Foods & Milk Bills Pass

Both HB 1222 and HB 1057 have passed the House of Representatives and are headed to the Senate. HB 1222 passed unanimously and is scheduled for a hearing Tuesday, March 2 for a hearing before the Senate Commerce Committee. Please ask these senators to support this bill.

HB 1057 passed as amended by the House Ag & Natural Resources Committee. It has been sent to the Senate and referred to the Senate Ag & Natural Resources Committee, but has not yet been scheduled for a hearing. I contacted several legislators about the amendment that struck the words “cream and skim milk” from the bill, asking them if this made these two products illegal. All of them responded that cream and skim milk had to undergo processing in order to become those products and thus couldn’t be covered by the bill. So the language was struck because it could not be dealt with in that statute.

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Foods Bill Heads to House Floor

UPDATE: The bill was not voted on Friday; it was deferred to another day.

HB 1222, the Home-Processed Foods Bill, heads to the full House for a vote today. Since the House Commerce Committee passed it unanimously, it doesn’t seem likely to face much opposition, but it never hurts to ask your legislators to support it.

You can reach any House member at the House Lobby Desk, 605-773-3815 or by clicking here: South Dakota Legislative Research Council.

Milk Bill Amended

HB 1057, the milk bill, was amended and passed by the House Ag & Natural Resources Committee. Click here to view all action on the bill and read the amended version: http://legis.state.sd.us/sessions/2010/QuickFind.aspx.

This is the amendment:

Section 1.That § 39-6-3 be amended to read as follows:

    39-6-3. Section 39-6-2 shall The provisions of § 39-6-2 do not apply to milk, cream, skim milk, or goat milk occasionally secured or purchased for his personal use by any consumer at the place or farm where the milk is produced, and provided further, that § 39-6-2 shall not apply to or to any active farm producer of milk, selling and delivering his the producer’s own production direct to consumers only, if the place or farm where the milk is produced has a license or permit issued by the department pursuant to § 40-32-4 or 40-32-10.1. The containers in which any unpasteurized milk is sold shall be clearly labeled by the producer as “raw milk.” Failure to affix such label is a Class 2 misdemeanor. “.

    On page 8, line 6, after “violation” insert “or may be subject to injunctive and declaratory relief“.
On one hand, the amendment is good because it does not limit producers to selling milk only on-farm; it allows them to deliver it and sell it at a farmers’ market, as that is a direct sale from producer to consumer. However, it still means that anyone who sells milk  even occasionally is supposed to get a permit from the Department of Agriculture. So the overall goal of licensing everyone is still on the table.
Another part of the amendment that concerns me is that the words “cream, skim milk” have been stricken. That could mean that cream and skim milk are not covered by this law, but I highly doubt it. Why, if the department wants to license everyone and even tried to limit sales to on-farm only, would they not care about selling cream and skim milk? Call me a cynic, but I find that suspect. I find it more likely that the department wants to make the sale of cream and skim milk illegal, period.
The next step for HB 1057 is the House Floor, but it hasn’t been placed on the calendar yet. I’ll post again when I know more information.

Foods Bill Clears Hearing

HB 1222, the Home-Processed Foods Bill, was approved unanimously by the House Commerce Committee today. Its next stop will be the House floor, but it’s not been placed on the calendar yet. Stay tuned for that information when it becomes available. In the meantime, take a few minutes and thank the House Commerce Committee for their support of this bill.

Quick Bill Update

HB 1057, the raw milk bill, had a subcommittee hearing today in Pierre. As yet, there are no minutes posted from that hearing on the SD Legislative Research Council site, so I don’t know the outcome of it. Since this was not the full hearing, no formal action was taken. The hearing before the full House Ag & Natural Resources Committee will be Thursday, Feb. 18 at 7:45 a.m. Please take time to contact the members of that committee either by email or phone prior to the hearing; every single person they hear from makes a difference. Click here for the committee list: http://legis.state.sd.us/sessions/2010/CommitteeMembers.aspx?Committee=77

Also, the home-processed foods bill is up for hearing Wednesday, Feb. 16 before the House Commerce Committee, so please contact those legislators if you haven’t already.

You can reach legislators via email through the above links or by calling the House Lobby at 605-773-3851.

