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.
VSBA Legislative Chairperson