VAMA: Virginia Automatic Merchandising Association


VAMA stresses the importance of its role in Government Affairs and acting on behalf of its members to advocate for industry matters. One way to ensure that VAMA stays informed on issues that may affect our industry is to continue our relationship with our Legislative Consultant, Jeff Smith.

Jeff Smith, III, The Smith Group, Inc.
4900 Augusta Avenue, Ste. 101
Richmond, VA 23230 
Phone: 804-353-2322

VAMA Leads Process for Variance Request for Micro-Markets with VDACS

Your VAMA Leadership has been hard at work on tasks to improve the business climate in the state of Virginia – this will help all operators both VAMA member and non-member companies. One of those tasks was to obtain a variance request for Micro-Markets which we define as unattended retail establishments.   In Virginia, the law states that there must be a person at any "food" establishment.  In order to operate a Micro-Market we need to obtain a variance to this and show processes that the operator has in place to insure food safety. Our desire here is to create uniformity with this new process and give you guidance as you obtain your own variance for your individual company.  A member of the VAMA Board has received final approval and we would like to share the process with you since we have a clear understanding what VDACS is looking for in this variance request.  We have attached the letter sent to Senator McDougle from VADCS that clarified their position on the matter.

Below are the 3 steps required by VDACS to acquire approval:

  1. Fill out the variance request application
    Simply fill out the information requested and in the box that asks for “list of processes or operations requiring a variance…”, insert your company name in this box.
  2. List of each Micro-Market address: 
    Please list all addresses where these Micro-Markets exists.  There is no requirement to list the "business name" where the Micro-Market is located, just the address of the locations to be covered under the blanket variance.
  3. Written Request to VDACS: 
    Lastly, operators will need to file a written request for the variance application. As stated earlier, in order to operate a Micro-Market we need to obtain a variance to this and show processes that the operator has to insure food safety. Attached is a guidance for unattended food establishments and there are seven (7) categories that need to be addressed with subcategories for guidance. Each category does not need to have a separate paragraph but each category needs to be addressed.  (see attached Word document TEMPLATE for you to use…the first couple paragraphs are generic but the highlighted areas should be re-written for your company’s need in applying for this variance.)


After completing these three (3) steps above, please email your variance application and your variance application request letter to Pam Miles (Office of Dairy and Foods) at and wait for their reply with their ruling.
Our goal here is to continue to provide tools to our Operator members that enable your businesses to remain strong and in compliance of the laws set forth. VAMA is at work FOR YOU! 

Not sure if you are a member of VAMA?
Email to ask any questions you might have or visit our website today.

Legislative Update
SB 414 "Micro-Market Act"

Our Lobbyist team at The Smith Group continue to work hard for our cause and they provide updates as the come in.  The VAMA Board continues its goal of passing SB 414. 
Please see the following updates that have come in and email with any questions/comments you may have.

February 1, 2018

As you may be aware we continue to move SB 414 through the Senate with very strong votes, but the fiscal impact statement by VDACS has slowed things down.
Initially in the original bill as drafted VDACS came in at the committee (silent up til that point) and indicated a $235 k impact where they would need 3 people. Senate committee still approved the bill  11-1. During the next few days we worked with VDACS and Senate committee members and Jeff IV came up with an amendment to change  permitting/penalties  to a registration only at VDACS on line with just a link portal in their web site------VDACS came back after the Senate committee approved that version 14-1 and said the fiscal impact now would be $87k.
It would be helpful if you could research and advise what fiscal impact there was in GA and Indiana as examples---------this would be helpful as it relates to those states permitting approach, where ours now is just a registration approach to start.
Link to SB 414 and movement here:

January 30, 2018

VAMA worked with our Patron McDougle and staff to address VDACS latest response to our amendment in nature of substitute(ANS) for SB 414 to address potential fiscal impact.

As reported during our Friday VAMA meeting in Richmond, we had amended SB 414 to make it a registration through online portal at VDACS which according to them would move the fiscal impact from the original $235 k + down to somewhere around $87k or one new person--------we argued all day yesterday that was not needed and particularly with VDACS indicating that it could be covered by maybe a $40.00 registration fee per location?  Again, we said not needed and not doing locations-------

So the bill (ANS) came up this morning at 9:00 am in Senate finance where they voted on it and passed 14-1 but will continue to review there in budget work  to figure out the fiscal impact amount and if maybe something  less than $87k can be found in budget negotiations?  So remains in Senate finance committee for now as we have reported.

The one person voting against SB 414 today was Sen Dunnavant ( R ) from VA Beach----she is a DR and indicated she has one of these micro markets in her hospital and it is great with all employees loving it and sees absolutely no sense in regulating these facilities since not regulated now-----  her position is amend the ANS so it would basically say  "No state or local health or agriculture departments may regulate Micro Markets."

