We interrupt our regular ag blogging to insert some ag political news from the region:
The first hot topic around these parts has to do with the ability of local Virginia wineries to continue to distribute their own wines in the region. It seems that in 2005, a federal judge decided that the VA wineries had to use and pay distributors, as they had an unfair advantage over vintners from other states.
You can read about it, here and here.
When we first purchased this farm, my husband wanted to start a vineyard and winery. We did a lot of research; learned that the topography and altitude was perfect; and took a tour of wineries in the State to learn more.
It seemed to me that the capital outlay would be massive and I was, and still am convinced that grape growing cannot be done organically, so we shelved the idea.
Others in our area have gone ahead, at great expense and labor, to create very nice wineries and steady farm income -- a laudable feat -- only to have the big boot of government come down on them from above. Public opinion seems to be on the side of the farmer/vintners for now, and hopefully, the laws will return to allow self-distribution of Virginia wines. That would promote one solid new agricultural industry in the area and, in effect, protect a lot of agricultural land from development.
The second topic getting a lot of attention in the region is the application of “biosolids” (sewer sludge) on cropland. You can read about it here.
It seems that farmers have the right to do this in Virginia, even though in my opinion it is simply a stupid risk to take on food crops. New federal laws regulating the ocean dumping of sewage seem to be pushing corporations and municipalities to try to find new ways of dealing with sewage disposal. This is a big problem throughout the country and I hope that good solutions will eventually be found. In the meantime, I’m wondering if large flower farms might have better use of the stuff than farmers growing food crops and/or cattle forage.
Now, if they figure out a way to make BIOFUEL out of "biosolids" the problem will be solved!