Getting industrial hemp crop insurance for Virginia farmers proved to be an uphill battle, ED-1 supervisor J. T. Davis told fellow supervisors during their regular monthly meeting in Halifax on Monday.

Davis, his staff with J. T. Davis Insurance and area hemp producers, with a bi-partisan effort on behalf of Virginia legislators, helped secure Virginia’s inclusion in an hemp crop insurance pilot program last month.

AgriLogic Consulting is developing a federal yield-based industrial hemp crop insurance program on behalf of the U.S. Department of Agriculture after Congress approved the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, commonly known as the “Farm Bill” last year, which legalized and clearly defined hemp as an agricultural commodity and removed it from the federal list of controlled substances.

It took a grassroots effort beginning in Halifax County to get the ball rolling, after initial efforts at including Virginia in the program failed, Davis said.

Virginia Tech, James Madison University and the Virginia Department of Consumer Services helped provide data to AgriLogic in support of including Virginia in its pilot program. Bringing in the “big guns,” state politicians put the pressure on AgriLogic, according to Davis.

Now that Virginia has been included in the pilot program, Davis said, “Our farmers are able to have a safety net.”

He anticipates the acreage dedicated to hemp production will increase the next growing season from 135 to 11,000 acres, and the number of growers to increase from 85 to 850.

Davis added that Virginia’s inclusion in the hemp crop insurance pilot program should encourage lending institutions and processing facilities to work with area hemp producers to locate processing facilities in Halifax County.

Dennis Witt, ED-4 supervisor and board chairman, acknowledged Davis and ED-2 supervisor Jeffrey Francisco as “going above and beyond the call of duty” in helping secure Virginia’s inclusion into the pilot program.

ED-8 supervisor W. Bryant Claiborne added that money generated from hemp production would “be something everyone could benefit from.”

Courthouse update

County building official Otis Vaughan offered an update to supervisors on courthouse renovations Monday explaining masonry walls at the courthouse should be complete in the next several weeks.

In the next 30 days, footings at the new Main Street site retaining wall and formed concrete walls at West Edmunds Boulevard will be complete, and construction will start for the cast concrete retaining wall.

Additional flooring rework at the 1834 courtroom is in progress, and the new floor system for the 1834 old judge’s chamber next to the future connector will start in addition to steel erection at the commonwealth attorney’s addition.

The historic refinished windows at the 1834 building also will be installed in the next 30 days, according to Vaughan.

In response to a query from ED-3 supervisor Hubert Pannell, Vaughan said the project is on track for completion at the end of 2020.

Recycling Update

Simpson told supervisors that since reactivation of the county recycling program, the county has delivered approximately 15 tons of recycled material to the TFC facility.

The county delivered 2.53 tons (two weeks worth) from the South Boston location on Sept. 9, 4.32 tons (two weeks worth) from the remaining five collection sites on Sept. 13, and 4.01 tons (two weeks worth) from all six sites on Sept. 27.

On Oct. 4, 4.6 tons of recyclables was delivered, with all materials graded at 100% recyclable, Simpson noted.

The program is working real well thus far, according to Simpson, telling supervisors staff is hopeful the recycling program will expand to other sites as it moves forward.

“That’s a great report,” said Witt, while complementing Simpson on his efforts in revitalizing the recycling program.

“It shows the dedication of the citizens to recycling,” answered Simpson.

Doug Ford reports for The Gazette-Virginian. Contact him at dford@gazettevirginian.com.

Doug Ford covers news and sports for The Gazette-Virginian. Contact him at dford@gazettevirginian.com.