Virginia Farm Bureau Comes Out Against Farmer Property Rights, Free Trade

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Boneta Bill Supporters Begin Boycott of Farm Bureau

Virginians Standing up for Property Rights

by Guest Blogger, Mark Fitzgibbons

Small farmers are leaving Farm Bureau in response to its Virginia division’s opposition to H.B. 1430, the Boneta Bill, introduced and championed by Delegate Scott Lingamfelter of Woodbridge, Virginia.

The Boneta Bill is named after Martha Boneta, the Paris, Virginia farmer who gained national attention in 2012 with the ‘Pitchfork Protest’ on her behalf. She was charged and threatened with fines up to $5,000 per violation by Fauquier County for hosting a birthday party for eight 10-year-old girls without a permit, and selling her produce, homemade pies, farm crafts and wool products even though she had a business license. The bill amends Virginia’s Right to Farm Act (VRFA) by clarifying its protections of traditional farming commerce, expressly protecting constitutional rights on farm land, and providing remedies for violations of the VRFA.

It is the height of political arrogance for Virginia Farm Bureau to oppose the bill for the reason that they did not ‘bless’ it before it was introduced. Virginia Farm Bureau wrote the VRFA that failed to protect the commerce of small farmers, which pays Farm Bureau’s insurance premiums, and failed to include remedies for violations. Farm Bureau’s legislative failures have abandoned Martha Boneta and all small farmers, leading to economic hardship for small family farms.

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This notion that special interests must control the introduction of legislation offends all Americans. But the hypocrisy of Farm Bureau’s opposing the constitutional, property and long-held commercial rights of small farmers ranks among the most politically — and now, economically —  tone-deaf actions by any big business.

Small farmers posting comments at Richmond SunlightVirginia Farm Bureau’s Facebook page, blogs, etc. have already stated their intention to leave Farm Bureau. Insurance companies may swoop in to pick up small farmers as new customers, and small farmers will look for new leadership for their legislative needs.

Seventy-five percent of Virginians voted for the eminent domain amendment in November despite opposition from the real estate industry, and the Boneta Bill’s bipartisan popularity of H.B. 1430 may exceed even that. Farm Bureau has become another special interest beholden to big business and out of touch with small farmers, and constitutional and property rights of the little guy,” said Mr. Fitzgibbons.

Mark-FitzgibbonsMark Fitzgibbons

Mark Fitzgibbons is a property rights activist, constitutional lawyer and an organizer of the August 2012 Pitchfork Protest in Warrenton, Virginia.

What You Can Do

The Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund has come out in support of the bill, see their statement. More information on the issue is available on the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund website: Boneta Bill Introduced in Virginia. At the bottom of their article is a list of the Delegates who serve on the  Ag Committee and their emails. If you live or farm in Virginia, please send letters of support for the bill to these crucial Delegates.

Virginia Farmers, please join the boycott of the Virginia Farm Bureau. As an alternative, join Virginia Independent Consumers and Farmers Association! Virginia consumers can join VICFA also, to get politically active in defense of your food, farmers rights.

Comment on the Richmond Sunlight and Virginia Farm Bureau Insurance Facebook and express your support for HB 1430.

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