Farmers oppose fence ordinance

Published 10:53 am Sunday, March 19, 2017

The Charlotte County Board of Supervisors held a public hearing Monday to gather input regarding a proposed fence law — drawing united opposition from farmers who were in attendance

If approved, the ordinance would prohibit the running at large of certain livestock in the county.

During the hearing, numerous farmers expressed their concerns.

During supervisors’ Tuesday meeting, the board agreed to table consideration of the proposed ordinance.

“If you can’t help us, please don’t hurt us,” said farmer Clark Poindexter on Monday. He said the board expressed its support for the agricultural industry in the county’s most recent Comprehensive Plan, citing the proposed ordinance would cost additional money and be a contradiction to the plan’s goal.

“I think it should be taken on a case-by-case basis,” said county resident Ed Miller, who added there were some in the county who do not put their animals up at all.

He presented supervisors with several photos of goats that he alleged were not properly contained and had made their way on to his property.

“The boundary line of each lot or tract of land in the county is declared and established to be a lawful fence as to any livestock identified …, the proposed ordinance states.

Animals identified as livestock in the ordinance include cattle, horses, mules, goats, sheep, swine, donkeys, alpaca, llamas and any other four-legged or hooved animal.

“Your ordinance is concerning hooved animals,”said county resident Linda Adams. “I don’t think you’re looking at everything.”

Charlotte currently is an “open designation county,” which allows livestock to roam freely.

“We would favor remaining under Virginia State Code …,” said Charlotte County Farm Bureau Representative Randolph Walker. “At our regular march meeting, we adopted a resolution opposing this ordinance.”

Walker said the organization represents over 200 cattlemen.

The ordinance indicates it would be declared unlawful for livestock owners to allow their animals to run beyond the limits of their lands.

“The cattle association is deeply opposed to this ordinance,” said cattle farmer and Cattle Association member Bailey Wright. He said if the ordinance is enacted, it would increase the liability for farmers in the county.

The possibility of the new ordinance was first discussed during a November meeting of the board of supervisors when Red House/Cullen Supervisor Dr. Nancy Carwile said Eureka Elementary School had a situation where cattle and sheep were on the playground.

Adams questioned why the county couldn’t erect fences around the school playground.

“I’d like our county to remain farm friendly, and this ordinance isn’t farm friendly,” said farmer George Toombs.

Carwile said Tuesday perhaps the way the proposed ordinance was written was not the best.

“We’ve also heard that most of you would like to see something done, but not satisfied with the solution that the (county’s) lawyer handed to us,” she said. “We’re all scratching our heads, but please, if you have ideas or suggestions, we need to work together.”

Supervisors didn’t take any action on the ordinance.