In the video above well-known author, activist and Virginia farmer Joel Salatin talks about the Boneta Bill. What is fascinating to me is how Joel connects the bill to the break up of what he calls “a feudal economy” where farmers cannot be entrepreneurs but are merely servants producing raw materials for “barrons and lords” in a divided industrial economy. This is a really significant moment in the history of agriculture in Virginia as we seek to reshape the cultural, economic and political landscape in favor of the small family farmer. For more of my thoughts and background on the Boneta Bill see below. ______________________________________________________ My wife and I relocated to Central Virginia from Fauquier County in 2006. If often seems like northern Virginia and the rest of the Commonwealth are two different places. But the reality is we are all one state. And what happens in one corner can affect the rest. With this in mind I was disturbed to hear of the hardship farmer Martha Boneta of Paris, Virginia had undergone as local officials harassed her with threats of fines back in the summer of 2012:

Fauquier County officials are threatening a local farmer with a series of $5,000 fines for selling fruits and vegetables on her farm. With a Zoning Board hearing scheduled…pitchforks are coming out at what fellow farmers call an abuse of government power. The county cited Martha Boneta, who operates the 68-acre Liberty Farm, in April for a series of alleged violations, including selling homegrown food and homemade craft items without a proper license. But Boneta had obtained a county-approved business license for a “retail farm shop” in June 2011. A month later, the county Board of Supervisors approved an amendment that restricted “farm sales,” and county staffers, acting on complaints from Boneta’s neighbors, issued a citation.” [source:]
Based on Boneta’s plight and the potential plight of every farmer in the county, and who knows…maybe all of Virginia – the Boneta Bill was recently introduced to counteract local government abuse of power over family farms:
“One day before the General Assembly convenes for the 2013 session, Del. L. Scott Lingamfelter, R-Prince William, touted new legislation designed to amend the Virginia Right to Farm Act, making it harder for government officials to restrict property rights. “This is allowing for people who are zoned agricultural to do agricultural things,” Lingamfelter said at a news conference at the state Capitol on Tuesday. Lingamfelter is one of seven Republicans seeking the party’s nomination for lieutenant governor in a May convention. The measure, known as the Boneta Bill, is Lingamfelter’s response to a dispute between Fauquier County farmer Martha Boneta and county administrators over zoning violations and the resulting “Pitchfork Protest” that gained national momentum. In August, Boneta filed a $2 million suit against the county, alleging that it violated Virginia’s Right to Farm Act of 1981…”  [Read more at: The Richmond Times Dispatch]

Land And Table

Get L&T Event News and Updates!

Join our mailing list to receive the latest event news and other updates for Lynchburg area young farmers, homesteaders, local food advocates, and anyone interested in regenerative agriculture!

You have Successfully Subscribed!