FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Update 3/6/14: Governor Signed SB 51 – Read press release 3/10/14
– SB51 Passes Senate & House – sign revised petition
Bill Moves from Hotly Contested in 2013 to Cooperative Effort in 2014 Legislative Session
Photo courtesy of Martha Boneta
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Episode 5 – Food Rights Hour – segment from 2013
Richmond, Virginia—(January 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.
|Martha Boneta with Aretha (turkey)
SB 51 signed by Governor – Read press release 3/10/14
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.
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: Kim Hartke 703-860-2711 [email protected]
Update 3/6/14: SB 51 signed by Governor
– Petition revised to Thank Supporters – send email now
Sign Petition Now
Ask Governor to Sign SB51
Support small farms prosperity. Let Gov. McAuliffe hear from Virginia residents who want SB 51 signed into law without any changes as passed by the General Assembly.
Originally introduced by Delegate Orrock (HB 268) and Senator Stuart (SB 51), this bipartisan legislation aims to strengthen the rights of small family farms, giving Virginians more income opportunities. If passed into law, farmers would also be allowed to sell other products from nearby farms and host events without additional local permits. Both HB 268 and SB 51 have passed both the House and the Senate and are on the way sent to Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe for signature.
Sign the EMAIL petition to Gov. McAuliffe and his staff:
I support signing into law Senate Bill SB 51 as passed by the General Assembly without further amendment to promote Virginia’s small family farms and consumer freedom of choice.
|Martha Boneta, one of the
farmers behind Senate Bill 51, holding emu eggs
Small farmer Martha Boneta made big headlines in 2012 when she was threatened with fines of $15,000 per day by Faquier County. The fines came after zoning administrators trolled her Facebook page and found pictures of a birthday party she hosted for her friend’s ten-year old daughter.
Boneta later found out that the administrators were intentionally looking for a possible violation of the zoning code. Boneta was also threatened with fines for advertising pumpkin carving on her pumpkin patch. Because of these activities, the county threatened to fine her $15,000 per day. There is nothing that prevents the county right now from enforcing the fines they have levied against Boneta.
In response small farmers in Virginia supported legislation in the 2013 session, “The Boneta Bill“, that would have limited local government’s ability to overregulate certain on-farm activities. Although the bill did not make it into law, a taskforce was appointed resulting in new legislation backed by small farmers, consumers and activists as well as the Virginia Farm Bureau and Virginia Agribusiness Council.
Passage of SB 51 will:
- provide more income opportunities for Virginia’s small farmers, enabling them to sell other products of the farm as well as items from other Virginia farms.
- keep the most environmentally-conscious stewards of the lands, small family farms, on the land. Agriculture is a vital part of Virginia heritage and many small farmers are frustrated by the obstacles that prevent them from achieving a thriving sustainable business.
- keep more of the food dollars spent by Virginia residents in the local and state economy.
- enable Virginia consumers to obtain more items directly from farms.
Additional points to make:
- SB51 is a bipartisan bill with both Democrat and Republican patrons.
- SB 51 is the result of the working group created by VDACS to develop a reasonable compromise among all the stakeholders.
- Farm Bureau, Virginia Agribusiness Council, VICFA, FTCLDF and the entire weight and force of the ag community support this legislation.
- The legislation mirrors the existing state wine laws.
- SB 51 is consistent with Gov. McAuliffe’s “Growing Virginia’s Rural Economy” plan, e.g., creating jobs in rural communities.
Passage into law will mean that Virginia’s small farmers can engage in on-farm sales and other on-farm activities without burdensome regulations by local government.
Be sure to post a comment for SB51 at www.RichmondSunlight.com; some officials do read them.
Email & Call Virginia Governor’s Office
Use the Online Petition then follow up with phone calls
Governor Terry McAuliffe
Email the Governor
Felix Sarfo-Kantanka, Legislative Director
John Heflin, Aide to the Governor
SAMPLE MESSAGE for follow-up calls:
- My name is ___ and I am a Virginia resident. I am calling to urge you to sign SB 51, introduced by Senator Stuart, without any amendments.
[Insert here why SB 51 matters to you.]
Thank you for your support.
UPDATE 3/4/14: Ask Governor to Sign SB51
Action Alert (1/31/14): bit.ly/FTCAA-VA013114
Email Senators via Revised Petition & Follow up with Calls Monday/Tuesday
Phone List for
UPDATE 1/31/14: Senate Votes on SB51 – February 4, 2014
SB 51 passed by Senate Committee on 1/30/2014
Action Alert (1/27/14): bit.ly/FTCAA-VA012714
Attend Senate Committee Hearing
2 p.m. Thursday – January 30, 2014
General Assembly Building
Senate Room B
1000 Bank St
Richmond, VA 23218 [directions]
Last Updated 1/31/2014