When the smartest people in the world spend most of their lives telling us climate change is real, then we should listen to them. Virginia will begin flooding in the next 30 years. In order to cut down on fossil fuel consumption, we need to get creative.

One of the biggest consumers of fossil fuels is trucks, and one of the biggest items transported is food. When grocery stores and restaurants buy local, less fuel is consumed. My solution to fighting climate change includes support for small local farmers. Small farmers can have as little as an acre of land or less and only a few animals. When they have the resources to turn that into a second income, it helps them and it helps us.

One of my priorities as State Senator will be tools such as community commercial kitchens and pasteurization salons, like the Carver Food Enterprise Center in Rapidan. The up-front cost of a pasteurization salon is around $50K. Pasteurization and cheese-making facilities must both follow very specific legal requirements. Most cheeses must be made from pasteurized milk, though there are a limited number of cheeses that can be made from unpasteurized milk after being aged for 60 days at temperatures above 35 degrees Fahrenheit. Either way, building and maintaining on-site pasteurization and cheese processing facilities is expensive while milk prices continue to drop, which is why community commercial kitchens that provide up-to-code facilities are an important way to lower the barrier of entry into the market. Small farmers depend on multiple income streams to get by. Grants for local communities to invest in tools like these will help farmers with small numbers of cows or goats enter the dairy market without the added stress of maintaining inspection-ready facilities.