By Allison Landry
Capital News Service
RICHMOND – Gov. Bob McDonnell on Wednesday approved a bill to extend the 30-cents-per-100-pound excise tax on peanuts until July 1, 2016.
McDonnell signed House Bill 1320, which keeps the tax from reverting to 15 cents per 100 pounds on July 1. The tax generates more than $100,000 a year to fund the Virginia Peanut Board, which promotes the sale of peanuts grown in the state.
The Virginia Peanut Growers Association supported legislation to keep the tax at 30 cents, as it has been since 2010.
HB 1320 was proposed by Delegate Rick Morris, R-Carrollton, and co-sponsored by Delegate Roslyn Tyler, D-Jarratt. It had been approved 87-0 by the House on Jan. 21 and 34-6 by the Senate on Feb. 7.
Sen. Louise Lucas, D-Portsmouth, introduced an identical measure – Senate Bill 698. It also has been passed by both chambers of the General Assembly: on a 37-3 vote in the Senate on Jan. 16 and then on a 97-0 vote in the House on Feb. 8.
Peanuts are one of the top farm commodities in Virginia. According to the National Agricultural Statistics Service, Virginia’s peanut producers harvested 84 million pounds of peanuts last year, up 37 percent from 2011.
The peanut excise tax is levied on peanuts grown in and sold in Virginia for processing. The tax is paid by the processors – companies, cooperatives and other entities that clean, shell or crush peanuts.