Virginia Pitchfork Protest Becomes Protect Farmer Rights Bill


Caring for Animals is her Passion, Now She Fights for Her Farm’s Very Survival.

Pretty Lady Farmer Finds a White Knight Rescuer in Statehouse

by Kimberly Hartke

Martha Boneta, an enthusiastic young farmer in Paris, Virginia got a rude awakening last summer, when Fauquier County officials cited her for multiple permit and zoning violations and threatened her with 15,000 dollars in fines (without even a preliminary “hat-in-hand” visit to her farm, mind you). Liberty loving Virginians rallied at the county seat with for a pitchfork protest with children and babies in tow and the colorful ruckus raked in national news coverage.

Since then, Martha has closed her Liberty Farm to visitors rather than incur criminal charges (if you can believe this lunacy) for her benign activities such as hosting a children’s birthday party or a pumpkin carving contest, or selling (gasp!) llama yarn from her farm store. Martha is one of the new breed of organic eco-farm tourism entrepreneurs who are helping suburbanites touch and feel the land again. And, pet the sheep. It is a valuable service she provides, showing metro D.C. parents and, especially, children how their food is raised.


A picturesque farm store in Virginia is shuttered due to official acts of downright meanness.

The special thing about Martha is that she runs a farm animal rescue operation, taking in sheep, llamas, and alpacas that need a good home and TLC. You can just imagine how many farmers try alpaca farming, for instance, and then decide it is not for them! Now a politician running for statewide office is coming to Martha’s rescue with a bill to protect farmers from unreasonable harassment and over weaning control of out of touch public officials (these folks need a farm tour, BAD).

Now, Martha is forced to spend her life savings in defense of her right to farm.  Delegate Lingamfelter, a candidate for Lt. Governor of Virginia, says he wants Virginia’s farmers to be able to, “farm without fear”. Famous farmer, Joel Salatin will speak out in support of the bill.

Today, the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund came out with a statement in support of the bill. Also announced today, the Virginia Agriculture Committee will be reviewing the legislation.

What You Can Do to Support the “Boneta Bill”

You can join the pitchfork protest!

If you like this bill and want to sound off on it, you have two options. Vote in the Richmond Sunlight online survey to show politicians that there is grassroots sentiment in favor of liberating farmers like Martha. I am just sure legislators will pay attention to lots of Yes votes on this survey. On the upper right hand corner of the Richmond Sunlight website, you can find your Delegate and contact him or her to ask for their support for the Boneta Bill. Share this survey link in social media, too!


Martha Boneta & Joel Salatin, Farm Patriots

If you are near enough to Richmond to come out to a press conference and rally (join me as I will be there). Delegate L. Scott Lingamfelter (R-31, Prince William and Fauquier) announced that he will be holding a press conference on Tuesday, January 8th at 11AM in House Room 1 located in the Virginia State Capitol, 1000 Bank Street, Richmond, Virginia, to discuss his introduction of House Bill 1430, also known as “The Boneta Bill”. Famous farmer, Joel Salatin will speak out in support of the bill. See details on the official press release about the bill on his web page.

Check the Ag Committee to see if your Delegate is among them. Calls to the Ag committee members could be especially valuable, as in the committee is where bills live or die.

Poke ’em with your pitchfork protest, using social media, email, phone calls, letters to the editor!

Kimberly Hartke is a blogger with the Village Green Network.


  1. This is so crazy. Shame on the officials who have harassed this brave farmer for the “crime” of hosting a birthday party?

    Virginia used to be a bastion of freedom, the land of Washington and Jefferson. This is a disgrace to a once proud state which was one of the major birthplaces of liberty in America. I urge the Virginia legislature to stand up for liberty and pass this bill!

  2. Farah Council says:

    While I really want to be upset with the State for making it hard to run a local farm (and survive off of the profits) it’s not clear at all what she was actually fined for. Also, the framing of your article ‘pretty lady saved by white night’ made my stomach churn. Will do more research to better understand what is going on here.


  1. […] news may be on the horizon for Fauquier County Virginia farmers. The hue and cry over farmer Martha Boneta being sanctioned for hosting a child’s birthday party and other small events on her farm, has resulted in a […]

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