FTCLDF 2013 Summary, cont’d
Page 3 – Legislation & Public Policy / Fundraising & Outreach
Beyond pursuing remedies in the courts and at the administrative level, the Fund also seeks to improve the political and regulatory climate for local food producers and consumers. Next is a review of legislative and public policy efforts as well as fundraising and outreach activity.
LEGISLATION AND PUBLIC POLICY
Highlights at a glance:
The Fund provides consultation and serves as an information clearinghouse for those working on changes to their state and local laws, such as passing raw milk legislation or other bills governing food production. The Fund also maintains a petition service designed to increase the effectiveness of food freedom activities and sends action alerts to its email subscribers letting them know how they can help pass (or fight) state and federal bills that affect them.
State-Level Activity in 2013
Some of the matters worked on include:
- An Arkansas raw milk bill passing into law legalizing the sale of cow milk and expanding the quantity of goat milk that can be sold in the state; the Fund worked with Little Rock chef, Lee Richardson, who led the effort. [HB 1536]
- A successful grassroots effort in North Dakota to pass a herdshare bill; Fund farmer member Jim Bartlett was among those responsible for its passage. [SB 2072]
- A Mississippi Cottage Foods bill that passed into law; the Fund worked with Senator Angela Hill. [SB 2553]
- Legislation passing in Indiana to allow unlicensed direct sale of rabbits processed on the farm.
- A successful effort in Troy, Wisconsin, to pass a Food Sovereignty ordinance; the Fund member Brandon LaGreca was largely responsible for its passage.
- Amendment of the Indiana regulation on wild hogs that partly based their legality on physical characteristics. The change clarified that the regulation did not apply to hogs raised on a farm. Senator Jim Banks and Fund members Pete Eshelman and Mark Baker were responsible for the amendment.
- A raw milk bill in Montana that passed the House but was defeated in the Senate.
- Opposing potentially detrimental regulations proposed in South Dakota and Illinois (the effort in Illinois is ongoing).
State-Level Activity in 2014
Some of the matters worked on include:
- Virginia Senate Bill 51 (HB 268) passed into law, allowing more on-farm activities free of local regulation; Fund member Martha Boneta led the effort. See Highlights
- Successful legislation in Indiana to expand the number of on-farm processed poultry that can be sold and eliminate local jurisdiction over poultry and egg sales; Fund members Pete Eshelman and Blaine Hitzfield were instrumental in the bill’s passage. [SB 179]
- Successful effort in Virginia, led by Fund member Anthony Bavuso, to exempt aquaculture operations statewide from local permitting requirements. [HB 1089]
- Passage of law in Tennessee that adopted federal exemption enabling farmers to sell up to 20,000 birds slaughtered and processed on the farm; the Fund worked with Senator Frank Niceley. [SB 1707]
- The defeat of stealth legislation in Illinois that would have banned the sale of raw milk statewide. [HB 4036]
- Raw milk bills in California and Louisiana.
- Food Freedom bill in Virginia that would greatly expand, beyond any other state, the types of cottage foods that can be sold.
- Joining with the Michigan Small Farm Coalition in an ongoing effort to oppose policy changes that would deprive farms on non-agriculturally zoned land of protections provided by the Michigan Right to Farm Act.
Much of the Fund’s work at the federal level focuses on opposing legislation and rulemaking that would undermine the sustainability and freedoms of small family farms or otherwise negatively impact those engaged in the local food movement. Occasionally the opportunity arises to push for favorable bills or to mitigate the potential harm wielded by complex legislation like the 2014 Farm Bill.
