the current wording of § 3.2-109, it involves many people and looks to those with practical experience. It states, "The Board shall consist of (i) one member from each congressional district, at least eight of whom shall be currently practicing farmers..." The two at-large members work with pesticides. If the state is seeking to add expertise to the Board it needs to be done the right way. It will require more than one individual and the appointees need to be those with practical animal experience, including zoo owners/managers, pet store owners, etc. We need people in the business who actually know the animals and how to care for them. Our legislators showed thoughtfulness and foresight in choosing members in the past. We ask that you do the same. Please OPPOSE HB 2109 in its current form. Sincerely, Heidi Crosky Virginia Animal Owners Alliance 276-637-6754 www.virginiaanimalownersalliance.com

Last Name: Nedelcovic Locality: Reston

Good morning, “ My name is Ines Nedelcovic and I live in Reston. I would very much like for the Board to have a member with expertise in companion animal issues. I respectfully request that you vote in favor of HB 2109.”

Last Name: Blevins Organization: Smyth County Humane Society Locality: Smyth County VA

My name is Madelyn Blevins and I live in Smyth County Virginia. I believe it is important for the Board to have a member with expertise in companion animal issues, and I ask that you vote in favor of HB 2109.” Thank you for your time!

Last Name: Miletta Organization: Animal Allies Inc. and Pets Ltd. Inc. Locality: Fairfax

“My name is Elaine Miletta and I live in Fairfax County. I am president of two animal welfare organizations... Animal Allies Inc. and Pets Ltd Inc.. We have many supporting members, all of whom are greatly concerned with the welfare of animals, as are the individuals with whom we deal on a daily basis. I believe it is important for the Board to have a member with expertise in companion animal issues, and I ask that you vote in favor of HB 2109.” This is very important to me and to the members of these organizations who have contributed much time, effort and funds to improve the welfare of companion animals in Virginia. Thank you for your time! Elaine Miletta

Last Name: Carlson Locality: Arlington

My name is Ingrid Carlson. I live in Arlington County. In my opinion the Board should have a member who is an expert in companion animal issues. I ask that you vote in favor of HB 2109. Thank you.

Last Name: Counts Organization: Madison Community Cats Locality: Culpeper

My name is Laurie Counts and I live in Culpeper County. Our organization, Madison Community Cats, works in Madison and Culpeper Counties, serving the community by providing low cost spay/neuter for companion cats. We believe it would be good to have a Board member with expertise in companion animal issues and ask that you vote in favor of HB2109.

Last Name: Scott Locality: Marion, Virginia

My name is Emi Scott and I live in Marion/Smyth County, VA. I believe it is important for the Board to have a member with expertise in companion animal issues, and I ask that you vote in favor of HB 2109.

Last Name: Farthing Organization: Friends of Russell County Animals Locality: Lebanon

Hello please vote “yes” for HB 2109. I live in Rosedale of Russell County, VA. I believe it is important for the Board to have a member with expertise in companion animal issues, and I ask that you vote in favor of HB 2109. Thank you- Charlene Farthing, PA-C President/Founder of Friends of Russell County Animals (267)294-7727

Last Name: McPhee Locality: Arlington

My name is Gillian McPhee, and I live in Arlington County. Due to the nature of the Board's role and responsibilities, I believe it is important for the Board to have a member with expertise in companion animal issues. I ask that you vote in favor of HB 2109. Thank you.

Last Name: Robinson Organization: Virginia Federation of Humane Societies Locality: Abingdon, VA (Washington County)

My name is Debbie Robinson and I live in Abingdon, VA/Washington County. I believe it is important for the Board to have a member with expertise in companion animal issues, and I ask that you vote in favor of HB 2109. Thank you for your time! Debbie

Last Name: Tinney Locality: Alexandria

My name is Glenna Tinney, and I live in Alexandria. I believe it is important for the Virginia Board of Agriculture and Consumer Services to have a member with expertise in companion animal issues, and I ask that you vote in favor of HB 2109. Thank you for your time!

