Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Family Farms and Private Property Rights - #4086 - Virginia Farmers Plan Pitchfork Protest Over Fines for Selling Farm Products - Washington Examiner













Farmers in Fauquier County are planning to bring their pitchforks to an Aug. 2 hearing before the Board of Zoning Appeals to protest the arbitrary treatment of one of their own. On April 30, Zoning Administrator Kimberley Johnson sent Martha Boneta an official cease-and-desist notice for selling farm products and hosting a birthday party for her best friend's 10-year-old daughter on her 70-acre Paris, Va., farm without a special administrative permit. Johnson threatened to fine Boneta $5,000 per violation if she did not stop the alleged unlawful activities within 30 days. In doing so, Boneta's fellow farmers say, Johnson stepped far beyond her authority. They're supporting her appeal before the BZA because they rightly fear that left unchecked, this infringement on one farmer's freedom to make a living will spread to other agricultural enterprises like a dangerous pest. The Virginia Right to Farm Act prohibits local authorities from treating agricultural activity as a "nuisance" -- which seems to be what's happening here, since Johnson was reportedly responding to complaints from nearby residents.......On July 12, supervisors voted to limit the number of visitors allowed at food- and wine-tasting events to 25, and to limit such events to two per month, even though they were warned by the county attorney and Virginia Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Todd Haymore that such restrictions are illegal.  Read more...........

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