Gov. Robert F. McDonnell raised a glass of Virginia sparkling cider and toasted the efforts of Virginia Farm Bureau Federation to pass a constitutional amendment to protect private property rights.
“It’s cider month, so it’s only appropriate to make a toast to great cider makers in Virginia and to you for putting your heart and soul into enshrining private property rights in the [state] constitution,” McDonnell told participants in the VFBF Annual Convention in Chantilly on Nov. 27. “I want to salute you for the significant work you’ve done on passage of the amendment. I don’t think it would have happened without the efforts of the Farm Bureau.”
Question 1 on the Nov. 6 Virginia ballot passed by 75 percent. The amendment requires all government and private condemning authorities to ensure that any eminent domain takings are for public purposes rather than private gain. It also requires that property owners be paid fair market value for their land; limits takings to land necessary for public purposes; and requires compensation to landowners for lost business and access.
“It’s a battle we all started together back in 2005 with the Kelo v. New London decision,” McDonnell said, referring to a U.S. Supreme Court case that allowed a Connecticut town to take people’s homes for private development. “We finally got it on the ballot for the voters, and I’d say a 3-to-1 majority is a terrific effort. And I commend you for that.”
McDonnell also praised Farm Bureau for entering a partnership to present the State Fair of Virginia after the previous owners declared bankruptcy. “You did in eight weeks what no one else thought was possible and put on a State Fair. It was really a terrific effort on your part.”
He also commended the organization for helping sponsor the annual Governor’s Conference on Agricultural Trade, which attracts trade officials from around the world. Virginia’s agricultural and forestry exports totaled $2.35 billion last year, McDonnell said, and he plans to continue promoting Virginia products globally.
“You keep working hard and produce some of the best farm and forestry products, and we’ll continue to promote them around the world,” he said.
The fifth annual Governor’s Conference on Agricultural Trade will be held March 7 and 8, 2013, in Richmond.