Home-produced or farm-produced products; sale of products by certain farm operations. (HB135)

Introduced By

Del. Rob Bell (R-Charlottesville) with support from co-patron Del. David Ramadan (R-South Riding)


Passed Committee
Passed House
Passed Senate
Signed by Governor
Became Law


Home-produced or farm-produced products. Allows the sale of food products made from any fruit, grain, herbs, honey, meat, milk, mushrooms, nuts, poultry, seafood, or vegetables by a farm operation employing 10 or fewer people or by a private home, so long as (i) the sale is made directly to consumers and (ii) the product is labeled with the producer's name and address, the product's ingredients, and a disclosure statement indicating the product is not subject to Virginia's food safety laws or regulations. Read the Bill »


Bill Has Failed


12/18/2013Prefiled and ordered printed; offered 01/08/14 14100017D
12/18/2013Referred to Committee on Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources
01/13/2014Assigned ACNRsub: Agriculture
01/20/2014Subcommittee recommends laying on the table
01/21/2014Impact statement from DPB (HB135)
01/23/2014Impact statement from DPB (HB135)
02/12/2014Left in Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources


Bernadette Barber writes:

This bill will jumpstart the economy and provide independent jobs for Virginians.
The ability for people to utilize their own homes and kitchens and land to create an income for themselves and their families is paramount. The foods produced locally are far fresher and more healthful than the counterparts that travel 1500 miles a morsel.

Please support this bill, it will reduce hunger and poverty, something of which we all need to be concerned. Healthier foods create a healthier body and mind. This bill, if enacted will also reduce food deserts in the city.

Randall Anderson writes:

What a simple recipe for strengthening the local economy and reviving the entrepreneurial spirit!

1. Start with your heirloom mixing bowl; made in Virginia by Virginians (:
2. Pour in a liberal amount of that stock that you got from your grandparents called Common Sense
3. While stirring, add a heaping amount of Fresh Freedom
4. Once it sets up, season to taste with generous amounts of Liberty.

Whats the name of this dish? House Bill 135

Lets hope we all get to taste it!

Note A. For best results the recipe shouldn't be watered down
Note B. Ingredients can be addicting

Bob Lindsey writes:

What penalty would be levied upon the beneficiaries of this bill should they sell a product that inflicts harm to the consumer?

Also, should there not be a public notice issued in those cases when a product covered by this bill proves harmful?

Amy Siler writes:

Vote yes!!!!

Bernadette Barber writes:

Mr. Lindsey,

This bill does not abridge the right of the injured party for recompense.

Bernadette Barber writes:

Mr. Lindsey,
Even if it were not the job of the health commissioner to issue public notices, in this day and age of instant media, as the saying goes "It would go viral" Everyone would know of a problem within the community and further!

Small food producers don't have the luxury of hiding behind multi-million dollars pay offs with non-disclosure agreements, or paying for media spin to divert attention from production problems.

Most production problems come from the large faceless industrial outfits, not the localized family farm or home that makes foods in small batches.

Waldo Jaquith writes:

Even if it were not the job of the health commissioner to issue public notices, in this day and age of instant media, as the saying goes "It would go viral" Everyone would know of a problem within the community and further!

For what it's worth, I just now came from a meeting with folks from the USDA's inspection service, to discuss how to open their inspection data to make that information more available to consumers, and they explained that, in fact, this isn't what happens. The majority of people do not use any kind of social media, and the supermajority of people are not eager to go onto Facebook and tell their friends, family, and coworkers that they have diarrhea.

That said, I know very little about the health inspection process for small producers. I imagine that if a small producer covered by this bill sold tainted food, that they'd be subject to the same USDA-based recall process as any other producer.

Christina writes:

Mr. Lindsay, I you are worried about becoming sick from your locals farmers food then don't buy it! For the ones of us who are actually concerned about the health of our family and don't want to have to worry about all the extra processing and chemicals that the government is allowing in to our food system, this bill is a great thing. I support our local farmers!

Nick writes:

It is the consumers' job to decide whether or not the food they purchase will be harmful for them and theirs. I'd much rather purchase a steak from a friend whose farm I can visit than one produced in a factory with mistreated, improperly fed cows hundreds of miles away. Lifting these restrictions will be an important step toward allowing real freedom of choice in our food, the most basic of human needs. Don't support the big agribusinesses. Look out for ALL citizens' interests.

