It was a busy week with constituents in Virginia’s Sixth District. I hosted a Higher Education Roundtable in Weyers Cave with higher education leaders from the Shenandoah Valley where we discussed ways to make college more affordable for students and families. Following up on my spring farm tour in the northern part of the District, I also held my fall tour where I toured several farms in the southern part of the District and met with hardworking farmers and leaders in the Ag industry to discuss the upcoming Farm Bill and to hear firsthand how decisions in Washington impact their lives. Finally, we honored the United States Navy and their commitment to be a global force for good since its founding in 1775. As Congress continues its District Work Period, I look forward to continuing to meet with more of my friends and neighbors throughout western Virginia and hearing about the issues that most concern them.
Higher Education Roundtable
I was pleased to host my annual Higher Ed Roundtable at Blue Ridge Community College’s Weyers Cave Campus with Blue Ridge Community College President Dr. John Downey, as well as presidents and leaders from Eastern Mennonite University, Shenandoah University, Mountain Gateway Community College, VMI, Southern Virginia University, Radford University, and Christendom College. I am proud that our District is home to more institutions of higher education than nearly any other district in the country. The challenge that remains is the high cost of tuition and what can be done to make higher education more affordable. That is why it was important that I heard from academic leaders on what can be done to make college more affordable without passing student loan debt onto American taxpayers.
I’ve been working hard in Washington to try and reform education and rein in costs. In the 116th Congress, I served on the House Education and Labor Committee’s Subcommittee on Higher Education, and cosponsored the Higher Education Reform and Opportunity Act of 2019 (H.R. 4098), which revises requirements governing the financing and accreditation of postsecondary education. I also supported the Education Savings Accounts for Military Families Act of 2019 (H.R. 1605), which directs the Department of Education (ED) to establish a tax-exempt Military Education Savings Account to provide children with parents on active duty in the uniformed services with funds to pay educational expenses. And in the 117th Congress, I recently cosponsored the Responsible Education Assistance through Loan (REAL) Reforms Act (H.R. 8655) that offers commonsense, fiscally responsible reforms that protects students, borrowers, and taxpayers.
The Southern District Farm Tour
Last week, following my spring farm tour across the northern part of Virginia’s Sixth District back in April, I hosted my fall farm tour across the southern half of the District to hear from farmers firsthand on how the decisions Washington makes impact them. Agriculture is the number one industry in Virginia, accounting for 9.5 percent of Virginia’s total gross domestic product, providing for 334,000 jobs, with an economic impact of $70 billion annually. It’s an honor to represent our District, which is the #1 Ag district in the Commonwealth, as we are home to more than 8,000 farms.
Whether it be hosting farm tours, pursuing legislation to cut bureaucratic red tape and invest in broadband for rural areas, or fighting for favorable trade deals to export agricultural products, I am committed to engaging with federal agencies on behalf of the agricultural interests of Virginia’s Sixth District. As Congress will debate the 2023 Farm Bill next year, it was vital that I heard from VA-06 farmers firsthand, and I will continue working to ensure the Federal government assists rather than obstructs our farmers and all those in the agriculture industry across the Nation.
First, I spoke with leaders in the agriculture industry at a roundtable breakfast in Raphine where we discussed the successes of our #1 agriculture district in Virginia and areas Congress can offer improvement — on supply chain challenges, rising prices, and the upcoming 2023 Farm Bill.
I then toured Huffman Livestock Margaret Ann Smith Farm in Lexington, a leader in cattle procurement for over seventy years, specializing in the purchase and sale of feeder cattle. Today, Huffman Livestock provides beef in more than half of the states across the U.S.
Next, I toured C&F Farms in Roanoke, a third-generation family farm that produces food for their community. Started in 1948, C&F has always been quick to adapt, now focusing on sustainable and non-GMO cattle rearing.
Finally, I visited Bryant Orchards in Fincastle, which specializes in apple growing, high tunnel produce production as well as cattle farming and hay growing. Since their beginning in 1978, the Bryant family farm has expanded and now has 250 acres of land.
Navy Day was established in 1992 by the Navy League of the United States, and we honored and celebrated our cherished United States Navy on October 27th. I extend a thank you to all the brave men and women of the United States who served the Navy, past and present. Since 1775, you have been a global force for good.
Last week in Virginia there remained an average of 12 daily cases of COVID-19 per 100,000 residents. This week’s COVID-19 test positivity rate remained at 9%.
Thank you for the opportunity to serve as your Congressman. If my office can ever be of assistance, please contact my Washington office at (202) 225-5431.
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