Richmond, Virginia, Jan. 14, 2014 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Last year's bill to redress aggrieved farmer, Martha Boneta, is now retooled and a new bill HB268 was introduced on January 8, 2014, by Delegate Bobby Orrock. The new compromise bill is the work of a successful state-appointed task force which brought together farming groups with opposing viewpoints, received public testimony, and worked until reaching a compromise. A companion bill SB51 was filed by Senator Richard Stuart.
Both last year's bill and this compromise legislation are in response to a 2012 incident when county zoning officials threatened Boneta with thousands of dollars in fines for alleged "unpermitted activities" on her farm: selling agricultural items, hosting a private birthday party for her friend's child, and advertising an on-farm pumpkin carving event. During public testimony before legislators last year, farmers came from around the state with similar stories of how local laws were hindering their ability to make a living on farms.
The new bill, backed by Virginia Farm Bureau and Virginia Agribusiness Council, aims to strengthen the rights of small family farms, giving Virginians more income opportunities. The bill would also allow farmers to sell other products from nearby farms and host events without additional local permits.
The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) task force members included: Joel Salatin of Polyface Farm, Lois Smith of Virginia Independent Consumers and Farmers Association (VICFA), Katie Frazier of VA Agribusiness, Trey Davis of Virginia Farm Bureau (VFB) and Martha Boneta of Liberty Farm.
"This is a win-win-win for farmers, consumers and the state. Farmers get the income they need, while consumers have a one-stop shop option and the state gains additional sales revenue. We are all so happy we've found a winning compromise," explains Boneta, a member of the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund.
Track and comment on the bills at RichmondSunlight.com:
The Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund defends the rights and broadens the freedoms of family farms and artisan food producers while protecting consumer access to raw milk and nutrient-dense foods. Those concerned can support the FTCLDF, a U.S. based 501(c)(4) nonprofit, by joining or donating online at www.farmtoconsumer.org or by calling 703-208-FARM (3276).
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