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North Dakota Regulators Are Going After the State’s Food Freedom Law-Again
The state health department can’t stop meddling with cottage bakers
Baylen Linnekin | Jul. 21, 2018 6:55 am
Reports surfaced this week North Dakota’s great Food Freedom Act, which became law last year, could be watered down by overbearing state regulators. Adding to the concern, a Bismarck paper recently endorsed the basic outline of such rules.
North Dakota’s food freedom law allows direct sales of many foods by a producer in the state to consumers in the state. That includes direct sales of virtually any foods—from apple slices to homemade pickles to homemade zucchini bread—
except meat or raw dairy products.
North Dakota’s law is the nation’s third bi-partisan food freedom law—after Wyoming’s and Colorado’s—as I detailed in a column last year. Maine’s food sovereignty law contains many of the same elements, but differs because it allows local municipalities to opt into the law.
The North Dakota’s law has many success stories, such as this one, but it continues to face threats made by the state’s overbearing health department and other opponents.
Just this past February, the state health department proposed rules that supporters of the law argued “would block much of what they hoped to accomplish” by passing the law in the first place.
AgWeek reports that the proposed rules would have “prohibit[ed] sales of dehydrated items without checks on water levels, refrigerated goods that aren’t kept frozen before selling, and home canned goods that don’t use approved recipes or include nonacidic canned foods, such as green beans. The rules also laid out requirements for labeling.”
Then, in March, the Institute for Justice (IJ) sent a letter to North Dakota lawmakers, regulators, and Food Freedom Act supporters stating that the rules the agency had proposed to adopt went against the letter and spirit of the law.
The law is clear that regulations of the sort proposed by the health department are not permissible. The law states that “any cottage food product or food sold under this section is not certified, labeled, licensed, packaged, regulated, or inspected.” It also orders that “a state agency or political subdivision may not require licensure, permitting, certification, inspection, packaging, or labeling that pertains to the preparation or sale of cottage food products under this section.” This language, along with the law’s requirement that producers inform consumers that the foods they sell are “not licensed, regulated, or inspected,” makes it clear the state legislature intended that foods sold under the Food Freedom Act not be subject to regulations.
In the wake of IJ’s letter, which the state took as an intent by IJ to sue should the health department should it adopt the rules, state lawmakers met with the health department, which agreed to scrap its plans.
That was good news. But after taking one step back, the health department now appears emboldened to take two lousy steps forward. Their angle of attack is language in the law pertaining to “baked goods, jams, jellies, and other food and drink products produced by a cottage food operator.” The health department may attempt to define—and, hence, limit—the meaning of “other food and drink products.”
The state’s second-largest paper, the Bismarck Tribune, recently came out in support of adopting rules because “it’s possible problems could arise with cottage foods.”
Earlier this week, I spoke with LeAnn Harner, who owns Harner Farm in Mandan, North Dakota, and is a key supporter of the state’s food freedom law.
“There is no part of this section of North Dakota state law that allows the health department to draft rules,” Harner tells me. “They want to eliminate any refrigerated foods, any cut vegetables
—tossed salad, baked beans, potato salad, or any of those kinds of foods.”
Pete Kennedy, an attorney with the Weston A. Price Foundation, sees things similarly. “Issuing regulations would likely keep some quality cottage food producers out of the market because of the cost of compliance in an area where there have been no food safety problems,” Kennedy tells me.
One key opponent of the law is the North Dakota Grocers Association, which said in a May newsletter that the group “apposed (sic) this bill and will work with the ND Department of Health to fix or repeal this legislation.” Competition is a beast.
As I noted in my column on the North Dakota law last year, food freedom laws have been successful and continue to spread because they expand choices for farmers, home-based entrepreneurs, and consumers; haven’t led to negative food-safety outcomes; and enjoy bipartisan support.
But their opponents-namely state health departments and competing food sellers, such as the North Dakota grocers-continue to fight these laws. That’s because these laws are a boon wherever they’ve been passed. They’re intended to eliminate red tape, not to create new barriers. We need more such laws and not mindless restrictions that water down the considerable benefits of food freedom legislation.
More citizens than ever are becoming politically active.
Make your voice heard in the upcoming 2018 election of your US Congressperson, Colorado State Representatives, Colorado Governor, ballot measures, and more!
