Changes to existing laws regulating unlicensed farm vehicles on Virginia’s highways go into effect July 1.
Virginia lawmakers created what’s called the “farm use” designation for farmers who use unlicensed vehicles for specific purposes such as planting and harvesting crops and transporting farm products to market. Most farmers show the designation by using a special farm use placard on their vehicles.
Andrew Smith, senior assistant director of governmental relations for Virginia Farm Bureau Federation, emphasized how important it is for valid users of farm use tags to understand two changes in the laws this year so they can be in compliance.
“One amendment allows farm use vehicles to go a little farther, a distance of up to 75 miles. Previously, the law allowed travel up to 50 miles,” Smith explained.
In addition, the updated law now requires operators to be prepared to supply the location of their farm or farms to law enforcement officials. Any officer may request the address of the lands used by a vehicle’s owner for agricultural purposes or, if the address is not known, the real property parcel identification number of the land.
The other law that will take effect in July stiffens penalties in an attempt to reduce abuse of current farm use policies and guidelines.
“The General Assembly changed the penalty structure for second and subsequent offenses to a rigid $250 fine,” Smith said. As before, the law allows for a fine of up to $250 for a first offense. The change requires that the second or subsequent violation be punishable by a $250 fine.
Farm Bureau offers its members resources to clarify what qualifies as a farm use vehicle, as well as a form to make it easy to keep a list of farm locations in a vehicle. These resources can be found at https://www.vafb.com/membership-at-work/farmers-in-action/legislative/resources