July 10th, 2017 Newsletter

On July 1, several pieces of legislation passed by the 2017 session of the Virginia General Assembly became law and are likely to affect the daily lives of the residents of the 59th District.

Some of the new laws in hunting and agriculture are likely to have local significance.

I introduced House Bill 2239, which all gives registration exemption for certain farm use vehicles and increase highway distance limitations from 50 to 75 miles the maximum travel distance allowable for travel to obtain supplies or from one part of the owner's land to another by a vehicle used for agricultural or horticultural purposes in order to qualify for exemption from the requirements to obtain a registration certificate, license plates, or decals and pay a registration fee. The bill also increases from 50 to 75 miles the maximum travel distance allowable by vehicles used for seasonal transportation of farm produce and from 20 to 75 miles the maximum travel distance allowable for vehicles owned by farmers and used to transport wood products in order to qualify for such exemption. The bill also provides that any law-enforcement officer may require any person operating a vehicle, trailer, or semitrailer and claiming the farm use exemption to provide, upon request, the address of the farm or lands owned or leased by the vehicle's owner or, if such address is unavailable or unknown, the real property parcel identification number of such lands.

Senate Bill 968 allows hunters to carry their license electronically. Rather than the previous requirement that bear, deer and turkey hunters carry their original VDGIF issued paper license, the new law allows hunters to carry their permit electronically on a smart phone or tablet.

House Bill 1939 allows hunters to wear blaze pink instead of blaze orange hunting apparel when required during firearms deer hunting season or the special season for hunting deer with a muzzle-loading rifle.

Also affecting sportsmen in the Commonwealth is Senate Bill 1224. This law protects landowners that have entered into an agreement with a public entity or nonprofit organization concerning the use of their land for public recreation. It protects the landowner from liability to a member of the public arising out of the recreational use of the land.

House Bill 1440 imposes a $250 fine for intentionally violating the limitations of the use of farm use vehicles on the highway for second or subsequent violations. Unregistered farm use vehicles are restricted to use for moving agricultural products within 50 miles of the farm.

House Bill 1519 allows the Commissioner of the Department of Motor Vehicles to issue overweight permits that are valid statewide for vehicles hauling Virginia-grown farm produce from the farm of origin to the first place of delivery. The previous law only allowed the permits in Accomack and Northampton Counties.

For a complete list of bills approved during the 2017 Session of the General Assembly, visit http://lis.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/legp604.exe?171+lst+APP.

Virginia farmers also have an incentive to donate excess product to nonprofit food banks thanks to the Food Crop Donation Tax Credit. Approved by the Virginia General Assembly during the 2016 session, farmers who donate edible food crops to a nonprofit food bank can receive up to a 30 percent tax credit for their donation.

Virginia farmers may apply for a tax credit equal to 30 percent of the fair market value of food crops such as grains, fruits, nuts and vegetables up to a maximum of $5,000 per farmer for a taxable year. If a farmer does not owe enough Virginia income tax to use the full amount of the credit in one taxable year, the farmer can carry over the credits to the next five succeeding taxable years or until the total amount of the tax credit has been used, whichever is sooner.

The Food Crop Donation Tax Credit cannot exceed $250,000 annually for all qualifying taxpayers. If more than $250,000 of credits is requested for the year, a farmer may receive less than the full amount of the tax credit for which he or she applied.

For the 2017 tax year, farmers who wish to participate should submit a Virginia Department of Taxation Food Crop Donation Tax Credit application, Form FCD-1, by Feb. 1, 2018. More information about the Food Crop Donation Tax Credit is available on the Virginia Department of Taxation’s website at https://www.tax.virginia.gov/food-crop-donation-tax-credit-guidelines.

I encourage you to keep in touch with me and my office.  I value the feedback you provide as it helps me do my job representing you better.  You can email me at DelMFariss@virginia.house.gov  or call me at (434)821-5929.  You can also join the conversation on our social media page at www.facebook.com/DelegateMattFariss.   

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