Last Name: Schmidt Locality: Norfolk

My name is Melissa (Missy) Schmidt, and I live in Norfolk City/County. I believe it is important for the Board to have a member with expertise in companion animal issues, and I ask that you vote in favor of HB 2109. I’ve spent thousands of dollars of my own money to support nonprofit cat rescues and shelters —not to mention our municipal shelter in Norfolk. I’m a volunteer providing a foster home to cats and kittens.

Last Name: Parmly Organization: Dominion Equine Welfare Locality: City of Fairfax

I support HB2109. Placing a companion animal expert on the board is essential.

Last Name: Hanrahan Locality: Lorton; Fairfax County

Good afternoon. My name is Eileen Hanrahan and I reside at 8585 Enochs Dr., Lorton, VA 22079. I am wrting in support of HB2109, which would add, to the Board of Agriculture and Consumer Services, one member who must be an expert in companion welfare employed by a releasing agency in Virginia. I have been a volunteer with two releasing agencies in the Commonwealth, the Animal Welfare League of Arlington and the Animal Welfare League of Alexandria, together for over 30 years. I have had a number of companion animals from rescue organizations and am very familiar with the issues facing consumers in the acquisition and care of their companion animals. While the Board is charged, in part, with oversight of animals, it currently has no member who ensures that expertise on animal welfare is represented in the Board's deliberations and decisions. This is unreasonable and unacceptable. I urge to include the additional member to close this gap in the Board's expertise. Thank you for your consideration.

Last Name: Odham Organization: Alleghany Humane Society Locality: Covington

“My name is Marya Odham, and I live in the City of Covington. I believe it is important for the Board to have a member with expertise in companion animal issues, and I ask that you vote in favor of HB 2109.”

Last Name: Chiles Organization: Fredericksburg SPCA Locality: Spotsylvania

My name is Sarah Chiles, and I live in Spotsylvania County. I believe it is important for the Board to have a member with expertise in companion animal issues, and I ask that you vote in favor of HB 2109.

Last Name: Hurley Locality: Suffolk

I am writing to support HB 2109. It is time for an animal welfare advocate to serve on this board that has so much to do with animal and consumer welfare. Thank you for your consideration.

Last Name: Peaks Locality: Rockingham

My name is Carolyn Peake and I live in Rockingham County. I believe it is very important for the Board to have a member with expertise in companion animal issues, and I ask that you vote in favor of HB 2109.

Last Name: Nathan Locality: Clifton, VA

My name is Richard Nathan, and I live in Clifton, VA. As a long time advocate for animals and an active rescuer, I believe it is important for the Board to have a member with expertise in companion animal issues, and I ask that you vote in favor of HB 2109.

Last Name: Harrington Organization: Virginia Federation of Dog Clubs and Breeders Locality: Arlington

1-19-21 I, Alice Harrington, represent the Virginia Federation of Dog Clubs and Breeders. We have been in existence since 1971 and are affiliated with the American Kennel Club. We OPPOSE HB 2109. HB 2109 - sponsor Delegate Fariss - This bill seeks to add a 3rd at-large seat to the Board of Agriculture and Consumer Services and directs that the seat be filled by "one of whom shall be an expert in companion animal welfare employed by a releasing agency in the Commonwealth." There are many animal welfare experts besides "releasing agencies" which are defined in law 3.2- 6500 Definitions as - - "Releasing agency" means (i) a public animal shelter or (ii) a private animal shelter, humane society, animal welfare organization, society for the prevention of cruelty to animals, or other similar entity or home-based rescue that releases companion animals for adoption." Such a narrowly defined selection criteria for a new Board member ignores animal welfare experts in multiple disciplines such as purebred dog breeding, organizations that breed and train service animals, search and rescue animals, security dogs, exotic animals including birds, hunting and field trial sports to name just a few. A policy setting Board needs to be informed of viewpoints from multiple constituents. Animal welfare is much broader than just placing animals for adoption. Thank you for your consideration.