For liberty's sake, pass the bill.

P.S. Mr. Lindsey, I rarely see the large corporations who produce tainted products (whether with Salmonella, E. coli, etc.) have to truly answer or provide recompense for their actions. Let's not even get into the long-term effects of processed foods on the human body...the stuff people choose to consume every day. If people have the right to purchase a Twinkie, why on God's green earth can't they purchase a loaf of sourdough bread from Mrs. Wilson two houses down?

Joy Warren writes:

I support this Bill 135. I would rather buy food from someone in my community to keep our economy strong and get fresh food.

Karen Duke writes:

I got interested in growing my own food BECAUSE large agribusinesses are churning out deadly foods and distributing them to an unsuspecting public. I started many years ago growing my own food in the traditional way my farming family did for hundreds of years in Virginia - without added petrochemicals, disastrous mismanagement of land and waterways, using reliable old-fashioned seeds that haven't modified by science.

With pride in my success, I wanted to share my delicious and healthy food. I got a business license then actively started farming last year and selling at a local farmers market. I was somewhat shocked at what I am NOT allowed to sell to like-minded consumers: my customers who've grown to know me and trust the food I grow will be delicious and conscientiously grown, and who like my Hanover tomatoes so much that they'd love to buy my Hanover tomato sauce... but can't because the law prohibits me from selling it to them.

Why can't I make an honest, old-fashioned wage by selling jars of home made tomato sauce or tomato soup? Why can't I do this to grow my tiny business to the point that I could hire 1 or 2 people to help me, and put more Virginians to work while putting consumers on the road to better health? If mass-produced and mass-processed tainted peanuts, spinach and a plethora of other tarnished foods make it through government inspections to an unsuspecting public and make people sick, why does the government think that huge food processing plants produce a safer, higher quality tomato sauce than I can on my little farm?

I hope you'll agree that small, independent farmers deserve a chance to compete in the marketplace. While we small farmers as a group can't win a price war with the out-of-state agricultural giants or foreign-grown foods, we certainly can compete with fresher, higher quality produce and food products that make the trip from farm to table in hours instead of weeks or months. Consumers are willing to pay a higher price for premium quality food, but in too many cases the government prohibits consumers this choice through over-regulation of small farmers and producers.

Please give me a fighting chance to bring local citizens what they want: high quality, healthy LOCAL food that's prepared right on my farm to my own fastidiously high standards. Please support House Bill 135.

Diana Boeke writes:

We are a small farm growing vegetables and raising chickens for meat. Our customers are pushing for us to provide value-added products, like ready to take home meals and appetizers etc (because they've come to our house for dinner!) but the process of establishing an inspected kitchen and getting each and every product recipe tested and approved is intimidating and cumbersome. We could indeed do much with value-added food around here, boosting the local economy and securing our local food source against future crises with the passage of this bill. Vote yes! Thank you! Let's at least save some freedom and fairness in America! It can start here.

Mark McGrath writes:

To Mr.Lindsey, I have found the standards that small operations hold them selves to is much higher than any industrial operation. They deal directly with their customer and all their business is built from word of mouth. In today's world bad food would destroy there business because bad news travels much faster than good. Not only that but if something did slip through the cracks it would not have the devastating affects like when the industrial giants sell contaminated meats or vegetables.

Vote YES for Food Freedom and healthier choices. Help support the local economies...

April writes:

I support this bill. Please vote to pass it so that we have a better way to purchase food and products directly from our farmers. Next up, legalizing the sale of raw milk by farmers. The cow share option is better than no options, but being able to purchase raw milk and other raw milk products from our farmers is an even better option.

Bernadette Barber writes:

Sub committee hearing for this bill will be Monday, January 20th at 4:00 pm 7th Floor West Conference Room, General Assembly Building.

