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ON FARM ACTIVITIES WORKING GROUP

Photo of a Virginia farm.As a result of several bills considered by the 2013 session of the Virginia legislature, a working group has been formed to discuss what on farm activities should be protected and what local governments can do to assist farmers. The purpose of this group is to facilitate discussions and ideas and to formulate recommendations for the 2014 legislative session. This group has no authority to change current policy or regulations. A report will be made to the House Committee on Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources and to the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources. 

As of October 22, 2013, the On Farm Activities Working Group comment section has closed.

REPORT OF THE ON-FARM ACTIVITIES WORKING GROUP

VDACS will not post comments that contain profane language or threats or are insulting or demeaning to any individual or group.

Handouts for September 24, 2013 Meeting:

Agenda

Proposals to be Discussed

Virginia Farm Rights Protection Act (Fitzgibbons)

Proposal from Salatin, Boneta, Smith and other counselors

Proposal from Virginia Farm Bureau, Virginia Agribusiness Council and David King

Proposal from Virginia Municipal League

Handouts for July 23, 2013 Meeting:

Agenda

Ordinance Enacting Chapter 17 – Zoning Article XIII. Farm First Enterprise Program Of The Code Of Ordinances Of Rockingham County, Virginia

Ordinance Repealing and Enacting Chapter 17, Article III. Definition of Terms Section 17-6 Specific Definitions and Enacting Chapter 17, Article III. Definition of Terms Section 17-6.3 Definitions for Farm First Enterprise Program of the Code of Ordinances of Rockingham County, Virginia

Report of the Center for Rural Virginia On the Expansion and Promotion of Farm Businesses and Rural Enterprises

Florida Law

Sample Legislation

Small Farmers Tap Creative Projects To Survive

On-Farm Activities Working Group Meeting Summary - September 24, 2013
Agenda

On-Farm Activities Working Group Meeting Summary - July 23, 2013
Agenda

On-Farm Activities Working Group Meeting Summary - May 29, 2013
Agenda

Members

  1. Travis Hill, Deputy Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry
  2. Matthew J. Lohr, Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services
  3. Steve Berryman, College Run Farms, Surry, VA
  4. Martha Boneta, Liberty Farms, Vienna, VA
  5. Trey Davis, Assistant Director of Governmental Relations, Virginia Farm Bureau
  6. Katie Frazier, President, Virginia Agribusiness Council
  7. David King, King Family Vineyards, Crozet, VA
  8. Larry Land, Director of Policy Development, Virginia Association of Counties
  9. Joseph Lerch, Director of Environmental Policy, Virginia Municipal League
  10. Paul Rogers, Jr., Rogers Farm, Wakefield, VA
  11. Joel Salatin, Polyface Farms, Swoope, VA
  12. Lois Smith, Vice President, Virginia Independent Consumers and Farmers Association
  13. Holder Trumbo, Chairman, Fauquier County Board of Supervisors
  14. William L. “Billy” Vaughan, Director of Community Development for Rockingham County
  15. Fred Wydner, Pittsylvania Co. Agriculture Development Director
Comment(s):

As of October 22, 2013, the On Farm Activities Working Group comment section has closed.

September 25, 2013

Dear On-Farm Activities Working Group Members,

We wanted to take this opportunity to sincerely thank you for your time and your contributions during the last six months.  As we mentioned yesterday, we have come a long way and covered much ground since the 2013 legislative session.  While we did not end up with a final piece of statewide legislation that had unanimous consensus, we believe that we made significant strides toward reaching some common ground.  We are heartened by the interest of Delegate Pogge in continuing to work with members of this group to further refine these areas of consensus, and by the prospects of possibly having legislation next session that enjoys wide-ranging support.

We appreciate the engagement of representatives from local government and the valid perspective they brought regarding the value of local input and control.  Additionally, the diverse views brought forward from the various representatives of our diverse agriculture community helped to highlight just how broadly we needed to think in order to come close to reaching a resolution that was helpful to all parties.  It is our hope that the conversations stemming from the work group will continue to involve all of these respective parties and their valuable input.

Again, thank you for your participation, and for working in earnest to address these complicated issues.  It was not always easy, but because each of you participated in a professional and dedicated manner, we were able to make great strides.  We truly feel that our efforts will pay dividends for farmers and their localities across the Commonwealth. 

Sincerely,

Matt Lohr
Travis Hill

September 24, 2013
Carl P. Cecil

VDACS

Virginia has the opportunity to become a leader in farm freedom.
I support legislation that protects small family farmers from government over-regulation.
Save Virginia’s Small Family Farms!

Warm Regards,

Carl

September 22, 2013
William

Good afternoon. recently I bought a property at 6 backs hollow Ln, Greenville VA, 24440. The house has a dwellyng system. The system or the pump is not working appropriately. Can you help me with that. I really need to see what happen, but my income is low and The system has not have pressure. Can you help me please.

Have a good day.

September 22, 2013
Elizabeth Thurber

I am very concerned for what has happened to the Boneta family.  County officials have denied them the right to farm their land.  This cannot be allowed to stand.  Please find a way to protect small farmers in our state. 

September 22, 2013
Carlton Haynes

Right to farm laws should protect farmers and land owners from undue restrictions and regulations. Before so called urban sprawl most of the people living in rural areas had some ties to agriculture even if they didn't earn their living from production agricultural. The urban sprawl of the "70 and later put large numbers of
people in rural areas with no interest in country life or agricultural. Modern farms are more akin to Industry than residential. People are not forced to move into A1 zones. They wouldn't likely move into Industrial Zone.

Attorney General office should be compelled to investigate and enforce Right to Farm and Rights to Hunt laws. Without enforcement they mean little.

My list of some of things that hamper farms and their owners.

*Restricting truck traffic in A1 zone on state roads making delivery to and from farms illegal A1 zones
should be exempt from noise and other so called nuisance regulation intended for urban residential areas.

*Requiring land use sign up every two years. is a unnecessary burden put on landowners in recent years, as are requiring crop yields records. Any changes to land use would require approval by county, it seems pointless,

*Requiring unlicensed farm trucks to carry same insurance as license trucks. General farm-owners insurance
covered these low use vehicles without problems for many years. Most insurance company’s charge commercial rates for trucks off road or not. This law befits companies that don't, not farmers or the public.

*Gun control laws that don't allow use of firearms to control animals that damage crops and other property are unconstitutional should not be enforced by DGIF or written in county codes. Farmers shouldn't be under laws
meant for urban areas.

*Farmers should be allowed to sell retail, wholesale, u-pick. Farm Markets should be allowed to sell hand made crafts, garden supplies, and other convenience items that enhance the sales of farm products. Flowers need a pot.

*Farm animals that escape should not come under laws as those intended for willful turning out animals to run at large. Owners shouldn't be charged with criminal offenses because a tree falls on his fence or for unintentional escapes. Uninsured wild animals, deer, fetal cats, raccoons, coyotes free to roam are a much bigger problem.

*Environment laws without credible empirical data to back their need. Gutter and downspouts on farm building are not going change amount of rain that falls. No-till can befit farmers and the environment but is not a cure all and is not suitable for all crops. Farmers have a good track record in choosing what's best for them and their land.

*Miro-management the timing of crop growing. Each farm, each farmer, each growing season is, different and will be hampered by firm date requirements. Since there no way to predicate rain fall or patterns it totally useless and could delay planting. beyond optimum dates or cause crop failures.

*Animal rights laws. Farm Animals are property and should be protected by meaningful .animal abuse laws. Not unrealistic animal right laws lobbied by ant-farm zealots.

September 22, 2013
Mark Daugherty

Dear OFAWG Committee,

I urge the OFAWG members to support legislation that protects family farms from government over-regulation.
Please consider and support the Virginia Farm Rights Protection Act, and the various Salatin-Smith-Boneta legislative proposals that treat small farms fairly and support free-market farm activities through fewer regulations.
Virginia is blessed with fertile lands and adequate rainfall.  Let's harvest this God-given opportunity by supporting farm freedom through an environment of fewer regulations that will foster growth and prosperity for Virginia's hard-working farmers and deliver fresh, healthy products to Virginians.

September 22, 2013
Michael J. Graham

I support legislation that protects small family farmers from government over- regulation - free from government intrusion, regulation and abuse - freedom from special interest interference and bureaucratic malfeasance, particularly at the county level.

Virginia has the opportunity to be a national leader in the local food movement.  This is about property rights, economic freedom and farming rights.

September 22, 2013
Christine Cavaleri 

Support the Right to Farm Act and pass the Boneta Bill
 
It is time for those elected officials in the Virginia State Government and members of the Fauquier County Board to accept that the constitutional rights of Martha Boneta, along with every other small farmer in Virginia, should not be violated by county ordinances.
 
Small family farms are the breadbasket of America and the Right to Farm Act must be re-enacted to protect them.  It is unconscionable to place restrictions on these small farmers and take away their right to produce goods for their fair market value. 
 
At a time when the nation's economy is in such dire shape and requests for food stamps are at an all-time high, what possible excuse is there for not encouraging the farmers to contribute to the nation's beadbasket.  Now more than ever, we need our farmers to be able to work and run their businesses unencumbered by unnecessary county ordinances.  The Right to Farm Act is needed to ensure that farmers have equal protection under the law from county employees seeking to violate the intent of the original Right to Farm Act.
 
When you place your vote, you own the decision and it is on record. 

Respectfully submitted

September 21, 2013
Donna Hurlock, MD
 
I would like to express my support for allowing small farms in Virginia to operate unfettered by excessive regulations.  We need to support those who are willing to operate a small farm, not punish them or regulate them out of existance.  The Constitution of the US was written in Virginia, and we need to preserve those freedoms here.

September 21, 2013
Christopher Sullivan

Government at all levels has severely infringed on small farmers' right to produce, process, and sell wholesome food to their communities. These infringements also impede consumers' ability to purchase more nutritious and locally sourced food. Our current large scale food production system that relies on increasing irrigation, herbicides, pesticides, genetic modification to endure the herbicides and pesticides, and a distribution system that all combined necessitates 10 Calories of petroleum energy for every 1 food Calorie delivered is not sustainable. Restoring the farmers' and consumers' rights to produce and acquire food at the local level , direct from the farmer, would be a great step toward restoring stolen liberty and is our best hope for food security in Virginia.

September 20, 2013
Joe Lerch

Proposal from Virginia Municipal League

§ 15.2-2223.3. Comprehensive plan to include guidance on agriculture.
Localities shall consider the incorporation of guidance developed by the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services pursuant to § 3.2-101.2 into the next scheduled review of its comprehensive plan. Such guidance shall include pertinent local data to localities that highlights current conditions and trends for land tenure and sales of farm products direct to consumers for incorporation into future land use planning.

§ 3.2-101.2. Guidance for local comprehensive plans.
The department shall review and provide assistance to local governments regarding the development and protection of agricultural lands and operations to be incorporated into local comprehensive plans. Assistance shall include the provision of federal census data as it relates to land tenure and the sales of farm products direct to consumers.

September 19, 2013
Vernell Strecker

RE: FREEDOM LOVING VIRGINIANS,
Our beloved Commonwealth, Virgina has the opportunity to become a leader in farm freedom. 
I support legislation that proteacts small family farmers from government over-regulation.
It is my prayer that all who have the power to act on saving Virginia's small family farms will do all they can to that end.

Thank you for your REAL service to our State by acting accordingly,

September 18, 2013
Richard E. Austin

To whom it may concern;

I want to add my support for the small family farmers in Virginia. I feel strongly that the character of our Old Dominion is reflected in the efforts we take to protect and preserve our agricultural heritage and creative efforts to insure that our family farms are aloud access to the markets they live and work in. Protectionist measures aimed at promoting corporate farming to the detriment of our small farms has too long been the order of the day by erecting barriers to local markets that previously were the unspoken, God given and inalienable rights of Virginia farmers. Your efforts are noticed and to the degree effect in support of small farmers appreciated. 

September 17, 2013
Matt Thompson

What the county of Faquire and the IRS are doing to Martha Boneta is a travesty on all levels.  Please support the Boneta Bill to help farmer's like Martha continue to farm profitably without needless and wreckless litigation.  Thank for your time and consideration.

September 13, 2013
Anthony Bavuso

I would like to respond to those who advocate "local" county control of farming in the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services On Farm Activities Working group.

York County, where I was born and raised, in the past 50 years has gone through a rapid transformation from primarily an agrarian economy to a service based economy.  This is a common theme across much of Virginia and across our County.  Some farmers succumb to the economic trends and sell their tracts of acreage at premium for residential development.  But what happens to the those farmers who chose to continue their way of life and continue to provide food for their community?  Residential housing units are built which eventually surround the farmer's property.

The farmer is now a minority in what has become a predominately residential area.  What is to stop the majority from lobbying their Board of Supervisors from taking away the rights of the minority farmer?  The majority will argue, we love farms and farming but just not here in our backyards.  They argue, we are not against farms, we are just against farms here.  We think farms are great but only in "appropriate" areas.  The problem with these arguments is if everyone wants farms somewhere else then where will our food come from?  Hence the now looming problem of the food desert and the costs and impacts of bringing food from somewhere else.  Will the majority our food continue to be imported from foreign countries?  Is this what we really want?  Is imported food from China really what we want to be feeding to our children and families?

Why would a local county Board of Supervisors who are elected by popular majority protect the rights of the minority farmer?  The Board is entirely motivated to satisfy the majority in order to win reelection.  There is no bicameral legislature at the local level or any check and balance.

This is what the Greeks called an ochlocrary, or the tyranny of the masses.  The founders of our Country saw the danger in this and created a representative democracy whose fundamental purpose is to preserve individual rights (ie the rights of the minority too) as opposed to just succumbing to the wishes of the majority in a true democracy.  Many believe that when Thomas Jefferson penned the inalienable right of "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" in the Declaration of Independence he was broadening John Locke's reference to "life, liberty, and estates" in which estates for Locke meant the means by which one autonomous individual supports himself by extracting value, either through rent or by work.  A farmer extracting value from his or her land is an inalienable right according to Thomas Jefferson and protecting that individual right from the majority is the very purpose of government.

When considering the inevitable tension between the majority home owners and minority farmers, first we need to consider the fundamental reason why we the sovereign citizens have formed and maintain our government: to protect individual rights.  And second, we need to realize that farms and farmers hold a very special place in our society as they are the producers of food that we all need to live.

Please support the Virginia Farm Freedom Act, the Virginia Food Freedom Act, and the Boneta Bill and any increased protections of small farmers from government overreach and from the tyranny of the majority.

Thank you.

September 11, 2013
Dan Gisselquist

On Farm Activities Working Group,

There seems to be a recurring theme among the comments made to this working group that we are talking about a state versus a local issue. 
Whether or not the state should interfere with local matters keeps coming up again and again.

In reality, this question confuses the entire issue.  Indeed, whether or not the state should take control from local authorities is not the question at all.  The real question is how much authority has the Commonwealth of Virginia ceded to local governments in the first place.

Virginia follows the "Dillon Rule."  What that means is that local governments can have no other authority but those authorities granted by the commonwealth, those implied by the express authorities granted by the commonwealth, and those necessary to function as a government. 

Because of this "Dillon Rule", the issue before the Commonwealth of Virginia that the on farm activities working group needs to consider is whether or not Virginia should cede, or indeed has ceded, certain specific authorities to the respective local governments.  For example:

- Has Virginia told local authorities that they could regulate, or even ban, private personal gatherings such as birthday parties held on private personal property?  Fauquier County believes this to be the case.  (See 6-102.27(G) of the proposed Fauquier Farm-Sales zoning
amendment)

- Has Virginia told local authorities that they can forbid on farm sales on any and all farms less than five acres in size?  Fauquier County believes this to be the case.  (See 5-1812(1) of Fauquier's current zoning ordinance.)

- Has Virginia ceded to local municipalities the right to forbid a farmer from selling someone else's farm produced goods or value added products once they become more than 50% of the farmers total revenue? 
Fauquier County believes this to be the case.  (See 6-102.27(F) of the proposed new Farm Sales Amendment, or 5-1812(4) of the current zoning
ordinance.)

- Has Virginia granted to local authorities the right to forbid people from planting a small personal vineyard in their back yard? Fauquier County believes this to be the case.  Fauquier county also believes that they can forbid someone from growing a small orchard in their back yard.  (See 3.318(8) of Fauquier zoning code.)

- Has Virginia ceded the authorities to local governments to determine when Virginia laws need to be followed?  Fauquier County believes it is within their authority to explicitly require Virginia law to be followed when they so wish, and hence they must also believe it is within their authority to not require citizens to follow Virginia law. 
(See 6-102.27.(B) of the proposed new farm sales ordinance.)

Indeed, none of these restrictions fit within the limits and purpose of zoning that Virginia has granted to local counties and municipalities. 
(See VA 15.2-2283, 2280, or 2286)

The On Farm Activities Working group, and indeed the legislature of the Commonwealth of Virginia as a whole, needs to decide whether or not these activities and others that have been assumed are truly within the authority of local municipalities, or whether legislative relief is necessary at the Virginia level to clarify those authorities that have truly been granted to local municipalities.

Thank you.

September 11, 2013
Lois Ann C. Smith

The purpose of my email is to say how very important it is that Virginia be the leader in farm freedom. I support legislation that protects small, family farmers from the over regulations by the government.

We, as small, family farmers, enjoy living off the land even though it's very hard work. Along with that, we provide needed and healthful food for our neighbors and those beyond.

Please stand with us in protecting our rights as farmers.

Thank you for reading my concern.

September 11, 2013
Ken Jones

Freedom is what America is all about.  Please ensure that Virginia becomes a leader in the nation in securing the freedom that we all are given by our Creator to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. 

I support legislation that protects Virginia's small family farmers from government over regulation of their livelihood, their liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  Do we, the people, work for the government or does the government work for us?  Please remember, it is all about our, the people's Freedom and getting government off the backs of the people.  Please choose the side of Freedom rather than the side of over regulation and the resulting oppression.

September 11, 2013
Nate Shaw

I believe we should leave farm decisions to local governments. There is no way that the state can know what the best decision may be for a local area. Leave the decision making in hands of the local city and county governments.

September 11, 2013
A. Stahling

I am for the small family farms in Virginia & am against the over reach of local/state government regulations & Agenda 21/UN plans to depopulate Virginia's rural areas.

September 7, 2013
Malcolm G. Cameron,  Jr.

To Whom it May Concern,

I feel strongly that only local county governments can best understand the unique needs and impacts of the specific farm products and operations of our local farms.

Our poultry, dairy and beef cattle farms in the Shenandoah Valley are much different in impact on the local economy and environment than operations such as corn and soybean or vegetable farms in eastern Virginia, or vineyards and orchards in Albemarle or Roanoke counties.

Only the locality can determine if various on farm sales or events are compatible with the main farm use or local zoning ordinances.

I would in under no circumstances, support statewide control of these decisions.

Thanks you

September 6, 2013
Paul Gellner

Virginia should be the leader in farm freedom. I support legislation that protects small family farmers from government overlegislation.

September 6, 2013
Greg Garrett

Dear Sirs at the Va Dept of Ag,
My name is Greg Garrett. l am a direct descendant of the Founder of Yorktown Va. How did we go from a farm based society to a rule based society that does not honor our own laws or property rights this country was founded on as we try to run farmers (providers of food) out of business?
I have won in court after enduring a huge legal expense...now l am being taken before the VA Supreme Court by my own County that was founded by my 14X Great Grandfather.... what a shame.
Please help the many others that have not been able to fight back.
Here is just part of my story:

According to John Stossell:
Forbidden Oysters on John Stossell Fox Business News
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VU1ZDsbDUnw&feature=player_embedded

What we are fighting for:
1. The Bay's survival
2. Local seafood which is healthier for all of us
3. Local jobs
4. Property rights for everyone
5. Basic Constitutional freedoms for everyone
6. A pro-business, pro-agriculture, pro-aquaculture environment in York County and rural/semi-rural VA
7. Eventually, for the Chesapeake Bay region to regain it's place as the exporter to the world of the best shellfish & seafood on the planet
8. Our family's oyster farm that hopefully will begin to make a small profit later this year

What has/has not happened:
1. We started a legal family oyster farm based on existing York County Zoning Laws & with 7 permits, licenses, certifications and/or leases from the Commonwealth of VA in 2008
2. We have had the full support of the Commonwealth of VA from the beginning, including state officials encouraging us and assisting us to market our oysters in other states and even overseas
3. Over 2 years later, & long after my daughter (a part owner of our oyster company) & I sold our oysters at the York County government's Farmers Market as an "approved vendor" York County sited us for violating the Zoning Laws in 2011 for bringing oysters up on our piers and in our yard, using an obscure provision added to the Zoning Ordinance in 1995 to prevent tank or pond aquaculture (fish ponds)
4. Then York County changed the laws to make what we were legally doing illegal, by changing the rules just eight days before our Board of Zoning Appeals hearing, which was approx 3 years after we had been growing oysters legally & after 400 years of no County oversight of a single oyster farm or oyster grower. This change came shortly after the Bd of Supervisors won their re-election which included the most significant support from a new PAC started by the primary oyster aquaculture opponent (Tim McCulloch), who went on to be fined twice for election law violations in their re-election for sending out the attached campaign flyer
5. We lost before a York County hearing panel (the BZA) that has not sided w/ a single citizen for over 10 years
6. A handful of vocal people opposed our oyster farm, based at least in part on false information spread primarily by this same oyster aquaculture opponent (McCulloch) that is now operating an oyster business right next door to his personal home in Dandy
7. Mr. McCulloch has started an oyster aquaculture operation right next door, approx 100 ft from his home that he testified before the VMRC would be many times larger than ours, and do 5 other functions that we have no plans to do:
a. a manufacturing facility for cages and equipment
b. a shucking house
c. a hatchery
d. a tasting house
e. an oyster processing operation
8. Many neighbors and York County citizens have spoken in favor or our oyster farm in many different venues, but this seems to have mostly gone unnoticed
9. There is nothing that we have done in over 3 years of oyster farming that has caused a noise, smell, or trucking issue, which have always been the primary concerns from opponents
10. We have not built any buildings, there is no smell, and whatever minimum noise that comes from our farm can barely be detected from any of our neighbor's properties... just stop by and see our well manicured green grass, our new trees, our purple martins, ospreys, barn swallows and a beautiful residential property that is completely compatible with our environmentally friendly farm
11. Currently our oysters are filtering approx 12 million gallons of York River seawater per day.
12. Then the last piece of this puzzle came to light recently when Mr. McCulloch was appointed to the York County Planning Commission, after being nominated by Don Wiggins, who was the primary beneficiary of McCulloch's PAC's activities that violated the State's Election Laws

What we currently have the right to do on our property according to York County:
1. Commercially grow unlimited crops of all kinds (corn, watermelon, cotton etc) to take to the market, with any type of mechanical farm equipment
2. Commercially grow unlimited livestock of all kinds (pigs, buffalo, alligators, snakes, goats etc) to take to the market, with any type & size mechanical farm equipment
3. Have unlimited non-resident farm workers come to our home/yard/farm to work the crops and livestock
4. Have unlimited trucks of unlimited size coming to & from our home/yard/farm 24 hours a day carrying crops, feed, livestock, supplies & farm equipment

Here is the editorial the local paper wrote AFTER we won in Circuit Court:

dailypress.com

Editorial: It's no shell game

To protect property owners, zoning ordinances should be applied fairly

6:06 PM EDT, October 16, 2012

American steel tycoon Andrew Carnegie said, "The first man gets the oyster; the second man gets the shell."

After last week's rulings in two controversial York County zoning cases, York County zoning officials might be feeling like the second man.

Judge Alfred D. Swersky decided in favor of York residents Greg Garrett and Anthony Bavuso, ruling they did not need permission to engage in commercial oyster farming on their residential property. The property owners had appealed decisions by Zoning Administrator Mark Carter and the Board of Zoning Appeals that special use permits were necessary.
The two cases differ in that Mr. Garrett's property is zoned rural residential and Mr. Bavuso's is in a resource conservation district. Both cases were decided under the York zoning ordinance as it existed in 2011, before the Board of Supervisors amended it to redefine "agriculture."

Although the zoning districts were different, in both cases the judge interpreted the ordinances as allowing the harvest of oysters. For example, Mr. Garrett's residential zoning allowed agriculture, but not aquaculture. Agriculture is defined to include the raising of "animals," and applying principles of literal interpretation, the judge concluded oysters are animals. To anyone who took basic biology or played "animal, vegetable or mineral," this makes sense.

Nor is Mr. Garrett is engaged in aquaculture, the judge said, because he harvests oysters in the wild rather than growing them in a controlled environment on his property. His oyster farm is not an impermissible "home occupation" because his residence isn't involved, so the permit requirements for offloading and docking in connection with a home occupation wouldn't apply.
This last distinction may amount to legal hairsplitting, but in a case involving the balancing of individual property rights with the authority of local zoning boards to restrict those rights, a little hairsplitting in favor of property owners is justified.

Mr. Bavuso's case boiled down to whether his oyster farming was a principal use or merely a permitted use on residential property, and whether "animals" were restricted to vertebrates. The court found the York zoning authorities had arbitrarily applied its ordinance in this case, since farming as an ancillary activity on residential land had been allowed in the past. Moreover, York County had permitted vermiculture — the farming of worms, which are invertebrates — so arguing now that oysters shouldn't be allowed because they lack backbones is inconsistent if not silly.

Local zoning authorities have the right to adopt regulations that take into account the impact that individual uses have on surrounding land. But they don't have the right to arbitrarily pick and choose who must comply. Along with fundamental notions of property rights and freedom from government's arbitrarily restricting those rights, uniformity of application is a basic principle of due process in our country.

Property rights become most controversial in transitional areas, for example where rural agricultural or commercial meets neighborhood. York County is a mixture of old and new, of people living alongside each other who may have differing notions about acceptable uses — such as how many chickens is too many. Drafting acceptable ordinances in these situations is challenging. But when a locality chooses to adopt or tighten any restrictions on use, fairness dictates that ordinances be clear, words be given their ordinary meanings, and restrictions be applied uniformly.

In this case, York County officials decided they didn't want these oyster farming operations to continue, so it attempted to deny these specific uses and amended its ordinance for future application. But as the judge's ruling found, Mr. Garrett and Mr. Bavuso had already beat them to the courthouse. County attorney Jim Barnett says he'll be speaking with the Board of Supervisors as to whether to appeal the ruling. Meanwhile, there will be oysters.

Copyright © 2012, Newport News, Va., Daily Press

We really need your help..... this is happening all over VA !!

September 6, 2013
Kathleen Wissinger

I'm continually surprised (though I shouldn't be) how avid development concerns seem to trump those of established agriculture and local community character.  And why should the state be the overriding decision-maker in this when individual regions are so very different in their make-up, long-term plans and needs?

Forcing through back-door legislation such as this, when advocates of wide-use non-farm development in agricultural areas couldn't attain the zoning changes from their own local governments, smacks of bullying to me. 

Don't do it. Let local governments govern, plan for and protect their local landscape according to their own Master Plans. Keep the state's nose out of it...please.

September 6, 2013
Jim Baggette

i am writing to you about the intrusion of government intrusion ,both national and local. Va has been a right to farm state from the begenning ,we definately dissagree with rules and regulations that inhibit the rights of farmers to do whatever they need to do inorder to keep their farms productive without the interiference of over zelous politicians for their own political gains.we strongly urge you to help put a stop to their war on small farms. thank you very much  james baggette rileyville va.

September 5, 2013
Trey Davis, Katie Frazier, David King

The attached legislative proposal for the On-Farm Activities Working Group is from the Virginia Farm Bureau Federation, the Virginia Agribusiness Council, and OFAWG member David King after input from our members as well as from discussions with local government representatives. 
The proposal creates a new Code Section in §15.2-2288 and sets a base line for the regulation of on-farm activities on agricultural operations.  It is very similar in scope to legislation defining what is allowed on Virginia’s farm wineries and pulls from the VDACS proposal presented on July 23rd in addition to many of the ideas submitted by Joel Salatin, Lois Smith, Martha Boneta, and others.
A summary of what this proposal does:

Hopefully the attached proposal balance the ability of our members to continue to work with local governments to strengthen current ordinances, while also allowing farmers of all sizes to explore new business opportunities.  We look forward to discussing further on September 24.

