Fined $10,000 for Selling Produce? A New Bill Could Help

Time and time again, government officials have used regulations meant to manage commercial operations as an excuse to shut down hobby farmers and small-scale food artisans. Now a new measure, introduced by Virginia’s Del. L. Scott Lingamfelter (R-Prince William) seeks to remove the government’s ability to disrespect private property rights of those who want to produce and sell food-based products.

As it stands now, local, state, and federal†governments†all regulate where, how and by whom agricultural operations can be run. In some cases, staying within the limits of these laws can require†full-blown public hearing approvals, expensive permit applications, and complicated site plans or renovations. These regulations make sense for large-scale commercial outfits, but can be insurmountable for the average mom and pop artisan.

Lingamfelter introduced the†new legislation designed to amend the Virginia Right to Farm Act (VRFA) at a press conference on Tuesday. It has been dubbed the “Boneta Bill“†after Martha Boneta, a local farmer in Fauquier County who has been in a legal dispute with the county as a result of several zoning ordinances and permits imposed by local government officials.

County officials previously had shut down Bonetaís farm store, charging her with local code violations such as hosting events without the required permits, reports the Richmond Times-Dispath. As evidence, the county presented at least one Facebook picture of a private birthday party that Boneta had hosted for a friendís 10-year-old daughter and seven of the girlís friends, Boneta told the paper. The county also†alleged that Boneta had sold produce and other self-made items such as wax candles, sheep yarn and goat milk soap without a permit, even though Boneta had a business license for the small store on her 7-acre family farm in Paris. She said Tuesday that she faces up to $10,000 in fines for the alleged violations.

The Boneta Bill, aka House Bill 1430, would strengthen the VRFA and ensure that traditions of small family farming in the Commonwealth of Virginia is respected at all levels of government. The bill would amend the defining section of the VRFA to include the byproducts of farm produce and the sale of items incidental to farming as protected rights. The bill would ensure that government officials cannot restrict or prevent the citizens from selling items produced on their own farm. The bill also expressly states that any county ordinance found to violate a citizen’s constitutional rights on agricultural property would instantly become null and void.

Many are advocating grow- and make-your-own lifestyles as a way to save money and protect the environment in economically-challenging times, but random crack-downs are a major deterrent. Those who might consider starting an agriculturally-based business out of their home might decide it’s not worth the risk, stifling an endeavor that might otherwise have boosted the local economy.

“Property rights are one of the most fundamental rights in a free society. In the United States, we the people are the sovereign. We the people have the right to farm just as our Founders envisioned with what they called the pursuit of happiness,” said Del.†Lingamfelter at a recent press conference. “Martha Bonetaís rights have been wrongly challenged. I am bringing legislation in the 2013 Session of the General Assembly to improve the Right to Farm Act here in Virginia so small farmers like Martha will enjoy fully their property rights. Itís not about demonizing anyone in this controversy. Itís about standing by property rights and our Founderís vision.”

If passed, the bill could serve as a model for Michigan,†Washington and other states where citizens have been persecuted for growing and producing food stuffs on their property.


Related Reading:

Grow Your Own Pharmacy: 3 Must-Have Medicinal Herbs

Big Ag: Small, Sustainable Farms Make You Sick

5 Reasons To Support Your Farmers Market


Image via Thinkstock


Jim Ven
Jim Venabout a year ago

thanks for sharing.

Garnet Jenny Fulton
Past Member 4 years ago

I don't think this is right, food should be able to be grown and if they want to sell it or give it away what is the problem...clearly there is a need for homegrown non-chemical foods so why can't they supply it? Bigger issues to worry about in the world I think.

Bruno Moreira
Bruno Moreira4 years ago


Kath P.
Kath P4 years ago

It's a crying shame when home based gardeners can't provide fresh produce to people but big business farms can sell GMO, pesticide, herbicide doused produce to the nation.

Sue Matheson
Sue Matheson4 years ago


Bess Moore
Bess moore4 years ago

!!!Insanity at it's worst!

Yvette T.
Past Member 4 years ago

I wish to return to the days of my grandfathers and grandmothers here before these greedy power crazed blind people arrived here and murdered tribal peoples and buffalo, forests and wolf. Yes, now our corn, tobacco, squash is GMO, toxic, not sacred. I have Tewa corn seed to be planted in the future. My own people were burned alive by Captain John Smith's British thugs for tobacco land, quite ironic, taking our communication to the Spirit and committing greatest evil for it. My grandfathers were chiefs and later fought against the British in the Revolutionary War, but, never envisioned "America" as it now is. All is gone. I refuse to participate in making those who destroy wealthy, as I do not eat their cattle, any animals at all, and try to buy only organic vegan foods. There are many tribal peoples who are veg'n, but, this is not well known. The extreme disregard for living beings now in practice is against all that I know. We are temporary guests on this gem of a planet, but behave as megalomaniacs who own her. "I could see that the white man did not care for each other the way our people did...They would take everything from each other if they could...some...had more of everything than they could use, while crowds of people had nothing at all...This could not be better than the old ways of my people." Black Elk

Patricia M.
Patricia Madi4 years ago


Eternal Gardener
Eternal Gardener4 years ago

The system is WRONG, not the people who grow their own produce and share it around!
Please everyone keep on supporting this by growing your own produce and buying it of others! It makes the big guys shit their pants...REVOLT!

Adrea Craft-Gentry
Adrea Craft4 years ago

We get the legislators that the biotech companies buy. The pass/enforce ridiculous garbage "laws" like this to keep us chained to their nutrient deficient, genetically engineered frankenfoods. One single plant on your property that contains ANY of their "genetic property" can get you sued....even if a bird pooped that seed onto your land without your knowledge and it grew!