Virginia Defends Farmers’ Rights for Agritourism and On-Farm Sales

The Virginia Legislature cut regulations to allow agritourism, more on-farm sales, and to promote economic development on family farms.

| June 2014

This press release is presented without editing for your information. To learn more go to the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund website.

Falls Church, VAVirginia Senate Bill 51 (SB51), a landmark bill creating more economic opportunities and decreasing regulations for Virginia’s family farms was signed by Governor Terry McAuliffe. The new law takes effect July 1, 2014.

The law will increase consumer access to locally produced food as well as give farmers new markets and a more favorable regulatory climate.

The new law limits the power of local government. Localities can no longer prohibit agritourism activities unless they have a substantial impact on the public’s health, safety and welfare. Localities also cannot require a permit for agritourism activities, except in limited circumstances.

Under the new law, on-farm stores selling foods produced by other farms will not be required to have either a state or local permit. The bill also frees farmers to sell more non-food products in their farm stores than they have in the past by eliminating both state and local permitting requirements.

A Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund member, farmer Martha Boneta, was the driving force behind the bill. In 2012, Boneta was accused by Fauquier County zoning officials with multiple permitting violations and threatened with fines for activities on her farm, including pumpkin carvings, yoga classes and a child’s birthday party.

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