County To Address Federal Farm Bill.

SNOW HILL – Five County Commissioners went along with one
this week in deciding to prepare comments on the federal farm bill now under
review, despite seeming lukewarm about taking a position early in the
discussion.

Commissioner Linda Busick asked that Commissioner Virgil
Shockley, a farmer, be tasked with creating some guidelines and recommendations
on the farm bill for a letter to Congressman Wayne Gilchrist. The congressman
has held five public meetings in his district over the last several weeks
seeking comments on the bill.

Earlier, although he offered to take another look at the
bill and consult with local farming organizations, Shockley had come down on
the side of staying out of the conversation.

“We shouldn’t get involved with it,” Shockley said,
commending Gilchrist for holding the five meetings and sending out three
mailings, soliciting opinions on the bill.

After Commissioner Judy Boggs’ motion to take no position
on the farm bill, Busick spoke up and asked for the opposite.

Later, Busick explained, “You can sit and complain about
these bills, but why not let Congressman Gilchrist know how this legislation
affects Worcester Countians?”

She added, “He’s asking for information and input. Why not
give it to him?”

The commissioners rarely comment on federal legislation.

“We never take an opinion on a federal bill, that I can
remember,” Shockley said.

If the county says nothing, Busick said the bill will
happen anyway, but if the commissioners speak up, changes could be made.

“I don’t see anything much changing,” Shockley said after
the meeting. He added, “I’m going to come up with some guidelines.”

Busick said Shockley, as a commissioner and a farmer, was
the best among the board to evaluate what the federal bill could mean for the
county.

“I value his input,” she said.

The commissioners voted unanimously to have Shockley
review the bill with the local farm bureau and to draft a letter.

“I think we should express our opinion,” said Commissioner
Bud Church. “Where you really make some inroads is when you make a
recommendation. I think you get more attention that way and that’s what we’re
going to do.”

Shockley
later called the bill “worthless,” and said that it is aimed at large corporate
farms and not small family farmers like those in Worcester County.  

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