‘Boneta Bill’ killed in committee

Published 10:01 am Wednesday, February 27, 2013



RICHMOND—A Senate committee last week killed the “Boneta bill,” which championed farmers’ rights and would have expanded the definition of agricultural operations.

The Senate Agricultural, Conservation and Natural Resources Committee voted 11-4 to “pass by indefinitely.” That means the bill is dead for this legislative session. Committee member Sen. Harry Blevins, R-Chesapeake, who represents Western Tidewater, supported killing the motion.

The bill was sponsored by Del. Scott Lingamfelter, R-Woodbridge, and was named after Martha Boneta, a Fauquier County farmer.

Boneta got into a dispute with county officials because she was selling handicrafts and holding events at her farm without having the proper permits. The county threatened her with up to $5,000 in fines.

The county’s actions inspired farmers from around Virginia to take up pitchforks in protest and rally behind Boneta. The protesters called themselves “Martha’s Army” and demonstrated at the Capitol.

Lingamfelter’s bill sought to expand Virginia’s 1981 Right to Farm Act.

The bill was changed in the House Agricultural, Chesapeake and Natural Resource Committee to include a re-enactment clause. That meant the bill would have been required to come back up for consideration in the 2014 session.