Contact information for the Sub Committee Members is:

Chairman of House Ag Committee:
Danny Marshall: R District 14
[email protected] (804) 698-1014

Del. Matthew James District 80 (804) 698-1080
[email protected]

Del Barry Knight, District 81 (804) 698-1081
[email protected]

Del Jackson Miller (R) Distict 50 (804) 698-1050
[email protected]

Del James "Will" Morefield (R) District 3 (804) 698-1003
[email protected]

Del Bobby Orrock (R) District 54 (804)698-1054
[email protected]

Del Charles Poindexter (R) District 9 (804) 698-1009
[email protected]

Del Mark Sickles (D) District 43
[email protected] (804) 698-1043

Please come to the committee if you can...let our voices be heard!!

Matthew French writes:

This bill would be a great help to the small farms and farmers markets throughout Virginia. We are a small farm and would love to provide value add food to our customers. But, due to the costs of compliance to many of the food regulations we are unable to provide them. This one bill could change all of that.

This bill could also provide an escape from poverty for many throughout the state. Buy deregulating home based food providers the poor could find the means to provide for themselves a better life.
his bill would also provide the freedom of food choice for those that are unsatisfied with the current industrial food system. It would give people the opportunity to not only go to the farmers market and purchase fresh vegetables and meat but fully prepared dishes. This would allow for more variety at the farmers markets and in turn bring out more customers. This alone would be good for the communities of Virginia.

Pass this bill!

Steve White writes:

If the current food laws are truly all about the health of people, how is it legally allowed to eat raw oysters in a public restaurant, for a fee, ESPECIALLY when this type restaurant is inspected by the health department? More than a few people have died from eating raw oysters. Why does milk have to be pasteurized before sale, when salmonella-laden chicken and raw beef can be purchased raw, and taken home, to be eaten by some people raw, if they want. Some people do eat raw ground beef. WHY is all this inconsistency allowed in the current food law? This is BULL, that certain commodities are so regulated, like milk, and others are not. This shows how unfair the current laws are. Certain industries have been favored. Small chicken farmers in Va. can already kill, dress, and sell thousands of chickens without ANY inspection! Called "poultry exemption." Why not pork or beef? I say pass this legislation, and QUIT being hypocrites and playing favorites in the legislatures! If the people are informed the home-made foods are not under inspection, then let them buy what they want. "Caveat emptor" is a well-recognized legal concept in Amerika.

Linda DiNardo writes:

I'm all for supporting local cottage industry. I have read ingredients on many foods offered and find the lack of additives so appealing for my family. The fact that it is available for pickup is so convenient. Please stop putting up roadblocks

Mary Lou Burke writes:

We need more food freedom, not less. We need to be able to buy locally from people we know and trust. Local producers and farmers should have a playing field that allows them to compete with big Agribusiness.

Read a common-sense book like Joel Salatin's, "Everything I Want to Do Is Illegal: War Stories from the Local Food Front," and a book like "Fast Food Nation," or watch the documentary "Food Inc.," and you will see that our current food system is broken. This bill is a step toward fixing it.

Mary Sue Laing writes:

American freedom began in the Virginia House of Burgesses. Let food freedom begin in Virginia too. People should be allowed to choose their food producers. Besides, farm fresh food is the healthiest and tastiest. Local farmers take great care with their food. They can't afford to make their customers sick.

Todd Morrison writes:

It's about time for a bill like this to be signed into law! It only states the obvious, and what has been practiced in our nation for generations. Virginia has historically been a leader when it comes to freedom, and this bill will reaffirm the freedom for individuals to sell food that they have produced themselves to others in their community. The integrity of the food comes from the relationships formed from local sales from one's own property. That is transparency, try to form a relationship with a big corporate producer of food, much less pay them a visit sometime to see how they make the food you eat... Vote YES to Food Freedom!!!

Sheila Robadey writes:

I would really like to have the option of purchasing local products from my neighbors. I would much prefer to support my friends and neighbors than to dump money into big business. Please vote yes on this bill.

