Tuesday, March 07, 2006

A crop to replace tobacco

While researching on the Internet last night, I ran across this article by Kurt Rheinheimer. The author’s name was very familiar to me as he is the editor of Blue Ridge Country, a magazine I have enjoyed reading for many years.

This comment in the 1988 Roanoker article about Virginia’s Explore Park struck me as very ironic:

“Tell me how to save coal and I’ll do it,” says Vinton Delegate and Explore’s legislative champion Richard Cranwell. “Tell me how to create a crop that will replace tobacco and I’ll work on it….”

Hmmmm—a crop to replace tobacco? Isn’t that what Al Weed is proposing as one of the solutions to issues in this campaign? But time passes and promises are forgotten, I guess—especially since Bern Ewert claims “Dickie” Cranwell (now our state Democratic chairman) has endorsed him instead—although the official letter has yet to be found, of course.


At 8:40 PM, Blogger mar said...


Found this at The Roanoke Times:
Weed asks farmers to consider new crop
Al Weed, a candidate for the Democratic nomination for Virginia's 5th Congressional District, Monday took his campaign to Danville where he urged farmers to switch from the production of tobacco to switch grass.

"Investments are already in place to buy the output from 80,000 acres in the next three to four years," Weed said in a telephone interview after the announcement.

Switch grass is a tall plains or prairie grass native to North America that can be grown in many regions. It can be cut and burned, usually with coal, to produce energy, or processed to produce ethanol. Scientists are also experimenting with using the grass to produce glucose, which can then be used to produce hydrogen for fuel cells.

"The time is right for tobacco farmers to took seriously" at such a switch, Weed said, "and move ahead."

He said he would back legislation in Congress to provide support for tobacco farmers switching to the new crop and would be willing to take a look at potential export controls on switch grass seed, which is being purchased by the Chinese in quantities that can make it difficult for American farmers to obtain.

Weed, a Nelson County vintner, and former Roanoke City Manager Bern Ewert, who now lives in Charlottesville, are competing for the Democratic nomination to oppose incumbent Republican Congressman Virgil Goode in November.

At 9:57 PM, Blogger Lisa said...

A new crop that can pay big dividends not only for the farmers that grow it, but also the area itself. Finally, someone comes out with new solutions--not just the same old rhetoric.

A politically-savvy friend keeps telling me that we need to bring new blood and new ideas into the Democratic Party to energize our base. According to him, we have to start putting forth the ideas that we as Democrats really support and stop giving voters the same old boring platform to consider (what we think they want to hear about: jobs, taxes, and abortion). While the need for the platform hasn’t changed, he says it takes new solutions to address them in the face of attempted removals of our rights as citizens. Although we have never really faced problems like this before, he feels we are not going to solve the problems unless we have new ideas and solutions to talk about and new leaders to follow. I think he's right.

[He also keeps telling me that Ewert and Cranwell are “Old Guard” and "Blue Dog" Democrats--and are about 15 years out of the mainstream of thought on issues. Not that all Blue Dog Democrats are behind the times, but people who ARE behind the times turn out to be Blue Dogs. Don't get me wrong, so-called Blue Dogs are usually thought of as being the right candidates for Virginia--but times are changing and we must change with them or be left at the ballot box. I don't feel we can afford to be left behind much longer. “Old Guard”—is that a synonym for hanging on a little longer before being put out to pasture?]


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