Last Name: Meinzer Organization: Virginia Federation of Humane Societies Locality: Alexandria City

Dear Subcommittee Members: The Virginia Federation of Humane Societies and I submit this written testimony in support of HB 2109's passage. The Federation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit membership organization representing well over one hundred public and private animal shelters, foster-based rescues, animal control agencies, and advocates in the Commonwealth. The Virginia Board of Agriculture and Consumer Services oversees a very broad base of issues, which includes regulations that govern public and private animal shelters, training for animal control officers, and the transportation of companion animals. Currently, there is no Board member who has expertise in companion animals. This bill would expand the membership of the Board to add an individual with expertise in this area. Thank you for your consideration of these comments. The Virginia Federation of Humane Societies and I respectfully ask you to vote in favor of HB 2109. Heidi Meinzer, President

HB2203 - Virginia Agriculture Food Assistance Program and Fund; established and created.
Last Name: Ross Organization: Virginia Interfaith Center Locality: Springfield

As climate change wreaks havoc on our world, it is increasingly obvious that our own actions and lifestyles have highly impacted and worsened the natural phenomenon of climate shifting. As a citizen of Springfield, it is utterly imperative that we seek alternate sources of energy, continue recycling, and provide healthy climate actions for future generations of all economic, racial, and other marginalized communities. The churches of Virginia have joined to raise our prayers and our voices to see that we treat our planet with the respect it deserves, and ensure a healthy life for all those to come. Please vote YES on HB 2074 and other initiatives that work to preserve our community so that many may enjoy it for decades of our future. Dixie Ross 7704C Lexton Place Springfield, VA 22152

Last Name: McDonald Organization: Virginia Association of Counties Locality: Richmond

VACo is proud to support this bill. It will provide greater food access to our local communities while directly assisting our local/regional foodbanks and local farmers.

Last Name: Ellis Organization: The Greater Good Initiative Locality: Fairfax

My name is Jacob Ellis, and I am the Co-Director of Economic Policy at the The Greater Good Initiative, a youth-led policy think tank that writes and advocates for research-driven policies across the nation and Commonwealth and we do support the bill. When our organization was founded nearly one year ago in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we devised a policy plan called the Tax Relief for Agriculture Industries in Need Act, or TRAIN as we called it. Our focus was directed towards the supply and demand issues between food banks and farmers, respectively. What we were witnessing at the beginning of the pandemic, and what we have still witnessed even 10 months later, is that farmers were dumping excess supply while food banks were being overrun by newfound demand. This was especially apparent in population centers like Hampton Roads. H.B. 2203 offers an immediate and feasible solution to the problem we were originally investigating months ago. Aside from the overwhelming support of the farming community and food banks, another notable point of this bill is that the funding is supported by $600,000 already allocated in this year’s budget bill. Per the Fiscal Impact Sheet, the Fund’s administration costs will be absorbed in current resources, making financial burden a non-issue. Senator Hashmi and her staff, the patrons of [the companion of this bill] S.B. 1188, have been incredibly supportive of our organization and policies, and we sincerely appreciate it. The Greater Good Initiative, representing many of the Commonwealth’s youth, fully support this bill and hopes that it is the pleasure of this committee and the body at-large to pass this bill. Thank you for your time.

Last Name: Scipio Locality: Orange County,, Locust Grove

In favor of programs to better facilitate the development and progress of my community.

Last Name: Calvert Organization: Virginia Conservation Network Locality: Charlottesville

Virginia Conservation Network (VCN) is proud to support HB2203.

Last Name: McDonald Organization: Virginia Association of Counties Locality: Richmond

VACo is proud to support HB 2203.