Sincerely

Trey Davis                                                                                           Katie Frazier
Virginia Farm Bureau Federation                                                        Virginia Agribusiness Council
Trey.davis@vafb.com                                                                         katie@va-agribusiness.org

David King
King Family Vineyards
Davidlking1@gmail.com

 §15.2-2288.XX. Local regulation of on-farm activities on agricultural operations.
A.   Usual and customary agritourism activities (as defined in §3.2-6400) related to the agricultural operation as defined in §3.2-300 shall be permitted unless there is a substantial impact on the health, safety, or welfare of the public. Local restriction shall be reasonable and shall take into account the economic impact on the agricultural operation of such restriction and the agricultural nature of such on farm activity.
B.   No locality shall enact zoning ordinances that would unreasonably restrict the following activities and events of an agricultural operation:
1. The sale of agricultural or silvicultural products;
2. The sale of food products from an inspected food establishment or an exempt facility as defined under §3.2-5130;
3. Agritourism activities as defined in §3.2-6400 related to the agricultural operation; or,
4. The sale of agricultural or silvicultural-related items incidental to the agricultural operation.
C.  In an area that is zoned as an agricultural district or classification, localities shall not require that a special exception or special use permit be obtained for the activities listed in section A unless there is a substantial impact on the health, safety, or welfare of the public.
D. No local ordinance regulating noise, other than outdoor amplified music, arising from activities and events listed in section A shall be more restrictive than that in the general noise ordinance. In authorizing such outdoor amplified music, the locality shall consider the effect on adjacent property owners and nearby residents.

E.   Nothing herein shall be construed to impact any provisions of the Right to Farm Act as included in §3.2-300 et seq.

September 4, 2013
Dan Gisselquist

To the farm activities working group,

My name is Dan Gisselquist.  I am a father of a large family with eight children.  We use our property in an attempt to lower our food budget and cost, to teach business skills to our children through agriculture.
We allow our children to sell those things that we produce that we as a family do not need.

Over the past three years, I have been hassled over and over by either the local zoning officials, the county Sheriff, animal control, or by the court system of Fauquier county for the lawful and simple activities we engage in on our property to these ends.

Before going into these details, I would like to point out that our property is not zoned for agriculture.  However, we are allowed to have crops and livestock on our farm by the local zoning ordinance. 
Unfortunately, because our land is not specifically agriculturally zoned, we are not allowed the protections afforded to other farmers.

I would also like to point out that our property is a corner property that consists of almost two acres.  These two acres are roughly laid side by side on a corner property with a county road behind us, so that the long side faces the street our house is on, the other long side faces a highway behind our house, and the two narrow sides face either another street or a neighbor's property.  Because we are on a corner property, the minimum front yard for our property is fifty feet, or sixty five feet if on a feeder road such as the backyard is.  If you count that fifty feet from all sides with roads on it, the sixty five feet removed from the back side, and the twenty five feet removed from the neighbor's side, that amounts to roughly 65\% of our property that cannot be used for agriculture.  Further, one of those acres has a storm water drainage pond on it, and another part of those few acres has our septic leech field on it, so the few acres we have left are unsuitable for many purposes.  Thus, in spite of having nearly two acres to work with, we have much less than one usable acre--no thanks to our local zoning ordinance which removed our rights to over half of our land.

We received our first visit from the zoning inspector a couple of days after my son tried to build a pond in the back yard.  Such a pond would provide water for our beekeeping efforts, and it would help to encourage a diversity of wildlife on our property.  We dug this pond, by hand, out of the bottom of the storm water drainage pond, sometimes called a dry lake, that already existed on our property.  We placed the dirt that we removed over other areas of the yard, primarily those associated  with the pipes of the stormwater drainage basin, where the lawn mower struggled to pass over.  As a result of this land rearrangement, we can now mow our lawn without either getting stuck in the mud, or getting stuck on stormwater drainage pipes that used to stick out of the ground.  When we received our first visit from the zoning inspector, he explained to use that we were not allowed to dig our own pond on our property for personal use without zoning permission.  Thankfully, he stated that what we had done was to create a mud pit that the kids could play in, rather than a pond---so we would be okay.  (Incidentally, the zoning ordinance provides no definition regarding what is and is not a pond.)  Since then, we have received an ominous letter from our local zoning official requesting that we fill this pond back in.  It took further correspondence with this zoning official before we learned that this particular official just felt that filling it in was good sense, not that he was directing us to do so.

We also keep chickens on our property.  Our chicken project started out with a movable chicken coop--something that wasn't in the zoning code.  We were trying to follow Mr. Salatin's example, and built a chicken coop after his design, only smaller.  Inside this original coop of thirty square feet, we kept twenty seven birds.  Needless to say, they quickly outgrew that coop and keeping them in there became quite unhealthy.  Therefore we purchased a second chicken coop, only to get another visit from our local zoning inspector.  As it turns out, he had needed to come to our property, unbeknownst to us, multiple times to respond to complaints every time our chicken tractor moved.  Now, with this new coop, he informed us that we were not allowed to have more than one coop.  Why not, we asked?  Because the local zoning administrator had made an administrative decision and declared, of her own authority, that people were only allowed up to one chicken coop.  Further, neither were we allowed to keep our chicken coop within twenty five feet of the rear property line.  After we measured it, the coop was exactly twenty five feet from the property line.

But what about the run?  The zoning ordinance limits "houses, sheds, pens and other similar structures" to less than 150 square feet.  What about the area the chickens run in?  Is the yard then part of their house, shed, pen, or similar structure?  After letting them run freely in the yard, we then had to fence them in when we couldn't seem to convince the chickens where the property boundaries were.  Does this now become a chicken pen?  This became another difficult hassle with the zoning office, as there wasn't any clear distinction between when a chicken run was a pen and when it was part of a yard that didn't count against our 150 square feet of area and when it did.  At first we were told that if the coop was connected to the fence, then the run counted. Then, we were told it did not.  At present, we have no clear guidance.

The problem is that our initial chicken tending operations have grown.  We were so successful, that we wanted to try raising turkeys, and twenty five chickens just really isn't enough to feed our large family. However, the zoning ordinance only allows us to keep up to seventy chickens on our property or up to thirty five turkeys, or some combination of the two.  The local zoning inspector has now been to our property multiple times to count how many chickens we have.  Despite the fact that the zoning ordinance only limits how many pounds of live animal weight we are allowed, and the fact that the seventy chicken limit is considered equivalent when the chickens are at maturity, the zoning inspector has no way of differentiating baby chicks from full grown chickens.  When do baby chickens count against our limit of seventy?  Seventy baby chickens certainly doesn't weight as much as seventy grown chickens and the Fauquier limit is by weight, but the zoning inspector has no other way of counting chickens.  Further, our chickens are not the largest breed out there.  Thus, seventy of our chickens are less than the nine hundred pounds of live animal weight authorized to us, but our zoning ordinance only counts chickens.

Now, consider, seventy chickens can be kept on our property, but we are only allowed 150 square feet of coop area.  This is absurd!  Seventy chickens would get very crowded in 150 square feet of coop area if they were not allowed an external run, but the ordinance isn't clear about what separates an external run from an internal one.

As if these hassles weren't enough, the first time we slaughtered our first chicken in the backyard, we received a visit from the Sheriff.  Yes, it was the Sheriff who showed up to ask if we had been slaughtering chickens in our backyard.  Well, of course we were!  How else do you expect us to eat our own chickens?  And, if I haven't mentioned before, twenty five (or even seventy) chickens don't go very far in a hungry household with a large family.  No, we aren't zoned for an abbatoir, we were just trying to feed a hungry family.

We have since received several more visits from the Sheriff everytime someone complained about the noise that chickens will make.  Yes, we kept roosters.  Yes, we now keep turkeys.  Yes, we keep a breeding flock of each.  Yes, roosters crow and turkey's gobble.  No, only one person in our community has a problem with this--we've talked with all of our neighbors except this one who threatens court actions against us if we talk with her.  Finally, our neighbor decided to head down to the local magistrate's office and swear out a warrant against us because of the noise created by our small flock.  We were now threatened with criminal liability for a violation that had no threshold to let you know when you had crossed it.  When we asked our lawyer whether or not we would get relief from the Virginia Right to Farm Act, we were told that the act only applied to people on agriculturally zoned land. 

Since our land was zoned as a Village district, a residential district that is a cross between city and agricultural lifestyles, we were allowed to keep crops and livestock on our property but we weren't afforded the protections that farmers normally receive.  Although the complaint was eventually dismissed by the court, that didn't spare us the hassle of needing to defend ourselves against a zealous prosecutor.

Given all of the visits we've had, we've also had to start learning about the zoning ordinance in detail.  Indeed, the requirements of this ordinance go well beyond the simple requirements of folks living together peacably.  As examples:

We'd love to put up a fence between our property and the property of the only neighbor in our area who has been offended.  However, the fencing laws within the zoning ordinance are not sufficient to fully screen anything they might find offensive.

What about chicken parts and pieces?  Once we were done slaughtering our chickens, there are always chicken parts left over---feet, heads, guts, you name it--all of the inedibles.  A friend suggested placing the remains of the chicken carcass in a bucket in the chicken yard, above the chickens and covered with straw, for the flies to devour.  The maggots would then drop from the bucket and feed the chickens.  Indeed, this process might easily work with roadkill in general.  We might also use this process to get rid of any food scraps from the kitchen, and thereby keep flies and maggots from our trash.  It would help keep the county landfill from getting so full, while allowing a natural process to decompose leftover carcasses.  Incidentally, this process would also decrease the amount and number of flies in the area. Sadly, though, by Virginia law all dead animals must be buried---they are not allowed to contribute to our families needs through the normal decomposition process.

When we moved into our property, we planted several fruit trees for the provision of our family.  I now know that "orchards" are only permitted in our zone with a special permit from the zoning office.  Nothing, however, in the zoning ordinance states when it is that a fruit tree, or two, or three, or thirty, becomes a bona fide orchard.  We planted several grape vines and three kiwi vines in our backyard for our personal use.  Again, vineyards require a special zoning permit.  What keeps our small set of backyard vines from being a vineyard versus a personal garden containing grape vines?  Is it when it becomes commercial?  If so, does that mean that my son cannot continue to learn business principles by working my vineyard for me and selling any excess that we harvest?

My daughter and I have chosen to keep bees.  I have found that local honey helps to cure my allergies.  As I have studied commercial honey, I have learned to be skeptical of whether or not the commercial honey has kept the pollen I need in their honey, or whether or not poisonous chemicals were used in their hives to keep their bees.  This wouldn't be a problem, except that there are bears known to live within a mile or two of our property.  The only known way to keep a bear from your beehive short of killing it is to erect an electric fence.  However, electric fences are illegal on residential properties having less than twenty five acres in size, as are firearms near the busy road behind the house.  While I understand the desire to keep children away from electric fences, believe me as a father with an infant and a toddler in the house I understand, I also think that an electric fence would be less problematic to a toddler than a bear on the property would be.

Finally, I would notice that "farm sales" are not legal on our property.  Thankfully, no one has complained, but how else shall my son learn business principles by selling any excess?  If a neighbor comes to visit our garden, and wants to buy some tomatoes from him, is that a farm sale?  Suppose the same neighbor wishes to buy some of his eggs? 

While we don't have a retail store set up on our residence, I would like the opportunity of allowing my son to sell any excess produce from our gardens, orchard, and vineyard.  Such sales are, whether intentionally or not, illegal.  As written, our zoning ordinance makes it illegal to sell any garden produce to a neighbor unless you are a bona fide farmer, having over five acres of land, living in an agricultural zone.

Many of these examples are attempts by well meaning citizens to accomplish some objective, such as to keep rural areas from having too many visitors.  However, these objectives are applied so uniformly and with such a heavy hand that they stifle innovation and help to perpetuate the current recession.  The one size fits all approach enshrined in both Virginia law and our local zoning code has made honest activities and professions, otherwise shared for thousands of years, either illegal or requiring a permit.  I mean, honestly, how many of our forefathers would have crossed the Atlantic to come to the brave new world if they didn't know whether or not they'd be able to get the required permits in order to grow their own food and sell any excess?

The education that I have received regarding our state and local laws, and in particular our zoning code, has been rather shocking for me.  Politicians keep talking about being business friendly, they talk about how people have been struggling to get out of this current economic recession, but yet I have found our hands tied so tightly that it has been difficult to share in the oldest profession: agriculture.  What adds insult to injury is the fact that there is a very large market for local, chemical free, free range, healthy agricultural products.  These products could actually impact our bottom line and the bottom line of many struggling families, if only our own government would get out of the way.

September 4, 2013
Tim Jost

Dear Committee members,

Please reject any legislation that would limit local control over zoning, and in particular zoning in agricultural areas.  I own a farm in Rockingham County.  I want to use our land for growing crops and livestock and don’t want the state government telling my local government—the Rockingham County Board of Supervisors—how they should determine what uses are agricultural uses.  Our land lies on narrow back country roads, some of which are not paved.  Our farmers drive farm equipment down these roads.  Some of our neighbors use horse and buggy.  Commercial uses and events centers are not consistent with these uses and these roads.  Our Supervisors and planning commission know these farmers and these roads and can determined what uses are consistent with these uses.  Passing laws to force them to allow anyone to move into our county and  say what they want to do with their land, to the detriment of their neighbors, is unacceptable.  Please reject any legislation that would limit our local government’s power to determine agricultural uses for our County.

September 2, 2013
Karen Duke

I am a very small farmer in Hanover County, Virginia where I raise fruit, vegetables, flowers and eggs for sale. My primary customers are folks who shop at a Farmers Market where I sell. Attendance literally grows weekly at this new Farmer's Market because the general public is increasingly aware of the cruel and degrading way that meat animals and egg-laying poultry are raised, as well as being strongly concerned about the safety of eating genetically modified produce (GMO's) and the health effects caused by the use of pesticides and herbicides on their foods. These health-conscious consumers are also unhappily aware that they are usually paying a premium price for their healthier food choices. Unfortunately, current Virginia laws severely limit the ability of small farmers such as myself to provide a larger variety of organically grown foods at a price that's competitive with enormous agricultural conglomerations.

A huge hurdle to supplying naturally-grown and naturally-raised food is the unreasonable constraints placed on small farmers that prevents them from simply growing AND processing food on their own land for sale directly to the consumer. For instance, I can sell fresh green beans, but not green beans that I have canned in glass jars. You may find more interesting information about what we farmers can and cannot sell in the "Food Safety Guide for Farmers' Markets" from the Virginia Dept of Agriculture and Consumer Services, which can be found online here: http://www.vdacs.virginia.gov/vagrown/pdf/FoodSafetyGuide.pdf

Delegate Brenda Pogge (R-Williamsburg) plans to introduce a simple, 20-word FARM FREEDOM ACT bill to the 2014 General Assembly that reads: "Farmers shall have the right to process and sell what they have produced on their land without licensure or inspection". I urge you to support this bill. Less licensure and inspections lower farmers' costs and will help bring healthy, more affordable food choices to all Virginians as well as helping to support the economic growth of farmers and their contributions to Virginia's overall economy. Small farmers can contribute considerable extra sales tax revenues, business tax revenues and new jobs to Virginia as well as other favorable economic benefits to the Commonwealth.

Similarly, I urge you to support the Virginia FOOD FREEDOM ACT. It states:
"There will be no restrictions for the sale of foods that are processed in the home or on a farm and sold directly to the end consumer as long as it has a label that states the name of the producer, address, ingredients and the disclosure 'not government inspected'. "

For example, an area of great interest to physicians and others familiar with the topic are the overwhelming health benefits of unpasteurized milk. Pasteurized milk is treated with heat to destroy microorganisms and prevent fermentation. However, heating milk also interferes with assimilation and destruction of many of the nutritional qualities. It interferes with calcium metabolism and may delay development of small bones. Many studies show that raw, unpasteurized milk promotes better bone density in children, reduces the incidence of ear infections and reduces asthma and allergies. Unpasteurized milk CAN compromise the immune system of those receiving chemotherapy, but is this sufficient justification for not allowing the rest of Virginia citizens the health benefits of consuming certified raw milk so long as they are informed about what they are consuming? People in Connecticut are allowed to drink certified raw milk; why can't Virginians share this same right? This is just one of many examples of outdated and restrictive laws that limit Virginians' access to healthier and more diverse food choices.

For both of the above 2 Acts, a "home" shall mean the residence of the producer. A "farm" is defined as an agricultural facility that has ten or fewer employees outside of a family. Both acts help to support small farmers and home producers, who once were the mainstays of fresh, local foods and who made significant contributions to local economies.

My small farm is only a sideline to my family's income, because the licensing and inspection laws governing what we can sell severely limit our ability to generate enough income to support us. Both my husband's grandparents and my own grandparents were dairy farmers, and I wish I could provide our grandchildren greater opportunities to know more about how to plant, grow, harvest, prepare and sell food in an era where many children don't even know where an egg or their milk comes from.

Many farming regulations, ostensibly created to protect consumers, are completely outdated and are actually contributing more harm than good to consumers while enriching large agribusinesses. I personally think it's appalling that consumers are sold Genetically Modified Foods - that can contain small amounts of pesticides and herbicides - without their knowledge or consent, and yet I can't sell a jar of heirloom, organically grown green beans to my neighbor. Twenty or 30 years ago this was not a concern, and I feel that passage of the Food Freedom Act and the Farm Freedom Act would greatly expand the freedom of small farmers to better meet the growing demands of Virginia citizens for healthy foods that are grown in a more socially and economically conscious way.

Bernadette Barber
August 31th, 2013

Dear Commissioner Lohr,

I thank you for the opportunity to express my concerns regarding on farm activities.  I have a small farm and raise livestock and seasonal vegetables.  I live in a very rural area in need of independent jobs.

For OFAWG to be complete, we need to begin  with three bits of history, one is  of the Right to Farm Act ( RTF), another is the change to RTF made in 1994, and the other is the 1967 “Wholesome” Meats Act  by congress.

In the 1980’s the Right to Farm Act   was pushed by both the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and Farm Bureau.  ALEC is made up of large corporations such as ADM, Bayer, Cargill, Pfizer,  Koch Bros, Kraft, Coca-Cola,  and our own Speaker of the House,  Bill Howell is on its board of directors.    Farm Bureau is an insurance company that mitigates risk through  profits made  in stocks of large corporations who utilize farms for the raw materials (taxpayer subsidized commodities) that they use.

The reason RTF was pushed was  to  protect the newest "technological advancements" in agricultural protein production, the "Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation.”   These CAFOs  ( aberrations of the independent family farm)  are animal warehouses that create awful stench, toxic manure lagoons, toxic fumes and particulate matter that truly create physiological damage in humans ( not to mention the animals themselves which we consume) Those creations were the “nuisances”  to which the statute referred.
 
Small towns and rural neighbors of these CAFOs did not want this bizarre, inhumane, unhealthy practice in their locales. Those town managers and county supervisors had every right to bring nuisance lawsuits up, barring those aberrations from their vicinities, (please see the factory farm map). 

To counter those measures and protect the big boys of warehouse protein production (mainly swine and poultry), American Farm Bureau and ALEC created and had introduced the Right to Farm Act in every state. They used the Dillon Rule effectively in VA. They had to deny counties the right to bar CAFOs in their area. And they successfully did it.  They wrapped it in the American Flag of freedom and the image of the independent rugged hard working diversified family farmer. 

Here let’s examine the language of what was in the code in 1994 and the proposed change in the form of the Senate Bill 513 which includes regular text which was current law, stricken text which was current law to be stricken, and italicized text which was the proposed new language for the law( yellow highlights are mine):

 

CHAPTER 779
An Act to amend and reenact Chapter 293 of the Acts of Assembly of 1991, carried by reference in the Code of Virginia as § 3.1-22.28, and to amend and reenact § 3. 1-22.29 of the Code of Virginia, relating to the right to farm.
[S 513]

Approved April 11, 1994

Be it enacted by the General Assembly of Virginia:
1. That Chapter 293 of the Acts of Assembly of 1991, carried by reference in the Code of Virginia as § 3.1-22.28, and § 3.1-22.29 of the Code of Virginia are amended and reenacted as follows:

§ 3.1-22.28. Right to farm; restrictive ordinances.

It is the declared policy of the Commonwealth to conserve, protect, and encourage the development and improvement of its agricultural land for the production of food and other agricultural products. When nonagricultural land uses extend into agricultural areas, agricultural operations often become the subject of nuisance suits. As a result, agricultural operations are sometimes forced to cease operations. Many others are discouraged from making investments in farm improvements. It is the purpose of this chapter to reduce the loss to the Commonwealth of its agricultural resources by limiting In order to limit the circumstances under which agricultural operations may be deemed to be a nuisance, especially when nonagricultural land uses are initiated near existing agricultural operations, no county shall adopt any ordinance that requires that a special exception or special use permit be obtained for any production agriculture or silviculture activity in an area that is zoned as an agricultural district or classification. For the purpose of this section, "production agriculture and silviculture" means the bona fide production or harvesting of agricultural or silvicultural products but shall not include the processing of agricultural or silvicultural products or the above ground application or storage of sewage sludge. However, counties may adopt setback requirements, minimum area requirements, and other requirements that apply to land on which agriculture and silviculture activity is occurring within the locality that is zoned as an agricultural district or classification. No county, city or town shall enact zoning ordinances which would unreasonably restrict or regulate farm structures or farming and forestry practices in an agricultural district or classification unless such restrictions bear a relationship to the health, safety and general welfare of its citizens. This section shall become effective on April 1, 1995, and from and after that date all land zoned to an agricultural district or classification shall be in conformity with this section.

§ 3.1-22.29. When agricultural operations do not constitute nuisance.

A. No agricultural operation or any of its appurtenances shall be or become a nuisance, private or public, by any changed conditions in or about the locality thereof after the same has been in operation for more than one year if such operations are conducted in accordance with existing best management practices and comply with existing laws and regulations of the Commonwealth. The provisions of this section shall not apply whenever a nuisance results from the negligent or improper operation of any such agricultural operation or its appurtenances or when there has been a significant change in the operation itself.

B. For the purposes of this chapter, "agricultural operation" shall mean any operation devoted to the bona fide production for sale of crops, or animals, or fowl, including but not limited to the production for sale of fruits and vegetables of all kinds; meat, dairy, and poultry products; nuts, tobacco, nursery and floral products; and trees in such quantity and so spaced and maintained as to constitute a forest area and the production and harvest of products from silviculture activity.

C. The provisions of subsection A shall not affect or defeat the right of any person, firm, or corporation to recover damages for any injuries or damages sustained by them on account of any pollution of, or change in condition of, the waters of any stream or on the account of any overflow of lands of any such person, firm, or corporation.

D. Any and all ordinances of any unit of local government now in effect or hereafter adopted that would make the operation of any such agricultural operation or its appurtenances a nuisance or providing for abatement thereof as a nuisance in the circumstance set forth in this section are and shall be null and void; however, the provisions of this section shall not apply whenever a nuisance results from the negligent or improper operation of any such agricultural operation or any of its appurtenances or when there has been a significant change in the operation itself.

E. This section shall not be construed to invalidate any contracts heretofore made but insofar as contracts are concerned, it is only applicable to contracts and agreements to be made in the future.

In 3.1-22.28 it looks as if the problem is coming from without the farm, city people not understanding farm life.  I remember it well being in an ag program at a major Ag university in the mid 80’s.  That was the spin all over the media.  But the real problem came from within the farm, the drastic change from animal husbandry to cold analytical animal science, and farmers not even owning the animals -just contracted to raise them in conditions a huge corporation sets which the farmer has no control. Vertically integrated contract farming is what it is called, a far cry from the independent farmer who made all the decisions on raising his own animals.

Section A of 3.1-22.29 had given people a year to complain of nuisance.  After a year, oh well, the state said you may not complain.  If you had bought a home near a hog warehouse you never saw, when the wind wasn’t blowing in the right direction or see its effluent contaminating your creek after a hurricane, you had no right to complain if it has been in operation for over a year.  But the citizenry of the locality could still decide and define what the nuisance was, be it environmental or health concerns.  The new statute gave the state the control by defining Best Management Practices (BMPs). The state was to decide what a nuisance was for the neighbors.  This is top down control—not local control. 

BMPs are another aberration of manure handling in massive quantities that surrounding land mass cannot absorb easily.  It’s a way that the big boys of warehouse Agriculture, DEQ, VA Tech and VDACS can pollute, create government programs, and continue business as usual, giving each other jobs at the taxpayers’ expense.  I think the local community should decide if a farm operation is a nuisance.  Well run real farms (not animal factories) don’t smell, contaminate water systems, make people sick, or cause death by manure pit

Section B of   3.1-22.29 looks like the definition of a farm but they changed the word to “Agricultural operation.”  It does ensure the right for sale of crops, animals, meat, dairy products etc…  Meat and dairy products are the processed product of the animals.  But see where the new language has stricken the words “for sale” and added the language “but shall not include the processing of agricultural or silvicultural products”

Processing is turning a pumpkin into pumpkin pie, pouring milk into a jar, or turning apples into apple cider.  Processing could even be carving a pumpkin.  But the bill also struck the words for sale.  So in 1994, we effectively financially gutted the small family farmer, by denying him the ability to process what he has raised on his own farm and selling good wholesome foods to his neighbor. 

The Right to Farm Act protected only the big boys of warehouse agriculture, say Smithfield, Tyson, Purdue, Pilgrim's Pride, Milk Producers-- all vertically integrated corporations who make serfs out of American farmers and then utilize foreign labor for processing raw farm materials. Quite a few use   MAS Labor,  a member of Virginia Agribusiness Council, that helps bring in HB visa “guest” workers- because the farmers have been denied the ability to process and sell what they have grown on their own land. People eat three times a day.  Food is big money.

We covered part of the history of RTF.  Let’s see what else happened to on farm activities. Through the 1967 Wholesome Meats Act, the Federal government took control over all slaughterhouses and butcher shops in the nation.  It required states have inspection programs “equal to” that of the federal regulations.  That drove out small, very safe, family run butcher shops overnight. Small shops could not retrofit to give separate bathroom, office space and shower facilities to a federal inspector.  The midsize shops absorbed the processing the families once held.  Over the course of time and regulation even the larger ones could not hold on. Now the cost to open a family run abattoir where beef can be sold by the piece is prohibitive.

Now that we have some “backgrounders” let’s get on with the purpose of OFAWG.  What activities should be allowed on farms?

First and foremost, the processing and sale of what farmers have raised on their own land should be sacrosanct. The key words are process and sell.  There is already a bill at hand to be introduced for 2014 session called the Farm Freedom Act which states twenty one simple words, and will be its very own section of code.  “Farmers shall have the right to process and sell what they have produced on their own land without licensure or inspection.”  It is very simple and clear.  One does not need an attorney to interpret it. 

On farm processing is what built this nation. We now get pink slime from the large processors, and the Chinese will own Smithfield (Sept 24th is the stockholder vote, the same day as the last OFAWG meeting.)  We cannot do any worse.  It is time to free the farmers to do what they do best, bring good healthful foods to their neighbors.  We need to rebuild our economies.  It can be done by allowing farmers to sell raw milk to their neighbors, sell fresh sausage from a hog they raised themselves or sell a pumpkin pie from pumpkins they raised on their own land.

 We need to get the federal government off the farm, the USDA and FDA. We need more abattoirs.  The state needs to adopt its own food safety regulations, not just unthinkingly adopt Federal regulations. Even if a steer was conceived, born raised slaughtered, butchered and eaten within the confines of VA (never crossed a state line) the USDA has to control the processing and sale of the meat.  In order for me to get a steak to my neighbor, it must travel 800 miles.  200 up to the USDA slaughterhouse and 200 miles back home,  then approximately two weeks later, it gets picked all “gift wrapped” at another 400 miles (and people wonder why local food is expensive.)  I have a state inspected slaughterhouse within 7 minutes of my home, but I cannot use it if my neighbor wants to only buy 3 pounds of burger or 2 steaks from a steer that he watched grow in my fields.  In order for me to sell, I must go to a USDA inspector.  It is a market manipulation to deny access by small producers.

The reason OFAWG came to be, was that the manipulation of the Dillon Rule to promote warehouse agriculture and deny local control came to a head and the limitations of the Right To Farm Act became known.  I believe that local communities should decide the issues at hand  for themselves, but until we repeal the RTF or Dillon Rule, we need to make major changes to VA code to rebuild our economy and allow freedom of food choice. The Farm Freedom Act, the Food Freedom Act  and the Farm Rights Protection Act are steps in the right direction.  The Farm Freedom Act allows farmers to process and sell, the Food Freedom Act allows neighbor to neighbor food sales, and the Farm Rights Protection Act prevents counties from selective enforcement of zoning laws.

August 28, 2013
Organic Farmer

I thank VDACS for providing this forum for comments. 
 
With regard to George Ohrstrom's comments regarding how he believes the Boneta Bill will lead to "concerts" at farms, I respectfully point out that the Piedmont Environmental Council (PEC) has events on farms on a regular basis, including this upcoming event at "historic" Annandale Farm with a bluegrass band - See: http://pecva.org/events/meet-the-farmer-dinner-at-annandale-farm
 
Also, many of the farms advertised in the PEC's Buy Fresh/Buy Local guide engage in the very activities, sales and other commerce that some of their members complain about.  But farmers should not be compelled to join any organization or special interest group, or hire lawyers and lobbyists, to protect their rights.
 
Farmers don't give up the rights of being an American, including their property rights, to local jurisdictions just because they are farmers.  For example, Americans may not be required to obtain a permit for a birthday party on their property, but that position was taken by one commenter representing the Virginia League of Conservation Voters.

It is unfortunate that one other commenter personally attacked supporters of the Boneta Bill as motivated by "greed."  We want to give small farmers a chance to earn a living and protect farm culture.  Farming is more than just an "industry."  It is an entire way of life.

