|Bernadette Barber, president of Virginia Food Freedom and FTCLDF member|
The Virginia Food Freedom Act, HB 1290 (sponsored by Rob Bell [R-58]), has been introduced into the Virginia General Assembly. The bill aims to allow direct sales of home- and farm-produced foods without burdensome regulations. Specifically, HB 1290 provides an exemption from the authority of the Virginia Board of Agriculture in section § 3.2-5101, to regulate the sales of foods that are sold directly from the person who produces it to the consumer.
“C. The provisions of this section and regulations adopted pursuant thereto shall not apply to any food prepared or processed in a private home and curtilage or farm by the resident or owner of the private home and curtilage or farm or his designee, provided that such food is sold directly to the end consumer and labeled with the producer’s name, producer’s address, and product ingredients and the following disclosure: ‘NOT FOR RESALE – PROCESSED AND PREPARED WITHOUT STATE INSPECTION.’”
This bill will not restrict sales on types of foods, nor place a cap on sales or product volume or restrict location in which they are sold. The requirement is only on direct sale and proper labeling. The bill, by use of the word “designee”, will allow for helpers in the kitchens or farms. Given the nature of seasonal availability of produce, many times families need extra hands for preparation of foods at the height of a harvest. The word “curtilage” allows for land or buildings surrounding the home or farm to be used in processing. Many people would like sundried tomatoes (commonly done on a back deck) or deep fried turkeys that are commonly and safely cooked out of doors in a deep fryer on an open fire. These food items will be allowed.
A common misconception about this bill is that on-farm slaughter and sale of meats would be allowed. All animal slaughter and primary meat processing are controlled by the USDA in federally inspected facilities. The only meats that would be allowed to be integrated in food products for sale by the Food Freedom Act would have to come from USDA-inspected slaughterhouses.
This bill is the leader in the nation on food freedom. Many states have adopted by reference FDA definitions and standards. This abrogation of states to determine their own food laws has created an unfortunate foodscape that denies food choice. This bill rectifies that problem by allowing producers and consumers to sell and acquire what they want. Examples are raw milk, lasagna, pumpkin pie and spinach quiche.
The inspection requirement on food establishments that sell directly to the “end consumer” in § 3.2-5130 would not apply:
“5. A private home and curtilage or farm where the resident or owner or his designee processes or prepares any food, except as described in subdivision 3, provided that such food is sold directly to the end consumer and labeled with the producer’s name, producer’s address, and product ingredients and the following disclosure: ‘NOT FOR RESALE – PROCESSED AND PREPARED WITHOUT STATE INSPECTION.’”
The language below also provides exemption from inspection requirements from the milk code, § 3.2-5206.
“E. The provisions of this chapter and regulations adopted pursuant thereto that apply to milk or any food made from milk shall not apply to milk or food made from milk that is processed or prepared in a private home and curtilage or farm by the resident or owner of the private home and curtilage or farm or his designee, provided that such food is sold directly to the end consumer and labeled with the producer’s name, producer’s address, and product ingredients and the following disclosure: ‘NOT FOR RESALE – PROCESSED AND PREPARED WITHOUT STATE INSPECTION.’”
By allowing raw milk sales, the economic and environmental impact will be substantial as many small farmers will have the option to add milking cows and diversify their farms for holistic management.
Virginia’s coast provides an abundance of seafood. Those watermen who harvest that seafood would benefit greatly from this legislation. The Virginia Department of Health regulates seafood in the health code § 28.2-803.
“C. The State Health Commissioner in conducting his analysis shall examine the establishments in which crustacea, finfish and shellfish are handled and the sanitary conditions surrounding the establishment, except that no such examination shall occur in a private home and curtilage or farm exempted from Board of Agriculture and Consumer Services regulations as provided under subsection C of § 3.2-5101. At that time, he may analyze the crustacea, finfish and shellfish in the establishment.”
The bill might be heard in the Agriculture subcommittee as early as January 26th or even February 2nd. All those interested, please contact your legislators to ask them to co-patron the bill.
As president of Virginia Food Freedom, I’ve worked tirelessly for four years to bring this bill before the Virginia Legislature. The Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense has provided consultation on the drafting of this legislation since its inception and has helped move it forward every step of the way.
YOUR FUND AT WORK
Services provided by the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund (FTCLDF) go beyond providing legal representation for members in court cases.
Educational and Political Action Services also provide an avenue for FTCLDF to build grassroots activism to create the most favorable regulatory climate possible. In addition to advising on bill language, FTCLDF supports favorable legislation via action alerts, social media outreach, and the online petition service.
You can help FTCLDF by becoming a member or donating today.
8116 Arlington Blvd, # 263
Falls Church, VA 22042
Prefer to make a tax-deductible donation? Click here for details