PARIS, VA—July 1, 2014—The bill, HB 268 (SB 51), becomes law in Virginia today, protecting certain activities at agricultural operations from local regulation. This statewide non-partisan legislation was driven by grassroots organizations and individuals in the thousands across the Commonwealth and is one of the first bills signed into law by Governor Terry McAuliffe.
The bill becoming law marks the latest chapter in a controversy that attracted nationwide attention in 2012 when the Fauquier County Board of Supervisors forced family farmer Martha Boneta to cease selling produce from her own 64-acre farm. No longer allowed to sell the vegetables she had harvested, Boneta donated the food to local charities lest it go to waste.
Boneta is a member of the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund (FTCLDF), which offered her legal aid during the crisis. She is a keynote speaker at the FTCLDF 2014 Food Freedom Fest in September, along with Joel Salatin, another farmer who worked alongside her on this bill.
Fauquier County officials threatened Boneta with $15,000 per-day fines for hosting a birthday party for eight 10-year-old girls without a permit, and advertising pumpkin carvings. Seeing the county’s action against Boneta as a brazen effort to drive her off her land, Virginians from all walks of life rallied to her defense. Supporters gathered in Warrenton, the county seat, for a peaceful “pitchfork protest” to vent their anger over what an out-of-control local government had done to a law-abiding citizen.
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