Legislative Update

General updates about what's going on in the Virginia Legislature related to Beekeeping and Honey Bees

Funding Update for Bee Grant

            During the 2013 General Assembly short session we dealt with getting the Beehive Grant funding back in the budget and two bills that affected honey producers.  The information below includes some repetition of information that was in my last update.

          The Virginia General Assembly held its veto session on April 3rd.  Governor McDonnell had until midnight May 3rd to sign the 2013 budget.  As you know from my last update in February, Governor McDonnell proposed removing the funding for the Beehive Grant from the 2013 budget.  Senator Deeds and Delegate Ed Scott both introduced a budget amendment to reinstate the funds and Senator Hanger was a co-sponsor.  During the veto session Governor McDonnell left the funding in the budget. The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is responsible for overseeing the grant.  Those who have applied for hive grant funding should hear from Keith Tignor in the near future on where you stand on getting funding. 

            If you plan to participate in the “Hive Grant” you must buy the equipment BEFORE applying for a grant.  You will need to show proof of purchase to meet the grant requirements and you will need to pay taxes on the money that you may receive as income.  Grants will be awarded on a first-come, first-served basis.  If setting up a hive is totally dependent on getting grant money, you might want to check with Keith as to the likelihood that you will receive the money.

          Delegate L. Scott Lingamfelter from Woodbridge, VA, introduced HB1839 (by request).  If I understood this bill correctly it would exempt private home and farm producers of certain foods, including honey, from the food laws and regulation provided the food was sold to the end consumer and labeled with proper disclosure.  I called Delegate Lingamfelter to find out more about the bill and who made the request.   I did not get an answer from him on that question.  The legislation was tabled in Committee by a voice vote.  If anyone who lives in Delegate Lingamfelter district can find out who requested that he introduce this bill I would like to know.

            Delegate Robert D. Orrock, Sr., from Thornburg, VA, introduced HB1852.  This legislation dealt with new exceptions to a required inspection by VDACS prior to manufacture, storage, or sale of home produced foods.  The only effect that it has on beekeepers who take advantage of the 250 gallon exception is that they will no longer need to make an annual report to VDACS.  You may see the final language at this link at line 5: http://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp504.exe?131+ful+CHAP0285

            As a reminder to those who are under the VDACS “Not Inspected” section of the food law, please remember that you should have your label reviewed by VDACS for the language as specified in Chapter 285 of the Code of Virginia (see the link above).  Also, although the facility where the honey is being processed does not need to be inspected the area must meet the requirements specified under the food processing regulations.  Contact the Office of Food Safety and Security at 804-786-3520 if you have any questions.  You may send your labels for approval to: Virginia Department Agriculture & Consumer Services, Office of Food & Security, 102 Governor Street, Richmond, Virginia 23219.

Lannie Ballard

VSBA Legislative Chairperson

Legislative Update from Lannie Ballard

The Virginia General Assembly has been in session for a couple of weeks.  This session is a short session (45 days).  I’m going to try to bring you up to date with some issues going on in Richmond.  As most of you know Governor McDonald removed the funding for the grant in his proposed 2013 budget.  Governor McDonald had approved the funding in the last session for 2013-2014.  The grant had some bad editorial press in the Richmond area when the Governor approved the funding.  But I’m not sure who if anyone got to the Governor on this funding.  A few days before the legislature went into session the Governor’s budget became public.  I was informed that the Governor had removed the grant funding in his proposed 2013 budget.  I immediately contacted Senator Deeds and Delegate Ed Scott about the funding.  They both assured me that they would introduce a budget amendment to reinstate the funds and both of them have done so.  Also Senator Hanger has signed on as a co-sponsor.  We will not know where we stand until the final budget is proposed which will be about the last item to go back to the Governor.

Delegate L. Scott Lingamfelter from Woodbridge, VA introduced HB1839 (by request).  If I understand this bill and it becomes law no beekeeper in the state of Virginia who is not state inspected will be able to sell honey except to the end user.  This would wipe out everything we got passed two years ago.  I called Delegate Lingamfelter to find out more about the bill and who made the request.  Delegate Lingamfelter’s Legislative Assistant and I played phone tag for days.  I finally sent him background information on past legislation and the problem with honey bees in Virginia. With this and the help of others in Richmond the legislation was tabled in committee this past Monday (28th) by a voice vote.  We will need to monitor this just in case it raises its head again. See this link to the committee report. http://lis.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/legp604.exe?ses=131&typ=bil&val=HB1839&submit=GO

Delegate Robert D. Orrock, Sr, from Thornburg, VA, introduced HB1852. This legislation deals with labeling.  At this point it should not affect beekeepers who are in the “not inspected” program.  But all food products (honey, tomatoes, etc.) from an inspected facility will have to be labeled that it was state inspected.  On Monday (28th) this legislation was passed in committee with amendment.  See this link to the legislation.  http://lis.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/legp604.exe?131+ful+HB1852

Lannie Ballard
VSBA Legislative Chairperson

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