Here are some dates, informational tidbits, a Precinct map and contacts for the main Colorado political parties.
“In many of the precincts, probably a majority, the same party stalwarts dutifully attend the precinct caucus, vote themselves and their friends a trip to the county convention, and adjourn, often without ever discussing which of the various candidates might make the better nominee for office.”
Politics and & Policy in Colorado: Governing a Purple State by Colorado College political science professors Tom Cronin and Bob Loevy
All the delegates selected from the March caucuses and county assemblies meet Saturday, April 14 and cast their ballots for candidates.
Thanks to new laws voters passed in 2016, those who are unaffiliated with a major political party can participate in the party primaries, but not the caucuses.
Party primary elections will be held in Colorado on June 26, 2018
COLORADO POLITICAL PARTIES
Colorado Republican Party
5950 S. Willow Drive, Suite 210
Greenwood Village, CO 80111
Chairperson: Jeff Hays
Colorado Democratic Party
789 Sherman Street
Denver, CO 80203
Chairperson: Morgan L. Carroll
Libertarian Party of Colorado
11757 W Ken Caryl Ave #F124
Littleton CO 80127
Chairperson: Wayne Harlos
American Constitution Party
P.O. Box 1776
Arvada, CO 80001-1776
Chairperson: Doug Aden
Green Party of Colorado
c/o Sean Friend
8233 E Davies Ave
Centennial, CO 80112
Co-Chair: Andrea Mérida
Co-Chair: Dave Bell
Secretary: Sean Friend
Unity Party of Colorado
10117 Wyandott Circle North
Thornton, CO 80260
Chairperson: Bill Hammons
SAVE OUR ST. VRAIN VALLEY
“The agricultural open space and recreational opportunities in and around Hygiene and Lyons are cherished by many, but may soon be dramatically affected by an intensive surface mining operation, possibly lasting until 2033 . A Special Use permit issued two decades ago could allow the mining of 400+ acres in the geologically unique St. Vrain Valley. Residents and visitors to the area may experience potentially serious health effects; the compromised availability and quality of water; environmental issues affecting wildlife and habitat; and community impacts such as traffic congestion from trucks and trains, as well as noise and light pollution.”
At our next meeting Sept 19th we will be drafting a resolution opposing this mining activity and sending a letter to the county commissioners saying the same.
Vision Course for Aspiring Farmers and Ranchers
Hosted by AVOG – Arkansas Valley Organic Growers
Earth Mother News has many interesting podcasts coming up concerning homesteading:
From Brian Allmer – The BARN:
During his address at the 2017 Governor’s Agricultural Forum Sen. Cory Gardner stressed that for Colorado’s vital ag industry to not only survive, but thrive, farmers and ranchers would need additional opportunities created through technology and expanded trade and exports; certainty provided by a new Farm Bill and other “commonsense” legislation; and reduced regulatory burdens, particularly in the financial, environmental and water aspects of agriculture.
“I’m not sure people are as focused as they should be about what’s going on in America’s heartland and in our rural communities,” Sen. Gardner said of his fellow lawmakers and the general public. “There are real challenges facing the industry today. We must do what we’ve always done best in agriculture, and that’s find opportunities, and forge ahead with optimism.”
What’s your opinion on immigrant workers?
“There’s a lot of anxiety out in the country on labour issues,” said Kristi Boswell, director of congressional relations at the Farm Bureau, a Washington-based trade group. “It’s a real issue, and it’s causing farmers to make hard decisions.”
From the Huffington Post:
Between 50 and 70 percent of the nation’s farmworkers working for fresh produce growers and dairy farms are undocumented. If these sectors lose a significant amount of their existing immigrant workforce, they will need to raise wages to attract replacement workers ― and attracting them would be no easy task.
From Farm Forum, North Dakota:
Have you heard of Kombucha, the beverage the ancient Chinese called the “Immortal Health Elixir?” It’s been around for more than 2,000 years and has a rich anecdotal history of health benefits like preventing and fighting cancer, arthritis, and other degenerative diseases.
Here’s some local Kombucha/Legislative news from Denverite
Democratic Congressman Jared Polis on the KOMBUCHA Act:
“Kombucha is the fastest growing beverage category in the United States. This bipartisan bill will eliminate unfair taxes for kombucha brewers, many of whom are small businesses. By taking kombucha out from under alcohol in the tax and regulatory code, we can help a new industry grow throughout Colorado and across the country.”