Boneta Bill supporters want local governments to respect farmers' rights and comply with the laws, including the Constitution, that protect those rights from abusive, unethical and discriminatory local government practices.  To suggest that local governments don't cut backroom deals biased for some and discriminating against others, as happens in other larger governments, is to ignore reality.  People who work, have families (some with special educational or medical needs) and other obligations, cannot spend their time pushing special interest legislation before their local governments.

Government "closest to the people" needs to play by the rules, abide by the law and respect people's rights, too.  Local governments do not have the checks and balances of larger governments with two legislative chambers and an executive veto, and are therefore more susceptible to making mistakes or even engaging in abuse.

I urge everyone to read the Virginia Farm Rights Protection Act, which includes revisions that protect local noise ordinances and has whistleblower protections.

Here is a link:
http://fauquierfreecitizen.com/text-of-the-virginia-farm-rights-protection-act/

Thank you for your generous and kind time and consideration.

August 23, 2013
Karen Allen

Commissioner Lohr, Dep Sec. Hill, Farm Bureau, OFAWG, General Assembly:

Thank you for providing a voice to the small family farmers of Virginia that have been neglected. It speaks to the recognition that small producers have long been deprived of protection in Virginia.  We applaud the Secretary of Agriculture and Governor's office for finally taking the steps to protect our most precious and treasured small family farmers.

Just as the Commonwealth of Virginia created a statewide act to protect wineries from rogue county over regulation, it is imperative that Virginia create statewide laws to protect small family farmers as well. There is a great sense of outrage at the class system that has been created amongst producers and this movement crosses every corner of the state.

George Ohrstom of the Piedmont Environmental Council states that "if people don't like the direction of their local elected officials take; it's a lot easier to make your voice heard at the local level".  This statement has been proven to fail time and time again as is the case in Fauquier County where more than a dozen wineries and small family farmers are forced in to litigation because of regulations that are strangling them off of the land. The Virginia Attorney General has already declared together with the Secretary of Agriculture Haymore that the ordinances are unconstitutional, yet the county still refuses to acknowledge wrongdoing.  It is exactly for these reasons that statewide legislation is not only necessary but mandatory. There are cases all of over Virginia of small family farmers struggling to survive. How many does it take before Virginia stops discriminating against small producers?

The Piedmont Environmental Council's George Ohrstom and the other PEC representatives here on the VDACS website, have pointed out there are those that believe "a birthday party" has no place on a farm.  It is exactly for this reason that we must create statewide legislation. 

The issue of protections for small family farmers is not going away.  Rather, it is exploding and gaining support every second of the day.

The Commonwealth of Virginia voters that support legislation to protect small family farmers is estimated to be around 80,000 and continues to grow.  By the time we hit the polls, that number will well exceed 100,000.  Coalitions are growing and scorecards are being generated as to how elected officials vote on this issue.  These are the voters that go to the conventions and polls and will decide the future of Virginia.

To deny Virginians the protection they are seeking for small family farmers would be the most horrendous tyrannical failure in the history of Virginia. Those that choose to fight legislation to protect small family farmers will be remembered come election time. 

It is imperative that the legacy of Virginia's small family farmers is protected. 

Thank you for your consideration and for the opportunity to urge immediate action to protect the small family farmers.

August 23, 2013
Toni Buchanan

This is all about  greed and a war of lifestyle.  One group is steeped in the tradition of self-sufficiency yet constantly challenged to live unencumbered by ever-changing regulation.  They are too busy working and living their lives to mind other people’s business.  The other group, fat on subsidies possible from taxes paid  are never satisfied, believing they are owed something for being in this world.  They spend  their free time and influence to play nanny, like homeowner association-on-steroids, constantly imposing their will upon the elected officials of local BOS to do their bidding  in the name of health and safety, such selfless compassion.   What would happen if no one felt responsible to pay taxes anymore?    
Want kind of compassionate soul snoops into a Facebook page and causes a little girl to feel that all Martha’s trouble is  her fault because Martha celebrated her birthday at her barn?  It was a private party.  One minivan in the parking lot.  This shameful act of covetous, among others, lies at the root of this scandal, making Martha out to be the villain.  When grown-ups act like this, no wonder people of real compassion for truth and justice, come out in droves.  They brought in on themselves.  The elitist, view shed lovers were never treated so inhumanely when they first settled here.   Now we have to initiate new laws to enforce laws already on the books but skewed by greed political.  Progressive for the better?

August 23, 2013
Goochland County

District A-1 – Agricultural, General
Section 2. Uses and structures permitted by right.
1. Agriculture.
2. One-family detached dwellings.
a. Located on existing recorded lots or parcels that comply with area regulations for the district.
b. Located in minor subdivisions as defined. Major subdivisions are not allowed in the Agricultural, Limited District.
3. Forestry.
4. Churches less than ten thousand (10,000) square feet.
5. Wildlife preserves, conservation areas.
6. Home occupations as defined.
7. Fire and rescue stations.
8. Single-wide and double-wide manufactured homes.
a. Located on existing recorded lots or parcels that comply with area regulations for the district.
b. Located in minor subdivisions as defined. Major subdivisions are not allowed in the Agricultural, Residential District.
9. Portable sawmills located on private property as defined.
10. Public utility distribution facilities.
11. Horse boarding and breeding stables.
12. Wineries.
13. Horticulture.
14. Truck hauling not to exceed three (3) trucks.
15. Horse shows.
16. Public parks and public recreational facilities.
17. Microbrewery, the minimum area for such use shall be fifty (50) acres or more.
Section 3. Conditional uses permitted by special exception.
1. Private landing areas for aircraft.
2. Equestrian schools and horse riding stable.
3. Lodges, hunting clubs and private clubs.
4. Farmers markets.
5. Cemeteries, commercial.
6. Bed and breakfast inns and country inns.
7. Service stations, public garages, repair shops.
8. Public utility generating stations, transmission substations, transmission lines other than normal distribution facilities.
9. Churches, ten thousand (10,000) square feet or greater.
10. Cabinetmaking, furniture and upholstery shops.
11. Golf courses, golf driving ranges, and country clubs.
12. Two-family dwellings.
13. Gift shops.
14. Professional offices.
15. Child care centers.
16. Antique shops.
17. Homes for the aged.
18. Nursing homes and assisted living facilities.
19. Schools.
20. Other places of public assembly.
21. Campgrounds and summers camps.
22. Auto and machinery sales and service.
23. Truck hauling not to exceed two (2) trucks.
24. Restaurants.
25. Animal hospital, kennels and animal boarding places including any facility for one (1) or more wolf hybrids.
26. Gas transmission lines, compressor stations, measurement stations, regulator stations.
27. Garden shops, greenhouses, florists, nurseries.
28. Sand and gravel pits, quarries, mining operations. (Excavating and equipment used for the production of materials shall be confined to an area at least one thousand (1,0 00) feet from the nearest occupied residential dwelling at the time the use was permitted by the state).
29. Composting facility.
30. Telecommunications towers.
31. Truck hauling operations exceeding three (3) trucks.
32. Assembly halls in existence prior to February 7, 2006.
33. Indoor or outdoor gun ranges, rifle ranges, skeet shooting ranges, similar ranges or courses.
34. Athletic fields.
35. Small wind turbines in accordance with Article 21, Section 21
36. Microbrewery, area of less than fifty (50) acres.
37. Wastewater treatment plant.

District A-1 – Agricultural, Limited
Section 2. Uses and structures permitted by right.
1. Agriculture.
2. One-family detached dwellings.
a. Located on existing recorded lots or parcels that comply with area regulations for the district.
b. Located in minor subdivisions as defined. Major subdivisions are not allowed in the Agricultural, Limited District.
3. Forestry.
4. Churches less than ten thousand (10,000) square feet.
5. Wildlife preserves, conservation areas.
6. Home occupations as defined.
7. Fire and rescue stations.
8. Single-wide and double-wide manufactured homes.
a. Located on existing recorded lots or parcels that comply with area regulations for the district.
b. Located in minor subdivisions as defined. Major subdivisions are not allowed in the Agricultural, Residential District.
9. Portable sawmills located on private property as defined.
10 Public utility distribution facilities.
11. Horse boarding and breeding stables.
12. Wineries.
13. Horticulture.
14. Truck hauling not to exceed three (3) trucks.
15. Horse shows.
16. Public parks and public recreational facilities.
17. Microbrewery, the minimum area for such use shall be fifty (50) acres or more.
Section 3. Conditional uses permitted by special exception.
1. Private landing areas for aircraft.
2. Equestrian schools and horse riding stable.
3. Lodges, hunting clubs and private clubs.
4. Farmers markets.
5. Cemeteries, commercial.
6. Bed and breakfast inns and country inns.
7. Service stations, public garages, repair shops.
8. Public utility generating stations, transmission substations, transmission lines other than normal distribution facilities.
9. Churches, ten thousand (10,000) square feet or greater.
10. Cabinetmaking, furniture and upholstery shops.
11. Golf courses, golf driving ranges, and country clubs.
12. Two-family dwellings.
13. Gift shops.
14. Professional offices.
15. Child care centers.
16. Antique shops.
17. Homes for the aged.
18. Nursing homes and assisted living facilities.
19. Schools.
20. Other places of public assembly.
21. Campgrounds and summers camps.
22. Auto and machinery sales and service.
23. Truck hauling not to exceed two (2) trucks.
24. Restaurants.
25. Animal hospital, kennels and animal boarding places including any facility for one (1) or more wolf hybrids.
26. Gas transmission lines, compressor stations, measurement stations, regulator stations.
27. Garden shops, greenhouses, florists, nurseries.
28. Sand and gravel pits, quarries, mining operations. (Excavating and equipment used for the production of materials shall be confined to an area at least one thousand (1,000) feet from the nearest occupied residential dwelling at the time the use was permitted by the state).
29. Composting facility.
30. Telecommunications towers.
31. Truck hauling operations exceeding three (3) trucks.
32. Assembly halls in existence prior to February 7, 2006.
33. Indoor or outdoor gun ranges, rifle ranges, skeet shooting ranges, similar ranges or courses.
34. Athletic fields.
35. Small wind turbines in accordance with Article 21, Section 21
36. Microbrewery, area of less than fifty (50) acres.
37. Wastewater treatment plant.

August 23, 2013
Nelson County

APPENDIX A - ZONING
21
ARTICLE 4. AGRICULTURAL DISTRICT A-1
Statement of intent.
This district is designed to accommodate farming, forestry, and limited residential use.
While it is recognized that certain desirable rural areas may logically be expected to develop
residentially, it is the intent, however, to discourage the random scattering of residential,
commercial, or industrial uses in this district.
4-1 Uses – Permitted by right.
4-1-1 Single-family detached dwellings
4-1-2 Two-family detached dwellings
4-1-3 Boardinghouse, tourist home
4-1-4 Public and semi-public uses such as churches, church adjunctive graveyards, libraries,
museums, schools (not schools of special instruction), hospitals (not special care),
parks, playgrounds and post offices.
4-1-5 Agriculture
4-1-6 Fire departments and rescue squad facilities
4-1-7 Forestry operations including necessary temporary buildings and uses incidental
thereto (not sawmills)
4-1-8 Home occupations, class A and B
4-1-9 Kennels
4-1-10 Off-street parking as required by this ordinance
4-1-11 Public utilities generating, booster or relay stations, transformer substations,
transmission lines with support structures, pipes, meters and other facilities for the
provision and maintenance of public utilities, including railroads and facilities, water
and sewerage installations, and water storage tanks
4-1-12 Accessory uses as defined.
4-1-13 Business signs advertising the sale or rent of premises up to thirty-two (32) square
feet in total area
4-1-14 Business signs, up to fifty (50) square feet in total area
4-1-15 Directional signs, up to two (2) square feet in total area

APPENDIX A - ZONING
22
4-1-16 Home occupation signs, up to twelve (12) square feet in total area
4-1-17 Church bulletin boards
4-1-18 Automobile graveyards, class A and B
4-1-19 Yard sale
4-1-20 Manufactured homes
4-1-21 Intentional community
4-1-22 Communication Towers subject to Article 20, Communications Tower Ordinance
4-1-23 Cluster Housing Development pursuant to Article 21 of this Ordinance
4-1-24 Reserved
4-1-25 Farm winery
4-1-26 Small wind energy system, per requirements in Article 22 of these regulations
O2009-12
4-1-27 Temporary placement and occupancy of a travel trailer not to exceed ten (10)
consecutive days.
4-1-a Uses – Permitted by Special Use Permit only. O2010-09
4-1-1a Two or more small wind energy systems on a single tract of land, per requirements in
Article 22 of these regulations O2011-04
4-1-1b Small wind energy system(s) on a parcel of land 20 acres or larger in size with a height
greater than 100 feet but less than 199 feet O2011-04
4-1-2a Antique, craft, or gift shops
4-1-3a Automobile graveyards, class C
4-1-4a Banquet hall
4-1-5a Blacksmith shop
4-1-6a Borrow pit
4-1-7a Cabin O2009-05
4-1-8a Camp, day
4-1-9a Camp, summer
4-1-10a Campgrounds
4-1-11a Cemeteries

APPENDIX A - ZONING
23
4-1-12a Commercial sale of agricultural equipment
4-1-13a Conference center
4-1-14a Corporate Training Center (Res. 05/11/04)
4-1-15a Dairy plant
4-1-16a Farm winery permanent remote retail establishment
4-1-17a Fraternal lodges and community buildings
4-1-18a Garage, public
4-1-19a Golf Courses
4-1-20a Labor camp facilities
4-1-21a Landfill, sanitary
4-1-22a Lattice structure used to support a wind turbine. O2009-12
4-1-23a Location signs, up to twenty-five (25) square feet in total area
4-1-24a Mobile home parks
4-1-25a Motels, hotels
4-1-26a Multifamily dwellings
4-1-27a Natural resource extractions
4-1-28a Offices, professional, and services
4-1-29a Open storage area with or without gates
4-1-30a Outdoor firing range in conjunction with the County noise control ordinance
4-1-31a Private airstrip
4-1-32a Quarrying
4-1-33a Race track
(Res. of 8-8-89; Res. of 9-11-90; Res. of 9-14-93; Res. of 2-14-95; Res. of 6-18-99)
4-1-34a Restaurants
4-1-35a Retail store, neighborhood
4-1-36a Sale of new and/or used cars
4-1-37a Sawmills, permanent
4-1-38a Sawmill, temporary
4-1-39a Vegetative rubbish recycling facility
4-1-40a Veterinary hospital
4-1-41a Wood yard O2008-10
4-1-42a Composting, Commercial O2011-01
4-1-43a Wildlife Rehabilitation Center O2011-06

APPENDIX A - ZONING
24
4-1-44a Reserved for future use
4-1-45a Reserved for future use
4-2 Lots Allowed and Area Regulations O2009-06
4-2-1 A parcel of record in the Clerk’s Office of the Circuit Court of Nelson County on the
effective date of this subsection (June 1, 2007) may be divided into no more lots than
are provided in the chart below. O2009-06

No. of Acres No. of lots allowed
0-5 2
>5-10 3
>10-15 4
>15-20 5
>20-25 6
>25-35 7
>35-45 8
>45-55 9
>55-65 10
>65-75 11

>75

(> greater than)

A parcel of land larger than 75 acres
has additional allowable lots,
provided each additional lot created is
20 acres or more in size.


At the time of division, the owner of the parcel so divided shall designate the number
of lots into which each parcel so divided may be further divided pursuant to this
section. No such division or adjustment of boundary lines or any other reconfiguration
of a parcel shall increase the number of lots which may be created. O2009-06
Each plat of survey reflecting a division or adjustment of boundary line or any other
reconfiguration of a parcel shall provide therein: (i) the original number of lots
allowed for the parcel, together with appropriate instrument number references; (ii) the
number of lots created in this division; (iii) the number of lots remaining; and (iv) the
allocation of remaining lot rights among the newly created lots. O2009-06
4-2-1a The minimum lot area shall be two (2) acres (87,120 sq. ft) or more per dwelling unit.
For family subdivision lots the minimum lot area shall be one (1) acre (43,560 sq. ft.)
per dwelling unit.
4-2-1b For single family dwelling units utilizing the Nelson County public sewage disposal
system, the required area for such use shall be thirty thousand (30,000) sq. ft.
O2009-13
4-2-1c For a two-family detached dwelling unit on a single lot utilizing the Nelson County
public sewage disposal system, the required area for such use shall be thirty thousand
(30,000) sq. ft. O2009-13

APPENDIX A - ZONING
25
4-2-2 For permitted uses utilizing individual sewage disposal systems, the required area for
any such use shall be approved by the health official. The administrator may require a
greater area if considered necessary by the health official.
4-3 Setback regulations.
4-3-1a Front yard:
Minimum of seventy-five (75) feet from the center of the road or fifty (50) feet from
the edge of the right-of-way, whichever is the greater distance.
4-3-1b Internal lot without road frontage:
Minimum of fifty (50) feet from the property line designated as the front yard.
4-3-2 Side yard:
Lots 1 to 5 acres in size: Minimum of ten (10) feet from the property line and the total
width of the required side yards shall be twenty five (25) feet or more.
Lots greater than 5 acres in size: Minimum of twenty (20) feet from the property line
and total width of the required side yards shall be fifty (50) feet or more.
4-3-3 Rear yard:
Lots 1 to 5 acres in size: Minimum of twenty-five (25) feet from the rear property
line.
Lots greater than 5 acres in size: Minimum of fifty (50) feet from the rear property
line.
4-3-4 Accessory structure:
Minimum of fifteen (15) feet from property line, except no accessory building shall be
located within the required front yard setback.
4-3-5 Road frontage:
Minimum of one hundred twenty-five (125) feet fronting on a public or private road
built to State or County road standards.
4-4 Special provisions for corner lots.
4-4-1 Of the two sides of a corner lot, the front shall be deemed to be the shortest of the two
sides fronting on streets.
4-4-2 The minimum side yard on the side facing the side street shall be thirty (30) feet for
both main and accessory building(s).

APPENDIX A - ZONING
26
4-5 Reserved for future use.
4-6 Height limitations.
Any structure erected up to a height greater than thirty-five (35) feet from grade
requires a Special Use Permit with the following exceptions: single family dwellings,
two family dwellings, boardinghouse, tourist home, wooden poles for electric,
telephone lines and similar lines/cables, public and semi-public uses such as churches,
libraries, museums, schools, hospitals, parks, playgrounds, and post offices,
agriculture, fire departments and rescue squad facilities and water storage tanks.
O2011-004
4-7 Site plan.
Before a building and zoning permit shall be issued for any development for
commercial purposes or for development to contain three (3) or more dwelling units
on one (1) lot or parcel, a site plan of proposed development shall be approved by the
Commission in conformance with Article 13 of this ordinance.
(Ord. of 12-14-93)
4-8 Mobile home park lot size.
The owner or operator of any mobile home park shall provide no less than four
thousand (4,000) square feet of ground for each mobile home lot rented, inclusive of
the ground underneath the mobile home. There should be a minimum distance of
twenty-five (25) feet between each mobile home.
(Ord. of 12-14-93)
4-9 Oil and gas exploration and extraction.
The Board of Supervisors may authorize the issuance of a Special Use Permit for the
exploration and extraction of oil and gas provided the Board of Supervisors determines
that natural resource exploration and extraction are appropriate in the area in which the
activity is to be located. In addition to the guidelines and standards concerning
compatibility with existing uses in the neighborhood of the activity as set forth in
Section 12-3-6 of this ordinance, the Board of Supervisors shall determine that the
proposed activity will not constitute a significant threat to the environment. In order to
insure that the proposed activity will be carried out in a manner which will minimize
any environmental impact, the applicant shall have prepared an Environmental
Management Plan. This plan, to be prepared at the applicant's expense, shall address,
at a minimum, the following areas:
(1) The type, length, slope, and maintenance plans for any access roads or trails which
will be constructed in connection with the activity. The Board of Supervisors shall
require adherence to the guidelines set out for road construction in the Best
Management Practices Handbook of the Virginia State Water Control Board.
(2) The amount of land which will be disturbed as a result of the proposed activity and
in particular any changes in the topography which would alter natural drainage

APPENDIX A - ZONING
27
patterns. The Board of Supervisors shall require adherence to the guidelines of the
Virginia State Water Control Board's Best Management Practices Handbook.
(3) The location of existing water wells and other existing or potential sources of
water supply in the area to be establish. The Board of Supervisors shall require
satisfactory proof that the proposed activity will not disturb the quality or
production of water sources. Data describing area water quality and quantity shall
be provided by the applicant.
(4) A plan for post drilling and post closure reclamation work. The Board of
Supervisors shall require a detailed plan describing the measures to be taken by the
applicant for the reclamation of the disturbed areas.
Prior to preparing the Environmental Management Plan, the applicant shall consult
with the Zoning Administrator, who in consultation with appropriate local, state, and
federal agencies and/or independent consultants, retained by the County, with
professional expertise in the applicable fields will determine the specific areas to be
addressed in the plan. Upon completion, copies of the plan shall be delivered to the
Zoning Administrator for review.
The above review shall be conducted by the Zoning Administrator in consultation with
the same parties conducting the original review. Based on this review, the Zoning
Administrator shall prepare a recommendation for the Planning Commission and the
Board of Supervisors.
The Board of Supervisors shall require a bond with surety or other approved security
to ensure that any of the above conditions which are imposed shall be complied with.
The amount of said bond shall be or an amount sufficient to complete all requisite
preparation, drilling, and reclamation projects as well as potential significant
environmental damage.
Prior to commencing any activity involving drilling for oil or gas, the operator of the
activity shall obtain a drilling permit from the Zoning Administrator. Such permit
shall be granted only after a state drilling permit has been issued to the applicant. The
County drilling permit shall be valid for a period of two (2) years. Renewal of the
permit shall require a reapplication.
Periodic inspection to determine the permittee's compliance with the approved plan
shall be conducted by the Zoning Administrator or his designee. Failure on the part of
the applicant to permit an inspection or failure to comply with any part of the plan
during the course of the activity shall constitute grounds for revocation of the permit.
(Ord. of 12-14-93)
4-10 Multifamily dwellings.
The Board of Supervisors may authorize the issuance of a Special Use Permit for
multifamily housing units of up to six (6) units and not more than two (2) stories,
provided that the gross density is not greater than one (1) unit per acre for the first four
(4) units and one-half acre for units thereafter up to six (6) units. Multifamily

APPENDIX A - ZONING
28
buildings shall be located seventy-five (75) feet or more from any street or highway
right-of-way which is fifty (50) feet or greater in width or one hundred (100) feet or
more from the centerline of any street less than fifty (50) feet in width. The minimum
frontage shall be two hundred fifty (250) feet along a road built to County or State
standards.
In addition to the guidelines and standards concerning compatibility with existing uses
in the neighborhood of the proposed multifamily housing units as outlined in Section
12-3-6 of this ordinance, the Board of Supervisors may require:
(1) Evidence from a qualified soil scientist that the soils at the proposed site are
suitable for septic fields.
(2) Evidence that adequate supplies of drinking water are available.
(3) An opinion from the Virginia Department of Highways that the traffic generated
will not occasion the need for road improvements.
(4) A detailed site plan showing landscaping and screening.
(Ord. of 12-14-93)
4-11 Administrative Approvals.
The Zoning Administrator may administratively approve a zoning permit for the
following uses, provided they are in compliance with the provisions of this Article.
4-11-1 Temporary placement of a travel trailer not to exceed three (3) years and
temporary occupancy not to exceed thirty (30) consecutive days at any one time.
A zoning permit will not be issued until a septic tank has been installed.
4-11-2 Wayside Stands.
4-11-3 Temporary events not otherwise a permitted use may be allowed pursuant to a Special
Events Permit for a specified time period. The application for such a permit shall be
submitted on a form provided by the Planning Director. The Planning Director may
issue the permit upon his determination that: (i) all regulations of other agencies are
satisfied; (ii) the use of the Special Events Permit is not for a purpose of circumventing
other provisions of this ordinance. Additionally, the Zoning Administrator may attach
specific conditions necessary to minimize the potential adverse impact on the
surrounding area or general public. A Special Events Permit may include more than
one event within a specified time period.

APPENDIX A - ZONING
29
Reserved for future use.

August 22, 2013
Mr. George L. Ohrstrom II

Hello, and thank you for the opportunity to comment on this issue.
I firmly believe the each county should be able to deal with their "local" issues. The counties of the Shenandoah Valley are obviously very distinct from the Eastern Shore of VA. Any resident of one county is going to chafe under a "statewide" law, just as "Virginians" will chafe under Federal mandates. What makes sense in one region, might be totally ridiculous in another.
 
Local control is just that;  and it's a mistake to erode any of that.

Farming is farming; concerts are not farming. Please leave the controls to local issues in the hands of the local leaders.
If people don't like the direction their local elected officials take; it's a lot easier to make your voice heard at a local level.

Thank you again for the chance to comment

August 21, 2013
Travis Blankenship

Dear On Farm Activities Working Group:

Unsuccessful attempts to overturn local zoning decisions should not be appealed to the state legislature in hopes of a sweeping statewide mandate. This is nothing more than an irresponsible maneuver which undermines the operation of democracy. It is a well accepted concept that the best government is that which is closest to its people. Assuming this is true, the constituents of local boards of supervisors are the most empowered to influence the decisions made at that level. If a farm landowner is unhappy with those decisions, he or she can attend local meetings, serve on committees, and even run for office. 

Stripping local governments of the power to make important zoning decisions and circumventing those powers to the state legislature is simply unfair to law abiding landowners. Farm activities conducted by these law abiding landowners are and should be connected to an agricultural purpose in order to improve or add value to the products of their agricultural operations. A farm is needed to raise cattle for Virginia dairy and to grow Virginia crops and produce. Contrary to the belief of some, a farm is not needed to host a birthday party, a yoga class, or to be advertised for other non-agricultural activities. 

Farmers and the diverse agricultural operations across the Commonwealth are the backbone of our economy. The dairy operations of the Shenandoah Valley are different from the soybean operations of the Eastern Shore. These distinct differences from region to region are another reason not to have a statewide mandate confiscate the zoning powers of local governments. A far-fetched, one-size-fits-all approach such as the one being discussed can and will nullify the will of the local communities. Local problems deserve local solutions; not statewide mandates. 

Local decision-makers know best the equilibrium between the will of farm landowners and the effects farm activities have on the community. State legislators in Richmond do not.

Thanks for your consideration.

August 21, 2013
Kimberly Hartke

In response to Patricia Ewing, Megan Gallagher

Having a small quaint shabby chic farm store (which sells ancillary items) and hosting small events to bring customers into the store does not constitute a death knell to the rural way of life. What it does is educate urban and suburban folks about the value of small farm agriculture and makes these family enterprises, and other local businesses (such as restaurants, country inns, wineries) viable.

It is imperative that we create an environment that supports local commerce and keeps farmers able to make a full time living without taking off farm jobs.

Please consider how we might change the attitudes of zoning regulators and preservationists to one of embracing the emerging local foods economy and farm-to-consumer direct sales.

NONE of us is advocating for Big Box stores in rural areas. We are with you on that, 100%.

August 21, 2013
Kimberly Hartke, Health and Wellness Advocate

Please post these blog stories on your comments page related to the On Farm Activities Working Group:

http://hartkeisonline.com/2010/01/18/va-tech-says-10-00wk-on-local-foods-will-boost-va-economy-by-1-65-billion/

http://hartkeisonline.com/2010/02/12/regulatory-confusion-hinders-cottage-industry/

http://hartkeisonline.com/2009/07/16/government-regulations-create-high-hurdles-for-small-farmers/
As if county and state regulations aren't barriers to entry and success of small enterprise, FSMA is coming and will bury our Virginia farmers in Federal regulations:

http://hartkeisonline.com/food-politics/food-safety-bill-opinion-editorials/

August 21, 2013
Dan Arnold

Dear VDACS and Farm Bureau,

As a Virginia resident and taxpayer, I'm writing in support of legislation that would protect family farmers in Virginia.  These farmers only want to work their land and earn a living by selling the fruits of their labors, and the common sense legislation in question will allow them to do so.  Farming one's own property is one of those basic American rights that seems to be getting eroded more and more with each passing year and I know you agree that the last thing we want to do is regulate them out of business.  Furthermore, for government officials and special interest groups to make hysterical statements about the possible encroachment of big box stores or strip clubs is preposterous.  Zoning language can still be used to protect the integrity of rural communities without having to put small farmers out of business.

Private property rights are the cornerstone of a free society and we must do everything possible to support small farmers in their efforts to make an honest living.  I would respectfully ask that you stand with Virginia family farmers and ignore the cries of negativism.  Let's make Virginia a place known for agricultural prosperity and freedom.

August 20, 2013
Linda West

Please recommend changing 15.2-2314 to allow the court to award costs against the locality if they lose in a zoning dispute.  This change has been sponsored by both Brenda Pogge in the house and Mark Obenshain in the senate.  This will help even the playing field and discourage counties from just playing a game of financial attrition.
Thank you.

