Small family farmer fights back against over-reaching government forcing her off her land

farmNatural News – by Julie Wilson

Martha Boneta, operator of a small family farm in Paris, Virginia, achieved success not only for her business but also for small farmers and property owners across the state when the “Boneta Bill” finally became law on July 2.

Despite efforts from local and state government officials, including Fauquier Zoning Administrator Kimberley Johnson, who accused Boneta of violating zoning ordinances, HB-268 passed, which protects traditional farming and agricultural practices against over-regulation on the county level.

Liberty Farm is a small, working 64-acre farm located about an hour outside of Washington D.C. that offers fresh seasonal organic vegetables, fresh and dried herbs, honey and honeybee products, eggs, chicken, duck, turkey, emu, hand-made soaps and sheep wool crafts.

The controversy began in 2012 after a neighbor reported Boneta’s farm and its on-farm store as a “nuisance” following a birthday party that she held for eight 10-year old girls, which led to Fauquier County putting her out of business.

Johnson, the county zoning board administrator, accused Boneta of selling fresh fruit, vegetables, beverages and homemade handicrafts out of her on-site farm store, an action he says violated “modified zoning rules.”

The Star Exponent reports that, under the state’s Right to Farm law, agricultural operations are supposed to be protected against “nuisance law suits, and prevent local governments from using zoning laws to restrict standard farming practices, even if these practices bother adjacent property owners.”

According to Boneta, her zoning administrator went on her Facebook page and saw a birthday party picture of little girls on her farm, and an advertisement that she posted for pumpkin carving in her pumpkin patch. Boneta says she was found in violation of engaging in traditional activities that farmers have engaged in “since forever.”

The consequences for Liberty Farm’s alleged violation carried a penalty of $15,000 per day in fines “based on amendments made to the county’s zoning ordinance,” reported The American Spectator.

Despite maintaining that her retail farm business license was “grandfathered” into any changes made by the county, Boneta was also forced to stop selling vegetables that she had harvested. To prevent the food from being wasted, she donated it to local charities.

Boneta’s story gained national media attention, prompting farmers to stage peaceful “pitchfork protests” outside of the Board of Zoning Appeals building in support of her farm and state property rights.

The Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund (FTCLDF), of which Boneta is a member, offered her legal aid during her struggle.

In the 2013 session of the General Assembly, Rep. Scott Lingamfelter helped bring justice to Boneta and protect other farmers from similar abuse by spearheading legislation that would strengthen Virginia’s Right to Farm Act.

The “Boneta Bill” passed the House by an “overwhelming margin,” but was killed in a Senate committee. However, grassroots organizations and Boneta’s supporters didn’t give up, but instead returned to the General Assembly in 2014 and “won wide bipartisan approval for legislation protecting the rights of family farmers.”

Backed by the Virginia Farm Bureau and signed into law by Gov. Terry McAuliffe, customary activities at agricultural operations are now protected from local governments unless substantial impacts on public welfare can be proven.

The bill also prohibits localities from requiring special-use permits for farmers wanting to host farm-related activities.

“I am grateful to all the Virginians and legislators from across the Commonwealth who rallied for non-partisan legislation that provides economic opportunity for small family farmers, access to consumers and allows the great traditions of farming in Virginia to flourish,” said Boneta.

“It is gratifying to see the hard work of Virginians, working together across party lines, rewarded by a law that enables family farms to prosper as our Founding Fathers intended.”

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3 thoughts on “Small family farmer fights back against over-reaching government forcing her off her land

  1. “The controversy began in 2012 after a neighbor reported Boneta’s farm and its on-farm store as a “nuisance” following a birthday party that she held for eight 10-year old girls…”

    There’s the problem right there. A rat bastard neighbor that needs to be hanged for aiding the enemy. These useless busy-bodies who have nothing to do with their time but relay all of their petty complaints to the pigs are spies within the ranks of the working man. I hope they get what they deserve.

    1. Every neighborhood has at least one. We have one on our street everyone calls her “nosy lady”. She reports everyone on everything. I bet city hall is sick to death of her. I have lived here since 1977 on this street and she is four doors down on the other side. She has never worked a day since I have been here. Nice but that leaves her a lot of spying time and she uses it well.

  2. a letter to an editor written yesterday regarding this oppression of truly sustainable farmers

    Sustainable? That’s Funny

    We all know it would be tough for the world to feed itself with only organic practices. And although the “local” producer selling local is the rage in the organic community, the behemoths of big- agri and NAFTA like trade agreements is overtaking. We could be producing much of what we need for food “locally” right in this county. As could most other areas. Didn’t they used to? Why is meat from Auschwitz Farms in maybe this country or another? Milk (now with nano- metals in it) could be offered raw or even pasteurized locally. However, raw milk and cheese has been regulated to a step that precedes illegal. Greenhouses utilizing low water usage gardening techniques could produce year round greens and more. Small plot farmers could be set up with “no strings” government money like Gaddhaffi (who we eliminated) used to give to his people.
    These are just some examples that could decrease “un-sustainable” practices which are pushed by the big trade middlemen. Predictably, these globalists are the same ilk preaching that you live “sustainably”. There is no money for a common ordinary middleman if farmer John sells all his beef locally, for example. But if Mr. Middleman can get his buddies in .gov to regulate farmer John and his stinky neighbors out of business, the bottom line gets fatter. Then bust raw milk producers and retailers like Rawsome in LA at gunpoint. That slows a market down for sure and benefits Kraft. Or subsidize big Jake and out goes little Jane. This is how they hit Mexico.
    Many localities could re-create real sustainable agriculture and provide a major employment base just by growing their own food. But none of this will happen because of the fascist public private partnership of big agri, big industry, big banking big money big gov- yada, yada.
    We don’t need robots and nano- metals and security cameras. We need food. And they know this all the way to the bank.

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