New State Law Cuts Farm Regulations


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ROCKINGHAM COUNTY, Va. (WHSV) -- A new state law will give farmers freedom from some local regulations.

"We process our own milk right here on the farm and sell it directly to the public," said Frank Will, the owner of the Mt. Crawford Creamery.

Selling certain items in stores on farms used to mean more permits and paperwork.

"It was a little time-consuming, and every time you apply for a special use permit you have to pay a fee, so it can get expensive also. Anyone who has a notion to do this in the future, it should help them" said Will.

Senate Bill 51, which has now become state law, limits the ability of local governments to regulate activities and sales on family farms, like Mt. Crawford Creamery.

This will make it easier for them to sell their products and to have activities and events on their farm.

The new law allows farmers to sell foods from other farms without a permit.

Also, according to the law, local governments cannot regulate agritourism events on farmers' land unless there's a substantial impact on the public's health, safety and welfare.

Some see the law not only as a way to make it easier on farmers now, but also as a way to encourage future farming.

"The small farms are a tremendous potential engine of growth in Virginia and other states. And it'll keep more of the food dollars in Virginia now," said Pete Kennedy, the president of the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund.

"The more we can keep the agricultural base, the more it's going to benefit the Valley. It's one of those intangibles we need to keep," said Will.

The bill passed both the Senate and the House fairly easily this session and Governor McAuliffe signed it into law last Thursday.

It will go into effect July 1.


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