August 19, 2013
Patricia Ewing

I am a resident of Fauquier County who has been  actively involved in farmland preservation for over twenty years. In addition to serving on the board of a local land trust, I serve on the county's PDR (Purchased Development Rights ) committee. I also  managed a farmland protection program for a national non-profit organization.  The following comments solely  reflect my viewpoint, and not necessarily the views of any other person or entity.

The effort by some landowners to expand permitted activities on agriculturally zoned land is  a bad idea. If we go too far and allow activities that have little to do with agriculture (producing crops and raising livestock), then we will have sounded the death knell for our rural way of life. It may take a few generations to kill it off completely, but it will happen.  Fauquier County is immensely successful in preserving its rural character in the face of  ardent development pressure. This is no small feat and we should be proud of it.  Why would we undo all that hard work because a few  people want to conduct non-agricultural activities on their rural properties? Presumably, the zoning code we have now was in effect when they bought their properties so they should have known what they could and could not do when they bought the property. If they did not bother to research the zoning before buying , that is their problem. Agricultural land is relatively inexpensive because its use is supposed to be restricted to agriculture. Presumably, many of these folks bought land at reduced agricultural value  with the misguided  intention of conducting commercial activities on that property. There is plenty of  appropriately zoned property for commercial uses and they are located near service districts where they should be located. In addition, our county is a leader in the number of acres in conservation easement. Many of those easements, if not all of them, allow agricultural activities on the premise that "agriculture" would always be defined to mean just that. If we change the definition to include  non-agricultural activities, we may fatally  impair our ability to protect  the rural and scenic heritage we  strive to protect with those easements.

Lastly, I have to say, I am personally dismayed by  the small, but vocal
group of landowners complaining that they have some inalienable right to do whatever they want with their property for three main reasons: (1) it is not true: zoning and eminent domain, which restrict what  a landowner can do on his land,  are  longstanding legal concepts repeatedly upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court; (2)  this small group of landowners is pretending to serve some altruistic, patriotic  "property rights" agenda, but their real motivation is simple greed; and (3) they  ignore the rights of all of the law-abiding property owners  who chose to live in rural areas and accept the zoning that applies because we want to live somewhere free of commercialization.  "We the  people"  in  this last category need to speak up now.

August 19, 2013
Megan Gallagher

To the On Farm Activities Working Group,

Please leave decision-making on local land uses, specifically commercial activities on farms, in the hands of local governments. One size does not fit all when it comes to farming in Virginia and legislators in Richmond shouldn’t be telling the top ag producers in the state how to support the farm sector in these counties.

I work in the Shenandoah Valley, where farmers, conservationists, county planners and elected officials work well together to increase farm vitality and preserve rural character. In both regions, smaller scale agriculture has boomed in the past 10 years with new farmers markets, CSAs and farm stands. The number of Virginia Century Farms, those managed by the same family for 100 or more years, continues to grow and is a great source of local pride.     

It takes local knowledge to balance the interests of an individual farm landowner with the impacts on the larger community and safety, transportation, water or other resources. Supervisors elected by county residents have that knowledge.

If a landowner isn’t happy with a zoning decision, they can attend county meetings, serve on committees, seek appointment to the planning commission or even run for supervisor to change the policies. But they should not expect the General Assembly to usurp local decision making.

Thank you for your consideration.

August 19, 2013

To:                  The Virginia On-Farm Activities Working Group

From:             Joel Salatin, Lois Smith, Martha Boneta and other counsellors

Re:                  VDACS OFAWG Farm Legislation
.

We deeply appreciate having concrete homework from the working group. Soliciting the counsel of farmers, consumers, attorneys and other fellow Virginians, here is our consensus for proposed legislation for the working group to chew on.

We're glad to entertain feedback in time to address concerns prior to the final meeting.

For sake of brevity and clarity, we present our consensus as follows:

1. RTFA: We see no reason to tamper with the significant and functioning Right-to-Farm Act. A stand-alone act in Section 15 is appropriate.

2. Philosophy/Name of Bill : Virginia’s Winery Laws speak specifically to the interests of Farmers that grow grapes and discriminate against farmers that do not grow grapes. However, the RTFA recognizes all farmers as equal regardless of crop.  Why does Virginia discriminate against farmers based on crop?  It is in this spirit and based on the precedent that has been created by the existing winery state laws that we have created the following options to title the new legislation:

a. Farm Entrepreneur Protection Act
b. Farm Renaissance Act
c. Farm Activities Protection Act

3. Scale/Scope:  Neither the Winery Act nor the Right-to-Farm Act carries size or sales stipulations; they are fundamentally inclusive rather than exclusive. This act should be consistent with that idea.
It does not say a winery becomes commercial or a min-Wal-Mart at so many gallons or so high
a dollar amount. Certainly when it was being debated the naysayers mentioned mini-ABC stores
on farms, but that fear has not materialized. In general, anyone in sales knows that marketing
is not easy, especially when people have to go outside commercial districts to shop.

4. Proposed Legislation Language:  Activities Allowable/Farm Commerce:  We realize the working group asked us to create a list of activities that those of us wanting the most freedom would find acceptable.  We found it presumptuous to try to imagine all the innovative things that farmers could do with their assets.  Since farms and the land they occupy often represent the farmers' equity, compiling such a list would be like trying to codify all the possible things a person could do with dividends derived from stocks and bonds.  

After the list seemed futile, we thought perhaps we should ask those on the committee wanting the most restrictive activities to provide a list of what should NOT          be allowed on a farm.  That seems like a shorter list and would get to the nub of our disagreements.  But in the end, we settled on language developed by Mark Fitzgibbons that offers a more general overview of farm commerce.  You can call it activities if you'd like, but we actually like the commerce term because it gets to the heart of the issue:  how much may farmers participate in local commerce of all types?  Are we only going to protect commerce of farm-produced raw commodities transferring to other businesses for retail-ready or experiential markets, or are we going to allow farms to tap into some of that middleman off-farm business? After all, it is this right to participate in commerce that is at the heart of freedom to utilize property (assets).  What follows is the language:

Title
Creating New Chapter 3.2 to Title 3.2, AGRICULTURE,  ANIMAL CARE
AND  FOOD.
$3.2-310. Definitions --As used in this Chapter, unless the context
requires  a different meaning ,
"Agriculture" means the science or art of cultivating the soil,
harvesting  crops, and raising livestock, and also the science or art
of the production of plants and animals useful to man and in varying
degrees the preparation of plant and animal products for man's use and
their disposal.·
"Farm" means a tract of land devoted to Agriculture.
"Farm Commerce" means intercourse by way of trade between farmers
and persons, including not only the sale of food, food products and
other agricultural products, but also the instrumentalities and activities
by which such sales are promoted.  "Farm Commerce" shall include
farm-to-business and farm-to-consumer sales. All agricultural products
grown or raised and sold at the farm or on the farmer's property, even
if prepared, preserved, processed, canned, jarred, wrapped or packaged
off-farm are "Farm Commerce". There shall be a rebuttable presumption
that on-farm preparation, preserving, processing, canning, jarring,
wrapping or packaging of all agricultural products are "Farm Commerce",
not to be construed as industrial or manufacturing by nature.
"Farmer" means one engaged in agriculture as a livelihood or business.
"Food" means all articles used for food, drink, confectionery, or
condiment, for humans or other -animals, whether simple, mixed, or com-
pound, and all substances for ingredients used ,in the preparation thereof.
"Food Products" means food produced or manufactured either by natural
means, by hand, or with tools, machinery, chemicals or the like.
3.2-311. Farm Commerce rights; restrictive ordinances.
A. No county or locality shall adopt any ordinance that requires
that a special exception, administrative permit, or special use permit be obtained for any
Farm Commerce activity in an area that is zoned as an agricultural
district or classification.
B. No local ordinance regulating noise arising from activities and
events at farms shall be more restrictive than the local noise ordinance.
C. Special exception or special use permits shall be required for
any mega Farm Commerce activities such as State and County fairs or
other such mega events which involve such a substantial portion of
the public so as to raise health, safety and general welfare concerns.
D. No county or locality shall enact zoning ordinances that would
unreasonably restrict or regulate Farm Commerce in an agricultural
district or classification unless such restrictions bear a direct and
clearly articulated relationship to the health, safety, and general
welfare of its citizens. The burden shall be on the county or locality
to articulate and establish the direct relationship to the health,
safety and welfare of its citizens.
13.12 Exceptions to Chapter.
This Chapter shall not include any agricultural operations engaged
in the production of tobacco, wine or other alcoholic beverages.

5.  Insurance:  Again, neither the Winery Act nor Right-to-Farm require insurance. Horse owners do not need insurance. Neither do people who own swimming pools, in which 50 children will drown this year like they do every year. Government-mandated insurance is a bad idea and creates a barrier to entry to the marketplace for farmers unable to acquire insurance for their operations.

6. Zoning Permits/Restrictions – Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli recently issued an AG Opinion that specifically stated that the requirement of a winery to obtain a county permit that could be rejected or limited in any way is unconstitutional.  So too, requiring a tomato or beet producer to be forced to obtain any kind of permit that a county can reject or put stipulations on is unconstitutional.
.  In common law, no harm occurred unless a business caused an actual injury to an individual(s) (private nuisance was the charge) or to the public at large (public nuisance). Statutes and regulations have replaced most of the common law today to the detriment of innovation, liberty, and property rights. 

If the neighbors who disliked Martha Boneta's birthday party for 10-year-olds had to prove nuisance in court, before a jury of her peers, rather than using political clout to solicit government officials to cite her with parsed regulations, it would completely change the balance of power toward property rights. No government should be able to force free citizens to mitigate voluntary risk. Some people think home schooling is risky.  Others think public schooling is risky.  Some think bungee jumping is risky, or riding roller coasters.  Others think being too stodgy is risky.  Some people think children's toys made in a neighbor's woodshop are safe;  others want only toys approved by the Consumer Product Safety Commission.  The government cannot and should not arbitrate personal voluntary risk. To do otherwise is both disrespectful and tyrannous.
Fairness demands that other farmers enjoy the same rights that the wineries have to farm their land, market what they produce and sell ancillary value added goods that promote economic viability without running a regulatory licensure gauntlet.   

7. Neighbors Controlling Property Rights on Rural Agricultural Farm land:  The whole point of the RTFA was to preclude dissatisfied neighbors from dragging farmers through hearings and licensure when a farmer was practicing a fundamental right:  the right to farm, with its customary noise, odor, or dust.  Whatever this working group creates should be similar.  The activities deemed appropriate need to be as exempt from nuisance allegations and witch hunts as the noxious smells or sights emanating from customary farming practices protected under the RTFA.  The whole point of our exercise is to protect appropriate on-farm activities from advisory discovery hearings and prejudicial community person-poisoning by disgruntled neighbors.  That is exactly the point of RTFA and should be exactly the point of this on-farm activities effort.

8. “WALMART” Fear Mongering -
Marketing to get people to come to your farm instead of the current Wal-Mart---anyone making these spurious prophecies has no clue how hard it is to market anything.  Why would anyone come to a supposed farm Wal-Mart on a dirt road in the country when they can just go to the Wal-Mart that's in town?  And pray tell how would such a business compete on price?  Such accusations are childish and absurd and should not be tolerated in a good faith exchange of ideas. It's a Henny Penny reaction.
The other side routinely accuses us of innuendo and hyperbole regarding pathogenic food,
industrial food, stinky farms, pollution, etc.  We're painted as the extremists, creating bogeymen
where none exist and inciting paranoia among the populace.

It is insulting, degrading and outrageous to accuse Virginia’s farmers of wanting to or becoming Disneyland and Wal-Mart farms just because some want to earn a living where they live.  Did the wineries become Disneyland? NO they did not.  The entire business model and clientele surrounding on-farm commerce and value adding (activities) is a completely different ball game than urban commercial retailing.  Failing to recognize the difference smacks of hyperbole and paranoia by innuendo.

9. Unintended Consequences And Fear of Airplane Sales: The unintended consequences of protecting the safety, health, and welfare is a straitjacket that makes would-be local entrepreneurs unable to wiggle.  How many dreams and opportunities do we need to destroy before we realize maybe a society with some wiggle room is beneficial?  Erring on the side of freedom is always better than erring on the side of tyranny.

Perhaps the unintended consequence of denying the on-farm activities engaged in by Thomas Jefferson and George Washington as the economic underpinnings of their farms has had the unintended consequence of urban congestion, nutrient-deficient foods, rural impoverishment,  and difficult farm succession plans.  If the information-based cultural revolution occurring everywhere else cannot occur on Virginia's farms, it will doom farmers to obsolescence.  Joining the restructured, downsized, miniaturized information-based economy will insure vibrant, entrepreneurial, innovative farms and enthusiastic farmers.

To our knowledge, we have addressed our homework assignment and spoken forthrightly about our position regarding farm activities.   We look forward to continued consensus-building as this committee presents its findings.  Thank you.

August 15, 2013
Virginia Beach

Sec. 401. Use regulations.
(a)
Principal and conditional uses. The following chart lists those uses permitted within the AG-1 and AG-2 Agricultural Districts. Those uses and structures in the respective agricultural districts shall be permitted as either principal uses indicated by a "P" or as conditional uses indicated by a "C." Uses and structures indicated by an "X" shall be prohibited in the respective districts. No uses or structures other than as specified shall be permitted.


Use

AG-1

AG-2

Agricultural, aquacultural and horticultural uses, including orchards, vineyards, nurseries and the raising and grazing of livestock, poultry and swine and the keeping of bees

P

P

Airports, heliports and helistops

C

C

Animal hospitals, pounds, shelters, commercial and residential kennels

C

C

Antennas, building-mounted

P

P

Assembly uses

C

C

Borrow pit

C

C

Building-mounted antennas, subject to the requirements of Section 207

P

P

Cemetery, columbarium, crematory and mausoleum

C

C

Child care education centers in connection with public or private elementary schools or religious uses

P

P

Child care education centers, day nurseries, other than those permitted as principal uses and structures, when not operated by a public agency

C

C

Communication towers meeting the requirements of Section 232(j)

P

P

Communication towers, except as specified above

C

C

Country inns

C

C

Drive-in theaters

C

C

Dwelling, single-family addition

P

P

Dwellings, duplex

X

X

Dwellings, single-family, except as specified in section 405(a)

P

P

Dwellings, single-family, in accordance with section 405(a)

C

C

Dwelling units, not to exceed one (1), located within livestock barns, to be occupied only by farm employees or persons related to the owner of the property by blood, marriage, adoption or approvedfoster care

P

P

Family care homes, foster homes or group homes

C

C

Farm wineries, subject to the provisions of section 209.1

P

P

Fiber-optics transmission facilities

C

C

Firewood preparation facility

C

C

Fish hatcheries and fish ponds

P

P

Flex suites, subject to the provisions of section 507

P

P

Forests and forestry

P

P

Fraternity and sorority houses, student dormitories and student centers; provided that they be located within a one-mile radius of a college or university

C

C

Game preserves

P

P

Golf courses, including par 3 with a minimum area of 10 acres, and miniature golf courses

C

C

Home-based wildlife rehabilitation facilities

P

P

Home occupations, including those conducted outside the principal structures

C

C

Hospitals and sanitariums

C

C

Marinas, noncommercial and community boat docks

C

C

Maternity homes

C

C

Mulch processing facilities, subject to the provisions of section 239.02

C

C

Mulch storage on lots at least five (5) acres in area on which an active farming operation is conducted, provided that no more than five hundred (500) cubic yards shall be stored at one time; no retail sales to the general public shall be conducted; no processing shall occur on the site; and no sign associated with such activity shall be allowed

P

P

Museums and art galleries when not operated by a public agency

C

C

Personal watercraft rentals

C

C

Private schools having curriculums similar to public schools

C

C

Private sewage treatment facilities

C

C

Public elementary, intermediate and high schools, colleges and universities; day nurseries in connection with public or private elementary schools or religious uses

P

P

Public parks, recreational areas, botanical and zoological gardens, golf courses, marinas and other public buildings and uses

P

P

Public utility installations and substations; provided offices, storage or maintenance facilities shall not be permitted; and provided, further, that utilities substations other than individual transformers, shall be surrounded by Category V screening, solid except for entrances and exits; and provided also, transformer vaults for underground utilities and the like shall require Category I screening, solid except for access openings

P

P

Public utility transformer stations and major transmission lines and towers (50,000 volts or more)

C

C

Recreation and amusement facilities of an outdoor nature other than those specified as principal uses, which may be partially or temporarily enclosed on a seasonal basis, with the approval of city council

C

C

Recreation facilities other than those of an outdoor nature

C

C

Recreational and amusement activities, as specified in and subject to the provisions of subsection (c)

P

P

Recreational campgrounds

C

C

Religious uses

C

C

Repair of agricultural equipment

C

C

Residential care for seniors, provided that no more than one (1) employee other than a bona fide resident of the dwelling shall be permitted

P

P

Retail sales of garden supplies, equipment, and material, as a subsidiary use to a plant nursery, provided that the sales are enclosed and limited to a maximum floor area of five hundred (500) square feet

C

C

Riding academies, horses for hire or boarding

C

C

Shelter for farm employees

C

C

Storage and maintenance installations for public utilities

C

C

Television or other broadcasting stations

C

C

Wells, water reservoirs, and water control structures

P

P

Wildlife rehabilitation centers

C

C

Wind energy conversion systems, freestanding, except as provided below

P

P

Wind energy conversion systems, freestanding, in excess of one (1)

C

C

Wind energy conversion systems, roof-mounted, except as provided below

P

P

Wind energy conversion systems, roof-mounted, in excess of one (1)

C

C

(b)
Accessory uses and structures. Uses and structures which are customarily accessory and clearly incidental and subordinate to principal uses and structures, including but not limited to:
(1)
In connection with agricultural uses, no more than one (1) roadside stand for sale of agricultural products and related items as set forth below, provided that:
(i)
No such stand shall exceed one thousand (1,000) square feet in floor area used for retail sales and display, have a total floor area in excess of two thousand, five hundred (2,500) square feet or be greater than ten (10) feet in height as measured from ground level to eaves;
(ii)
No stand shall be erected within fifty (50) feet of the property line fronting on any street;
(iii)
The operator of the stand must be the owner or operator of the agricultural property on which the stand is located;
(iv)
A substantial portion of the items sold from the stand shall have been grown, made or produced locally;
(v)
Items sold shall be limited to farm produce, locally-harvested seafood, ornamental plants, flowers, hanging baskets, hand-crafted items, vegetable plants, herbs, honey, maple syrup, jams, jellies, locally-produced juices and cider, relishes, pottery, baked goods, and similar items. Items which shall not be sold include, without limitation, tobacco products, alcoholic beverages, clothing, bottled or canned beverages except as expressly allowed, pet and animal feed and repackaged goods.
(2)
An accessory activity operated for profit in a residential dwelling unit where (i) there is no change in the outside appearance of the building or premises or any visible or audible evidence detectable from outside the building lot, either permanently or intermittently, of the conduct of such business except for one (1) nonilluminated identification sign not more than one (1) square foot in area mounted flat against the residence; (ii) no traffic is generated, including traffic by commercial delivery vehicles, by such activity in greater volumes than would normally be expected in the neighborhood, and any need for parking generated by the conduct of such activity is met off the street and other than in a required front yard; (iii) the activity is conducted on the premises which is the bona fide residence of the principal practitioner, and no person other than members of the immediate family occupying such dwelling units is employed in the activity; (iv) such activity is conducted only in the principal structure on the lot; (v) there are no sales to the general public of products or merchandise from the home; and (vi) the activity is specifically designed or conducted to permit no more than one (1) patron, customer, or pupil to be present on the premises at any one time. Notwithstanding the provisions of clauses (ii) and (vi) hereof, ministers, marriage commissioners and other persons authorized by law to perform the rites of marriage may permit a maximum of eight (8) persons on the premises at any one time in connection with the performance of such rites, provided that all other requirements of subdivision (b)(2) are met. The following are specifically prohibited as accessory activities: Convalescent or nursing homes, tourist homes, massage or tattoo parlors, body piercing establishments, radio or television repair shops, auto repair shops, or similar establishments.
(c)
Agriculturally-related recreational and amusement activities such as farm tours, petting, feeding and viewing of farm animals, hayrides, crop mazes, animal walks, horse and pony rides, and similar activities shall be allowed under the following conditions:
(1)
Such activities shall be subordinate to, and conducted in conjunction with, an ongoing bona fide agricultural or silvicultural operation;
(2)
Vehicular parking shall not be allowed on public streets, or within one hundred (100) feet of any residence, except a residence located on the site of the activity;
(3)
Such activities shall be conducted only between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and sunset; and
(4)
Signs shall be nonilluminated and limited to one sign not exceeding sixteen (16) square feet in area.
In the event any provision of this subsection conflicts or is otherwise inconsistent with any other provision of this ordinance, the provisions of this subsection shall control; provided, however, that no use otherwise permitted hereunder which constitutes, or requires the excavation of, a borrow pit, as defined in section 111, shall be allowed except by conditional use permit.
(d)
Special restrictions in Accident Potential Zone 1 (APZ-1). No use or structure shall be permitted on any property located within Accident Potential Zone 1 (APZ-1) unless such use is designated as compatible in APZ-1 in Table 2 ("Air Installations Compatible Use Zones Land Use Compatibility in Accident Potential Zones") of section 1804; provided, however, that any use or structure not designated as compatible shall be permitted as a replacement of the same use or structure if the replacement use or structure is of equal or lesser density or intensity than the original use or structure.
(Ord. No. 2041, 3-5-91; Ord. No. 2118, 3-24-92; Ord. No. 2221, 5-11-93; Ord. No. 2282, 6-28-94; Ord. No. 2268, 6-14-94; Ord. No. 2427, 10-29-96; Ord. No. 2459, 10-28-97; Ord. No. 2461, 10-28-97; Ord. No. 2495, 6-23-98; Ord. No. 2505, 9-8-98; Ord. No. 2513, 10-27-98; Ord. No. 2566, 11-23-99; Ord. No. 2582, 5-23-00; Ord. No. 2627, 4-24-01; Ord. No. 2704, 6-25-02; Ord. No. 2788, 10-7-03; Ord. No. 2883, 6-14-05; Ord. No. 2907, 12-20-05; Ord. No. 2976, 4-24-07; Ord. No. 3000, 9-25-07; Ord. No. 3046, 8-26-08; Ord. No. 3102, 9-8-09; Ord. No. 3115, 2-9-10; Ord. No. 3167, 4-26-11)
Sec. 402. Dimensional requirements.permanent link to this piece of content
The following chart lists the requirements within the AG-1 and AG-2 Agricultural Districts for minimum lot area, width, yard spacing, and height regulations for single-family dwellings. Note, however, that minimum lot area, as stated in section 402(a)(1), shall not be used to calculate density allowance. Allowable density shall be determined in accordance with section 402(b).
(a)
For single-family dwellings:

Agricultural Districts

AG-1

AG-2

   (1)

Minimum lot area:

  1 acre

  1 acre

   (2)

Minimum lot width:

150 feet

150 feet

   (3)

Minimum front yard setback:

 50 feet

 50 feet

   (4)

Minimum side yard setback:

 20 feet

 20 feet

   (5)

Minimum rear yard setback:

 20 feet

 20 feet

   (6)

Maximum height, except as provided in subsection (a1):

 35 feet

 35 feet

   (7)

The setback for any yard that adjoins a major street or right-of-way designated on the official transportation plan shall be 50 feet.

(a1)
The maximum height for single-family dwellings in subdivisions of ten (10) or more lots created after the date of adoption of this subsection, or for single-family dwellings having side and rear yard setbacks at least five (5) feet greater than required, shall be forty-two (42) feet.
(b)
Residential density. The allowable density on each tract of land as existing on the effective date of this ordinance [June 28, 1994] shall be one (1) dwelling unit for each fifteen (15) acres of land as described in the comprehensive plan as soil area #1 and soil area #2. Nothing herein shall be construed as prohibiting the use by right of a lot lawfully created on or prior to the effective date of this ordinance for the purpose of constructing one (1) single-family dwelling, provided that such lot shall be connected to the public sewerage system or meet the requirements of the 1982 Onsite Sewer Regulations established by the Virginia Health Department. Such dwellings must comply with the current Health Departments regulations, and section 5B.5(b) and section 5B.5(d) of the Site Plan Ordinance. Additionally, any lot fifteen (15) acres or larger meeting the requirements of section 200(a) of this ordinance lawfully created on or prior to the effective date of this ordinance may be subdivided of right into a total of two (2) building sites provided that each lot satisfies all state and local development regulations.
The following chart lists the requirements within the AG-1 and AG-2 Agricultural Districts for minimum lot area, width, yard spacing, maximum lot coverage and height regulations for uses and structures other than dwellings.
(c)
For uses other than dwellings:

Agricultural Districts

AG-1

AG-2

   (1)

Minimum lot area:

  3 acres

  3 acres

   (2)

Minimum lot width:

150 feet

150 feet

   (3)

Minimum front yard setback:

 50 feet

 50 feet

   (4)

The setback for roadside stands for any yard adjacent to street shall be 20 feet.

   (5)

Minimum side yard setback:

 20 feet

 20 feet

   (6)

Minimum rear yard setback:

 20 feet

 20 feet

   (7)

Maximum lot coverage:

 15 percent

 15 percent

   (8)

The setback for any yard that adjoins a major street or right-of-way designated on the official transportation plan shall be 50 feet.

   (9)

There shall be no maximum height requirements for uses other than dwellings in the Agricultural Districts except that no building or other structure shall exceed the height limit established by section 202(b) regarding air navigation.

(Ord. No. 2041, 3-5-91; Ord. No. 2282, 6-28-94; Ord. No. 2371, 2-13-96; Ord. No. 2669, 10-23-01; Ord. No. 2767, 6-10-03)
Editor's note—
The addition of subsection (b) by Ord. No. 2282 implicitly redesignated former subsection (b) as (c).
_____
Sec. 403. Sign regulations.permanent link to this piece of content
(a)
Not to exceed one identification sign not more than sixteen (16) square feet in area for each principal entrance or frontage of any use except religious uses and educational institutions, for which the maximum area per sign shall not exceed thirty-two (32) square feet.
(b)
Signs advertising property for sale, lease or rent, provided that no such sign shall exceed thirty-two (32) square feet in area, that not more than one such sign shall be erected for each one hundred (100) feet of lot line at the street right-of-way, and that not more than four (4) such signs shall be erected on any property. Any property having less frontage or lot line adjoining a street may have one (1) sign not exceeding sixteen (16) square feet of surface area.
(c)
Agricultural products signs displayed on any farm by the owner or operator for the purpose of identifying such farm and advertising the products or crops thereof; provided that no such sign shall exceed thirty-two (32) square feet in area, that not more than one (1) such sign shall be erected for each five hundred (500) feet of lot line at the street right-of-way, and that such signs shall be removed promptly following the harvest season. In no event shall such signs be displayed for over six (6) months in any calendar year.
(Ord. No. 2041, 3-5-91; Ord. No. 3000, 9-25-07)
Sec. 404. Parking regulations.permanent link to this piece of content
Parking shall be required for all uses and structures permitted in the AG-1 and AG-2 Agricultural Districts in accordance with section 203.
(Ord. No. 2041, 3-5-91)

August 14, 2013
Anthony Bavuso

My name is Anthony Bavuso.  I have an oyster farm in York County.  My farm and property are located in the County's most rural zoning district, Resource Conservation, which permits "Crop/livestock farming" and "Aquaculture" as permitted rights.

For the past several years York County has tried to shut down my farm arguing that I can not have a oyster farm and a farmhouse on the same lot in York County even though they admit you can have a corn farm and a farmhouse.  York County lost in Circuit Court and has now appealed to the Supreme Court of Virginia.  The County's arbitrary and capricious interpretation of the zoning code has resulted in legal fees amounting into the tens of thousands of dollars.  The bad faith or with malice provisions of 15.2-2314 makes it almost impossible for the court to award costs against the locality for such frivolous interpretations.

The citizens are asking for more locally grown foods.  But we are suffering from the not in my backyard (NIMBY) arguments .  Virginia's Right to Farm act and other provisions were specifically put in place to protect farms from these NIMBY attacks.  We have seen both in Fauquier County and York that these statutes have not been up to the task and that farmers need more protection.

Please recommend changing 15.2-2314 to allow the Court to award costs against the locality if they lose in a zoning dispute.  This change has been sponsored by both Brenda Pogge in the house and Mark Obenshain in the senate.  This will help even the playing field and discourage County's from just playing a game of financial attrition.

Thank you.

August 14, 2013
Stafford County

Dear VDACS
STOP discriminating against Virginia small family farmers.  It is unacceptable that VDACS is ruled by Farm BUREAU and Agribussiness
These two groups do not support small family farms.
we need protection now
Stop the corruption and save the small farmers.