Kelly Pawlik writes:

As a micro-food producer, I can attest to the safety and concern that goes into small, local production of food. Hand to hand, producer to consumer outfits such as Farmer's Market venders and myself are passionate about their products, take pride in their products and rely on integrity as a selling point. Large producers such as Taylor Farms, Fresh Express, etc., who have had many recalls for e. coli tainted salad greens over the past 3 years, are able to absorb those losses and maintain their $2 billion dollar annual revenue when a dangerous pathogen on food is found to be distributed to 39 states and even resulted in death. A small producer of homemade soup, such as myself, with a customer base of only 294 people, do not have the luxury of cutting corners, being loose with safety guidelines, and offering inferior products. Of course, selling soup provides a livlihood for our family, but profit is not the only objective. Passion, pride, and integrity are the motivating factors that keep us small timers going. If one, 1, ONE of my customers were to become ill because of my food, my little operation would be "dead in the water". I would never be able to recover or regain the trust of my customers. People would very quickly cease to purchase any item that had my name attached. This is the beauty of small producers. My customers know my name, they know my face, many of them even know where I live. Sales are directly producer to consumer, hand to hand, face to face. If there is a problem with something produced from my kitchen they know exactly how to contact me. If the salad that you made for dinner last night consisting of items purchased from the produce section of a grocery store caused you stomach distress, would you be able to trace the origins of each item in it and contact the manufacturer within minutes? How about hours? Days? Weeks? Would the producer of the tainted items be able to directly contact each of the consumers who purchased that product to attempt to mitigate damage and protect their customers from harm? Small producers can! There is tide that is turning in our nation, consumers want to be closer to their food choices. They want to know exactly what is in the products they are consuming, how it is prepared, how the animals are treated, and often they want to know, personally, the food producer. Virginia is a forerunner in Cottage Food Laws. Please allow consumers the freedom to make these choices even more often in the future.

Cristina Lugo writes:

It is unbelievable that it is currently illegal to sell something as simple as vegetables from your garden to your own neighbors in the state of Virginia. Of course, people do this anyway but not without fear of citations, fees and without the luxury of being able to advertise your business openly. It could not be more telling of our bizarre shift in priorities as a society as a whole- we would rather trust corporations who cut corners in every imaginable way to serve us our food- who would be impossible to hold accountable if anything went wrong, who have the money and power to hide behind lawyers so they could get away with just about anything. THIS is what we are supposed to think is the safe way to get our food? Like Kelly Pawlik pointed out above, buying your food from an individual or small operation is actually much safer since the food producer would be your own neighbor, you could hold them accountable easier and they could lose their entire client base if they sold a bad product. For that reason and more, it is in the food producer's best interests to sell the best possible product. Besides, they are competing with multi-billion dollar grocery chains for your business. Not that it is even easy for people to get to the sparse grocery stores in their communities anyway but that is another issue entirely. Power to the people to produce, consume and choose!!!

If anyone would like to organize an effort to get the word out and mobilize support for this bill in Richmond, VA please contact me. I would also love to be in touch with anyone else who is trying to get this passed. There are a lot of individuals in the city who would gladly support this bill if they knew about it and we can't let this opportunity slip by! c.isabellugo at gmail.com

Linda Hosay writes:

Thank you so very much, Del. Rob Bell. Thanks also to you, Del. David Ramadan. This bill has been sorely needed and is a long time coming. The bottom line here is the right--the FREEDOM--to choose. Food choice is a health and well being issue and it is a personal issue. I know from experience that the local food I grow and buy is far healthier and more satisfying than the stuff available in most grocery stores. I do not want GMOS,pesticides, or herbicides in/on ny food. The current regulations are necessary for the far-away large producer whom you never see. They are NOT necessary for the farmer whose face you know. This bill needs to pass NOW!

Bernadette Barber writes:

Hey Folks,
There is a petition for the bill:

Please sign on!!


Thanks, Bernadette

Dr Lisa Marie Samaha writes:

Please support bill HB 135, the Virginia Food Freedom Act, introduced by Delegate Rob Bell. I support the right of farmers and consumers to engage in direct sales of locally produced foods. The passage of this legislation will create untold economic opportunity for Virginia farmers! Thank you for your support. more and more we are being flooded with health issues and scientific research documenting the importance of fresh farm to mouth foods and more of the small farmers are also interested in growing organic produce , which we know is healthier and which I personally try to only purchase. I plead with you to make sure the local farmers can continue to what they have in their hearts to do - grow food and share the fruits of their labor w others.

Felix LIao writes:

I see children whose teeth and faces are distorted by American food supply every day. Government of the people should act for the people, and people's need is to buy direct from farm to table to reduce cost and chemicals and increase freshness and sustainability.