Republican Congressman Scott Tipton:
“Too often, federal regulations get in the way of small business innovation. The challenges that the nation’s kombucha producers have come up against in the federal tax code are a clear example of this. I’m glad to join Congressman Polis and Senator Gardner to put forward this common-sense solution that will help create further economic opportunities for Coloradans.”
Do you make, or have you tried Kombucha? When I was a child, we used to buy local apple cider. And as it sat, unrefrigerated, it formed what my Mom called “mother”, the fermented slimy film-like substance often associated with making vinegar as it turns alcohol into acidic acid when exposed to oxygen. We would just avoid the slime and drink the “bitey” liquid, which we thought tasted better and better as it sat.
FARM POLICY ADVICE FOR THE NEW ADMINISTRATION
From Forrager.com :
The Colorado Cottage Food Act
The “Colorado Cottage Foods Act” began in 2012 and was amended in 2013, 2015, and 2016 (read about the history of the act). 2016’s amendment (SB 16-058) added all non-PHF foods to the approved list, including pickled items.
The current law restricts producers to direct, in-person sales only, but no license from the health department is needed. However, producers must take a training course before they can start selling.
One thing that differentiates Colorado from other states is that rather than limiting overall sales per year, they limit the sales of each product ($10,000 per product/flavor). This allows producers to sell an unlimited amount of food, as long as they keep creating different products.
A sign must be displayed at the point of sale with this statement: “This product was produced in a home kitchen that is not subject to state licensure or inspection. This product is not intended for resale.”
Although your products cannot be resold, you can assign a “designated representative” to sell on your behalf.
Here’s a partial list of approved foods you can sell without a license:
Breads Biscuits Brownies Cakes Cookies Muffins Scones
Tortillas Candy Fudge Chocolate Honey Pickles Coffee
Vinegars Herbs Cereals Dried Vegetables and Fruit Tea Spices
Seasonings Mixes Fermented Foods Empanadas Pies Eggs
Cones Preserves Applesauce Chutney Jams Fruit Butters Jelly
Caramel Corn Granola Nuts & Seeds Popcorn Crackers Pretzels Fruit Leather
There are restrictions on how and where you can sell your Cottage Foods product(s).
- Product(s) must be delivered directly from producer to an informed end consumer and cannot be resold.
- Product(s) cannot be sold to restaurants or grocery stores.
- Product(s) may only be sold in Colorado.
- At the point of sale, clearly display a placard, sign or card with the following disclaimer: “This product was produced in a home kitchen that is not subject to state licensure or inspection. This product is not intended for resale.”
Can a producer sell their Cottage Foods product(s) at multiple locations and events, even if they occur on the same day and at the same time?
Yes. A producer or their designated representative can sell and deliver the product directly to an informed end consumer.
Can Cottage Foods be sold from a mobile food truck or store front?
The use of a mobile food truck or store front to sell Cottage Foods is not the intent of the law and may be considered on a case-by-case basis by the city and county ordinances and the local public health agency.
Can Cottage Foods be sold on the Internet?
No. Cottage Foods can be marketed, but not sold, on the Internet
Around the world, almost two thirds of antibiotics are used in agriculture, mainly to fatten up cattle and chickens, and the report names this use as one of the main contributors to the rise of resistant superbugs. The scientists urge pairing down the use of antibiotics over the course of a 10-year program. Beginning in 2018, agricultural companies are expected to reduce antibiotic use in animals, restrict the use of “last-line” antibiotics (drugs like colistin, which is used when all others fail), and increase product labeling to let consumers know whether the drugs were used to produce their meat.
From the Black Cat Farm Newsletter this month.
This is the first year we have been able to enjoy a true asparagus harvest, since planting three years ago. It takes years for asparagus to get going, but once it does it keeps on giving for decades.
Asparagus used to be a popular crop in Colorado — if you roam around open space in areas other than the foothills you might find asparagus growing along fences. But growing it is a tough proposition for most farmers because it amounts to just three weeks of harvesting every year, and then you must leave that plot of land alone, for the most part. You can’t just harvest the asparagus and then start planting corn. Once an asparagus field, always an asparagus field. But we adore asparagus, and so do you. And we knew the asparagus fields, post-harvest, would be like nectar for our booming sheep herd. So we planted the asparagus in alternating rows in a field that is grazed by our sheep. We grow, harvest and then invite the sheep into the field for feasting — and of course, fertilizing. In the middle of the summer the kids cover the plants with mulch, and as the mulch degrades it fertilizes the ground some more. Around the last week of September we let the sheep come into the field again for more grazing, which is the very best kind of weed control in the world.