August 14, 2013
Jim Politis, Member, Montgomery County Board of Supervisors

Our ordinance adopted in late 1999 included a section on Intensive Agriculture.  Since 1999 we added a farm enterprise as a permitted use in the Agriculture A-1 district.  This was designed to allow a farm owner to do some additional activities on his/her property without having to get an Special Use Permit  Secondly, we recently added a section entitled Urban Agriculture.  As of now that only addresses keeping of chickens in residential areas.

Montgomery County Code sets forth the uses allowed in the Agriculture A-1 zoning district under Section 10-21

Uses permitted by right. The following uses are permitted by right, subject to compliance with all approved plans and permits, development and performance standards contained in this chapter, and all other applicable regulations:
(a) Agriculture.
(b) Agriculture, intensive.
(c) Agriculture, small scale.
(d) Bed and breakfast homestay.
(e) Cemetery.
(f) Church.
(g) Dwelling, single-family.
(h) Farm enterprise.
(i) Fire, police and rescue stations.
(j) Home occupation.
(k) Manufactured (mobile) home, Class A or B.
(l) Natural area.
(m) Park, unlighted.
(n) Pet, farm.
(o) Pet, household.
(p) Playground, unlighted.
(q) Public utility lines, other; and public utility lines, water and sewer.
(r) Sawmill, temporary.
(s) School.
(t) Telecommunications tower, attached.
(u) Veterinary practice, animal hospital.
(4) (i) Uses permissible by special use permit. The following uses may be permitted by the board of supervisors as special uses, subject to the requirements of this chapter and all other applicable regulations:
(a) Accessory structures greater than twelve hundred (1,200) square feet in area and/or eighteen (18) feet in height when part of an application requesting a rezoning or other use permitted by a special use permit from the board of supervisors.
(b) Bed and breakfast inn.
(c) Boarding house.
(d) Campground.
(e) Camp, boarding.
(f) Civic club.
(g) Contractor's storage yard.
(h) Country club.
(i) Country inn.
(j) Custom meat cutting, processing and packaging.
(k) Day care center.
(l) Disposal facility, landfill.
(m) Exploratory activities associated with extractive industries.
(n) Extractive industries and accessory uses including, but not limited to, the mining of minerals and the operation of oil and gas wells.
(o) Game preserve.
(p) Garden center.
(q) General store or specialty shop, provided gross floor area is two thousand (2,000) square feet or less.
(r) Golf course.
(s) Golf driving range.
(t) Grain mill, feed mill.
(u) Home business.
(v) Junkyard, automobile graveyard.
(w) Kennel, commercial (refer to use limitations in subsection 7).
(x) Landfill (see Disposal facility).
(y) Livestock market.
(z) Park, lighted.
(aa) Playground, lighted.
(bb) Public utility plant, other.
(cc) Public utility substations.
(dd) Public utility plant water or sewer (not including distribution or collection lines).
(ee) Recreational vehicle park.
(ff) Recycling collection points.
(gg) Repair shop, automotive (refer to use limitations in subsection 7).
(hh) Restaurant, provided gross floor area is two thousand (2,000) square feet or less.
(ii) Rural resort.
(jj) Sawmill.
(kk) Shooting range (as principal use or accessory to a gun shop). (Refer to use limitations in subsection 7).
(ll) Slaughterhouse.
(mm) Solid waste collection point.
(nn) Stable, commercial.
(oo) Structures, nonresidential, totaling in excess of twenty thousand (20,000) gross square feet.
(pp) Structures over forty (40) feet in height.
(qq) Telecommunications tower, freestanding.
(rr) Transition house.
(ss) Flea market (also subject to requirements of article VI of the County Code).
(tt) Stone engraving and sales.
(uu) School of special instruction.

(4)(ii) [Special uses.] The following uses may be permitted by the board of zoning appeals as special uses, subject to the requirements of this chapter and all other applicable regulations:
(a) Accessory structures greater than one thousand two hundred (1,200) square feet in area and/or eighteen (18) feet in height.
(b) Farm enterprise with less than forty (40) feet of public road frontage subject to the requirements of section 10-41(18)(g) of this Zoning Ordinance.

Montgomery County Code Section 10-41
(15) Intensive agriculture.

(a) Special definitions for this subsection.
Livestock: All domestic or domesticated bovine animals, including but not limited to cattle, equine animals including horses, ovine animals including sheep, porcine animals including hogs.
Intensive agriculture: Intensive agriculture involves the raising, breeding and keeping of animals in concentrated, confined conditions, which may include such operations as swine, veal, sheep; houses and pens for poultry or other fowl; feed lots for beef, dairy cattle, swine, sheep and other animals; livestock markets and pet farms.
Intensive agriculture facility (also "livestock facility"): An intensive agriculture facility is any enclosed field, range, pen or building where three hundred (300) or more total animal units are confined or housed for either more than forty-five (45) consecutive days or more than ninety (90) total days in any part of any twelve-month period, and crops, vegetation, forage growth or post-harvest residues are not sustained over any significant portion of such field, range, pen, or building. Any poultry operation containing ten (10) or more animal units in a single enclosed field, range, pen or building, or twenty (20) or more animal units on a single tract.
Equivalent of 300 animal units:
• 300 slaughter or feeder cattle
• 750 swine
• 150 horses
• 3,000 sheep or lambs
• 200 mature dairy cattle
• 16,500 turkeys
• 30,000 laying hens or broilers
Livestock, dairy, poultry structure: Any building, structure, installation, storage container, or storage site used in the operations of an intensive livestock, dairy or poultry facility, including, but not limited to, feed storage bins, litter storage sites, incinerators, manure storage sites, swine or poultry house, livestock or poultry disposal pits and dead livestock or poultry cold storage chests.
Livestock raiser, dairy operator, poultry grower: The owner or operator of the livestock, diary or poultry facility, or the land on which such facility is located.
Existing dwelling: A residential dwelling which is occupied or suitable for occupancy or which has been issued a building permit on or before the date a zoning permit for an intensive agricultural facility has been approved by the zoning administrator.
Existing livestock, dairy, poultry facility: An intensive agriculture facility which has been in operation for a one-year period within the five (5) years immediately preceding the date on which a zoning permit is sought for a dwelling.
Applicant: An owner, operator or potential operator of an intensive agricultural facility who submits any application associated with the requirements of this section.

(b) Acreage requirements. The minimum number of acres on which an intensive livestock, dairy or poultry facility may be established shall be as follows:
1. Intensive poultry facility: Fifty (50) acres or the number of acres required by the nutrient management plan as provided for in subsection (16)(g), whichever is greater.
2. Intensive beef, swine or dairy cattle facility: One hundred (100) acres or the number of acres required by the nutrient management plan as provided for in subsection (16)(g), whichever is greater.
All such acres required to meet the minimum acreage as defined in (b)1. and (b)2. for any one intensive facility or operation need not be contiguous provided that all of the minimum required acreage is in the same ownership, or the operator has a written agreement with the landowner acceptable to the county, for use and access to the land in accord with the provisions of the approved nutrient management plan and provisions of this section.
Intensive facilities of all types which are in operation as of the effective date of this chapter which do not meet the acreage requirements set forth herein shall be considered nonconforming uses, subject to the provisions of section 10-47(4) regarding nonconforming uses.

(c) Setbacks from existing uses. Except for existing dairy operations and beef cattle feedlot operations specified below, all intensive livestock, dairy or poultry structures, as defined herein, shall be set back from any existing use at the time of establishment of the intensive agriculture operation or facility, as follows:
1. From an existing dwelling in the A-1 agriculture or C-1 conservation districts not owned by the operator: Three hundred (300) feet.
2. From an existing dwelling in a residential district: Five hundred (500) feet.
3. From existing churches, platted residential subdivisions, residential zoning districts, mobile home parks, schools, parks, playgrounds, incorporated towns, or public water facilities such as impoundments, wells or treatment plants: One thousand (1,000) feet.
4. From property lines and public rights-of-way: Three hundred (300) feet.
5. No intensive livestock facilities or structures shall be located within the floodplain as defined herein.
6. From an existing river or perennial stream: Five hundred (500) feet, which may be reduced to one hundred (100) feet if a planted grass filter strip at least fifty (50) feet in width is maintained.
All existing dairy operations and beef cattle feedlot operations need not meet the above setbacks from existing uses until such time that their number of animal units confined or housed totals three hundred (300) animal units plus the average number of animal units they confined or housed during calendar year 1999. For each qualifying operation, the Virginia Cooperative Extension Service shall determine the average number of animal units confined or housed during 1999 and report this number to the board of supervisors not later than March 31, 2000.

(d) Setbacks from existing livestock, dairy or poultry facilities. Each new dwelling not owned by the operator shall be set back from all existing livestock, dairy or poultry structures a minimum of three hundred (300) feet.

(e) Certified plat required. The owner of an intensive facility completed after the effective date of this chapter shall file with the zoning administrator a plat (or similar documentation satisfactory to the zoning administrator) showing all of the parcels on which the facility is located and also showing the location of the facility within the parcel or parcels. With this plat, the owner shall submit a written statement, sworn to and subscribed before a notary public, by which the owner certified to the zoning administrator that the intensive facility shown on the plat meets all applicable setback requirements of this chapter.

(f) Facility development plans.
1. Prior to receiving a zoning permit, an applicant (operator or potential operator) shall submit to the zoning administrator a development plan which accurately shows the number, size and location of livestock, dairy or poultry structures and facilities for the subject property. Within thirty (30) days of acceptance of the plan, the zoning administrator shall review it and either approve the plan or provide the applicant with a written description of the portion(s) of the plan that do not comply with this chapter.
2. The development plan shall remain in force until completion of the proposed structures or for up to five (5) years, whichever is less. Any modifications to such structures or addition of new structures shall require the same procedures as provided in section 10-41(16)(f)1.

(g) Nutrient management plans.
1. After the effective date of this chapter, no intensive facility shall commence operation until a nutrient management plan for the proposed facility has been prepared by the applicant and:
a. Reviewed and approved by the Virginia Cooperative Extension Service or by a person certified or employed by the Commonwealth of Virginia as a nutrient management planner.
b. Submitted to the zoning administrator for informational purposes.
2. If off-site disposal is part of the nutrient management plan, the applicant shall provide, as part of that plan, written documentation of an agreement with the receiver of the wastes produced at the applicant's facility or an affidavit, sworn and subscribed before a notary public, that states the applicant's commitment to dispose of the wastes through sale in retail establishments or otherwise marketing to consumers. Documentation shall specify the duration of the agreement and the nature of the application of use of the wastes.
3. A nutrient management plan containing such an agreement shall be valid only as long as agreement remains in force and shall be reviewed whenever such an agreement expires or is terminated by either party. The operator shall notify the zoning administrator whenever such an agreement is terminated before its stated expiration date within fifteen (15) days of such termination. The nutrient management plan shall be reviewed and updated every five (5) years by the Virginia Cooperative Extension Service or by a person certified or employed by the Commonwealth of Virginia as a nutrient management planner and by the zoning administrator, and updated by the operator as necessary to meet the requirements of this chapter.
4. The nutrient management plan shall provide for the safe disposal of one hundred (100) percent of the animal waste produced at the facility. Disposal or use shall be accomplished by means of land application at agronomic rates, as established by the Virginia Cooperative Extension Service or by the county. Alternative methods of disposal may be provided in the nutrient management plan subject to approval by the zoning administrator.
5. The nutrient management plan shall take into consideration, among other things, the presence of rivers, streams and private wells, springs and sinkholes, slope, soil and geological features that may indicate a susceptibility to groundwater contamination.
6. Disposal of dead animals shall be provided by operator in accord with the requirements of the Commonwealth of Virginia.

(18) Farm enterprises.
Farm enterprises, as defined in Article VI of this chapter, are permitted in the A-1 Agriculture District subject to the following requirements:
(a) The gross floor area of any structure(s) devoted to the farm enterprise use shall not exceed two thousand (2,000) square feet.
(b) In addition to family members residing on the farm or the farm operators, up to two (2) nonresident, nonfamily employees (equivalent to two (2) full-time workers at forty (40) hours per week) are permitted to be engaged in the enterprise on an annual basis.
(c) Structures and parking areas shall be located at least one hundred (100) feet from any residential zoning district and adjacent dwellings, other than the owner's dwelling.
(d) At least thirty (30) percent by retail value of the products sold from the farm enterprise on an annual basis shall have been grown or produced on the farm.
(e) Hours of operation shall be limited to the hours between 7:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m.
(f) One sign shall be permitted and shall be non-illuminated and not exceed twenty (20) square feet in area.
(g) The enterprise shall have at least forty (40) feet of frontage on at least one public road. In cases where the proposed farm enterprise does not meet the minimum road frontage, the board of zoning appeals may grant a special use permit for such a use provided all parties with interest in any private access easement used to serve the farm enterprise have received notification of the request.

(19) Urban agriculture.
(a) Residential chicken keeping as defined in section 10-61 of this chapter, are permitted in the Residential (R-1), (R-2), (R-3), (TND) and (PUD-RES) zoning districts subject to the following requirements:
1. A minimum lot size of two (2) acres is required.
2. The owner of the chickens must reside on the property on which the chickens are kept.
3. The keeping of male chickens is prohibited.
4. Chickens shall be kept within a predator-resistant coop or chicken enclosure and shall not be allowed to roam free and shall be confined to enclosure/structure.
5. Coops and chicken enclosures shall be located in the rear yard only and shall be setback at least fifty (50) feet from side and rear property lines. Portable coops shall not be utilized.
6. Chicken enclosures shall not exceed ten (10) feet in height.
7. Chicken enclosures shall be well-ventilated and kept in a condition that is conducive to the well-being of chickens at all times.
8. Chickens shall be kept for the household's personal enjoyment only. On-site commercial uses such as selling eggs or chickens for meat shall be prohibited.
9. Provision shall be made for the storage and removal of chicken waste (manure). Such waste shall not create a nuisance or health hazard to adjoining property owners.
10. All feed or other materials intended for consumption by chickens shall be kept in containers impenetrable by rodents, insects, or predators.
11. A zoning permit shall be obtained by the owner of the chickens.
12. Residential chicken keeping shall comply with chapter 3 and chapter 7, article III of the County Code.

August 8, 2013
Mark Fitzgibbons

I respectfully present the Virginia Farm Rights Protection Act to the On-Farm Activities Working Group, and the Virginia general public.

The Act protects farm commerce and farmers’ and consumers’ rights.  It also does something special:  It helps protect farm culture and farm land.

It does not impose an agricultural zoning ordinance on counties, leaving localities their independence.  But it does protect farmers’ rights and culture from abusive county actions.  Virginia farm culture is just as important as farm commerce to many people.

It does not amend the Right to Farm Act, but instead creates a new Chapter 3.2 to Title 3.2, AGRICULTURE, ANIMAL CARE, AND FOOD.

It uses key language taken expressly from the Right to Farm Act and the Virginia winery statute, but appropriately addresses the commercial and cultural diversity of farmers.

It protects the authority of counties to issue ordinances for the health, safety and welfare of citizens, and will help ensure that they are appropriate and articulated to help prevent improper or unlawful enforcement against farmers and the community.  This provides clarity, and will help prevent disputes and lawsuits.

It protects the authority of counties to regulate noise (no Woodstock concerts).

It includes whistleblower protections for county employees.

It even protects county BPOL licenses.

It will help prohibit counties from engaging in bias for some farmers, and prejudice against others. No crony farming.

It spends no taxpayer money, provides no government handouts, and yet will create jobs, improve the economic health of farmers, give better choices to consumers, and truly help preserve Virginia farm land.

It does not authorize any farmer to engage in any activity prohibited by Virginia law, yet protects their freedoms, commerce and culture.
Unlike the toothless Right to Farm Act and winery ordinance, farmers will have remedies to ensure that counties don’t cheat.  Generally, when farmers violate the law, there are consequences.  This Act provides fair and reasonable consequence for counties that violate the law.  The Act also gives the Attorney General authority to intervene when laws are broken.

Walmart could not use this law to build a store.  It won’t create bottling or canning plants in place of farms.  But it does properly ensure that farmers can engage in farm commerce and farm culture.

I ask that the On-Farm Activities Working Group move swiftly to adopt the Virginia Farm Rights Protection Act as its top recommendation to the 2014 General Assembly.

Virginia Farm Rights Protection Act

August 5, 2013
Leah V. Durant

As a resident of the Commonwealth and a registered voter, I urge you to pass legislation that supports our small family farms and reduces the stranglehold of regulations that prevents our small family farmers from succeeding.  I wholeheartedly supported the Boneta bill, and would do it again.  It's time that we stop restricting the rights of property owners on their own land.

August 5, 2013
Pete Kennedy, Esq. - President
Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund

My name is Pete Kennedy and I'm an attorney with the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund (FTCLDF) of which I also serve as president.  FTCLDF's mission is to protect the rights of farmers and consumers to engage in direct commerce. I'm writing to ask that the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) support legislation to expand economic opportunities for farmers in increasing the ability of farmers to make a living without having to go off the farm to find work.

Farms direct-marketing their products are one of the few productive growth areas in the U.S. economy at this time.  The biggest obstacle to the success of these farms is the current regulatory system. 

Virginia law now offers wineries in the state more opportunities to make a living than farmers engaged in other agricultural pursuits; there is no rational reason to make the distinction.  Virginia wineries have benefited significantly from these recently enacted laws.  I'm asking that VDACS support similar legislation for family farms. 

Food security--the ability of a community, state or region to be self-sufficient in food production--is becoming increasingly important.  Food shortages are much more common than even ten years ago.  A legislator in another state who is a trained economist told me that there is less than two days' supply in the conventional food pipeline. The way to ensure food security is to enhance the viability of the state's farms by expanding their opportunities to earn revenue.

The safest food produced today is by family farms who provide food directly to consumers.  Supporting these farms is the best way VDACS can promote the public health.  Whether it's allowing farms to sell the products of other farms or expanding the number and kinds of events a farm can hold on its premises, the Commonwealth of Virginia owes it to the health of its citizens to create the legal framework, giving family farms every possible opportunity to thrive.

August 1, 2013
Bonner Cohen

Events over the past year have shown conclusively that Virginia’s “Right to Farm Act,” however well intended, is no longer able to provide farmers the protection they need to conduct their enterprises, without fear of intimidation from public and private entities alike.  Specifically, the Act lacks safeguards that ensure that farmers will not fall victim to unlawful and unconstitutional acts of local governments, often working hand-in-glove with powerful private interests.

The Boneta Bill, which passed the House of Delegates by an overwhelming 77-22 margin earlier this year, was expressly designed to address this inadequacy.  This is not about giving Richmond the power to impose top-down restriction on local zoning ordinances.  It is about protecting farmers from actions by local officials that violate property rights, existing local ordinances, and even the U.S. Constitution.  The Boneta Bill also provides farmers, who, unlike county governments, don’t have taxpayer money to foot the cost of litigation, attorneys’ fees so that they can adequately defend themselves in court.

It is revealing that groups such as the Virginia Farm Bureau, Virginia Association of County Officials, Piedmont Environmental Council, and Citizens for Fauquier County – either openly or behind the scenes – have opposed the Boneta Bill and have not shied away from distorting the legislation’s content.  It also is clear that these groups are comfortable with a status quo that has allowed Fauquier County officials to engage in a slew of well-publicized transgressions against a farmer who, unlike them, was obeying the law.

What happened, and is continuing to happen, in Fauquier County could happen elsewhere in Virginia. Until today’s intolerable status quo is replaced by a strengthened Right to Farm Act, farmers’ rights in the  Commonwealth of Virginia will continue to be fair game for those intent on making a mockery of the principles on which this country was founded.     

July 25, 2013
Jesse Straight

Hello all,

It seems to me that we need very thoughtful exceptions that do two things:

1. Give farmers and rural entrepreneurs (added value processors or service providers) the freedom to do and make good products. That means that their activity is legal, and does not require burdensome stipulations on reporting, infrastructure, etc. Something can be legal, but so regulated that it is defacto impossible.

2. These freeing exceptions should not provide loopholes for people in bad faith to negate the good things about zoning--grouping denser housing, commercial, and infrastructure (water, sewer, roads, fire/rescue, police, etc.) in towns and preserving farmland as such. It would not be good nor politically realistic to pass exemptions that would allow a developer to skirt zoning regulations and open a Walmart on a "farm." This is maybe something to which I am more sensitive by living so close to northern Virginia.

Notice I am only talking about balancing those freeing exceptions with zoning--not with food safety policing. I would agree with Joel Salatin that much of current food safety policing does much more harm by stifling wonderful, healthy rural enterprise than the "good" it does by "making food safe."

Also, if I were to err on one side or the other, I would think that we should err on the side of freeing farmers and rural entrepreneurs. This means the exceptions would err on the side of allowing a farmer to sell lots of local/regional food and added value products. And in terms of activities, could we not liberally allow activities that are clearly connected to agricultural enterprise (commercial kitchens, ag camps, dinner parties, abattoirs, farm tours, etc.)?

Also, I realize that some people may differ with my idea of considering zoning. Some would like to dispose of zoning altogether. I am interested in their thoughts, as I am not sure what the exact best way forward is.

Thank you

July 23, 2013
Susan Brommage LVTP

I am just a house owner in Louisa Virginia, but I will do all I can to support Virginias farms to make sure they are not regulated out of existence.

July 22, 2013
Comments of Mark Fitzgibbons

The Boneta Bill, which protects farmers’ rights from unlawful county actions, is the genesis of this commission, but is conspicuously absent from the proposals posted at the VDACS website.

The Boneta Bill does three things:  (1) farmers naturally have the right to engage in commerce, and the Boneta Bill clarifies that counties may not violate such rights, (2) it provides that any county ordinance that violates the constitutional rights of farmers shall be void, and (3) it provides farmers remedies, including attorneys fees, when counties or county officials violate the rights of farmers.

Opponents of the bill, who are the distinct but long-organized minority, have used incorrect characterizations, broad exaggerations and scare tactics.

First of all, the Boneta Bill does not dictate county zoning from Richmond.  Those who say otherwise fail to understand the distinction between protections of famers’ rights from abusive land use ordinances or unlawful conduct by counties, versus establishing or dictating a model ordinance.  The General Assembly has the authority to dictate county ordinances, but that is not what advocates of the Boneta Bill seek.  We respectfully urge opponents to not create the situation of forced ordinances through opposition to the Boneta Bill.

I’ll use the July 18 comments of Jessica Swan as an example of further fallacies of opponents, and refer to them as the “CFFC” comments. 

The CFFC comments accurately state that farmers have difficulty competing in the marketplace.  The Boneta Bill is designed to allow small farmers to better compete through commerce instead of government subsidies.  It would eliminate the discriminatory abuse of farmers’ rights versus crony favors granted by counties to some.  The Boneta Bill will help prevent graft and corruption with respect to county governance of farms.

The CFFC comments claim that the Boneta Bill is supported by “poorly informed activists using specious arguments to pursue a political agenda,” yet Ms. Swan is associated with the activist organization, Citizens for Fauquier County (CFFC), sister organization of the Piedmont Environmental Council.

Upon information and belief, CFFC helped write, and certainly advocated for, the Fauquier County winery ordinance that resulted in lawsuits filed by about a dozen wineries.  The ordinance as passed even encouraged abuse of the ‘911’ emergency line to report lighting violations.  The Fauquier winery ordinance enables graft and corruption with its discretion under which some wineries get favorable treatment, and some are punished for doing exactly the same thing as favored wineries.  A July 19 Attorney General Opinion ruled that key provisions of the Fauquier winery ordinance violate the law.

CFFC’s political agenda contravenes the law, and results in violations of constitutional rights.  The CFFC seek to make county governments the equivalent of private homeowners associations.

The CFFC comments mischaracterize the Boneta Bill as creating “entertainment” facilities that would “slowly stop farmers from farming.”  The comments also claim that counties would need to increase land use taxes, and that barns are safety dangers.  These apocalyptic, unsubstantiated claims are white noise to CFFC’s real agenda.

A farmer with 100 acres dedicated to production and one acre dedicated to sales, for example, will not create the Mall of America scenario painted by CFFC.  It’s ludicrous to suggest that land use taxes would need to increase on production land, and if counties were to decide that land use tax adjustments were legitimately needed to pay for the Mall of America scenario painted by the commenter, that could be accommodated in the future through the normal county processes that are not inhibited by the Boneta Bill.

But to say now that land use taxes must be adjusted is no more than a scare tactic and threat by special interests who want less competition through existing ordinances that enable discrimination.  Farm sales will generate revenues for farmers and government, which is why Virginia has promoted its wineries.  Farm sales are a rising tide that lift all boats.

The CFFC denigrates farmers by claiming that they would risk the health and safety of their visitors to make a quick buck.  Selling tomatoes is certainly safer than the “intrinsically” dangerous equine activities protected under Virginia Code 3.2-6202.  Nor are barn structures at all farmers markets up to code.

The CFFC portrays mad crowds and even fires, as if our farms were to become Virginia versions of the famed Filene Basement wedding dress sale or The Towering Inferno.  The Boneta Bill does nothing to impede protections of health, safety and welfare.  But it does protect the rights of small farms and farmers to sell produce, other food, fiber, handmade straw hats and birdhouses, and other farm goods.

Indeed, the commerce and activities protected by the Boneta Bill already occur throughout Virginia, which proves that CFFC’s doom-and-gloom scenario is not credible.

I thank the CFFC for confirming the widely known fact that farms are used for many non-agricultural activities.  As stated in the comments:

“No one is stopping a farmer, even in Fauquier County, from hosting occasional activities on his land. Farmers all over this county hold all types of non farming activities on their land, year round. However, those activities are ancillary to the main activities on these farms - which is food or fiber production.”

But the CFFC is blatantly wrong in claiming that Fauquier and other counties don’t grant special favors to groups such as CFFC, yet violate the law and violate the rights of “non-favored” farmers.  Counties do in fact stop farmers from hosting occasional activities through their permit processes.  The permit process is one example of where General Cuccinelli’s opinion found the Fauquier winery ordinance in violation of the law.

The Boneta Bill was written to protect the rights of all farmers, not just those who lobby government, who have friends in high places or who collaborate with county governments.

July 18, 2013
Jessica Swan

I am the owner and operator of a working farm in Fauquier County, Virginia.  I am also well versed in agricultural law and regulation, and am a Farm Mentor in the Virginia Beginning Farmer and Rancher Coalition.  Through that program, I offer assistance and guidance to new, established, and socially disadvantaged farmers in this region.  

The issues under review by the working group are not unique to Virginia.  Throughout the United States, particularly in urban fringe areas, farmers have difficulty competing in the local, regional, and national marketplace.  This is due to a number of factors; few of which have anything to do with local zoning.  None have anything to do with depriving a landowner of their property rights.  The largest factor in the lack of access is that the infrastructure has disappeared.  This has implications not only for farmers, but for food security and the ability to feed our own population.

In the past decades agriculture shifted from small diversified operations to larger operations; often focused on monoculture crops and contracts with large corporations.  This shift offered a type of income security that farmers rarely experienced.  By contracting with a large corporation, the farmer could count on a steady income stream, consistency in production, consistency in labor and materials.  Consumer demand for consistent product also accounts for the shift in farming methods, and the dramatic rise in our population requires a consistent method of food production.

Small diversified operations still existed, but these tended to be niche or specialty producers.

The consolidation of agriculture required a different type of infrastructure.  Slowly, over the course of decades, auctions closed, abattoirs closed, and other processing facilities closed.  They were simply no longer needed.  As a result, almost all processing of food in the United States is performed at a small number of facilities.  

In urban fringe areas, the large commodity model of farming is less feasible than smaller, more diversified operations.  However, the lack of infrastructure means that these farmers have difficulty competing in the marketplace.  It also means that should a farmer try and sell his products off his farm (in a retail/ commercial venture), that activity can produce unwanted or dangerous traffic, disturbance to neighbors, or cause other problems for a locality.  Even if planners try to accommodate those activities, and they do, the farmer is still relegated to nothing more than a small, part time income.  Most farmers cannot farm all day long and still man the store, attend farmer's markets on the weekend, or engage in the types of activities that take him or her off his farm.

There is also the issue of food safety to deal with.  While laws or regulations permitting farmers to can produce or butcher animals on their own land may be popular with some activists, the truth is that no insurance coverage is available for that activity in Virginia.  Farm policies do not provide coverage for people who alter their products.  

So while a farmer has insurance coverage for selling a live chicken, he does not have insurance coverage if he butchers hat chicken, legally under the provisions of the PPIA, and sells that chicken, legally, to a consumer.  Liability insurance is something that even many farmers are not aware of.  They just assume their farm policies cover their activities.  They don't.  Consumers are also not aware that should they become ill from a contaminated product, they have no recourse except to sue the farmer personally.  Insurance coverage is only available if the farmer utilizes a facility inspected by the USDA, under Talmadge-Aiken, or custom-exempt. There are few of those facilities left in Virginia; though efforts to open abattoirs are underway. 

I can provide numerous examples of well intentioned efforts to allow farmers to turn their farms into entertainment venues or retail outlets; that either are not covered by insurance, or have serious public policy or food safety problems. Once publicized incidence of contamination could destroy current efforts to create local food systems that provide safe, inspected products to the region. 

