Earlier this week, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue came to Albemarle County at the invitation of Representative Denver Riggleman (R-VA5) to meet with various stakeholders in the agriculture sector at Roslyn Farm near Charlottesville, owned by Richard Allan Fox.
The round table discussion that resulted (full video here ) included farmers and farm-related business owners from each of the counties within the Fifth Congressional District, representing various kinds of products and services. There were beef ranchers and dairymen as well as truck farmers and new entrants in hemp growing.
After the hour-long conversation, Secretary Perdue and Congressman Riggleman answered questions from the news media. That whole Q&A will be featured this weekend on The Score but here’s a preview.
I asked Secretary Perdue about the adverse effects of the Trump Administration’s trade policy on the agricultural sector. He replied:http://bearingdrift.com/wp-content/uploads/Perdue-excerpt-trade.mp3 
People in times like this, when farming has been tough, a lot of people like to point to one single cause and the tariffs are not a single cause of economic duress on the farmers today. They’ve contributed, no doubt about it, but prices have been going down since 2012.
What we do need is more trade and I think the President is committed to that. He’s also committed to make sure that our trading partners play fair, play free, and reciprocal trade efforts.
China has cheated for a long time… President Trump is the first president that has had the courage to throw the flag and say “Enough’s enough. Let’s play by the rules.” Any sports team out here has the same rules on both sides of the ball, and we need to get our trading partners to play by those rules, and as we do I’m convinced the United States producers, growers, farmers, ranchers will be able to compete anywhere in the world.
It’s not only China. It’s the EU also has some very protectionist policies and the president’s dealing with those as well. That’s why the USMCA agreement between Mexico and Canada, which helps open up the dairy market in Canada, which had been closed, as well as dealing with other issues that are so important. And that’s why Congressman Riggleman is working to get USMCA passed in the House and the Senate.
I also asked Congressman Riggleman, who sits on the Financial Services Committee, what can be done to assist farmers who are growing hemp but are also having trouble obtaining services from banks who are wary of dealing with a product that was illegal until the latest Farm Bill was passed. He answered, in part:http://bearingdrift.com/wp-content/uploads/Riggleman-excerpt-hemp.mp3 
It’s not just the federal level that we have to worry about the regulatory side but it’s the state and local level. So for hemp banking, you know there’s acts already out there in the Financial Services Committee to allow that banking, specifically for hemp. I’m working very closely with Andy Barr from Kentucky, also, on the hemp banking issue to ensure that there’s a streamlined methodology for doing that. We just want to make sure that all bankers great don’t feel like they’re going to have some kind of issue banking something that’s been legalized and that’s what I talked with the Secretary about: we just want to ensure that that happens but we’re going to work pretty hard.
I’d like to be the first congressman to grow hemp in the country so I’m going to talk to somebody about that and I’d like to do it. I’ve got the property to do it. So, if I can do that, I think that would be pretty, pretty special to get hemp on our property and I think that’s what we try to do.
This week’s episode of The Score will also feature an interview with Virginia Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Bettina Ring plus Jacob Rich of the Reason Foundation and Jen Sidorova of the Pension Integrity Project. There may be more, so be sure to tune in Saturday morning right here on BearingDrift.com .