Celeste writes:

VOTE YES FOR THIS BILL! I trust locally grown food from hard working family farms who take pride in how they grow wholesome foods! People should have the choice and ability to buy food products locally from people they know and trust. I do not want pesticides, GMO, and radiated foods in my body…….. Keep the government out of my personal food choices and sources! Please vote yes to pass this bill.

Leah Block writes:

As someone who has struggled through unexplained health conditions that conventional treatments were not helping with I would love to see more access to fresh local food as it has been one of the most healing things for me and my family. The lengths we have to go to are frustrating at best. Look at the local food movements out West and all the vibrant community and economic growth as a result- I want to see that same level of life and community closeness in our great state!

Jill Brunak writes:

I am an advocate for safe, healthy food choices. I support the local transparent farmer. Vote YES!

Casi Zirk writes:

Please pass this bill! We need access to local, healthy food products. The impact that will be made on the health of communities physically and economically will be felt for generations to come! Give the right and responsibility back to the people to get to know their farmers and to make decisions based on the individual needs of their families. For example, my family is dairy free as we have significant intolerance to it. It is not feasible for us to own and care for a goat, but fresh goat milk would be a wonderful, healthful option for us. Unfortunately, you can't purchase fresh, raw, goat's milk (or raw cow's milk for that matter) without jumping through hoops and owning a share of the animal, which makes the price beyond reach for many. Consuming raw milk is safer than getting a flu shot. Stick a warning label on it if you must, but let the people decide what they want to eat!

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Casi Zirk
Harrisonburg, VA

Gunther Hauk writes:

I ask all those who feel responsible for the future of this country, for the safety of our children and further generations, to pass this bill.
We are already too much in the claws of multinational corporations and we have to secure the very basis of our lives with healthy,non-manipulated food.
Please make use your conscience to make a good choice for all of us.
Gunther Hauk

Gloria Jackson writes:

Please support HB 135

Rachel P writes:

My husband and I own a small farming business in Virginia and HB 135 would give us and other small farmers a real opportunity to provide our neighbors and community with the clean, honest food we produce, with the freedom that this country was founded on. This country needs more bills like this to not only support local economies, but also to give it's citizens a choice in what they feed themselves and their families. Giving the producers this responsibility will result in a clean, safe product by forcing them to ensure the utmost care when preparing and handling their food product because they know that all responsibility falls on them in any case of contamination or adulteration. When producers are limited by regulation and restrictions, they find loopholes and shortcuts and are not as concerned about adulteration because in such a case the blame can be diverted to the officials for lack of inspection. With a bill like HB 135 in place, one major mess-up in the cleanliness of the producers food and they will quickly be out of business. Word will spread like wildfire through the community and that producer will suddenly be found with no customers. I urge you to say YES to this bill and in turn serve your country by giving us the free choice to either support our local farmers and economy, or continue on in support of the big-ag industry. I believe it is our right as citizens of the United State of America to make this choice for ourselves, and I think HB 135 is a huge step towards seeing this freedom come to fruition. Thank you!

sallie smithwick writes:

Please vote yes for this Bill! It makes for healthier communities.

Editor’s Pick
Bernadette Barber writes:

Thanks you all for your support.

Here is the link for the Subcommittee hearing.

They Tabled it.

But we will have a working group this summer and re introduce it next year!

Please view:

Jay writes:

My Delegate is Edward Scott who is listed as Chairman of this full committee. I contacted him today.

What was the reason this was tabled by the sub-committee on January 20th? What was the reason given?

Here is what Delegate Scott's website says about his support for agriculture in Virginia:

Delegate Scott understands that small businesses are the core of the economy of the 30th District and the Commonwealth...Agriculture is also a significant contributor to our local economy and remains a major land use. Delegate Scott’s efforts to assist new and growing farm wineries are part of his commitment to Virginia agribusiness. In the 2012 General Assembly session, Delegate Scott carried successful legislation, HB 300, to create the beehive grant fund, which will help not only beekeepers, but also the producers of numerous crops in the 30th District and throughout Virginia."

Is Chairman Scott doing anything about this bill being tabled?

Vikki Cunningham writes:

Please vote yes for this bill. It is a wise decision and will stimulate economic growth.