On the other hand, it is possible, even probable, that locally well intentioned efforts to help farmers market and sell their products do nothing more than ensure the small farmer always remains small.  And always relying on a fickle public who may or may not decide to stop by.   That's not good public policy. 

My suggestion, and one that I work towards where I live, is to restore the infrastructure that once existed.  That means more processing and aggregation facilities, more abattoirs, and the ability of a farmer to easily connect with wholesale buyers and food brokers.  That is how the small family farmer can compete, on equal footing, in the marketplace.  These efforts also provide local employment and an increase in tax revenue for rural communities. Restoration of infrastructure and the development of a local food system is a pro-business, pro-farming endeavor that deserves strong support. 

I encourage the working group to reject the efforts of poorly informed activists using specious property rights arguments to pursue a political agenda.  No one is stopping a farmer, even in Fauquier County, from hosting occasional activities on his land.  Farmers all over this county hold all types of non farming activities on their land, year round.  However, those activities are ancillary to the main activities on these farms - which is food or fiber production.  

As USDA studies have shown; the problem with converting a farm to an entertainment or commercial venue is that the farmer slowly stops farming, and instead focuses on the agritourism or commercial activities on his land.  The main reason farmers receive favorable land use taxation is that farming does not require government services; i.e.: fire and rescue, police/traffic, road improvements.  Farms in production provide more in tax revenue than they require in services.  

But the commercial and high impact nature of entertainment and direct sales activities does negatively impact a locality and surrounding residents.   If land use taxes are raised in response, and they will be, farms that are producing food will suffer.  That means MY property taxes go up because someone else discovered they can create a pretend farm and avoid paying commercial taxes, to use their agricultural buildings to avoid complying with BOCA requirements for public safety (wiring, emergency exits, fire extinguishers), and get around most, if not all, food safety requirements.  That is not the purpose of land use valuations, or the purpose of farming.  It's a tax avoidance scheme and it's an abuse of land use policy developed to ensure farmers could feed the public.

I wonder how many consumers know that the turkey or chicken they bought from a farmer was not inspected for contamination or disease.  I wonder how many consumers know that the rickety old barn that is hosting a wine tasting could collapse on them or catch on fire.  Those are the realities.  It is not unreasonable for a locality to take steps to ensure the safety of the public.  Barns and agricultural buildings are exempt from building codes for a reason.  Stuff a bunch of people in them and light a match, and the reason for requiring fire exits, extinguishers, and fire lanes becomes clear.  To assert that such a requirement infringes upon property rights is ridiculous, and shows a blatant disregard for the safety of the general public. If the answer is that all agricultural buildings must be upgraded to conform to BOCA requirements; every farmer in this state will go bankrupt. 

I have no problem with farmers holding occasional activities on their land.  Historically, traditionally, many farmers have engaged in other activities, including farmers in Fauquier County.  This is a normal part of rural culture.  It's low impact, people have fun, and it's a bit of extra income for a farmer.  No zoning ordinances prohibit that sort of activity.    However, we must all keep in mind that farmers who direct market are doing so largely because the agricultural infrastructure is gone.  The USDA, VDACS, NGO's, and private companies have researched this topic to death.   Everyone comes to the same conclusion.  This country needs to restore the infrastructure that once existed in rural areas; especially rural areas on the urban fringe. 

When farmers convert their operations to agritourism, they slowly stop producing food.  By focusing on efforts that create a local food system, by developing sound policy that allows are farmers to reach urban areas, by ensuring the public has access to locally produced, inspected, and safe food - that is how we protect the small family farm. By restoring infrastructure - that farmer can take his products and sell them locally, nationally, or internationally if he so chooses. 

I am one of those farmers and am asking that you do not cave in to the notion that the Right To Farm Act be expanded to include commercial ventures or entertainment.  Doing so will negatively impact food production, and deprive citizens of their right to work with their local elected officials on land use issues.  Agriculture is a diverse and multi-billion dollar industry in Virginia; and farmers need the ability to work with local government to ensure their needs are met.  What agriculture does not need is more prime farmland paved over or converted to non agricultural uses.

July 18, 2013
Nancy Almasi

Dear Secretary of Agriculture Haymore and Commissioner Lohr and General Assembly:
I support HB 1430, aka "The Boneta Bill," because we have reached a place in our nation's history in which I believe we've forgotten the fundamentals that made it great in the first place.   
 
One of those fundamentals that has made American great is the protection of the right to own property.  Many seem to forget that immigrants have come and continue to come to our shores to secure a right to own property that is denied elsewhere.  These immigrants come from every part of the globe, bringing with them a multitude of different stories of afflictions that include wars, famines, diseases and persecutions in their homelands.  Their goal, however, is the same — they seek the ability to pursue their own course in life.  Nothing secures that freedom like the right to own property.

In the case of Martha Boneta and those whom the Boneta Bill would protect is the right to engage and earn a living in that most fundamental of industries, agriculture.

It's common wisdom that one may only need a doctor, a lawyer or a preacher a few times in their life, but a farmer is necessary three times a day, every day.  The business of farming is an important one to Virginia's economy.  Virginia's burgeoning wine industry, once the butt of jokes, has won the respect of the wine experts and connoisseurs alike.  Young entrepreneurs are abandoning high-paying corporate careers and buying small farms -- building businesses from the crops they grow and the livestock they raise.  Read any popular shelter magazine such as Martha Stewart Living or Country Living and you'll see story after story of young professionals-turned-farmer.
As our nation's economy continues to struggle, thriving businesses should be encouraged and not smothered by regulation.
Critics of the constitutional protections safeguarded by the Boneta Bill are operating under a fundamental misconception -- fear.  They are afraid of what progress and change in their communities might bring.  Will it bring excessive noise, traffic and tourists?  Will it spoil their view shed?  Such irrational fear gave birth to bullying behavior disguised as regulation, and fostered a local government whose overreach is as excessive as it is foolish.  Community leaders who consider themselves the arbiters of respectability are engaging in a pattern of harassment against Martha Boneta and others, employing tactics that could make a mobster blush. 
For the record, I am neither a farmer nor a resident of Fauquier County.  I am, however, a property owner, taxpayer and citizen of the commonwealth who strongly feels that such abuses -- if left unchecked -- could happen to anyone, not just those unlucky enough to have caught the attention of the Fauquier County Board of Supervisors and their allies.

July 18, 2013
M Dellicarp, no address given

Your group should mind its own business and keep it hands off of the private property rights of people in the State of Virginia.

July 18, 2013
Martha Boneta

Good morning All:
 
I hope all is well. First, I just want to thank you very much for forming the working group and for the generous time and dedication to making it successful.  I very much appreciate all of your kind efforts and for the opportunity to participate. 
 
Would it be possible to send me the Rockingham Agritourism Ordinance referenced and the Farm First Program in response to this email?    The only link I found was the following -  http://www.yesrockingham.com/news/detail/agritourism-plan-eyed-by-county . 
 
Without seeing  The Farm First Program, it sounds promising and I was elated to see the recognition of farm structures and seasonal activities. Before the county actions that forced our farm to close, we were only open 7 hours a week (4 hours on Saturdays and 3 hours on Sundays) seasonally as are many farms that have seasonal agricultural offerings.
 
The major issue may  be that the language in order to participate, "a farmer must apply for the Farm First program through the Community Development Department." 
 
The problem in Fauquier requiring farmers to apply for their property rights has created an environment that sadly many Fauquier farmers find hostile because it involves picking and choosing the farmers that get to have rights and those that do not often based on "misinformation circulated" that ultimately discriminate against individuals, groups or producers with selective enforcement practices. 
 
Many of these  farming permit "rights" have come with strings attached.  One example is that a multi-generation Fauquier peach orchard was only granted the right to have a "permit" to do what that farm had been doing for years after paying a $150 fee and only after agreeing to spray and water down the farmer's driveway.  When water is sacred and needs to be used to water livestock or crops, why does the farmer now have to be forced to agree to water his driveway in order to receive a required permit to continue to stay in business? 
 
Even when these farming rights are granted, Fauquier then refuses to renew "Retail Farmstore Business Licenses" without ever discussing the matter with the farmer.  It does not seem reasonable or even ethical that a Fauquier farmer lawfully receives and pays for a "retail farmstore business license", invests money, labor and time to create a farm business only to have the same county that issued the license revoke it 12 months later with no discussion, hearing or reason.  This system has created an environment that is costing many hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees and lost revenue to defend the rights of wineries and other farmers in Fauquier.  
 
On behalf of thousands of Virginia farmers and consumers, we believe that these rights are by-right on land zoned Rural Agricultural in the Commonwealth of Virginia and that they run with the land.  We believe that unless corrected, there will continue to create a hostile environment that deprives farmers of freedoms that have always been enjoyed on our nation's farms.  Over a dozen farms inclusive of wineries are in litigation with Fauquier County.  Zoning should not be used as a weapon to punish farmers on RA land.  Rather, it should be used to help protect and foster more economic viability for farmers.
 
Thank you for the opportunity to express these concerns.  They are very real.  Just ask all the wineries and other farmers that are forced to take time away from their children, livelihood and take money out of their retirement or children's education to fund costly litigation in defense of property rights and economic liberty on Virginia farmland.
 
Thank you for your kind consideration.  It has been a pleasure working with the group and I look forward to seeing you again soon in the near future.
 
If this communication is forwarded or posted, please be so kind to post and forward the entire email trail below as well in order to provide proper context for these communications.  

I look forward to hearing from you and thank you again for the opportunity to express these concerns. 
 
Respectfully  and sincerely yours

July 16, 2013
Jonathan Branch

Hi Commissioner Lohr:

Thank you for your email below.  I am very sorry about the loss of your wife. That makes me sad and I am sorry your farm business closed. Thank you for sharing with me. Please accept my sincere heartfelt sympathy. I hope you don't mind I have copied Liberty Farm on this email. 

1) I would like to circle back to your original email and hope that you will take the time to clarify this statement: 

You have indicated there was "a great deal of misinformation circulating about it  [Boneta Bill]".  What was the misinformation?  Who was circulating it and how was it being circulated?

2) It would be very helpful for folks to know the answer to these questions about your farm agri-tourism business when it was operational:

Respectfully, advertisements for "Lohr U Pick Playland" indicated "There is a beautifully designed and painted castle which includes a game room and picture area."  This is sounds great. Also, snacks, crafts, candy, toys etc. were also sold on site. 

What permits if any did you have to operate? What if any inspections were there? What kind of setback requirements were there and were you ADA compliant?  Were your structures inspected?  You did have bathrooms, right? What kind of bathrooms?  What fee amounts did you have to pay pay to be operational? Site plans?

Thank you for answering these questions to help foster a dialogue that I think is helpful to the community. 

I look forward to your response and appreciate that you want to do what is right for both Virginia's consumers and small family farmers that care deeply about this important issue.  It would seem that would include providing for equal treatment of all producers across the Commonwealth regardless of crop?

Sincerely,

Jonathan Branch

 

Dear Jonathan-

Although HB 1430 was the genesis for forming our on farm activities working group, the real goal of these discussions now is much broader than that original piece of legislation.  As we continue looking at ways to make small farms more profitable and successful, I think focusing attention on previous “misinformation circulated” is counterproductive to what we are trying to accomplish.  We have had solid discussions thus far and I know there will be more at our next meeting, so I am focusing my attention on how we can find a workable solution going forward. 

When my wife and I began our agritourism operation 12 years ago, we were one of the first such farms in the county to do so.  There were no regulations or permits required at that time.  I will also mention that at no time did we ever have to use any permanent buildings or structures.  Since that time, more farms have explored agritourism and Rockingham County has developed a detailed agritourism ordinance that seems to be working for them.  There will be an explanation of this ordinance at our next meeting which I think will be helpful for the group.  As we try to find solutions, I think evaluating successful local ordinances and laws implemented in other states will be tremendously helpful to our process. 

Again, I appreciate your interest in this subject area.  We welcome your attendance at our upcoming meeting on July 23rd.

Sincerely,
Matt Lohr

July 16, 2013
Priscilla King

I just signed Jonathan Branch's petition "Save Small Family Farmers From Government Assault: Adopt the Virginia Farm & Food Freedom Act" on Change.org. I urge you to adopt the Virginia Farm & Food Freedom Act. I own a small part of the property that’s been in my family for more than 200 years, and what government can do to help me sustain organic agriculture on this land is: get out of my way.

Further comments on this topic, specifically the use of government to act out some sort of personal grievance against Martha Boneta and to discourage other small farmers, have appeared at priscillaking.blogspot.com over the past year.

July 16, 2013
Babara Nye

Dear Commissioner Lohr, Deputy Secretary Travis [Hill]:

I am a wife, mother, consumer, Virginian and American.  It is very disturbing that VIRGINIA's small family farmers are being deprived of the most basic and fundamental rights of property rights, freedom and liberty.  There is something profoundly wrong when a small family farm is harassed by local county officials to the point where our hard working small farms are being driven to extinction by the heavy handed bullying of local county officials.   This must stop. 

I am deeply saddened by the state of our nation.  Every time I turn on the news all I hear is how our freedoms are being destroyed.  Virginia has the power and the opportunity to give freedom back to our small family farmers and to be a leader in protecting our most cherished values.

The RPV 2013 Convention unanimously voted in favor of the Virginia Farm & Food Freedom Act demanding that legislation be brought forward to the General Assembly to protect Farmer Boneta and thousands of farmers across the Commonwealth from selective enforcement bullying tactics and vicious land grabs from extremist fringe environmental groups.

I want to be proud of Virginia again and proud of you for doing the right thing.  I want my children to know this is still the great Commonwealth of Virginia and to have faith and hope for the future. 

How free are we if a small family farmer can't even sell a bag of sheep's wool from the farmer's own sheep or even a baseball cap with the farmer's logo without asking permission from the county, paying huge "tax" fees for the right to do it and then having the local county government lords pick and choose what farms are free and which will be enslaved.

I am a born free American woman and you have forgotten your place.  We the PEOPLE are the Sovereign and YOU are the servants.  We the people demand Freedom and we demand freedom for our small family farmers.

Free the Small Family Farmers!

July 12, 2013
Rochelle and David Friend

Dear Secretary of Agriculture Haymore and Commissioner Lohr and General Assembly:

My husband and I are proud Virginians and voters.  I grew up on a large dairy farm and my grandfather farmed 700 acres of farmland that remains in our family.

I am writing to remind the elected officials that small family farmers are vital to Virginia's economic future and freedom.  In order to keep our historic farming heritage viable, we need to do everything possible to provide economic opportunities for our small family farmers.

It is unfathomable that VIRGINIA is ignoring the cries of small family farmers and picking and choosing freedoms and rights based on crop. Wineries are not "super farmers" no more than  a tomato or beef farmer. 

Farm Bureau does not speak for small family farmers and in fact Virginia Farm Bureau's ratings have plunged significantly due largely to the outrage at Virginia Farm Bureau's not supporting legislation to protect our most important citizens - small family farmers.

Virginia elected officials  and candidates need to consider that voters are watching very carefully at how they vote and whether they support Small Family Farm Freedom legislation.

Thank you for listening to the voices of thousands of Virginians fighting for Farm Freedom!

July 12, 2013
Jonathan
Branch

Hi Commissioner Matt Lohr:
 Please post this email on the VDACS OFAWG webpage:
 Thank you for your email about my petition to save Virginia's small family farmers from government assault.  I really appreciate it.
 
It would be really helpful if you could help clarify some things as I have sent your email out and it has prompted a list of questions below that were peaked by your email as well as issues that inspired me and many others to take action.
Could you please respond to these questions as I believe it will help clear up a lot of issues:
 1)  In your email you indicate that HB1430 was a "very complex piece of legislation".  Please explain what made it complex?
2)  Your email states that the bill was "very controversial".  Why was it controversial and who were the various interested parties that were in the controversy?
3) You have also indicated that there was "a great deal of misinformation circulating about it".  What was the misinformation?  Who was circulating it and how was it being circulated?
4) Why did the Governor direct you to not take a position on the bill?
5) Virginia defines agriculture/farming to include the production of grapes to wine as well as everything from tomatoes to beef.  So, why are wineries permitted more rights than other farmers?  Isn't that discriminating against a class of people since in the eyes of the law all farmers are created equal?
6) It seems oppressive for farmers on land zoned RA to have to be required to obtain costly permits, site plans, go to full blown hearings for traditional farming activity on private property farm land.  Please explain why a tomato farmer needs a permit to have a birthday party for 8 ten year old little girls on private property or to sell hand crafted jewelry made from emu and chicken feathers or to sell a t-shirt with a picture of a farmer's pig?
7) Apparently your farm is called Lohr Family Pick U Own Farm & Playland that engages in agri-tourism.  How long has your farm been in operation? What permits do you have and when were they obtained? What kind of special building permits and inspections did you obtain for all of the structures on your property? Is it correct that you have a conservation easement on your farm? What kind of setback requirements are there and are you ADA compliant?  Are your structures inspected and is your septic system certified?  What fee amounts have you had to pay? Site plans?
8) Why does VDACS only take counsel from Farm Bureau, big Agri-business and VDACS when these entities do not represent the voice of the small family farmer and when the sovereign citizens of the Commonwealth of Virginia sent thousands of emails, phone calls and drove many miles to Richmond to be heard?
 I found this quote from you on the VDACS website:  “Agritourism is important to us at VDACS for many reasons,” said Lohr. “It’s a good way for small farmers to make a living at farming or for larger ones to diversify their operations. It can provide economic benefits to rural communities by bringing in visitors and creating new jobs. It keeps food dollars in the community and, let’s face it, it’s just fun. I encourage all Virginians to celebrate fall at an agritourism farm.”
 I believe HB1430 exemplifies exactly what your statements on VDACS and on other websites intend.  Why can't small family farmers throughout the Commonwealth have the same rights and freedoms you have on your farm?
 I want to thank you for forming this group and urge you to strongly consider the compelling and overwhelming desire for change from thousands and thousands of Virginia from all over the commonwealth to limit county regulation of small family farms.
Why would a young person want to become a small family farmer in Virginia when there are so many regulations and restrictions that are making farming unsustainable?
Thank you for your consideration and I look forward to your response.  I would like to have the opportunity to visit your farm soon.
 
Please consider having the next OFWAG working group at your farm.
 Thank you again for providing clarification on these important issues that impact all Virginians.

Sincerely,

Jonathan

 

Dear Jonathan-

I appreciate your interest in this issue.  Many of the questions/comments you raised are exactly why we felt the need to assemble this working group in the first place.  Obviously various localities differ on what they deem to be appropriate activity.  The goal of the group is to evaluate what various counties are doing and see if any of those ideas can be replicated.  There are lots of ideas the group is considering, including studying strategies used in other states and reviewing language from other code sections related to on farm wineries for concepts that can be utilized with other sectors of agriculture. 

The discussions that have surrounded HB 1430, dating back to the 2012 session, have generated much debate on both sides of the issue.  Opinions differ on the best way to find a solution.  I think the fact that there are so many varying points of view has demonstrated that the issue is indeed very complex and controversial.  That is why we are dedicating such efforts to our OFAWG.  I am very optimistic that these conversations can lead to possible pieces of legislative proposals next session.

The governor very rarely takes a position on a bill  that is not an administration bill.  This practice has been consistent throughout his entire term in office.   As far as my Rockingham County farm goes, we do not operate the agritourism portion of the farm anymore.  My wife passed away two years ago from cancer and she was the primary overseer of that portion of the business.  We used no permanent structures with the operation.  We do not have any conservation easements on our property.  The Rockingham County zoning ordinances and permits related to farming will be a topic at the next meeting in hopes of generating ideas that can help farmers in other localities.   

The VDACS OFAWG webpage was setup to provide information about the working group and to provide a conduit for citizens to provide comments.  Comments made to the webpage will be considered during the working group meetings.  We are committed to continuing to engage the interested parties, both producers and consumers, in this issue with hopes of developing strategies that can hopefully be useful for the 2014 legislative session.  I care deeply for this industry and want to see all types of farmers succeed.  I look forward to this study group producing some new and innovative ideas.

Thank you for your interest in this topic as well.  I would encourage to attend the next meeting of this group on July 23rd. 

Sincerely-

Matt Lohr

July 12, 2013

*The following four e-mails are a dialogue among Working Group members Joel Salatin, David King and Holder Trumbo

Hi all--

Unfortunately, I will be unable to attend since here at Polyface we will be conducting one of
our illegal seminars that day.  Ha!  I hope to be back with you all for the last session, and I will
look forward to what you accomplish in this one.

I'd like to contribute one major takeaway from the previous session for everyone to consider:
wine growers created freedoms for themselves through special legislation that do not apply to
other farmers.  I find it fascinating--and frustrating--that a farmer can have, BY RIGHT, weddings,
agri-tourism, events, etc. and sell products from others producers on site ONLY if he produces
wine.  

If he doesn't produce wine, but chooses instead to produce apple cider or chicken or green 
beans, he has none of those rights in Virginia.  In  other words, if we produced wine on our farm
we could do a multitude of things that are currently illegal.  That strikes me as being not only
grossly unfair, but elitist.  Kudos to the wine growers for granting themselves freedom.  I hope
our working group can create legislative language that would extend those freedoms to the rest of us.

Again, I'm disappointed that I cannot be with you, especially at the King family venue, but I look
forward to what you accomplish and being with you at the final session.

Blessings,

Joel Salatin
Polyface Farm

All, as the winery rep on the panel I'd like to restate my personal opinion about some of Joel's points.  (1)  As I stated at the first meeting, I am in complete agreement that there should be no difference between the subsets of "agriculture" that are operating in the same way.  The issues are exactly the same.  Unfortunately, even those in agriculture can't seem to agree what the definition of "agriculture" is, and which parts should enjoy the freedoms/priviledges/rights? that are/might be available.  (2)  Joel is correct that wine growers "created freedoms for themselves through special legislation".  Certainly since 2006 when I got involved this has been true.  But it's important to understand why this was necessary.  Wineries were, and still are in certain parts of the state, under attack by the localities that have/had winery specific ordinances.  As an example, Albemarle County had put my winery out of business by conditions that it imposed on us during the 2006 General Assembly session using it's ordinance that governed only wineries.  No other section of agriculture was affected by the Albemarle winery ordinance.  And because these other parts of the ag industry were not immediately affected by the winery struggle, some suggested that their representatives (and their accumulated political capital, hard won) should not be at risk by alliance with the wine industry.  The wine industry did receive much needed support from established groups in the ag industry once it became clear that any solutions were going to be attached to something other than the general agriculture provisions.  (3)  It's hard to create these freedoms through special legislation.  Lots of organization, time and money.  And this comes after you herd the cats in your own group and agree what you're asking the govt to do.  And you'll be surprised who your enemies are and why.  The "freedoms" that the wine industry enjoys have come after a process/battle that started in 2006, if not before, continues today, and has caused some of the early proponents in the wine industry to go out of business.  (4)  Unity is strength.  Let's put forward something that as many parts of ag can support as possible.   Looking forward to July 23.  

Regards, David King

Hi all--

Thanks, David, for validating my major epiphany.

The only point I would clarify (not argue ) is that the wine industry was under special scrutiny or local
ordinance pressure due to its newness and uniqueness.  I would suggest that the regulatory prejudice
is against anything new and innovative, whether it's wine or on-farm poultry processing, a summer 
ag-day camp or some local rocket enthusiasts looking for a big field to launch their physics wizardry.
Woodworking shops, commercial kitchens, overnight lodging, dinner parties, abattoirs and a host of
other activities appropriate to local food and farm commerce are prohibited specifically in many local
ordinances.  While the wine industry may have felt inordinately abused, it was not.  What distinguished
the wine industry was that it had enough singleness of mind and spirit--and awareness--to realize the
abuse and seek legislative relief.  The rest of us have not progressed to that point, unfortunately.

Freedom is the lifeblood of innovation;  regulation is the lifeblood of tyranny.  For the record, I do not
believe it is the government's responsibility to provide for my safety.  When we protect the general
welfare, how about my freedom's general welfare?

Yes, these freedoms are hard fought.  And since we've lost 95 percent of our freedoms in Virginia,
it will take a concentrated effort to regain a few.  Here's to a successful July 23 meeting sans my 
presence (I thought a toast under the premises circumstances would be in order).  

Blessings all,

Joel Salatin
Polyface Farm

Joel, thank you for your thoughts but I think you need to go back and review the state’s winery ordinance.  You will notice immediately that the word “wedding”  appears nowhere in the list of activities that are required to be permitted state-wide.  I have attached the ordinance language below.  In fact, a list of such activities was drafted and considered by the legislature during the debate over adoption of this bill, and ultimately was excluded because the state preferred to leave such discretion up to localities.  The notion was that the appropriateness of certain activities, or whether they might be considered usual and customary, will vary from place to place, and that a “one size fits all” approach was too heavy handed.  Regulating from Richmond what may be appropriate in Rockingham, or too restrictive in Floyd or Wise, just doesn’t work.  Nor does standardizing between the more rural counties and the more urban or suburban counties like Arlington or Fairfax.  The code is similarly vague on the definition of “regular business hours” or “items that are incidental to the sale of wine”.

In my opinion there is nothing inherently “agricultural” about a wedding as plenty of folks are married successfully daily outside of agricultural venues.  A farm-dependent activity would be more like a hayride, corn maze or pumpkin patch, none of those being feasible without a very direct connection to agriculture, and frankly all of them being a great and traditional way to promote a farm’s products.  Also, educational activities like sharing with folks about their food sources or the local extension office offering a Johnson grass seminar or the soil and water district teaching folks about BMP’s are clearly the realm of agriculture.

To the point about what products should be allowed for sale, in my experience this is very difficult and time consuming for localities to address.  Just as newer wineries sell shiners, or farmers sell produce from neighboring farms, origin may not be as important as the quality, quantity and type of product offered.  I see agricultural items that range from very good to some that are suspect in many farmers’ markets.  I am not sure who is waxing some of those “local” cucumbers, or forgetting to peel off the labels.  The public is pretty smart when they want to be and charlatans are usually found out quickly. We do need to draw a line if some creative entrepreneur wants to include truly non-agricultural items or services, but reasonable people could have a wide variety of thoughts about where that line should be drawn.

So to tie my thoughts together, for my part, I am less concerned about providing farmers some greater flexibility to sell agricultural products without local regulation than I am about the impact that events that are not specifically agricultural would have without some local oversight.

I’d appreciate the thoughts of the rest of the group.

Respectfully,
Holder Trumbo

§ 15.2-2288.3 Licensed farm wineries; local regulation of certain activities.
History
This law was first passed in 2006. It was updated in 2007, and 2009.
Related Laws

Cite As

Trust, But Verify
If you’re reading this for anything important, you should double-check its accuracy—read § 15.2-2288.3 on the official Code of Virginia website.
Keyboard Guide
A. It is the policy of the Commonwealth to preserve the economic vitality of the Virginia wine industry while maintaining appropriate land use authority to protect the health, safety, and welfare of the citizens of the Commonwealth, and to permit the reasonable expectation of uses in specific zoning categories. Local restriction upon such activities and events of farm wineries licensed in accordance with Title 4.1 to market and sell their products shall be reasonable and shall take into account the economic impact on the farm winery of such restriction, the agricultural nature of such activities and events, and whether such activities and events are usual and customary for farm wineries throughout the Commonwealth. Usual and customary activities and events at farm wineries shall be permitted without local regulation unless there is a substantial impact on the health, safety, or welfare of the public. No local ordinance regulating noise, other than outdoor amplified music, arising from activities and events at farm wineries shall be more restrictive than that in the general noise ordinance. In authorizing outdoor amplified music at a farm winery, the locality shall consider the effect on adjacent property owners and nearby residents.
C. C. [Expired.]
D. No locality may treat private personal gatherings held by the owner of a licensed farm winery who resides at the farm winery or on property adjacent thereto that is owned or controlled by such owner at which gatherings wine is not sold or marketed and for which no consideration is received by the farm winery or its agents differently from private personal gatherings by other citizens.
E. No locality shall regulate any of the following activities of a farm winery licensed in accordance with subdivision 5 of § 4.1-207:
1. The production and harvesting of fruit and other agricultural products and the manufacturing of wine;
2. The on-premises sale, tasting, or consumption of wine during regular business hours within the normal course of business of the licensed farm winery;
3. The direct sale and shipment of wine by common carrier to consumers in accordance with Title 4.1 and regulations of the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board;
4. The sale and shipment of wine to the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board, licensed wholesalers, and out-of-state purchasers in accordance with Title 4.1, regulations of the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board, and federal law;
5. The storage, warehousing, and wholesaling of wine in accordance with Title 4.1, regulations of the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board, and federal law; or
6. The sale of wine-related items that are incidental to the sale of wine.

July 11, 2013
John Medaris

Dear Commissioner Lohr and General Assembly:
 
Small family farmers must be protected in Virginia.  I urge you to bring forward to new legislation to guarantee that the great Commonwealth of Virginia's farmers are protected from unreasonable rogue counties.
 