Raw Milk Bill up for Hearing Tuesday

The House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee, at the request of the Department of Agriculture, has introduced a bill, HB 1057, that impacts raw milk producers and consumers. The bill does not cover the same rules the department tried promulgating last November (like mechanical bottling), but would limit raw milk availability. Since this bill is quite long, and full of sections that the department is repealing in order to streamline some language, I’m not going to post the whole bill here. If you would like to read the entire bill, click http://legis.state.sd.us/sessions/2010/Bill.aspx?File=HB1057P.htm

In a nutshell, HB 1057:

  • would limit the sale of raw milk, skim milk, cream and goat milk to on-farm sales only (no farmers’ market sales);
  • would require all milk producers, no matter their size, to be licensed, even if they only occasionally sell milk;
  • increases the penalty for violating these rules (and rules to be promulgated by the department at a later date) from a Class 2 Misdemeanor (which is 30 days in jail or $500 fine) to a fine of up to $5,000.

Yes, the Department of Agriculture evidently feels that people’s lives are as much endangered by the sale of raw milk as by drunk drivers. Furthermore, even if you sell a quart of cream to a neighbor so she can make ice cream for her grandma’s birthday party, you would need to be licensed. This bill will be devastating for small producers and homesteaders as well as severely restrict consumers’ rights to buy raw milk.

There will be a special sub-committee hearing on Tuesday, Feb. 16 at 11 a.m. to hear HB 1057. The three members of the sub-committee (from the House Ag and Natural Resources Committee) are: Rep. Vanneman (Dist. 36), Rep. Sly (Dist. 33), and Rep. Sorenson (Dist. 25). Please take a few minutes to call them via the House Lobby Desk at 605-773-3851 or email them via the House Ag and Natural Resources page.

Foods Bill up for Hearing Wednesday

Thanks to Herb for posting the hearing information in a comment on the last post about the Home-Processed Foods Bill. I’m just going to past that into a post so people can see it easily.

HB 1222 has been scheduled for a hearing before the House Commerce Committee on Wednesday, Feb. 17 at 10 am. Please take some time either to email these committee members or call them via the House Lobby Desk at 605-773-3851. 

Remember that if we want to keep growing our community farmers’ markets and increase access to local foods, we need to support this bill! Farmers’ markets give local producers more opportunities to reach customers, and the dollars they earn stay in our communities. Furthermore, it allows consumers to buy more local foods and establish relationships with the people who grew and processed the food, something decidedly lacking in today’s industrialized food culture. Contact the House Commerce Committee today!

Hearing information:

House Commerce Committe Agenda concerning HB1222
Sign up for a LRC (Legaslative Research Account) account here http://legis.state.sd.us/ to follow this bill.

Committee: House Commerce
Room: 464
Date: Wednesday, February 17, 2010
Time: 10:00 AM

HB 1222 exempt persons selling certain foods at farmers’ markets from licensure requirements and to establish other requirements for the sale of those foods.

Update on Foods Bill

Just a quick update on the Home-Processed Foods Bill, I have some clarification on the third-party verifier language (for the entire bill, please see post from Feb. 3rd). According to Dakota Rural Action’s lobbyist, Luke Temple, the third-party verifier for pH levels can be anyone with the knowledge and proper testing equipment. Furthermore, the SD Department of Health can do the pH and water activity testing for a fee of $15 – $20, and he thought Extension offices could also do it, but didn’t have specifics on cost.

Though I would like the language clarified and explained more thoroughly, I believe the bill is worthwhile in order to keep canned goods available at farmers’ markets. Luke indicated that the SD Department of Agriculture wanted to remove all home-processed foods except baked goods, jams and jellies from farmers’ markets, so in order to be able to sell other items, some testing is necessary.

The bill has not been scheduled for a hearing yet, but that should be happening relatively soon. You can track the bill at the SD State Legislature site: http://legis.state.sd.us/.

More Hunger News

Another hunger study was released last week, with some startling statistics on hunger in South Dakota. Even though our state is one of the least affected by the recession (according to unemployment rates and state budget deficits), we still have a substantial number of people relying on community food pantries to feed their families. The study, conducted by the Community Food Banks of South Dakota and Feeding America, reported that 78,400 people receive emergency food each year in our state. That number includes 28,224 children. The study estimated that over 20,000 people per week visit a food pantry, soup kitchen or other food agency. Those numbers are substantial, especially in a state whose number one industry is agriculture.

