New law changes vehicle rules for Lunenburg County farmers

Published 5:20 pm Thursday, June 20, 2024

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Lunenburg County farmers who rely on unregistered pickup trucks, panel trucks and sport utility vehicles as part of their work will be required to display a Division of Motor Vehicles-issued placard tag beginning July 1.

For more than 50 years, an unofficial farm use tag was required for these vehicles to travel on public highways.

Katelyn Rose Jordan, Virginia Farm Bureau’s local and state advocacy specialist and regulatory coordinator, said in a Monday interview that members have relied on agricultural vehicles that are often only used seasonally, or maybe even just once a year, noting that farm use provides strict requirements of these vehicles in exchange for needed flexibility and cost savings.

“It did not take long, however, for the non-farming public to realize ways to take advantage of the farm use exemption, threatening the future of the program,” Jordan explained.

The new placards, required under legislation passed by the 2023 General Assembly session and signed by Gov. Glenn Youngkin, are required for these specific vehicle types with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of less than 7,500 pounds.

Jordan said the new permanent placards are available now through DMV  and DMV Selects for $15, allowing farmers to claim the unlicensed farm use exemption on pickup trucks, panel trucks and SUVs with the GVWR of 7,500 pounds or lower.

 “Vehicles with a GVWR greater than 7,500 pounds and trailers and semi-trailers will continue to qualify for the exemption but will only need to display the traditional red and white ‘farm use’ tag available for purchase at your local farm store,” she explained, noting that Virginia Farm Bureau has continued to stress this to its members.

No transfers for Lunenburg County farmers

Jordan said these permanent placards are valid for the lifetime of the vehicle, but cannot be transferred.

“Each vehicle falling under the new requirements wishing to claim the exemption will require their own separate placard,” she said.

This new state law does not change regulations for registered farm use vehicles that require the tags that begin with an “F.”

“A first violation of this subdivision shall constitute a traffic infraction punishable by a fine of not more than $250, and a second or subsequent violation of this subdivision shall constitute a traffic infraction punishable by a fine of $250,” Jordan explained, pointing to Virginia code section 46.2-613.

The amount of the penalty or penalties related to multiple offenses will be determined by the courts, Virginia State Police Public Relations Director Corinne Geller said Monday, noting that it is not something state police determines.

Some special exemptions

Jordan said drivers of an unlicensed farm use vehicle are specifically exempt from being required to have a valid driver’s license.

The new placard requirement does not change the longstanding requirement that vehicles claiming the unlicensed farm use vehicle exemption must at least have limited liability insurance. 

“This requirement continues under the new law,” she said. “We encourage members to work with their insurance provider to obtain the best coverage for their situation.”

While DMV officials were not available for comment on the farm use placard due to a system outage, a news release stated applications for the tags are available online at 

“It is our hope that these placards will help ensure the proper use of farm use tags and, most importantly, make Virginia’s roads safer,” said DMV Commissioner Gerald Lackey. “There is time before enforcement begins, so we encourage farmers to send their applications through the mail at your earliest opportunity. That way you can skip the trip to your local DMV.” 

Jordan said VAFB has made a concerted, statewide effort to inform its members of the new requirements that go into effect July 1 of this year.

“Virginia Farm Bureau is truly a grassroots organization, and we are proud to advocate for the commonwealth’s farmers,” she said. “We do that through a robust policy development process that begins at the county level with our producer members.”

Jordan explained that the desire for VAFB members to formalize the farm use vehicle program surfaced in 2020. 

“With misuse by the non-farming public threatening the continuance of the program, coupled with enforcement concerns, the future of the exemption was uncertain and required protection,” she said. “With high hopes of reducing abuse and minimizing the impacts on proper users of the exemption, VAFB worked to ensure our members, the General Assembly, the DMV, and law enforcement have all been engaged in a concerted effort to get this right.”

Where can we find the placards? 

So where can Lunenburg County farmers find the placards? Applications are available on the website, 

The release explained that there would be an additional $15 fee if the owner does not already hold the title for the vehicle.

VAFB has a two-page document online with complete details on the requirements for non-registered farm vehicles at