This field gives us 2 1/2 grazings and a crop of asparagus. It’s great for the sheep, the environment and all of us who like to eat. This translates into a smaller harvest — traditional asparagus farmers pack far more into the square footage. But because of the sheep, our labor is minimal. Win-win, right?
Black Cat is a 130 acre farm located North of the City of Boulder.
Incorporate Omega-3 Chicken Feed Supplements
To maximize omega-3 concentrations in your birds’ meat and eggs, consider these four feed amendments.
Flax seeds boost the omega-3 fatty acid content of eggs from conventionally raised hens by six to eight times. However, because feeding flax can cause digestive problems and slow growth, Mattocks recommends keeping flax below 5 percent of the total feed ration. Flax also enhances omega-3 levels in poultry meat. One study found that feeding 10 percent flax 24 days before processing provides the optimum omega-3 enrichment of breast meat, and the optimal enrichment of thigh meat only required five days.
Earthworms are a great source of protein and long-chain fatty acids. Although birds on pasture will find and eat a few earthworms, you can make these wrigglers a more significant part of your birds’ diet if you or someone you know vermicomposts.
Hemp seeds and seed oil are often added to poultry feeds, and their use should increase if the United States removes hemp cultivation restrictions. In 2012, a Poultry Science study found that adding up to 20 percent hemp seed and up to 12 percent hemp seed oil to egg-layers’ diets did not adversely affect hen performance, and raised eggs’ overall omega-3 concentration.
Fish meal is an excellent source of concentrated protein and long-chain omega-3 fatty acids. Further, fish meal can be a sustainable source of fatty acids when made from Atlantic menhaden, a fish historically applied to land as a fertilizer.
A word of caution: Some people report that fish meal affects the taste of broiler meat, especially when fed in higher concentrations over long periods of time.
Copied from Mother Earth News, June/July 2016
Pure bison return to Larimer County lands after 100-plus years.
Eating Buffalo Meat
Bison are raised on ranches or farms, where they graze for their food (that is, they’re grass-fed). Regulations and industry standards don’t allow the use of hormones or routine antibiotics, which are often given as growth promoters to cattle.
Environmentalists like grass-fed bison because this method of meat production is more sustainable and less polluting than conventional methods. As bison graze, they keep the ecosystem in check by preventing grasses from overgrowing, while their waste nourishes the soil, among other benefits. Properly grazed grasslands can, in fact, help stem global climate change because they trap the carbon from greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and redistribute it in soil.
But as bison meat becomes more popular, many producers have turned to grain-finishing in feedlots for several months, similar to the way cattle are fed before slaughter. This makes the texture and flavor of the meat more consistent—and turns the yellow fat to white—which some people prefer. Though bison tend to spend less time in feedlots than cattle, being confined is still, as critics say, inhumane and unnatural for animals, particularly wild ones. Moreover, bison feedlots can have the same health and environmental problems as cattle feedlots. For example, 66,000 pounds of bison meat were recalled last year due to possible E. colicontamination.
Whether 100 percent grass-fed or grain-finished, bison meat is leaner than beef, though grain-finishing does increase the fat content somewhat. And like all meat, it’s rich in protein, iron, zinc, vitamin B12 and other nutrients. The National Bison Association promotes it as having only 2.4 grams of fat and 143 calories in 3.5 ounces cooked, compared to 8 grams of fat and 200 calories in a piece of “select” beef. That’s based on the leanest cuts, trimmed of all fat. Other bison cuts have 4 to 9 grams of fat and 165 to 190 calories, comparable to some lean beef cuts; ground bison meat can have 15 grams of fat and 240 calories in 3.5 ounces.
Bison meat is also promoted as a good source of omega-3 fats. Grass-fed cuts have more of these heart-healthy fats than conventional beef (the same is true for grass-fed beef), but the amount is minimal compared to salmon and other fatty fish. And grain-finishing causes a rapid decline in omega-3 levels.
—-Copied from the University of California Berkeley Wellness website.