- Published on Friday, 15 March 2013 13:49
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As members of the Agricultural and Rural Affairs committee and members of the Rural Action Caucus, Westmoreland County Supervisor Rosemary Mahan and King George Dahlgren District Supervisor Ruby Brabo traveled to the National Association of Counties Legislative Conference in Washington, D.C., held March 2-5. Discussions during committee meetings ranged from passing a resolution to support expansion of locally grown and produced food, redefining rural as a population of 50,000 versus the current definition of 20,000, country of origin labeling, removing nutrition from the Farm Bill so it can be its own stand-alone bill, and more.
Brabo said having a voice in setting the legislative policy is crucial to ensuring King George County is best represented in regard to how those policies, if implemented, would have an impact.
During the course of many meetings, Mahan raised concern that, up to this point, rural fishermen have never been a part of the Congressional Rural Caucus discussions. At one meeting, Doug O’Brien, Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development stated, “More local officials from rural areas need to be engaged in the conversation.”
Discussions with White House Senior Policy Advisor for Rural Affairs, Doug McKalip, included broadband and concerns regarding EPA regulations in reference to the Clean Water Act. One recurring message was repeated by each of these officials — with America’s system of federalism, counties are a key level of government, directly serving the people. And too many county elected officials are not at the table engaged in the conversation.
While in attendance at the conference, Congressman Wittman invited Brabo and Mahan to his office to discuss issues pertaining to their counties. Brabo addressed topics ranging from the reduced hours and potential closure of the Ninde Post Office, the effects of sequestration on the funding for the Joint Land Use Study for Dahlgren and the upcoming Great Strides Walk for Cystic Fibrosis. Congressman Wittman serves on the Congressional Cystic Fibrosis Committee and the King George High School French Club participates in the walk each April in Fredericksburg. Mahan questioned Wittman in regard to his vote on the Violence Against Women Act.
Brigadier General Bob Barnes (Senior Policy Advisor DOD) remembered Brabo from last year and introduced her to Steve Duboyce, the Community Plans and Liaison Officer (CPLO) for the Naval District of Washington, as he is directly involved with the Dahlgren JLUS.
Under Secretary of Agriculture Ed Avalos, whom Brabo met last year at the Spotsylvania Farmers Market, spent 45 minutes with her to discuss funding sources to aid the King George Farmers’ Market in expanding, marketing and creating a permanent year-round location. Secretary Avalos accepted Brabo’s invitation to attend one of the King George Farmers’ Market Community Days this summer and meet with county Economic Development Director Nicole Thompson.
“We look forward to his visit,” Brabo said.