Farmers with Virginia ‘farm use’ plates risk tickets in North Carolina

RICHMOND—Law enforcement officers in North Carolina have begun ticketing Virginia farmers who travel across the state line in vehicles with "farm use" plates that identify an unregistered farm vehicle.

Previously, since 1996, North Carolina has permitted the operation of Virginia farm use vehicles across its border as long as drivers were in compliance with Virginia laws governing the use of unregistered farm vehicles. The office of the North Carolina attorney general has determined that that is not proper or permissible under North Carolina law.

Unlike Virginia, North Carolina has no exemptions from registration for farm vehicles on state roads except when a driver is crossing a road to move from one parcel of farmland to another.

Virginia Farm Bureau Federation asked state officials to contact North Carolina officials in an attempt to resolve the situation for the commonwealth’s farmers. In a Sept. 20 memo, Matthew J. Lohr, commissioner of the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, and Richard D. Holcomb, commissioner of the Department of Motor Vehicles, notified Farm Bureau and the Virginia Agribusiness Council that farmers in Virginia’s border localities have two options. The first is to avoid traveling into North Carolina in unregistered farm vehicles, if practical. The second is to register all qualifying farm use vehicles with DMV-issued farm vehicle license plates, also known as F-tags. Those plates are available at half the standard Virginia registration cost, and details are available at

"It’s unfortunate that some Virginia farmers will have to make a decision about their vehicles and about driving in North Carolina," said Andrew Smith, VFBF senior assistant director of governmental relations. "However, we are sure they understand the need to follow the law on both sides of the state line."

Contact Smith at 804-290-1021.

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