Last Name: Haggard Locality: Henrico

I am in favor of Delegate Rasoul's grant bill and Delegate Filler-Corns food charity fund. These both seem great for farmers and the community as a whole.

Last Name: McPhatter Organization: Virginia Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Locality: Amherst

Thank you for the opportunity to submit comments. I am a registered dietitian with the Virginia Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. I manage a group of 13 renal dietitians for the University of Virginia where we care for over 900 people who are on dialysis in 13 facilities around Central Va. Food insecurity in the Commonwealth is a growing concern. In 2020 foodbanks experienced 41% increase in pounds of food served over 2019, just one year prior. One in ten people and 1 in 8 CHILDREN in VA face food insecurity. The problem is real and growing at an alarming rate. Ironically at the University of VA Dialysis program, we began a Food Pharmacy specifically for our dialysis patients in March 2020 with the help and support of the Blueridge Area Foodbank and a grant from Sentara health. While we knew the need was significant, we never imagined that we would send home over 600 bags of food to patients in our facility that is housed at the medical Center in the first 9 months. This month, we began our second site in Orange, Va and over 50% of those patients have needed and received help. Based on current usage, we will run out of funding by July 2021. HB2203 offers a reasonable opportunity for us to use the resources rich around the Commonwealth to potentially help extend this and similar program for its current users and expand to other centers and areas where the needs are just as great. There are many more examples and I am happy to provide more information if you have questions but I am sure we all agree that Nutrition in the cornerstone of treatment to many illnesses and to our overall wellbeing. An opportunity to help the growers who provide the most HEALTHY AND NUTRITIOUS fresh foods to our food banks and therefore helping our citizens improve the nutrition quality of their diet, is one we should not miss. Thank you. My cell phone is 434.485.1608 if you have questions or would like more information. Lesley McPhatter, MS, RDN, CSR

Last Name: McDonald Organization: Virginia Association of Counties Locality: Richmond

VACo is pleased to support HB 2203. This legislation is a simple, effective way to aid our local communities, further empower local and regional foodbanks, improve food access infrastructure, and assist our local farmers. This is especially true as the Commonwealth continues to grapple with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. This initiative is truly win-win in numerous ways, as is evidenced by the broad and diverse array of stakeholders in support of the bill. We are proud to support HB 2203, and we hope you vote in favor of this important legislation.

Last Name: Kuhn Locality: Albemarle

Dear subcommittee members, I am a concerned citizen who believes that building a local food network based on sustainable agriculture is good for local economies, promotes healthful eating, and provides resilience when distribution chains are interrupted. Regenerative agricultural practices also help store carbon and contribute to carbon reduction goals. This year during the pandemic, the Charlottesville area was blessed with several farmers markets, operated by pre-order and drive-through pick-up, that enabled us to access farm fresh produce. I was grateful for this resource, and relied on it heavily. A non-profit organization, Local Food Hub, operated a couple of these markets, and provided “Farmacy Shares” of locally raised food to families in need. I hope you will support the growth and development of resources like these across the state. I ask you to support the following bills, which will promote local agriculture and the distribution of farm products to needy families: HB 2068 - Delegate Sam Rasoul’s bill for grants to establish a state-administered fund and grant program for community infrastructure development projects that support local food production and sustainable agriculture. Please consider amendments to the existing bill text to remove the cap on maximum grant amount and add additional language and definitions to establish criteria to target the grants to community infrastructure and sustainable agriculture. HB 2203 – Delegate Eileen Filler-Corn’s bill to establish the Virginia Agriculture Food Assistance Program for Virginia farmers and food producers to provide agriculture products to charitable food assistance organizations. Respectfully submitted Beth Kuhn Charlottesville area

Last Name: Coyle Organization: The Piedmont Environmental Council Locality: Warrenton

