Virginia farmers visited members of their state General Assembly on Jan 24, as part of the annual Virginia Farm Bureau Federation's annual Legislative Day event. The goal is to let politicians know about farmer concerns and, in particular, farmers let their feelings be known this year about securing a constitutional amendment to protect private property from eminent domain abuse.
The Virginia Farm Bureau Federation has let their opposition to the overuse of eminent domain be known. Particularly disturbing is the use of eminent domain in recent years to take property from one citizen and convey it to another, with the idea that the citizen or company that ends up with the property will be able to pay more taxes to the government.
Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli addressed the 150 Farm Bureau leaders at the event.
"There is no substitute to being present … emails don't compare to a good, solid handshake," Cuchinelli said.
"Farm Bureau has been on point on this issue and has done a great job of leadership and coalition building," he added. "Hopefully we'll see the fruits of our labor this year."
HJ3 and SJ3 are the House and Senate versions, respectively, of the constitutional amendment. They would include more strict definition of public use and also require just compensation for owners whose property is taken for public use.
In addition to the eminent domain issue, Farm Bureau Farmers also discussed cost-share money to implement conservation practices required by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in the Chesapeake Bay region and in the Southern Rivers region.
A constitutional amendment in Virginia requires identically worded versions for the legislation to pass the General Assembly two years in a row. The amendment passed in 2011 so if it passes again in 2012 it will be placed on the November ballot for a vote by the people by referendum.