The people are still the sovereign and the elected officials are the servants.  I do believe that the thousands upon thousands of Virginians have spoken loud and clear and the message is that Virginians do not want government regulating our farms.  It is unfortunate that special interest groups that do not represent small family farmers like Farm Bureau and big Agribusiness are the only voices that have been heard, even though thousands and thousands of Virginians that are the sovereign and whom you serve have spoken and want Farm Freedom."
Thank you for your kind consideration.

July 11, 2013
Jonathan Branch

Dear Commissioner Lohr and the General Assembly,

My name is Jonathan Branch and I am a rising senior at Virginia Tech, and after learning about the situation of Virginia's small family farmers and their status of being overburdened with regulation I was inspired to design an online petition on change.org to take action. In addition to the online petition, college students went door-to-door to get signatures to urge Virginia to stop the war on small family farmers and to keep counties from running small farmers off of their land. Attached to this e-mail is a spreadsheet of the physical signatures collected by other college students. For your convenience, I compiled them into an excel spreadsheet. I will also be faxing you the original signatures as well. Thank you for your generous and kind consideration, the issue of small family farmers is about all Virginians; it is a non-partisan issue. The government is designed to protect all of us, not just special interest groups like the Farm Bureau or Big Agribusiness.

Jonathan Branch

 

Hi Jonathan.  Thank you for your interest in agriculture and your willingness to address a situation that you perceive as harmful to small farms in Virginia. I am guessing you heard something about the Boneta bill that was a very complex piece of legislation aimed at amending the Right to Farm laws in Virginia. This bill turned out to be very controversial and we observed a great deal of misinformation circulating about it.

At the direction of the Governor, we did not take a position on the bill as an agency, but we offered to develop a working group to better evaluate the topic and try to find solutions to problems represented. The makeup of the group is quite diverse, but I am happy to report that our first meeting in May went quite well and the group appears to be working together toward a common goal.
 
Group members include: Travis Hill, Deputy Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry; myself; Steve Berryman, College Run Farms, Surry;  Martha Boneta, Liberty Farms, Vienna;  Trey Davis, Assistant Director of Governmental Relations, Virginia Farm Bureau; Katie Frazier, President, Virginia Agribusiness Council; David King, King Family Vineyards, Crozet; Larry Land, Director of Policy Development, Virginia Association of Counties; Joseph Lerch, Director of Environmental Policy, Virginia Municipal League; Paul Rogers, Jr., Rogers Farm, Wakefield; Joel Salatin, Polyface Farms, Swoope; Lois Smith, Vice President, Virginia Independent Consumers and Farmers Association; Holder Trumbo, Chairman, Fauquier County Board of Supervisors; William L. “Billy” Vaughan, Director of Community Development for Rockingham County and Fred Wydner, Pittsylvania Co. Agriculture Development Director.
 
We have a second meeting scheduled later this month and a third one probably in September.  This group has no authority to change current policy or regulations, but will make a report  to the House Committee on Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources and to the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources. 
 
Thank you for your interest in this issue as well.  Good luck wrapping up your career at Virginia Tech next year. 
 
Matt 

July 9, 2013
The Sadler Family

Dear Commissioner Llohr and General Assembly,

I am writing today to convey the support our family has for what was HB1430 in the 2013 Session, The Right To Farm Act, also known as the Boneta Bill. Our family supports the property rights of farmers and its time Virginia ensures their Rights, Freedom, and Individual Liberties.  The Boneta Bill will do just that! We support it and ask you do the same.
I would ask that you please respond to my email so I know you have received and read it.

July 3, 2013
J. F. Tarter

I find it sad that we even have to have a bill to protect American farmers.  What happened to the land of the free?

The government officials who have harassed this family should be held accountable up to and including criminal charges where applicable.
Thank you.

Dear VDACS,

I just signed Jonathan branch's petition "Save Small Family Farmers From Government Assault: Adopt the Virginia Farm & Food Freedom Act" on Change.org.
Adopt the Virginia Farm & Food Freedom Act

Submitted by the following people:
Natalie Richardson, Great Falls, Virginia
George Alston, Falls Church, Virginia
Sarah Sam, Reston, VA, Virginia
Camal Wilson, Virginia, Virginia
Sasha Hamirani, McLean, Virginia
Joyce Dunois, Berryville, Virginia
Evan Draim, Alexandria, Virginia
Ally Crowers, McLean, Virginia
JoAnn Abbott, Dale City, Virginia
Scott Abbott, Dale City, Virginia

Bonnie Betts, Stafford, Virginia
Nancy Almasi, Alexandria, Virginia
Alex Elwood, Midlothian, Virginia
Richard Altice, Farmville, Virginia
Paul St.Jean, Warrenton, Virginia
Tom DeWeese, Remington, Virginia
Kristen Bellini, Falls Church, Virginia

Amy Roscher, Broadway, Virginia
Grace Hu, Herndon, Virginia
Sara Cline, Blacksburg, Virginia
Samantha Ciniello, Radford, Virginia
Vicki McConnell, Springfield, Virginia
Mark Tyson, Vienna, Virginia
Kevin McGrath, Oakton, Virginia
Jesse Liu, Oak Hill, Virginia
Carter Gaylord, Blacksburg, Virginia
Michael Marrow, Clifton, Virginia
D. J. Anderson, Fairfax, Virginia
Megan Dunegan, Manassas, Virginia
Erin Connors, Blacksburg, Virginia
Ashleigh Lanza, Woodbridge, Virginia
Ron Wilcox, Fairfax, Virginia
John Clyne, Oakton, Virginia
Adriana Haleleh, McLean, Virginia
Haley Robinson, McLean, Virginia
Bryan Youmans, Herndon, Virginia
Justin Shane, Falls Church, Virginia
Josh Sen, Great Falls, Virginia
John Backus, Great Falls, Virginia
Amanda Greenwood, Sterling, Virginia
Brooks Arundel, McLean, Virginia
Chloe Grishaw, Falls Church, Virginia
Daniel Upshaw, Great Falls, Virginia
Jess Groves, Blacksburg, Virginia
Rachel Wiener, McLean, Virginia
Jameson Bloom, Alexandria, Virginia
Samuel Loeschen, Blacksburg, Virginia
Stephanie Morris, Virginia Beach, Virginia
Serene Cherian, Glen Allen, Virginia
Jason Branch, Herndon, Virginia
Olya Rubin, Arlington, Virginia
Martin Nash, Falls Church, Virginia
Terry Meyers, Oakton, Virginia
Clarissa Fleming, Culpeper, Virginia
Thomas Pietras, Woodbridge, Virginia
Meredith Bogush, Leesburg, Virginia
Holly Myers, Warrenton, Virginia
Michele Schnitzer, Reston, Virginia
Taylor Galloway, Alexandria, Virginia
Amanda Denson, Blacksburg, Virginia
Robert Atkinson, Blacksburg, Virginia
William Navarre, Warrenton, Virginia
Nneka Ugwu, Herndon, Virginia
Stew Bakings, Alexandria, Virginia
Myra Branch, Herndon, Virginia
Peter Ciampa, Arlington, Virginia
Joe Blackburn, Arlington, Virginia
Ben Foshee Arlington, Virginia
William Nelson, Alexandria, Virginia
Louis Martin, Alexandria, Virginia
Cheryl Nelson, Alexandria, Virginia
Bernard Nelson, Alexandria, Virginia
Joycelyn Martin, Alexandria, Virginia
David Dennis, Charlottesville, Virginia
Shaun Kenney, Kents Store, Virginia
Dustin Curtis, Fredericksburg, Virginia
Ryann Barnum, Midlothian, Virginia
Mark Hile, Henrico, Virginia
Shia Ivey, Parksley, Virginia
Batkhand Tugsbayar, Alexandria, Virginia
Barry Isenhour, Midlothian, Virginia
Lindsey Hogge, Great Falls, Virginia
Robert Kenyon, Arlington, Virginia
Terrence Boulden, Woodbridge, Virginia
Regina O'Shaughnessy Centreville, Virginia
Kerry Good, Floyd, Virginia
Lester Gabriel, Fredericksburg, Virginia
Gregg Jones, Midland, Virginia
Mim Blower, Alexandria, Virginia
Andrew Culp, McLean, Virginia
Al Schornberg, Keswick, Virginia
Anna Fahlberg, McLean, Virginia
Kimberly Hartke, Reston, Virginia
Cary Phillips, Henrico, Virginia
Kathleen Ratana, Herndon, Virginia
Courtney Walbey, Dumfries, Virginia
Sundar Mallikarjunan, Blacksburg, Virginia
Lori Brown, Herndon, Virginia
James St. John, Norfolk, Virginia
Claire Mortimer, Kingstowne, Virginia
Sandeep Rishi, Great Falls, Virginia
Cheryl Griggs, Williamsburg, Virginia
John Loeschen, Blacksburg, Virginia
Asher Wong, Arlington, Virginia
Katie Tata, McLean, Virginia
Thomas Duvall, Culpeper, Virginia
D W, Smithfield, Virginia
Gerald Dabbs, The Plains, Virginia
Maria Ace, Centreville, Virginia
Guy Beaver, Yorktown, Virginia
Kevin Nejad, Great Falls, Virginia
Nathaniel Nguyen, Roanoke, Virginia
Eryn Letterman, Vienna, Virginia
Jo Han, Fairfax, Virginia
Amy Garrigan, Great Falls, Virginia
Emily Caccamo, Alexandria, Virginia
Terry Hunter, Alexandria, Virginia
Jacob Duell, Blacksburg, Virginia
Brent Natsuhara, Blacksburg, Virginia
Kristi Horita, Oak Hill, Virginia
Joe Gargan, Mclean, Virginia
Ann Bellinger, Arlington, Virginia
Shannon Hicks, Lynchburg, Virginia
Victoria Zigadlo, Blacksburg, Virginia
Rebecca Deutsch,Pportsmouth, Virginia
Julia Diamond, Falls Church, Virginia
Victoria Hyde, Warrenton, Virginia
Kathleen Willmore, McLean, Virginia
Patrick Morris, McLean, Virginia
Nourdjan Hadjivelieva, Colonial Heights, Virginia
Marianne Bacon, Falls Church, Virginia
Thomas Cranmer, Cranmer, Virginia
Cori Cain, Winchester, Virginia
Simson Wang, Franconia, Virginia
Barbara Mautner, Arlington, Virginia
Barry Valentine, Ashburn, Virginia
Brett Stubbs, Virginia Beach, Virginia
Jeff Smith, Hermdon, Virginia
Renard Turner, Gordonsville, Virginia
Melanie Johnston, Virginia Beach, Virginia
Bethany Kime, Rustburg, Virginia
Tina Curtis, Warrenton, Virginia
Jeff Harvan, Springfield, Virginia
G.E. Branch III, Herndon, Virginia
Trudi Bailey, Powhatan, Virginia
Courtney Smith, Alexandria, Virginia
Peter Bernier, Stanardsville, Virginia
Anna Yenney, Henrico, Virginia
Rebecca Erickson, Midlothian, Virginia
Lisa O'Dell, Norfolk, Virginia
Linda Uher, Virginia Beach, Virginia
Charles Porter, Lortoin, Virginia
Carrie Strickland, Poquoson, Virginia
Diane Iovanna, Harrisonburg, Virginia
Vivienne Smith, Scottsville, Virginia
Suzanne Davis, MIdlothian, Virginia
Kristi Roberts, Centreville, Virginia
Alison Litvin, Fredericksburg, Virginia
Lynn Stafford, Pearisburg, Virginia
Kenny Sirivongxay, Lorton, Virginia
Nikki Villanueva, Reston, Virginia
Karen Laiacona, Blacksburg, Virginia
Emily Baird, Richmond, Virginia
Elizabeth Harding, Haymerket, Virginia
Olivia Meyer, Reston, Virginia
Dennis Petrick, Front Royal, Virginia
Scott Johnson, Virginia Beach, Virginia
Rahkia Nance, Alexandria, Virginia
Sara Garth, Chesapeake, Virginia
Tatiana B., Woodbridge, Virginia
Yasmeen Zahar, McLean, Virginia
Thomas Rakes, Blacksburg, Virginia
Sarah Hunt, McLean, Virginia
Shayne Sheridan, Richmond, Virginia
Elizabeth Swank, Weyers Cave, Virginia
Sarah Oertel, Blacksburg, Virginia
Amy Talish, Bristow, Virginia
Ellen Oertel, Chester, Virginia
Oneida Huntington, Blacksburg, Virginia
Maureen Smith, Lorton, Virginia
Sarah Ballard-Abbott, Arlington, Virginia
Sarajane Troxel, Gloucester, Virginia
Sebastian Corrochano, McLean, Virginia
Stacey Chiu, Oakton, Virginia
Tessa Kim, Vienna, Virginia
William Lynch, McLean, Virginia
Becky Grubbs, Beaverdam, Virginia
Mary Wilson, Reston, Virginia
Audra Avery, Chantilly, Virginia
James Catalano, Ashburn, Virginia
Robert Trausch, Sterling, Virginia
Sacha Brenac, Arlington, Virginia
Gina Lickliter, Manassas, Virginia
Gerard Heerink, Fairfax, Virginia
Paige Gaebe, Blacksburg, Virginia
Jessica Strother, Reston, Virginia
A Rojahn, Montvale, Virginia
Jessica Strother, Reston, Virginia
Leah McNicholas, Centreville, Virginia
Jeanne-Marie Peterson, Charlottesville, Virginia
Jessica Mehl, Lovettsville, Virginia
Naomi Reynolds, Norfolk, Virginia
Shannon Baukhages, Luray, Virginia
Joe Kriz, Suffolk, Virginia
Karen Carter, Louisa, Virginia
Eric Burkholder, Arlington, Virginia
Nicole Jenkins, Herndon, Virginia
Vadriane Brown, Reston, Virginia
Elizabeth Whittaker, Danville, Virginia
Stephanie Kahn, Alexandria, Virginia
Nikki Lee, McLean, Virginia
John Steele, Vienna, Virginia
Erin Reaves, Sterling, Virginia
Mike Wade, Hampton, Virginia
Cheryl Homer-Wilson, Herndon, Virginia
Carlos Waters, Blacksburg, Virginia
Marvin Portillo, Arlington , Virginia
David Vicinanzo, Herndon, Virginia
Savanna Rains, Herndon, Virginia
Ryan Heltemes, Dumfries, Virginia
Chris Shoemaker, Herndon, Virginia
John Hale, Annandale, Virginia
Melissa Shoemaker, Herndon, Virginia
Samantha Shoemaker, Herndon, Virginia
Karen Shoemaker, Herndon, Virginia
Kwesi Clarke, Norfolk, Virginia
Jim Bradley, Herndon, Virginia
Linda Laudiero, Manassas, Virginia
Catherine Eicke, Herndon, Virginia
Kayla Phillips, Great Falls, Virginia
Chris Minisch, Herndon, Virginia
Ashley Uzer, McLean, Virginia
Sam Minisch, Herndon, Virginia
Brenda Creegan, Earlysville, Virginia
Simone Ford, Charlottesville, Virginia
Riva Nance, Herndon, Virginia
Natasha P. McLean, Virginia
Carolina Alvarez-Correa, McLean, Virginia
Peter Tirado, Sterling, Virginia
John Gargan, McLean, Virginia
Jason Branch, Woodbridge, Virginia
Caroline Djakiew, McLean, Virginia
Grace Forbes, McLean, Virginia
Togoldor Dashtseren, Centreville, Virginia
Lawrence Warthan, Chester, Virginia
Justin Keppler, Middlebrook, Virginia
John Stout, Coeburn, Virginia
Terrie Webb N., Prince George, Virginia
Spencer Gritis, Fairfax, Virginia
Avia Stevens, Arlington, Virginia
Courtney Williams, Alexandria, Virginia
Susan Halloran, Virginia Beach, Virginia
Janit Jones, Henrico, Virginia
Steven Saunders, Chesapeake, Virginia
Nearly 200 students at Virginia Tech
Tyna Gaylor, Fairfax Station, Virginia
Craig Wiebke, Mineral, Virginia
Morgan Sydney, Ashburn, Virginia
Alexandra Lavin, Dillwyn, Virginia
Danielle Perozich, Sterling, Virginia
Marie Innocent, Manassas, Virginia
Karen Olin, Surry, Virginia
Chad Greene, Ashburn, Virginia
Chris Bell, Barhamsville, Virginia
Amber Martyn, Palmyra, Virginia
Paula Stevenson, Charlottesville, Virginia
Jeffrey Judge, Leesburg, Virginia
Elizabeth Fahrner, Waterford, Virginia
Delarease Butts, Lees burg, Virginia
Angela Crandlemire, Arlington, Virginia
Ryland Acree, Floyd, Virginia
Bethany DIamond Arlington, Virginia
Lorraine Biondi Austin Ashburn, Virginia
Cherise Fantus Alexandria, Virginia
Aime L Nuar Manassas, Virginia
John Correira Herndon, Virginia
Maia Huntington, Christiansburg, Virginia
Kate Howell, Blacksburg, Virginia
Caroline Djakiew, McLean, Virginia
Grace Forbes, McLean, Virginia
Kate Howell, Blacksburg, Virginia
Robert Draim, Alexandria, Virginia
Anirudh Mittra, Herndon, Virginia
James Watkins, Alexandria, Virginia
Ed Levine, Sterling, Virginia
Paul Redden Jr., Markham, Virginia
Laura Mayer, Fairfax, Virginia
Joseph Branch, Ashburn, Virginia
Rachael Edmonds, Ashburn, Virginia
Jason Poblete, Arlington, Virginia
Russell Goldman, McLean, Virginia
Morgan Knott, Christiansburg, Virginia
Tina Fox, Catlett, Virginia
Daniel Dooley, Chesapeake, Virginia
Steve Pisano, Blacksburg, Virginia
Rae Gastoukian, Norfolk, Virginia
Angela CreasyThompson, Madison, Virginia
Waverly Woods, Virginia Beach, Virginia
Jennifer Rickards, Virginia Beach, Virginia
Jordan Wright, Alexandria, Virginia
Rhevyn Clegg, Yorktown, Virginia
Sam Dockser, Mclean, Virginia
Michael Maccannon, Herndon, Virginia
Tammy Sheets, Bluefield, Virginia
Victoria Fearing, Lancaster, Virginia
Priscilla Herzberg Newport News, Virginia
Kaitryn Evans, McLean, Virginia
Liz Van Pelt, Blacksburg, Virginia
Christine Tully, Alexandria, Virginia
Martha Boneta, Paris, Virginia
Christine Tully, Alexandria, Virginia
Margo Thronson, McLean, Virginia
Nolan Henry, Blacksburg, Virginia
Margarita Emmanuelli, Alexandria, Virginia
Sarah Butterworth, Clifton, Virginia
Jordan Dawkins, Leesburg, Virginia
Sarah Chaikind, McLean, Virginia
Michael Malito, Herndon, Virginia
Zack Compton, Springfield, Virginia
William Herr, Fredericksburg, Virginia
Summer Ingram, Springfield, Virginia
Grace Dewey, Falls Church, Virginia
Dana Larkin, Virginia Beach, Virginia
Serene Lee, Annandale, Virginia
Sandra Briley, Goochland, Virginia
Heather McEligot, Charlottesville, Virginia
Matayo Rague, McLean, Virginia
Aaron Pence, Shenandoah, Virginia
Mark Fitzgibbons, Marshall, Virginia
Ashley Leupold, Blacksburg, Virginia
Esther Hwang, Roanoke, Virginia
Lili Davoudian, McLean, Virginia
Tyler Ricchetti, McLean, Virginia
Ariana Tolbert, Herndon, Virginia
Lia Tabackman, Mclean, Virginia
Anna Grishaw, Falls Church, Virginia
Bradley Levergood, Reston, Virginia
Heather Knower, Colonial Heights, Virginia
Peggy Freeman, Luray, Virginia
Kaitlyn Lytle, Alexandria, Virginia
Lexay Petties, Fredericksburg, Virginia
Julie Brierre, Charlottesville, Virginia
Jessica Carr, Purcellville, Virginia
Caroline Stenger, McLean, Virginia
Craig Wiebke, Mineral, Virginia
Morgan Sydney, Ashburn, Virginia
Alexandra Lavin, Dillwyn, Virginia
Danielle Perozich, Sterling, Virginia
Marie Innocent, Manassas, Virginia
Karen Olin, Surry, Virginia
Tyna Gaylor, Fairfax Station, Virginia
Bethany DIamond, Arlington, Virginia
Al Moniz, Fairfax, Virginia
Isabel Clagett, Leesburg, Virginia
Tony Sheffield, Fredericksburg, Virginia
Kay Holmes, Tannersville, Virginia
Lucy Vega, Manassas, Virginia
Deborah Walton, Oak hill, Virginia
William Harris, Lees burg, Virginia
Wanda Hazzard, Saluda, Virginia
Joseph Smith, Purcellville, Virginia
Phillip Chang, Leesburg, Virginia
Eileen Smith, Purcellville, Virginia
Julie Pearce, Arlington, Virginia
Tamara Durniak, Ashburn, Virginia

Patricia Roth, Tappahannock, Virginia
Carlton Haynes, Mechanicsville, Virginia
Wilmer Aygarn, Virginia Beach, Virginia
Glenn Diersen, Glen Allen, Virginia
John Medaris, Fairfax Station, Virginia
Chet Czarniak, Clifton, Virginia
M Michaels, Richmond, Virginia
Laurie Landers, Nokesville, Virginia
Cathleen Flores, Falls church, Virginia
Ellen Hadley, Manassas, Virginia
Amy Anzures, Warrenton, Virginia
Sandra Pleasants, N. Chesterfield, Virginia
Dorsey Riley, Gainesville, Virginia
Pasha Davoudian, McLean, Virginia
Natalie Sherlock, Timberville, Virginia
Greg Wilson, Herndon, Virginia
Michael Lindner, Alexandria, Virginia
Constance Griffin, Vesuvius, Virginia
Betsy Good, Middletown, Virginia
Susan Cato, Springfield, Virginia
Joshua Ehrhardt, Reston, Virginia
Linda Ferro, Virginia Beach, Virginia
Diane Greene, Vienna, Virginia
Brenda Irons-LeCesne, Reston, Virginia
Alison Filler, Charlottesville, Virginia
Caroline Shea, Sterling, Virginia
Kathy Cooke, Arlington, Virginia
Kim Hahn, Richmond, Virginia
William Grayson, Alexandria, Virginia
Kate Berray, McLean, Virginia
Zach Frodge, Alexandria, Virginia
Suzanne Kim, Great Falls, Virginia
Baird Stokes, Maanakin Sabot, Virginia
Doris Arrington, N. Chesterfield, Virginia
Chris Martin, Great Falls, Virginia
Frank Boenig, Louisa, Virginia
Sandra Rodriguez, Arlington, Virginia
Sanita Walker-Respe,r Alexandria, Virginia
Leslie Jones, Virginia Beach, Virginia
Krystle Gabele Falls Church, Virginia
Gregg Jones, Midland, Virginia
Lee Abernathy, Mechanicsville, Virginia
Shannon Channer, Ashburn, Virginia
Nathalia Ossio, Sterling, Virginia
John Andril, Arlington, Virginia
Betty Coleman, Blacksburg, Virginia
Laura Kresse, Luray, Virginia
Mitchell Tobias, McLean, Virginia
Brita Kriss, Sterling, Virginia
Monica Cox, Spotsylvania, Virginia
Robert Heffley, Hampton, Virginia
Barbara Thompson, Manassas, Virginia
Jorge Rafael Robert-Saavedra, Stafford, Virginia
Tom Viele, Virginia Beach, Virginia
Monica Thatcher, Fairfax, Virginia
Tessa Bragg, Mt. Clare, West Virginia
Beverly Thompson, Craigsville, Virginia
Crystal Hart, Leesburgh, Virginia
Akram Elzend, Springfield, Virginia
Michael Dinkins, Herndon, Virginia
Denise Pillow, Hot Springs, Virginia
Anthony Murray, Goshen, Virginia
Michael Andrews, Mckenney, Virginia
Cindy Doughty, Fairfax, Virginia
Wendy Burdette, Clifton, Virginia
Michael Johns, Hampton, Virginia
Jane Lawler-Savitske, Springfield, Virginia
Virginia Kirby, McLean, Virginia
Dawn Wilt, Deltaville, Virginia
George Wiltshire, Middleburg, Virginia
Jim DiDominicus, Virginia
Hilary White, Strasburg, Virginia
Ramona Weaver, Burke, Virginia
Mary Eastman, Fairfax, Virginia
Mark Daugherty, Staunton, Virginia
Donna Carpenter, Culpeper, Virginia
Mary Gerken, Fairfax Station, Virginia
Field Karen, Arlington, Virginia
Alina Neas, Clifton, Virginia
Tom OConnor, Fairfax, Virginia
Tamara Hurley, Burke, Virginia
Christine Cava;rtro, Clifton, Virginia
William Ridenour, Fairfax, Virginia
Doris Boyd, Chantilly, Virginia
Sonia Becker, Lorton, Virginia
Anna Murray, Berryville, Virginia
Pauline Achua, Chesapeake, Virginia
William Prillaman Jr., Roanoke, Virginia
Peggy Parris, Rixeyville, Virginia
Jennifer Lovern, Roanoke, Virginia
Clarissa Lovern, Roanoke, Virginia
Steve Gingerich, Smithfield, Virginia
Laura Hartwick Falls Church, Virginia
Nancy Lee Cole, Fredericksburg, Virginia
Nikole Brock Huber, Poquoson, Virginia
Karen Hilaski, Arlington, Virginia
Bryant Cochran, Alexandria, Virginia
Jane Ledington, Fairfax, Virginia
Shaye Diorio, Woodbridge, Virginia
Brigida Alcantara, Ashburn, Virginia
Leonard Ligon, Chesapeake, Virginia
Maureem Fuster, Virginia Beach, Virginia
Ernest Almazan, Alexandria, Virginia
Jim Carroll, Virginia Beach, Virginia
Joe McGuire, Chesapeake, Virginia
Glen Scheirer, Alexandria, Virginia
Daveena McNicholas, Centreville, Virginia
Sarah Chapa, Virginia Beach, Virginia
Melissa Corder, Stephens City, Virginia
Alexis Pankey, Alexandria, Virginia
Steve Tarrell, King George, Virginia
Nina Naimy, Centreville, Virginia
Russell Lynch, Appomattox, Virginia
Jerry Alcantara, Ashburn, Virginia
Donna Giwa-Osagie, Centreville, Virginia
Deb Leonard, Williamsburg, Virginia
Mike Black, Alexandria, Virginia
Gloria Black, Alexandria, Virginia
Janet Set or, Springfield, Virginia
Jennifer Deforest, Call Away, Virginia
Maggie Geoghegan, Glen Allen, Virginia