The Piedmont Environmental Council supports HB 2203. Over the past year, the pandemic has exposed significant vulnerabilities in our local food supply chain. Prior to the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, approximately 843,000 Virginians lacked access to affordable, healthy food. The pandemic has added an estimated 447,000 Virginians to that number. At the same time, small, family-owned farms are already operating on the edge of survival due to falling prices for their products, inability to access processing, and the continued growth of commercial-scale operations. Since March, with the help of private partners and community supporters, The Piedmont Environmental Council has provided 25,000 pounds of vegetables, over 30,000 gallons of fresh milk from local dairy farmers, and more than 11,000 pounds of local beef and pork to the food-insecure in our nine-county region in the Virginia Piedmont. That's more than 250,000 pounds of locally sourced products for local food banks, which has a very different impact on the local economy than shipping in 250,000 of food from somewhere else. We've been able to support tens of thousands of families in need at 24 food pantries in 9 counties as the demand on our food banks has never been higher. It is imperative that we improve our food supply infrastructure in the Commonwealth, and in doing so there is a need for flexible and rapid response to changing circumstances, whether the need for cold storage, processing packaging distribution, or planned expansion of farming. We believe that HB 2203 is a good first step to creating a food rescue infrastructure for Virginia’s farmers and food insecure residents, and we hope that it engenders a broader discussion regarding further necessary steps to address local food supply and food insecurity issues.

Last Name: Hamilton Locality: Fairfax

I would like to express my support for both of these important bills. HB2068 and HB2203 are critical steps to both support local farms and food businesses and increase food access for thousands of Virginians.

Last Name: Miller Locality: Richmond

As a many year supporter of FeedMore, I am aware of the pressing needs of our community to fight hunger this year. As a physician, I am concerned that much of what we provide does not meet current nutritional guidelines for fresh fruits and vegetables. I urge you to support HB 2203 to connect and support local food producers to those that are distributing food to our communities.

Last Name: Costa Organization: The Virginia Youth Climate Cooperative (VAYCC) Locality: Roanoke

Dear Delegates, My name is Tallulah Costa, I am a 17-year-old resident of Roanoke, Virginia (24015), and I am the Policy Director of the Virginia Youth Climate Cooperative - a youth-run organization committed to climate action and justice. Today, I am asking you to support two bills that address climate change, build a resilient, sustainable local food system, revitalize rural communities, and increase food access by investing in community food and farm infrastructure and help Virginia farmers provide agricultural products to charitable food aid organizations. Supply chain disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated the importance of strong local food systems. Local food systems of small- and mid-sized farms using regenerative agricultural practices contribute to economic development and jobs, as well as resilience and sustainability, while increasing food access for the good health and nutrition of our communities. Helping Virginia farmers provide food to people who need it during a crisis builds farm livelihoods, while increasing food access, a win-win. My organization and I are seeking your support for two bills: HB 2068 - Delegate Sam Rasoul’s bill for grants to establish a state-administered fund and grant program for community infrastructure development projects that support local food production and sustainable agriculture. For HB 2068, we ask that you consider amendments to the existing bill text to remove the cap on maximum grant amount and add additional language and definitions to establish criteria to target the grants to community infrastructure and sustainable agriculture. HB 2203 – Delegate Eileen Filler-Corn’s bill to establish the Virginia Agriculture Food Assistance Program for Virginia farmers and food producers to provide agriculture products to charitable food assistance organizations. Thank you so much for your consideration. Please know that when you support bills like these, you are investing in my future and the futures of all the young people across the Commonwealth. Please don't let us down. Kindly, Tallulah Costa Roanoke, Virginia 24015 540-798-7416

Last Name: Costantino Organization: Virginia Grassroots Coalition Locality: Richmond

