Farming in Fear
Written & Produced by Sean W Malone
Martha Boneta purchased a farm in Paris, Virginia that was a bit run down. She put years of work into rebuilding and turned it into a very nice place. There was an easement that specified that no urban development was to take place. She agreed to that and complied with it completely. She had managed to get everything operational and was selling products from her farm store when trouble commenced.
The Piedmont Environmental Council began snooping around and making accusations, threats and demands. The county decided her handmade signs in the farm store were not good enough and had to be professionally made. A neighbor sent a picture of an abused horse to animal control agents accusing Boneta of abusing animals. The photo was not of Boneta’s horse nor had she anything to do with it.
The harassment and unreasonable inspections got worse. The source of all the antagonism was unknown until 2009 when Boneta discovered that a group of powerful people were orchestrating these attacks. County supervisor Peter Schwartz, former farm owners Phil and Patricia Thomas, and the Piedmont Environmental Council were out to “rein in this dreadful woman.” She was farming her land and selling her produce from her farm store on her property. This outrage had to be stopped.
Boneta was charged with phony zoning violations for selling what she produced from her farm. Every other farm in the area did the same thing without harassment. Boneta was eventually forced to shut down for a while. In the process she found out that this same kind of thing is happening to people like her all over the country. Farmageddon continues.
Boneta worked with local representatives to introduce a “Right-to-Farm Act” which was defeated in the Virginia senate. At one point County Supervisor Schwartz publicly disclosed that Boneta was being audited by the IRS. What made this even more chilling was that Boneta herself had not been informed of that fact yet. How did Schwartz know that at all, let alone before she did? This gave Boneta a new understanding of how powerful and corrupt the forces against her were.
Fortunately, positive progress has been made. Boneta worked with larger groups to introduce a new right-to-farm bill which passed in 2014. For now, at least, it is legal to farm in Virginia. Thumbs UP to that and to this video.