FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
New Law Reaffirms the Right to Farm and Grants Freedom from Government Overreach
|FTCLDF member Martha Boneta slated to speak
Food Freedom Fest
Friday – September 5, 2014
Stonewall Jackson Hotel
PARIS, VA—July 1, 2014—The bill, HB 268 (SB 51), becomes law in Virginia today, protecting certain activities at agricultural operations from local regulation. This statewide non-partisan legislation was driven by grassroots organizations and individuals in the thousands across the Commonwealth and is one of the first bills signed into law by Governor Terry McAuliffe.
The bill becoming law marks the latest chapter in a controversy that attracted nationwide attention in 2012 when the Fauquier County Board of Supervisors forced family farmer Martha Boneta to cease selling produce from her own 64-acre farm. No longer allowed to sell the vegetables she had harvested, Boneta donated the food to local charities lest it go to waste.
Boneta is a member of the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund (FTCLDF), which offered her legal aid during the crisis. She is a keynote speaker at the FTCLDF 2014 Food Freedom Fest in September, along with Joel Salatin, another farmer who worked alongside her on this bill.
Fauquier County officials threatened Boneta with $15,000 per-day fines for hosting a birthday party for eight 10-year-old girls without a permit, and advertising pumpkin carvings. Seeing the county’s action against Boneta as a brazen effort to drive her off her land, Virginians from all walks of life rallied to her defense. Supporters gathered in Warrenton, the county seat, for a peaceful “pitchfork protest” to vent their anger over what an out-of-control local government had done to a law-abiding citizen.
In the 2013 session of the General Assembly, Rep. Scott Lingamfelter (R-Prince William) led an effort to undo the injustice inflicted on Boneta, and to protect other farmers from similar abuse, by strengthening Virginia’s Right to Farm Act. What became known as the “Boneta Bill” passed the House by an overwhelming margin but was killed in a Senate committee. Undeterred, Boneta and her supporters came back to the General Assembly in 2014 and won wide bipartisan approval for legislation protecting the rights of family farmers.
The bill signed by Gov. McAuliffe grew out of legislation developed by Rep. Bobby Orrick (R-Thornburg) and Sen. Richard Stuart (R-Montross) and supported by, among others, Sen. Chap Petersen (D-Fairfax). Backed by the Virginia Farm Bureau, the new law protects customary activities at agricultural operations from local bans in the absence of substantial impacts on public welfare. It also prohibits localities from requiring a special-use permit for a host of farm-related activities that are specified in the bill.
Virginia farm families, like the Wilsons
“I am grateful to all the Virginians and legislators from across the Commonwealth who rallied for non-partisan legislation that provides economic opportunity for small family farmers, access to consumers and allows the great traditions of farming in Virginia to flourish,” said Boneta. “It is gratifying to see the hard work of Virginians, working together across party lines, rewarded by a law that enables family farms to prosper as our Founding Fathers intended.”
To celebrate the new agricultural law, a flag is flying today over the US Capitol in honor of Virginia’s farm freedom legislation.
About Martha’s Farm
Paris Barns is a historic working farm in Paris, Virginia offering farm fresh seasonal organic vegetables, fresh and dried herbs, honey and honey bee products, eggs (chicken, duck, turkey and emu), hand-made soaps and alpaca, llama and sheep’s wool crafts and more.
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 farmtoconsumer.org or by calling 703-208-FARM (3276).
Media Contact: Kimberly Hartke 703-860-2711 [email protected]
Services provided by the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund (FTCLDF) go beyond providing legal representation for members like Vernon Hershberger. Educational and Political Action Services provide an avenue for FTCLDF to build grassroots activism to create the most favorable regulatory climate possible.
In addition to providing advice on bill language, FTCLDF supports favorable legislation like the “Boneta Bill” via action alerts, social media, and the online petition service.
Prefer to make a tax-deductible donation? For details,
go to farmtoconsumer.org/PIL
Farmers stage pitchfork protests to protect property rights
Published on Jan 27, 2014 – Fox News