Here’s a brief review of efforts over the past year:
Raw Milk: The Fund worked with staff of Representative Thomas Massie (R-KY) on legislation to overturn the ban on raw milk for human consumption in interstate commerce. Massie was the lead sponsor of the raw milk bills HR 4307 and 4308 that he introduced on March 26, 2014. The Milk Freedom Act of 2014 (HR 4307) would effectively repeal the ban allowing the shipment to and from any state. The Interstate Milk Freedom Act of 2014 (HR 4308) would modify the ban, only allowing the shipment of raw milk from one state where its sale is legal to other states where the sale is also legal. The congressman was able to get many more cosponsors than was the case with past federal raw milk legislation. HR 4307 had 12 cosponsors while HR 4308 had 23. [HR 4307/4308]
FSMA: The Fund was active in the rule-making process of the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), particularly working to stop FDA attempts to dilute the Tester-Hagen amendment to FSMA. Tester-Hagen exempts producers with less than $500,000 yearly annual gross income from onerous requirements of federal produce standards and food safety plans. The Fund will continue to be active in monitoring the implementation of FSMA and submitting comments during its rule-making process. FSMA is the greatest threat to food freedom at this time. [Read more about FSMA]
GMOs: The Fund sent numerous action alerts over the past year to voice opposition against federal approval of a variety of products engineered using genetically modified organisms (GMOs)—herbicides, seeds, seafood, etc. Generally, the Fund’s effort to combat GMOs has focused on the federal rule-making process and responding during comment periods. [Read more about GMOs]
TPP: The Fund actively opposed congressional ratification of the sovereignty-robbing Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement. The TPP would, among other things, enable corporations to dictate trade policy to governments. Its status is currently in limbo in Congress. [Read more about the TPP]
FUNDRAISING & OUTREACH IN 2013-2014
Photo collage: Robb Wolf at P3; food samples from Bacon Palooza and Hannah Crum offering kombucha
Fundraising Director Cathy Raymond organized two major Farm-to-Fork FundRAISERS in 2013. On September 7th and 8th, “Save Your Bacon Weekend” was held in Swoope and Staunton, Virginia, consisting of three events as one package. The weekend kicked off with the FTCLDF’s fifth annual Benefactor Appreciation Event at Polyface Farm in Swoope for those making donations during the annual fundraising drive. Each year, the Weston A. Price Foundation (WAPF) generously sends out an appeal letter to its members on behalf of the Fund; the 2013 Appeal was the most successful yet. Many thanks to WAPF President and FTCLDF founder Sally Fallon Morell for her continued support. Thanks as well to the Salatin Family for their long time support and for continuing to graciously let the event be held on their farm.
On the evening of September 7th, BaconPalooza, the second part of the weekend, was held in Staunton. The sold-out event was a mini-foodfest that included a competition for the best bacon appetizer and the best kombucha.
The final event of the weekend was the P3 (Polyface, Paleo and Porkfest) Workshop in Staunton at the Stonewall Jackson Hotel on September 8th, with talks given by Joel Salatin, Jenny McGruther and Paleo leader Robb Wolf. In the past two years, Cathy Raymond has made a successful outreach effort to the Paleo food community, with Wolf being a great source of support.
Should the federal government mandate GMO labeling of foods?
The other major event in 2013 was the third annual FundRAISER Dinner held the night before the start of the WAPF’s Annual International Wise Traditions Conference in Atlanta, Georgia on November 7th. The highlight of the sold-out event was the “Debate of the Decade” between food freedom movement leaders Joel Salatin and Dr. Joseph Mercola over whether the federal government should require labeling of foods containing GMOs. The debate brought before the public implications for farmers and consumers of requiring or not requiring labeling on foods containing GMOs. The Fund also continued its tradition of holding the FundRAISER Breakfasts during the conference.
In 2014, the Fund launched a partnership with Buchi Kombucha and receives a portion of the proceeds from the sale of Buchi’s “Sovereign” brand of kombucha. Likeminded businesses such as Dr. Ron’s Ultra Pure, Green Pastures, and U.S. Wellness continued their support of the Fund whether through in-kind donations for FTCLDF fundraisers or through financial contributions.
The Communities Alliance for Responsible Eco-Agriculture (CARE) has been a strong financial supporter since the Fund’s inception. The biggest donor to the Fund remains the Farm-to-Consumer Foundation (FTCF) in providing grants for public interest litigation (PIL).
FTCLDF was represented last year at eighty conferences by volunteers spreading the word about the Fund and its work. The highlight of the conference schedules again was the Mother Earth News Fairs (MENF). At the biggest MENF conference in Seven Springs, Pennsylvania, in September 2013, Fund Vice President Elizabeth Rich, Fund Treasurer John Moody, and FTCLDF member Mark Baker spoke to large crowds. Rich and FTCLDF member and dairy farmer Charlotte Smith spoke at the fair in Puyallup, Washington in 2013 and 2014 while Moody spoke at the newest 2014 fair in Asheville, North Carolina.
The Fund continues to send out its electronic digest to its e-mail subscribers and also continues on with its podcast, “The Food Rights Hour”. In addition to listening online at the website, the podcast episodes are also available for download at iTunes. The Fund’s Food Rights News website continues to post content on food rights developments around the country. The Fund’s Facebook page has enjoyed steady growth the past year thanks to the work of Social Media Director Michelle Ray.
The Fund continues to meet the needs of its growing membership which includes not only family farms but also the consumers and buyers club members who obtain foods from these farms as well as homesteaders and artisan food producers, many of whom source ingredients directly from the farm.