Other Rep's take a different view in that the registration concept is all we need, so we will continue the path of trying to obtain funding for the VDACS position and maybe reducing it even further if we can---------

We will keep you posted on this and if we need to reach out again further with Finance Committee but for now trying to make sure VDACS doesn't come back with some exorbitant registration fee suggestion per location to fund their "smoke and mirror fiscal  impact report".

Thank you for all this support and circle back with any questions-----

January 23, 2018

By now you are aware of the hectic pace that quickly takes off,  then sits only to take off again------(3000 bills in 60 days)
This morning we were advised that SB 414 will be heard tomorrow am in Senate Finance Committee for final committee action and we need for you to send out this morning and again this afternoon the VAMA support paper on SB 414 to each Senate Finance Committee member please.

Here is the link to committee members and contacts.

Request for MicroMarket Numbers In VA
SB 414

Hello VAMA Members:

As you may know, VAMA is currently working on legislation surrounding the passing of SB 414. The state has concerns that it may need to hire several people to inspect the state’s MicroMarkets.  There are budgeting concerns surrounding this that may impacting MicroMarket licensing fees. Our objective is to have a single permit that covers all markets rather than individual market permits. VAMA needs your help to compile some industry data!

Our lobbyist, Jeff Smith III, has requested that we provide him with the total number of MicroMarkets in our state. We would appreciate our membership’s help in determining the number of MicroMarkets in the state. VAMA would like members to email Beth and Michelle at, with the number of MicroMarkets in your company. This would be a private list where only the total number of MicroMarkets in the state will be reported to Jeff Smith.

Your assistance with this effort is most appreciative and will help in our efforts to create MicroMarket legislation that serves our industry best.


January 16, 2018

VAMA Legislative Bulletin 

Dear VAMA member - a note from our lobbyist, Jeff Smith III:

The 60 day regular session of the 2018 General Assembly convened Wednesday and here are some of the recent organizational changes taking place since the November elections:

Republicans will hold a 51-49 majority in the House with Delegate Kirk Cox (R) being elected the new Speaker of the House.  Del Cox has reorganized all House committees based on the transformed House from November elections.  Republicans hold a 21-19 majority in the Senate and were not involved in elections this past November, but face reelection in 2019 along with the House again.  At this very early point there seems to be a real sense of cooperation between the parties as demonstrated with committee assignments,  but certainly think could change as they dig deeper into more controversial issues later.

We are pleased to report that SB 414 the Micro Market legislation passed Senate Agriculture Committee yesterday 11-0-1 abstention.  The abstention from Sen Sutterlein (R ) from Roanoke area thinking the penalty too stiff with permitting requirement.  SB 414 was the first bill acted on and past by Sen AG for the 2018 session!  As reported things move fast and should be on the Senate floor for further votes next week.  It will then go to the House which by that time things will be a bit more settled down from all the changes-thus why we went in the Senate direction first.

Further, today we learned that VA Dept of AG and Consumer Services have indicated a fiscal impact for additional people to issue permits / audit-----will keep you updated on this new piece-------

VA Public Access Project has provided a link for the following:
    •    List of five new committee chairs
    •    List of all returning members who changed committees
    •    List of all assignments for each of the 19 freshmen members

View: 2018 House Committee Assignments

Click here for our link to the VAMA Legislative Bulletin for bills offered so far and any questions feel free to circle back.  Thank you for your support in contacting legislators!

SB 414 Introduced
Contact Your Legislator TODAY!

Dear VAMA member:

Things are moving VERY FAST and your association is hard a work for you!  Please read below for some Legislative work we are doing to protect your businesses!

VAMA has been working with our lobbyists on legislation to define micro markets and it was introduced by Senator McDougal, now called SB 414:  Micro Market Act that will establish minimum standards for the operation of a micro market and provide that any person who operates a micro market without the required permit or violates a condition of such permit is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.

Find the Full text of the bill here:  01/09/18  Senate: Prefiled and ordered printed; offered 01/10/18 18104431D

SB 414 is on the Senate Agriculture Committee docket for tomorrow afternoon and given the number of bills not sure if it will come up but anything on the docket is fair game to be heard.  Our lobbyists will be on hand but we wanted to alert you to the good news.  See the attached information sheet that you can send when you contact any committee members that you know (or live in their districts).  Encourage them to support this legislation and if they have any questions, to reach out to the VAMA office. 

Please see phone and email addresses for each committee member below:

Chairman Stuart:  (804) 698-7528, 
Hanger:  (804) 698-7524. 
Ruff:   (804) 698-7571,
Obenshain:    (804) 698-7526, 
Petersen:  (804) 698-7534, 
Marsden:  (804) 698-7537,
Stanley:  (804) 698-7520, 
Black:  (804) 698-7513,
Ebbin:  (804) 698-7530,
Lewis:  (804) 698-7506,
Chafin:  (804) 698-7538,
Dance:  (804) 698-7516,
Suetterlein (804) 698-7519,
Mason:  (804) 698-7501,
McClellan:  (804) 698-7509,


VAMA: Virginia Automatic Merchandising Association

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