By Jessica Dahlberg
Capital News Service
RICHMOND – The grassroots-supported “Boneta Bill,” meant to protect farmers’ rights, won overwhelming approval from a House on Wednesday and moves on to its first reading in the full House of Delegates on Thursday.
The House Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources Committee voted 21-1 in favor of a substitute version of House Bill 1430, sponsored by Delegate Scott Lingamfelter, R-Woodbridge.
The bill seeks to expand the definition of agricultural operations to include the sale of products to consumers and businesses. In endorsing the measure, the committee made a few changes. One would prevent counties from classifying activities as non-agricultural without providing sufficient proof.
“If you’re farming, you’re farming. And if someone comes along and says you are not farming, the burden is on them to prove that you are not farming,” Lingamfelter said.
The committee also added a re-enactment clause to HB 1430. It says the regulations provided by the bill would not take effect unless the 2014 General Assembly also passes the legislation.