House OKs extending excise tax on peanuts

Published 1:33 pm Tuesday, January 22, 2013



RICHMOND—The Virginia House of Delegates has voted to extend the state’s excise tax on peanuts — a move that will help promote the sale and marketing of one of the state’s top cash crops.

The excise tax on peanuts grown and sold in Virginia will be extended until July 1, 2016. The tax, which was scheduled to expire this July, is 30 cents per 100 pounds.

Revenues from the tax fund the Virginia Peanut Board, which conducts campaigns for education, advertising, publicity, sales promotion and research regarding peanuts grown in the state.

“The growers support this legislation; they need this legislation,” said Dell Cotton, executive secretary of the Virginia Peanut Growers Association.

Dell said the number of acres of Virginia farmland devoted to growing peanuts has declined dramatically. The efforts funded by the excise tax will help keep farmers growing peanuts.

“We spoke in front of the House, Senate and committees, and there were no negative comments or problems” with the proposal to extend the tax, he said.

Dels. Rick Morris, R-Carrollton, and Roslyn Tyler, D-Jarratt, co-sponsored the bill. Both represent parts of the city of Franklin, where the Virginia Peanut Growers Association is located.

“Without this piece of legislation that will be enacted on July 1, the excise tax would revert back to 15 cents per 100 pounds,” Tyler said. “It is important to re-enact the 30 cents per 100 pounds.”

She noted that all revenues from the excise tax flow into the Virginia Peanut Fund, which in turn funds the Virginia Peanut Board.

This year, the excise tax will generate more than $100,000, state officials estimate. They project that revenues from the tax could total $133,000 in 2016.

Morris said Virginia peanuts are important for the state’s economic development.

This “creates the resources for Virginia peanut growers to be able to help market their product so we can grow more – and, more importantly, sell more Virginia peanuts,” Morris said. “There is quite a bit of diversity within the products that our farmers grow, and the Virginia peanuts are very important to our farmers.”

The Senate has passed an identical measure sponsored by Sen. Louise Lucas, D-Portsmouth. That legislation passed 37-3 on Jan. 16.

Peanuts were No. 20 on the list of Virginia’s top farm commodities in 2010, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service. The state sold $7 million of peanuts that year.