Talking Points – 2014 Agritourism Bills

SVN, Rockingham CAP and Shenandoah Forum believe local zoning decisions should remain with local elected officials and that local governments can better address farm interests and issues of local concern.

 SB51 and HB 268 would allow any and all commercial activities on farms. The legislation is not the right way to build a strong, thriving local farm economy in Virginia.

  • The bills are far too vague and broad and would rob local governments of the ability to tailor farm enterprise programs to local needs.
  • One size does not fit all when it comes to farming in Virginia. Farm practices and products vary widely across the state and so should local zoning and farm vitality programs.
  • Local governments can best balance farm interests. It takes understanding of the unique character of a county’s farm community to determine if a proposed farm event or other activity enhances agricultural viability without negative impacts on neighbors or the community at large.
  • Local governments are responsive. Supervisors and city council members represent government at a level closest to the citizens served. If a farm landowner isn’t happy with a zoning decision, they can attend local meetings, serve on committees or even run for local office to foster change.

The state should not trump local priorities. It sends a message that local citizens and their elected officials can’t make good decisions. State officials don’t like intrusive federal mandates that impact state authority. So they should not turn around and impose their will on our county officials in defining and supporting agriculture.