RICHMOND – Republican lieutenant governor candidate E.W. Jackson this week endorsed a new Virginia Farm Freedom Act.
“This issue, like many others, is about liberty. The freedom to farm your own land, sell your goods and choose what you eat is fundamental. I will fight to see these freedoms are returned to Virginians,” Jackson said during a campaign stop in Harrisonburg.
Under the theory that less is more, state Delegate Brenda Pogge, R-Williamsburg, plans to introduce a 20-word farm-freedom bill at the 2014 General Assembly. It declares:
“Farmers shall have the right to process and sell what they have produced on their land without licensure or inspection.”
Small farmers have complained that Virginia’s current law allows local authorities to impose restrictions against processing and sale of food items produced on their own property.
Fauquier County has imposed thousands of dollars in fines on one small-farm operator,Martha Boneta. Boneta is suing the county in response.
Delegate Scott Lingamfelter’s proposed a “Boneta Bill” to strengthen the commonwealth’s farm-freedom law. The Woodbridge Republican’s measure passed the GOP-dominated House but failed in the evenly divided Senate last year.
“Most people don’t realize the prejudicial regulatory and bureaucratic climate toward small enterprises,” said Bernadette Barber, head of the advocacy group, Virginia Food Freedom.
“Many food options that could and would be available never enter commerce due to these inappropriate and combative hurdles,” Barber said.
“Real farmers want no more government bailout schemes, no subsidies, nor conservation easements to mitigate profit losses. They need no reams of inspectors’ check-off sheets. They just need the freedom to prosper and provide good, healthful, nutrient-dense foods to their neighbors.”
Kenric Ward is chief of Watchdog.org’s Virginia Bureau. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (571) 319-9824. @Kenricward
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