State honors Ruff in multiple ways

Published 8:00 am Wednesday, April 3, 2024

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They paid tribute to Virginia State Sen. Frank Ruff in a number of ways this past week. The former lawmaker, who stepped down in the fall due to an ongoing battle with cancer, learned on Wednesday that one of the places he has spent a good deal of time over the last few decades will now bear his name. 

Gov. Glenn Youngkin signed HB 1381 and SB704 into law this past week, renaming the Center for Rural Virginia as the Sen. Frank M. Ruff Jr. Center for Rural Virginia. Surrounded by Senator Ruff’s family and General Assembly colleagues on Wednesday, March 27, Governor Youngkin also announced Senator Ruff’s appointment as a citizen member to the Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission. 

“Today presents a wonderful opportunity to pay tribute to a lifetime servant leader, Senator Frank Ruff, whose pivotal role in founding the Center for Rural Virginia will be commemorated in its name,” Youngkin said in a statement. “I am delighted to sign this legislation and turn the next chapter for this center as the ‘Senator Frank M. Ruff, Jr. Center for Rural Virginia.”

Ruff said he was happy to both continue to be a part of the Tobacco Commission, which he has chaired several times during his tenure in the Assembly, and the Center for Rural Virginia. 

“I have been a proud supporter of the Center for Rural Virginia since its creation twenty years ago,” Ruff said in a statement. “I am pleased with how the Center continues to make rural Virginia a place where people can grow up, learn, get a good job, and raise their families. I look forward to being a part of the next phase of the Center.” 


But we mentioned he was honored in several ways this week. One day before having the Center renamed in his honor, Ruff was at a private event with his family when the Virginia Farm Bureau Federation members gave him their Distinguished Service to Agriculture Award. 

“Ruff has a long track record of supporting the state’s No. 1 industry and has historically sought to understand the unique needs of the farming population,” Farm Bureau officials said in a statement. 

And it has been a long record. Ruff served in the Virginia House of Delegates from 1994 until 2000, when he was elected to the Virginia Senate. He retired from the Senate in December. Ruff held seats on key committees in the Virginia General Assembly that influenced policy impacting farmers, including the Agriculture, Appropriations, and General Laws & Technology committees. He also chaired the Virginia Tobacco Region and Revitalization Commission and the Center for Rural Virginia board of trustees. 

“You were there to support tobacco farmers during one of the most challenging times, when the Master Settlement Agreement was signed, leaving tobacco farmers without a seat at the table,” VFBF board member William F. Osl noted as he presented the award to Ruff. “You were part of the group of legislators who stood by them by including indemnification payments to compensate farmers and quota holders for the loss of tobacco quota, and ensuring monies were there to help revitalize the economies in those impacted rural communities.” 

Martha Moore, VFBF senior vice president of governmental relations, added that Farm Bureau is grateful for Ruff’s 100% voting record with Virginia Farm Bureau Federation AgPAC for the last decade, “and we are pleased that he continues to be a true advocate for farmers. Without his leadership and seniority, Virginia Farm Bureau would not have been as successful on numerous critical issues.” 


In the last few years, Ruff introduced budget amendments to provide funding for FFA, the Center for Rural Virginia, the Wildlife Damage Cooperative Fund, the Forest Sustainability Fund, soil and water conservation districts, Virginia Cooperative Extension and the state’s agricultural best management practices cost-share program. 

He carried legislation on industrial hemp and patroned a bill that increased state matching funds for the Reforestation of Timberlands Program. He also co-patroned legislation that amended Virginia’s Right to Farm Act. Additionally, he previously sponsored legislation to create Virginia’s Century Forest Program. 

“In 2013, Senator Ruff was the main advocate in the Senate to support Farm Bureau’s position on keeping the moratorium on uranium mining,” Moore added. “And those are just a few of the Farm Bureau-backed budget amendments and policy initiatives he supported in his 30-plus-year legislative career.”