Farm sales bill dies before Va. Senate panel

RICHMOND — A bill intended to protect the right of farmers to sell their products directly to the public died Thursday before a Senate panel.

Sponsored by Del. L. Scott Lingamfelter (R-Prince William), the measure would have expanded the definition of agricultural operations under Virginia’s Right to Farm Act to include the sale of products grown or made on a farm. That would include so-called value-added products, such as jelly made from fruit grown on the premises.

House Bill 1430 grew out of a zoning dispute that Fauquier County farmer Martha Boneta had with the county over special events held on her farm.

The Senate Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources Committee voted 11 to 4 to pass the bill by indefinitely.

“We have nothing to fear from small farmers,” said Lingamfelter, who is running for lieutenant governor. “We ought to fear the crushing debt of this country a lot more than some small farmer selling some cider at a roadside stand.”

Committee members said they believed that questions about what can be sold on a farm were better handled at the local level.

Laura Vozzella covers Virginia politics for The Washington Post.

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