I am working with a coalition of farmers, local food and sustainable agriculture advocates, and environmentalists to promote sustainable local food systems. Please support two bills that address climate change, build a resilient, sustainable local food system, revitalize rural communities, and increase food access by investing in community food and farm infrastructure and helping Virginia farmers provide agricultural products to charitable food aid organizations: HB 2068 to establish the Local Food and Farming Infrastructure Grant Program and HB 2203 to establish the Virginia Agriculture Food Assistance Program. Supply chain disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated the importance of strong local food systems. Local food systems of small- and mid-sized farms using regenerative agricultural practices contribute to economic development and jobs, as well as resilience and sustainability, while increasing food access for the good health and nutrition of our communities. Helping Virginia farmers provide food to people who need it during a crisis builds farm livelihoods, while increasing food access, a win-win. For HB 2068, please consider amendments to the existing bill text to remove the cap on maximum grant amount and add additional language and definitions to establish criteria to target the grants to community infrastructure and sustainable agriculture. Below is a summary of the changes we would like to see in the final bill for HB 2068: 1. Remove the cap on maximum grant amount (or if there must be a cap, increase it dramatically, to at least $200K) 2. Add additional language to establish criteria to target the grants to community infrastructure and sustainable agriculture, as well as to underserved communities, both rural and urban. 3. Add some definitions for clarity: - add "community" to infrastructure - add a definition of preference "given to communities where there is a general lack of such infrastructure and/or underserved communities and/or environmental justice communities" - define the terms used in this targeting language, including sustainable agriculture, community infrastructure, environmental justice community, and underserved community. Thank you for your consideration.

Last Name: Calin Locality: Springfield

This is in support of two bills that address climate change, build a resilient, sustainable local food system, revitalize rural communities, and increase food access by investing in community food and farm infrastructure and help Virginia farmers provide agricultural products to charitable food aid organizations. Supply chain disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated the importance of strong local food systems. Local food systems of small- and mid-sized farms using regenerative agricultural practices contribute to economic development and jobs, as well as resilience and sustainability, while increasing food access for the good health and nutrition of our communities. Helping Virginia farmers provide food to people who need it during a crisis builds farm livelihoods, while increasing food access, a win-win. We are seeking your support for two bills: HB 2068 - Delegate Sam Rasoul’s bill for grants to establish a state-administered fund and grant program for community infrastructure development projects that support local food production and sustainable agriculture. For HB 2068, we ask that you consider amendments to the existing bill text to remove the cap on maximum grant amount and add additional language and definitions to establish criteria to target the grants to community infrastructure and sustainable agriculture. HB 2203 – Delegate Eileen Filler-Corn’s bill to establish the Virginia Agriculture Food Assistance Program for Virginia farmers and food producers to provide agriculture products to charitable food assistance organizations. Thank you for your consideration. Leon Calin leoncalin@hotmail.com

Last Name: Malone Locality: Blacksburg

Dear Delegates, This is to ask you to support two bills that address climate change, build a resilient, sustainable local food system, revitalize rural communities, and increase food access by investing in community food and farm infrastructure and help Virginia farmers provide agricultural products to charitable food aid organizations. I am seeking your support for two bills: HB 2068 - Delegate Sam Rasoul’s bill for grants to establish a state-administered fund and grant program for community infrastructure development projects that support local food production and sustainable agriculture. For HB 2068, we ask that you consider amendments to the existing bill text to remove the cap on maximum grant amount and add additional language and definitions to establish criteria to target the grants to community infrastructure and sustainable agriculture. HB 2203 – Delegate Eileen Filler-Corn’s bill to establish the Virginia Agriculture Food Assistance Program for Virginia farmers and food producers to provide agriculture products to charitable food assistance organizations. Thank you for your consideration. Morgan Malone morganfaemalone@gmail.com Blacksburg, VA

Last Name: Whitfield Locality: Blacksburg, VA

I am a resident of Blacksburg and writing to express my support for HB 2068 and HB 2203. Support and development of local agriculture enhances food security, builds the local economy, improves nutrient content of foods available and lessens climate impact from shipping foods long distances. All of these issues are important in our rural Montgomery County. I ask that you please vote in favor of these bills. Thank you for your time and consideration.

End of Comments