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House extends peanut excise tax

Published 9:31pm Tuesday, January 22, 2013

By Allison Landry

Capital News Service

The Virginia House of Delegates has voted to extend the state’s excise tax on peanuts, a move that will help promote the sale and marketing of one of the commonwealth’s top cash crops.

Delegates on Monday unanimously passed House Bill 1320, which will extend the excise tax on peanuts grown and sold in Virginia until July 1, 2016. The tax, which was scheduled to expire this July, is 30 cents per 100 pounds.

Revenues from the tax fund the Virginia Peanut Board, which conducts campaigns for education, advertising, publicity, sales promotion, and research regarding peanuts grown in the state.

“The growers support this legislation; they need this legislation,” says Thomas R. “Dell” Cotton, the executive secretary of the Virginia Peanut Growers Association.

He said the number of acres of Virginia farmland devoted to growing peanuts has declined dramatically. The efforts funded by the excise tax will help keep farmers growing peanuts, Cotton said.

“We spoke in front of the House, Senate and committees, and there were no negative comments or problems” with the proposal to extend the tax, he said.

Delegates Rick Morris, R-Carrollton, and Roslyn Tyler, D-Jarratt, co-sponsored HB 1320. Both delegates represent parts of the city of Franklin, where the Virginia Peanut Growers Association is located. Morris also represents a portion of Suffolk.

“Without this piece of legislation that will be enacted on July 1, the excise tax would revert back to 15 cents per 100 pounds,” Tyler said. “It is important for [HB 1320] to re-enact the 30 cents per 100 pounds.”

She noted that all revenues from the excise tax flow into the Virginia Peanut Fund, which in turn funds the Virginia Peanut Board.

This year, the excise tax will generate more than $100,000, state officials estimate. They project that revenues from the tax could total $133,000 in 2016.

Morris said Virginia peanuts are important for the state’s economic development.

HB 1320 “creates the resources for Virginia peanut growers to be able to help market their product so we can grow more — and, more importantly, sell more Virginia peanuts,” he said. “There is quite a bit of diversity within the products that our farmers grow, and the Virginia peanuts are very important to our farmers.”

The Senate has passed an identical measure, Senate Bill 698, sponsored by Sen. Louise Lucas, D-Portsmouth, whose legislative district includes a portion of Suffolk. That legislation passed 37-3 on Jan. 16.

Peanuts were No. 20 on the list of Virginia’s top farm commodities in 2010, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service. The state sold $7 million of peanuts that year.

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