Sonia Thomas, Virginia Beach, Virginia
Charles Gorski, Virginia Beach, Virginia
Larry Uher, Virginia Beach, Virginia
Dalynne Denhof, Virginia Beach, Virginia
Rochelle Friend, Moneta, Virginia
David Friend, Moneta, Virginia
Ann Marie Zuidema, Virginia Beach, Virginia
Patricia Charsky, Annandale, Virginia
Lewis Burton, Louisa, Virginia
Patricia Evans, Danville, Virginia
J. Ferrell, Abingdon, Virginia
Priscilla King, Gate City, Virginia
Ural Harris, Martinsville, Virginia
Janet Bonillo, Mineral, Virginia
Kim Lassman, Mineral, Virginia
Kelly Taylor, Louisa, Virginia
Robert Hedrick, Gretna, Virginia
Kate Rehard, Mineral, Virginia
David Whitlock, Mineral, Virginia
Amanda Simkins, Hampton, Virginia
Larry Nordvig, Powhatan, Virginia
Joanne Boenig, Louisa, Virginia
Donella Guill, Dry Fork, Virginia
Gary L. Foltz, Berryville, Virginia
Michael Rehard, Mineral, Virginia
Robert Gibson, Castlewood, Virginia
Michael Smith, Chase City, Virginia
Barbara Shaw, Gordonsville, Virginia
Dianna Kochanowski, Chesapeake , Virginia
Mr.& Mrs Harry E Waters, Abingdon, Virginia
Kyle Vitasek, Norfolk, Virginia
Miranda Kellison, Mineral, Virginia
Sheila Alligood, Meadowview, Virginia
Jeffrey Young, Bristow, Virginia
Robert S. Keeler Jr., Beaverdam, Virginia
Russell Kaiser, Louisa, Virginia
Audrey Wissinger, Virginia Beach, Virginia
James Ralls, Jr., Bumpass, Virginia
Amber Breitenberg, Norfolk, Virginia
Elizabeth Spaeth, Madison Heights, Virginia
Susan Wurzer, Free Union, Virginia
Leah Holloway, Norfolk, Virginia
Belinda Dexter, Virginia Beach, Virginia
Gary and Brenda Hardison, Chesapeake, Virginia
Charity Byrd, Front Royal, Virginia
Melissa Goodwin, Bristol, Virginia
Brenda Alston, Vienna, Virginia
Charles Ronnenberg, Sherando, Virginia
Robert Holman, Alexandria, Virginia
Gayle Wells, Mineral, Virginia
Marie Hoerst, Manassas, Virginia
Marty Dougherty, Bluemont, Virginia
Gina Tate, Windsor, Virginia
Carl Randolph Jr., North Chesterfield, Virginia
Kevin Randolph, Richmond, Virginia
Trinette Randolph, Richmond, Virginia
CaraMari Seligman, Reston, Virginia
Mike Hirsch, Fredericksburg, Virginia
Amy Tesich, Goshen, Virginia
Carolyn Worssam Richmond, Virginia
Elizabeth Curran, Chesapeake, Virginia
Jill Vitick, Arlingotn, Virginia
Wayne Verity, Fairfax, Virginia
Lisa Barker, Reston, Virginia
Alexandra Pitts, Centreville, Virginia
Rebecca Kenney, Arlington, Virginia
Monique Morales, Springfield, Virginia
Jonathan Franco, Springfield, Virginia
Bruno Leiva, Springfield, Virginia
Myra Morales, Springfield, Virginia
Nic Furst, Stone Ridge, Virginia
Regina Valdez, Springfield, Virginia
Suzanne Matyas, Arlington, Virginia
Rosie Hampton, Lynchburg, Virginia
James Smith, Arlington, Virginia
Khalil Hassan, Madison, Virginia
Allen Zechini, Centreville, Virginia
Diana Boeke, Culpeper, Virginia
Sarah Heath, Ivor, Virginia
Diana Aleman, Fairfax, Virginia
Brigitte Gonzales, Fredericksburg, Virginia
Allen Merced, Springfield, Virginia
Natchaya Phoyen, Arlington, Virginia
Renzo Renteria, West Springfield, Virginia
William Bowie, Ashburn, Virginia
Frank Segura, Springfield, Virginia
Nicholas Ratcliff, Charlottesville, Virginia
Rosario Ruiz, Fairfax, Virginia
Albin Salinas, Arlington, Virginia
Carrie Cardona, Charlottesville, Virginia
Geril Garcia, Richmond, Virginia
Richard Iriarte, Centreville, Virginia
Roger Pogge, Williamsburg, Virginia
Karla Aguayo, Charllotesville , Virginia
Lynne Malinowski, Stafford, Virginia
Eleanor Lockwood, Sterling, Virginia
Harry Penis, Blacksburg, Virginia
Traci Mason, Stafford, Virginia
Susan Corso, Springfield, Virginia
Kimberly Seitz, Centreville, Virginia
Richard Bates, Leesburg, Virginia
Dr. Paul A. Irey, Herndon, Virginia
Alan Rose, Carrsville, Virginia
Mark Cohen, Ashburn, Virginia
Jeff Wagner, Vienna, Virginia
Seon Lee, Herndon, Virginia
Aaron Toler, Warrenton, Virginia
John Curran, Reston, Virginia
Troy Mason, Stafford, Virginia
Lori Ann Long, Ashburn, Virginia
Frances Tu, Henrico, Virginia
Brian Reynolds, Broadlands, Virginia
Barbara Munsey, Chantilly, Virginia
Jimmie Keiter, Bealeton, Virginia
Adrienne Green, Leesburg, Virginia
David Bosch, Manassas, Virginia
Lee Affholter, Hampton, Virginia
Julian Polanco, Lovettsville, Virginia
Susan Brush, North Chesterfield, Virginia
Marc Nachman, Winchester, Virginia
Michael Weibel, Lansdowne, Virginia
Sherry Hayward, Stafford, Virginia
Bruce Cason, Staunton, Virginia
Noah Leitz, Chesapeake, Virginia
Trice Burgess, Fairfax, Virginia
Daniel Himes, Locust Grove, Virginia
Tonya Shomette, Ashburn, Virginia
Karl Acorda, Sterling, Virginia
Will Johnson, Glen Allen, Virginia
Jeanine Martin, Lovettsville, Virginia
Mary Jones, Williamsburg, Virginia
Janet Casanave, Toano, Virginia
Anthony Casanave, Toano, Virginia
Martha Stanford, Woodbridge, Virginia
Tricia Stall, North, Virginia
Peter Grosch, Leesburg, Virginia
Nancy Supples, Front Royal, Virginia
Kathleen Williams, Manassas, Virginia
James Baggette, Rileyville, Virginia
Patricia Loving, Mechanicsville, Virginia
Mark Martin, Windsor, Virginia
Annette Shaw, Mechanicsville, Virginia
Larry Boykin, Mechanicsville, Virginia
Thomas Burlingame, Winchester, Virginia
Larry Trollinger, Alexandria, Virginia
Paul Piescik, Mineral, Virginia
Joanne Hall, Montpelier, Virginia
Zachary Witt, Meadowview, Virginia
Juliane Thurston, Nathalie, Virginia
A.T. Wiggins, Dugspur, Virginia
Laura Loding, Hayes, Virginia
Dan Schmidt, Purcellville, Virginia
Robin Eubank, Hampton, Virginia
Wendy Farrish, Culpeper, Virginia
Jean Moody, White Plains, Virginia
Mildred Rudolph, Hanover, Virginia
Matt Hussmann, Arlington, Virginia
Karen Stephens, Louisa, Virginia
Anna Branner, Fredericksburg, Virginia
Carletta Wilson, Richmond, Virginia
Bobbi Collyer, Orange, Virginia
Duane Tant, Reston, Virginia
Lana Waskom, Glade Hill, Virginia
Laura Sebera, Hopewell, Virginia
Olivia Maynard, Dillwyn, Virginia
Lex Gibson, Buchanan, Virginia
Jeffrey Szyperski, Weems, Virginia
jeff Showalter, Weyers Cave, Virginia
Carole Sarkuti, Fairfax, Virginia
Teresa Vicars, Nickelsville, Virginia
Ricky McGuire, Merrimac, Virginia
Elisa Blevins, Troutdale, Virginia
Agnes Sage, Galax, Virginia
Mark Weaver, Manassas, Virginia
Brendan Scrape, Whitetop, Virginia
Bob Reedy, Mouth of Wilson, Virginia
Brian Roop, Whitetop, Virginia
Rodney Rooks, Luray, Virginia
Conley Tilson Jr., Luray, Virginia
Leeann Barksdale Foley, Luray, Virginia
Leah Halisky, Herndon, Virginia
Floyd Maxey, Luray, Virginia
Lynda Frank, Bristow, Virginia
Matthew Hassan, Warrenton, Virginia
Andrew T. Stahling, Montpelier, Virginia
Alice Butler-Short, Lorton, Virginia
Cecil Jordan, Powharan, Virginia
Laura Alcocer, Fairfax, Virginia
Mia Ventura, Midlothian, Virginia
Carol Stoil, Springfield, Virginia
Angel Escudero, Annandale, Virginia
Juan Lopez, Arlington, Virginia
Cristhian Alcoce, Fairfax, Virginia
Bobby Soule, Alexandria, Virginia
Charles Hendershot, Springfield, Virginia
Jesse Judy, Luray, Virginia
Trung Le, Springfield, Virginia
Emily Goward, Reston, Virginia
Bobbi Kelly, Markham, Virginia
Marie Kessler, Reston, Virginia
Thomas Blau, Fairfax, Virginia
Sandra Shoemaker, Centreville, Virginia
Angela Harold, Princeton, West Virginia
Mike Schultz, Alexandria, Virginia
Matthew Thompson, Manassas, Virginia
Heather Eckstein, Sierra Vista, Virginia
Erin Foley, Manassas, Virginia
Karin Fitzgerald, Warrenton, Virginia
Jenni Green, Manassas, Virginia
John Wheeler, Centreville, Virginia
Craig Nogosek, Chesapeake, Virginia
Samantha Sanchez Monroy, Manassas, Virginia
Emily Lowry, Richmond, Virginia

 

July 1, 2013

On behalf of Governor McDonnell and Agriculture and Forestry Secretary Todd Haymore, I welcome your efforts to assist Virginia’s farmers with regulations and restrictions developed by local and state governments. 

During the 2013 session of the Virginia General Assembly, Martha Boneta, who owns farmland in Paris, Virginia, captured the attention of individuals around the Commonwealth and country when her name was attached to new legislation seeking to provide farmers with certain rights and remedies against local regulations relating to farming and retail activities on their land. The legislation failed to pass the General Assembly, but the issues she raised prompted Secretary Haymore to charge Deputy Secretary Travis Hill and me to form a working group of interested parties—including Ms. Boneta and other stakeholders, to evaluate the issue more closely.     

Your petition to Secretary Haymore, Deputy Secretary Hill and me comes at an opportune time as we have planned the second meeting of the On-Farm Activities Working Group for July 23, 2013. We expect that the On-Farm Activities study will produce useful ideas that will be shared with key members of the state house and senate agriculture committees. 

Those who support efforts to provide clarification of the rights of Virginia’s farmers should let members of the Virginia General Assembly know their views and opinions. Again, thank you for letting us know of your strong support for protecting the interests and rights of Virginia’s farmers.

Matthew J. Lohr, Commissioner

June 29, 2013
R. Adinly

In regards to the continuing circumstances surrounding The Boneta Bill (H.B. 1430), it has come to my attention that certain enemies of the American ideal have taken to suppression of free trade and commerce.  These enemies used zoning impositions and agricultural regulations to crush Americans who have embodied the ideals of independence, freedom, thrift, and pioneering spirit.

Defending freedom is an easy task, when the cloud of obfuscation is lifted and the tyrant’s face is shown.  On the other hand, promulgating control, suppression, and establishmentarian cooption is a difficult task in a society of freedom-minded Americans.

My suggestion to the VFB and Kimberley Johnson entourage is to choose one of two options: (1) make peace in humility, abandon freedom-crushing tyranny, and make recompense to the already-injured parties in good Faith, or (2) contemplate their hostile actions, and attempt to explain how this suppression advances independence, freedom, thrift, and the American pioneering spirit.

If the path of peace is not chosen, these enemies will need to excel greatly at Option 2, in preparation for the political, media, social, and voter onslaught that is headed their way.  They should resurrect Edward Bernays from the grave if they hope to have a prayer in that battle.

June 28, 2013
Anna & Rick Murray

My husband and I support HB 1430, the Freedom to Farm Bill.  Virginia farmers need to be allowed to sell their products without being subject to heavy handed regulation.  We regularly enjoy local food products.  Allowing and encouraging farmers in Virginia to sell directly to consumers is good for our personal health, as well as for the environment.

Keep Virginia a Free State!!

June 28, 2013
Barry F Isenhour

Greeting Fellow Commonwealth Citizens,

The fight to pass the Virginia Farm freedom & food Act will soon begin again in our General Assembly.  The last GA did pass the Boneta Bill(HB 1430), but it was defected by lobbyist in a State Senate Committee; despite this set back, this Bill remains one of the most powerful pieces of freedom legislation introduced in the Virginia General Assembly.  This in my opinion is the most important fight of our generation.  Our Virginia Farmers are not only the backbone of our economic State engine, but our very fundamental right as citizens to choose how we feed ourselves and our Families.

Virginia is the State where our Founding Documents were written and indeed our documents of how we govern ourselves.  It is un-American to allow bureaucrats and uninformed politicians to place un-needed regulations on our small business farmers.  As Commonwealth citizens we have the right to decide what we can grow and produce on our property.  And we can decide whom we will trade and do business with without interference of State agencies that mostly justify their existence on silly regulations that destroy our Farmer's rights and abilities too produce products we, the customers want to purchase.

That is why, I pray you will support this effort to stop intrusive regulations coming out of bureaucrats that hurt us all, by getting behind the Virginia Farm freedom & food Act.  Contact your local State Delegate and State Senator and tell them you want them to also support is legislation.  At the Republican Party's State Convention this year, the Delegates unanimously passed the Virginia Farm freedom & food Act Resolution calling on all elected officials to back laws calling for less State Government interference on our small farms.

In addition, please join with your local farmers in your area to open Farmer's Markets, or buying directly from them at their farms.  And for more information, go to: www.vafarmandfoodfreedom.com to learn how you can get active in this movement.

June 28, 2013

I'm a Virginian and a voter.  I want freedom restored for Virginia small family farmers.

June 28, 2013
Larry Pratt

My family and I  support the Boneta Bill- Freedom to Farm Without Fear.

June 28, 2013
Julie

I support the Virginia Farm & Food Freedom Act. Don't restrict the small local farmers from feeding their neighbors. Keep our right to obtain the food we want to eat from the farmers we wish to patronise.

June 28, 2013
Ann Gastoukian

Please discuss this topic responsibly and listen to the small farmers of Virginia of their challenges to create a productive home for their families while offering food, products and services that other Virginians want and need.  Allowing traditional activities on the farms to grow, harvest, use and sell the products of their land is essential to passing on Virginia’s greatest traditions, knowledge and wisdom.  Virginia is unique in so many ways and we must foster the use of our lands to maintain our heritage and sustain the future economically, environmentally, spiritually, ethically and aesthetically.  Virginians are rightfully proud of the stock we have come from, the challenges we have endured and the visions of  a healthy, fearless, beautiful and productive Virginia.  Please see that this movement toward growing, eating, producing, and living responsibly is not a fad, but an inevitable effort of many to counteract the commercial, high intensity and at times reckless way we have thrown caution to the wind with our food, environment and care of our families and others.

My hope is that any future restrictions would be met with discussions on the impact it would have on the citizens of Virginia.  The regulations and restrictions have gotten so pervasive that, sometimes, the true reason for them is lost and actually counterproductive to the original intent.  Sometimes in the name of conservation, we do little more than what looks good on paper but truly harms the environment instead.  Farmers should have the weight of the decisions pertaining to their land.  They have more at stake than anyone and should be counselors to our legislators, farm bureau and associations and not the other way around.  They are less likely to be “bought” in the same way those of power are, though they may listen to unwise counsel to “save” their land and livelihood.  The role of government seems to have shifted from a general looking out for the rights and liberties of its citizens, to an entity that must protect us from ourselves because, sadly, we aren’t seen as smart enough to look after our own.  My general experience with Virginians is that, as a whole, they are savvy, innovative, brave, stubborn, hard workers, patriotic and willing to change if they see it is necessary.  Please treat us that way.

June 28, 2013
Mary McManus

It is high time our state government paid attention it’s constituents over the lobbies associated with corporate agriculture. Local, family run farms bring money into Virginia communities that then stays in Virginia communities.  Please remember that it is “We the people” that put you in office andexpiecially on a bi-partisan issue such as this, and we have the voice to demand change.

Please support the Boneta Bill and oppose any and all zoning restrictions on small farms!

June 28, 2013
Adrian Mungiu

It is unconscionable that a small farmer pursuing her dream of working a small organic farm should be attacked by greedy cowards using their position on a county board.  I have not seen cowardice of this level since FDR and the Democrats put Americans of Japanese descent into internment camps to steal their property.  Why must this letter be written in twenty first century America?

Allowing 8 ten year old girls celebrating a birthday by petting lambs and playing with various birds is not a crime.  To attempt to punish this with obscene fines is pathetic.  This is an obvious attempt to steal the property of a defenseless woman.  I know the perpetrators of this are beneath shame.  They are vermin.

Please pass this message on to the vermin and have them contact me if they wish to defend their actions.  I would enjoy meeting them face to face.

June 28, 2013
Murat and Peggy Shekem

We need more family farms and good stewardship of the earth.  Please support our small farmers.  Regulation is strangling them and denying the rest of us access to fresh, wholesome, CLEAN food.
Stop the excess regulation now!

June 27, 2013
Jatinder Singh Mann M.D.

I am sending this email to express my strong objections to any attempts at restricting small family farmers' ability to run their farms as they see fit. Government imposed rules and regulations are already excessive and need to be shrunk rather than expanded.

June 27, 2013
James Wesolek

As a Virginia resident and voter I would like to see legislation that supports small family farms rough limited government control of farm to promote economic freedom for small farmers. 

June 27, 2013
Charla Quimby

We definitely need small farmers to market to residents of Virginia. 

My husband and I appreciate buying products that are very fresh and available locally.  Having access to farmers' markets and their many products creates a better quality of life for the residents of the state.  There has been a very large national emphasis on eating healthy foods.  Limiting our farms to only large producers will not allow for local produce being sold for our consumption.  We should not have to depend on foods shipped in from distant farms for all of our food purchases.

Please consider the quality of life that can be possible for Virginia residents if small farmers are allowed to produce fresh and nutritious foods and related products for our consumption.  I certainly desire to live in a state that provides these amenities. 

June 27, 2013
Loretta Malander

Please respect private property rights in Virginia.  Fewer government restrictions on Virginia farms are good for EVERYONE (except the bureaucrats).  Stop restricting the freedoms of land owners.

June 27, 2013
Linda Miller

Virginia Government needs to stop putting so many restrictions on our Virginia farmers.

Virginia Government should encourage more family farms, rather than make new laws restricting them.

Remember, government and family need and desire fresh foods.

Virginia government needs to be concerned with the economy and jobs! Allow us to help all our farmers and local restaurants who like to use local farm products.

Please support small local farms, and help them succeed by reducing the number of regulations!

Think of your family and their future. 

June 27, 2013
Mrs. JoAnn Abbott

In the past couple years I have gotten to meet a couple of Virginia farmers who have had their lives interrupted, their livelihoods stolen and their rights trampled. In one case, a family farm which had been in continuous ownership by the same family for over 200 years, their property was seized by the nearby town so that a multi-lane bypass could be built.  The did not receive nearly what it was worth, and now find it difficult to  maintain the remaining land because of the road splitting what is left of their land.

In another case, a woman who bought a 70 acre abandoned farm to fulfill her lifelong dream of having a working farm has been harassed, had the local regulations changed, been sued for having a birthday party and had the IRS told to target her by the former director of the IRS under Clinton- who happens to be a neighbor, and doesn’t want her to run a farm or sell what she grows.

I both cases the property was owned by the farmers; they maintained it, they have had to pay  full taxes on  the land yet they are being constrained from using what they own in the way which they see fit.

We need local farmers.

We need locally grown food.

The Virginia Government needs to stop putting so many restrictions on our Virginia farmers.

The Virginia Government should encourage more family farms, rather than make new laws restricting them.

The Virginia government needs to be concerned with the economy and jobs! Allow us to help all our farmers and local restaurants who like to use local farm products.

Please support small local farms, and help them succeed by reducing the number of regulations!

June 27, 2013
Gerrie Smith

Please support the integrity of the independent farmers in the Commonwealth of Virginia. They supply diversity of service as well as the flexibility of delivery of goods and services that have stood for centuries to help forge our great nation.

State and local regulators are wise focus on those areas that require oversight, not independent farmers, as this is a misuse of precious public confidence as well as tax dollars.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

June 27, 2013
S. Kalayci

Virginia Government needs to stop putting so many restrictions on our Virginia farmers.

Virginia Government should encourage more family farms, rather than make new laws restricting them.

Remember, government and family need and desire fresh foods.

Virginia government needs to be concerned with the economy and jobs! Allow us to help all our farmers and local restaurants who like to use local farm products.

Please support small local fams, and help them succeed by reducing the number of regulations!

Think of your family and their future.

June 27, 2013
Eva Marie Young

I am a mother, consumer, Virginian and American.  It is very disturbing that VIRGINIA's small family farmers are being deprived of the most basic and fundamental rights of property rights, freedom and liberty.  There is something profoundly wrong when a small family farm is harassed by local county officials to the point where our hard working small farms are being driven to extinction by the heavy handed bullying of local county officials.   This must stop. 

I am saddened by the state of our nation.  Every time I turn on the news all you hear is how our freedoms are being destroyed.  Virginia has the power and the opportunity to give freedom back to our small family farmers and to be a leader in protecting our most cherished values.

The RPV 2013 Convention unanimously voted in favor of the Virginia Farm & Food Freedom Act demanding that legislation be brought forward to the General Assembly to protect Farmer Martha Boneta and thousands of farmers across the Commonwealth from selective enforcement bullying tactics and vicious land grabs from extremist fringe environmental groups.

My wish is to be proud of Virginia again and proud of you for doing the right thing.  I want my children to know this is still the great Commonwealth of Virginia and to have faith and hope for the future. 

How free are we if a small family farmer can't even sell a bag of sheep's wool from the farmer's own sheep or a baseball cap with the farmer's logo without asking permission from a county government, and paying huge "tax" fees for the right to do it; then having the local county government lords pick and choose what farms are free and which are required to conform to arbitrary dictates?

As a free American Woman I believe that government has forgotten its place. We the PEOPLE are the Sovereign and YOU are the servants.  We the people demand Freedom and we demand freedom for our small family farmers.

Free the Small Family Farmers!

June 27, 2013
Cameron Jones

I support the restoration of liberties for small farmers across the state of Virginia.

For too long small family farms have been have been under attack from all levels of government, and it is
time to restore their rights to property and the use of it to make their living.

There are too many restrictions on small farms, and if we wish to maintain the rural agricultural nature of Virgina, we must
allow these farmers to make a living.

I supported HB 1430, The Boneta Bill, and I will again when it comes up in the next session.

It is high time Virginia Legislators support the farmers they represent, and not just the interests of corporate agriculture.

June 26, 2013
Ron Wilcox

I support the Boneta Bill as a vehicle to restore individual property rights that have been usurped by local zoning ordinances far too long and have increase in their invasiveness over time.  Localities like Fauquier County have overturned the intent of the Right to Farm Amendment and Acts by these excessive zoning enforcement methods.
I support the right to sell any goods on a farm that can make it more of a viable enterprise.  A farmer has an inherent right to sell the goods and fruit of the land on his farm property.

June 26, 2013
Richard Altice

“ . . . . . . I have learned over the years that corporations have been growing in size, assets and influence. Our founding fathers are bound to be turning over in their graves at knowing, that now, corporations are so powerful as to buy protection from Federal, State and local governments as with the Monsanto Protection Act and the protection from law suits for vaccine damage for pharmaceutical corporations. This is, I believe, only the small tip of a huge iceberg.

Agencies and departments were brought forth to protect the citizens on this land, but now we see, across the board, all have been bought out by the corporations and now not only serve their best wants but restrict the Rights of the citizens. From books and articles I see that the land grant colleges can not be depended upon because too much of their research is funded by the corporations and thus is skewed in their favor.

The state of Virginia is a paradox of regulations, where on one hand, readily adopts Federal restrictive regulations but on the other hand promotes small farmers with buy local campaigns. If VDACS is to do anything, it should look at the present list of laws and regulations and work to remove all those that overly restrict consumers access to farmers. I am a proponent of the Boneta Bill and the Freedom to Farm Without Fear. I believe that the ultimate decision is mine, when choosing what food to consume and from whom to buy it. I believe that the industrialized farming system, now going on, is the problem and not the solution. I believe that diversification, free enterprise and personal responsibility are the answers to food poisonings, food recalls and terrorists plots (I am quite sure that the FBI and NSA will tell us they knew of them after the fact). 

I believe that Ronald Reagan said it best, "Government is not the solution, government is the problem". As a member of Virginia Independent Consumers and Farmers Association, I have worked to bring forth positive changes in the laws and regulations for individual citizens, whether they be producers or consumers. I do it so that my grandchildren and great-grandchildren will have a better day with clean, unadulterated, nutritious food.”

June 25, 2013
Tom DeWeese

I support the Boneta Bill HB1430. What environmental conservation groups say they want is family farms with family stores who sell their own locally grown products to feed the economy. That is exactly what Martha Boneta is doing. But because she also believes in private property rights she has been singled out by these same powerful forces and persecuted for it. Government run in partnership with private NGO’s is a recipe for disaster for the economy, for small farmers, and property owners in general. It must stop. That is exactly what the Boneta Bill is designed to do.

June 25, 2013
Bonnie E. Betts

Dear Sirs,

I am concerned about the heavy regulations and fines I am witnessing in some of our counties in Virginia, especially Fauquier county.  The small farmers are being forced out from heavy-handed government oversight at prohibitive costs and an unproductive burden of administration and compliance.  I am writing to you as a consumer and a Mother. 

This situation is not just a farming issue – it is a food choice issue.  These small farms are critically important to my family.  I began shopping at local small farms when we discovered some food allergies in our family.  I have come to know our farmers and the food they provide.  Pushing the small farmers out of Virginia directly threatens my family’s food supply.  I don’t expect government to make my choices for me nor do I expect them to eliminate my choices. 

The types of regulations and restrictions imposed in Fauquier violate the Virginia tradition of small farming.  Farmers as well as consumers – all Virginians – expect economic freedom and rights to their own property.  Property rights especially is a foundation of this country.   This is a Right to Farm state.  Why are these violations to farming occurring?  The value-added products that are being restricted and regulated into non-existence have been a cornerstone of farm shops, whether it’s llama yarn or goat’s milk soap.  And I expect them to sell my family a glass of homemade lemonade or hot chocolate milk while I shop.  I do not expect government to micromanage our farmers or other small businesses and make it impossible for me to shop as a consumer.

Please support small farm and food freedom.  It’s a vital issue for anyone who has property, a business, and anyone who eats.

June 25, 2013
Sandy Smith

Virginia should support and embrace small farmers! This is a way of life - a dying art. Tell me who does not love to drive out into the country and see a farm? Why are we taking away the freedom to farm without fear!

My family and I strongly support the Boneta Bill-Freedom to Farm Without Fear.

June 25, 2013
Michael J. Graham

My family and I support the Boneta Bill - Freedom to Farm Without Fear - free from government intrusion, regulation and abuse - freedom from special interest interference and bureaucratic malfeasance, particularly at the county level.

Virginia has the opportunity to be a national leader in the local food movement.  This is about property rights, economic freedom and farming rights.

June 25, 2013
William Dan Roberts

My family and I support the Boneta Bill.  We support free enterprise and we support the freedom to do what we want with our land.

I currently live in Virginia but own a farm in Ohio, a large commercial farm; however, a small farm where eggs, sweet corn, tomatoes, and fiber are sold are the foundation of the American way of life.

Fauguier County has crossed the line in trying to control farmers and, indeed, Americans.  We can no longer tolerate the suppression of economic freedoms, the Agenda 21 takeover of our land, and the management of farms and business by those who are best confined to city streets and nursed through life off the handouts of government overseers.

Small, and large, farmers must be able to sell what they produce, they must be able to use their land as they see fit, and they must not bow to the corruption of county government.

June 25, 2013
Douglas Glenn Holloway

The Boneta Bill as originally written provided small farmers the opportunity to compete in the market place with goods produced off their property without falling prey to the rules and regulations that govern large food producers such as Tysons, Cargill’s, etc.  Small farmers are intimately involved in their farming practices and as such provide direct oversight through all stages of production.  This factor alone makes them more responsible for their products than large food corporations and yet they are treated as if their very size impacts on their ability to supervise production and insure safe products to the consumer.  This could be further from the truth and recent events and history proves this.  Last year Cargill’s had to recall millions of pounds of ground turkey due to an outbreak of Heidelberg Salmonella.  This outbreak put 77 people in the hospital and 3 died as a result of large food producer’s inability to insure quality of product to the customers.  The resulting actions taken by the USDA and FDA was that Cargill had to get their positive testing percentage down below 40% and then they could continue supplying this product to the consumer.  What small farmer would stay in practice if people knew 40% of their products were infected with a deadly bacteria, yet the USDA and FDA agreed to let this large corporation continue to put this product on the market without a fine or even a reinspection.  Clearly here is a double standard that penalizes the small farmer for his diligence and higher standards of production and yet the State of Virginia is unwilling to grant a proven producer greater latitude in its business practices than the large food corporations that have a documented history of food abuse and sanitation violation.  Where is the equity?

June 10, 2013
Carl Richardson 

My family and I  support the Boneta Bill- Freedom to Farm Without Fear.

Virginia has the opportunity to be a national leader in the local food movement. This is about property rights, economic freedom and farming rights :

June 5, 2013
Dale Swanson 

I support the Boneta bill, HB1430. Small Farmers are being forced off their farms because they are not allowed to use their property to it's full potential. I grew up on a farm and if my mother had not been allowed to sell directly from our farm we would have not been able to pay our taxes or buy school clothes,shoes and supplies.

June 5, 2013
Mr. and Mrs. Scott Cook 

Virginia is a right to farm state, and some may think that solves all the issues.  Ms. Boneta lives in an agricultural district and has agricultural zoning on her land.  Most people would think "case closed"  she is operating within the law.  The proposed Boneta bill goes a step further, by stopping Government interferance with the persons right to farm.  We can see by recent news reports about the IRS and EPA targeting people that Government over reach in private affairs is a real issue.  We know that this nation became great with farmers providing goods needed in their comunity to neighbors. The Boneta bill will keep the Government at bey.  We need to remind ourselves that Americans are citizens not subjects and Government continues to take away rights not granted by them but by God. Not all farm product marketing is through conventional or traditional avenues, some farmers need to use value added marketing to help them be viable.  The Boneta bill in our opinion is necessary to help small farmers be able to stay on their farms.

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