BONSACK, Va. (WFXR) — Many farmers say they hear a lot out of Washington, D.C. about how to operate their farms and conduct their businesses, but what some say they really need is to be heard in Washington about how lawmakers and federal officials can help farms thrive.

On Wednesday Oct. 26 some southwest and central Virginia farmers got the chance to express their concerns when Rep. Ben Cline, R-Va. 6th, visited farms in his district. C&F Farms in Bonsack was one of the stops on Cline’s tour.

“He’s taking the time to come out and see what we’re dealing with,” said Jared Frye, one of the C&F owners. “Hopefully, he’ll take some of that back with him.”

Frye raises cattle and hogs.

One of the points Frye made when talking with Cline is that inflation is hurting smaller, family-run farms.

“As a small producer, we’re competing against big multi-national corporations,” Frye said. “So, we need a way to keep our costs low so we’re more competitive in the market.

“We just listen to farmers when we’re making ag policy,” Cline told Frye and the group of reporters and agriculture industry officials gathered at the farm. “The farm bill’s coming up next year, so its going to be all the more important to make sure smaller farms like the ones we see here are taken care of and looked after in the farm bill.”

A bull at C&F Farms in Bonsack (Photo: George Noleff)

Cline says family farms are the economic backbone of his district, and that the upcoming farm bill must include elements to help family farms produce, and to allow them to remain financially secure. That could include everything from tax incentives, to lifting some regulations, to ensuring that conservation practices beneficial to farmers are maintained. Cline says he is also sensitive to the multi-national agri-business concerns some small farm operators have expressed, and he says action needs to be taken to ensure family farms can compete.

Cline is facing a challenge for his seat in November from Democrat Jennifer Lewis. Lewis is a healthcare worker from Waynesboro. She grew up on a farm. Lewis says protecting the interests of small farmers and keeping them competitive with corporate farm operations is vital.