Jeffress v. Stith

In Jeffress v. Stith, 241 Va. 313, 402 S.E.2d 14 (Va. 1991), the Supreme Court of Virginia addressed whether a life tenant was authorized to sell a farm's tobacco allotment and quota entitlement. The Virginia court noted the statute and regulations which permit an owner to transfer the tobacco quotas did not mention remainder interests in farm properties subject to tobacco quotas or define the word "owner." The Jeffress court concluded: "In the absence of further explanation, we assume that Congress and the Secretary of Agriculture intended to adopt for the word "owner" "its ordinary meaning, given the context in which it is used. 'Owner' is a word of general purport, but its primary meaning, as applied to land, is 'one who owns the fee and who has the right to dispose of the property.'" Loyola Fed. Sav. & Loan Assoc. v. Herndon Lumber & Millwork, Inc., 218 Va. 803, 805, 241 S.E.2d 752, 753 (1978). This construction is consistent with the well-established law in Virginia that a life tenant can transfer no more than his life interest." (Jeffress, 402 S.E.2d at 16.)