Urban fertilizer program bill unanimously passes Senate

January 28, 2020

Having already passed the Senate Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources Committee and the Senate Finance and Appropriations Committee by unanimous votes, SB 849 (Mason) continued with its successful track record, passing the full Senate by a vote of 39-0.

The bill authorizes local governments to enter into agreements with the Commissioner of the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) to provide oversight and data collection assistance related to the requirements of certified lawn fertilizer contractor-applicators.  This bill is one of the Northam Administration’s Chesapeake Bay Watershed Implementation Plan (WIP) bills and is simply designed to give a local government the option to work with the Commissioner of VDACS to help administer an urban fertilizer program.  It is purely permissive in nature.

In addition to the local option to work with VDACS, the bill also reduces from 100 to 50 the total number of acres of nonagricultural land to which a contractor-applicator may apply lawn fertilizer and lawn maintenance fertilizer annually without submitting an annual report to the Commissioner. The bill also increases from $250 to $1,000 the civil penalty imposed on a contractor-applicator for a violation of applicable regulations.

SB 849 is a part of the Northam Administration’s legislative package relating to natural resources and the Chesapeake Bay.  Prior to the bill’s introduction, the Administration worked with VACo to ensure that the authority to enter into agreements with VDACS to administer an urban fertilizer program was drafted as a local option, not a mandate.

VACo Contact: Chris McDonald, Esq.

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