So what do we do with these numbers? First of all, it’s a reminder for all of us who can afford our weekly groceries to give to our community food pantries. We can and should take care of each other.

Also, we need to drop our arrogant belief that hunger can’t touch us. Many of us think we have food security because we can afford to hit the store weekly, but that is an illusion of the industrialized, centralized food system. Cities have an average of three days worth of food available for sale. Three days is all that stands between us and hunger, no matter how big our checking account balance. One significant natural disaster can change the food security of a city, a state, a region, a nation. Look at Haiti. Granted, Haiti is a developing nation with serious limitations within its infrastructure, or lack thereof. But to dismiss their serious food shortages is not to understand how our food system works. It is a fragile behemoth.

Local food is truly the answer to food security.  It’s not the easy answer; it’s certainly not popular in our corporate culture. Hunger goes hand-in-hand with a centralized food system; it’s that simple.

More local foods and local economies will go far in ending hunger in our state, our nation and our world. Giving people more access to food here at home will put more food on the table in the long run; we just have to be willing to go the distance.

If you want to help Haiti ensure long-term food security, visit Heifer International to donate. Their work is remarkable, tangible, and provides long-term solutions. Visit www.heifer.org/ for more information.

Home Processed Foods Bill

A home-processed foods bill, HB 1222, has been introduced at the state legislature. The bill’s language was crafted by Dakota Rural Action, and the main sponsor is Representative Sly (Dist. 33). It has been directed to the House Commerce Committee, where a hearing will be held sometime in the next two weeks. Click here for a link to the bill, where you can monitor its progress: HB 1222.

The language of the bill is as follows:

FOR AN ACT ENTITLED, An Act to exempt persons selling certain foods at farmers’ markets from licensure requirements and to establish other requirements for the sale of those foods.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF SOUTH DAKOTA:
    Section 1. That chapter 34-18 be amended by adding thereto a NEW SECTION to read as follows:

    No person selling whole, intact fresh fruits or vegetables at a farmer’s market, roadside stand, or similar venue is required to be licensed pursuant to this chapter.
    Section 2. That chapter 34-18 be amended by adding thereto a NEW SECTION to read as follows:
    No person selling baked goods or non-temperature-controlled home-processed canned goods at a farmer’s market, roadside stand, or similar venue is required to be licensed pursuant to this chapter. However, any baked goods or non-temperature-controlled home-processed canned goods sold at a farmer’s market, roadside stand, or similar venue shall meet the requirements of section 3, if applicable, and section 4 of this Act.
    Section 3. That chapter 34-18 be amended by adding thereto a NEW SECTION to read as follows:
    No canned good may be sold unless the pH level is 4.6 or less or the water activity level is .85 or less. A third-party processing authority with knowledge of the thermal processing required of food in hermetically-sealed containers shall verify the method of processing and that the pH or water activity threshold levels are met. The processing authority shall provide any such verification in writing.
    Section 4. That chapter 34-18 be amended by adding thereto a NEW SECTION to read as follows:
    No baked good or canned good may be sold unless it has a label that includes the following information:
            (1)    Name of the product;
            (2)    Producer and contact information;
            (3)    Date the product was made or processed;
            (4)    Ingredients; and
            (5)    Disclaimer. The disclaimer shall state: “This product was not produced in a commercial kitchen. It has been home-processed in a kitchen that may also process common food allergens such as tree nuts, peanuts, eggs, soy, wheat, milk, fish, and crustacean shellfish.”Though I will check with DRA to see what is meant by “third-party processing authority,” the gist of the bill is to make sure that people can continue selling home-processed goods at farmers markets. Please note that the disclaimer states the foods were processed in a home kitchen; as many of you know, there is a movement, not just in South Dakota but nationally, to limit the sale of processed goods to those made in commercial kitchens. That decision would the death-knell of many farmers’ market vendors as well limiting the availability of locally produced foods to non-canners. This bill will ensure that vendors can continue to sell their processed goods without the untenable expense of a commercial kitchen.

Please take a few minutes to contact members of the House Commerce Committee about your support of the bill. Anyone who supports farmers’ markets and relies on them either for income or locally grown food needs to contact these House members. Click here for a list of the Commerce Committee members: Commerce Committee

You can reach any member of the South Dakota Legislature via email from the Legislative Research Council site: http://legis.state.sd.us/ or by calling the House lobby desk at 605-773-3851 or the Senate lobby desk at 605-773-3821.