Montana Seeks to Loosen Food and Agricultural Regulations

Montana is looking to loosen some food regulations in the state. That's good, because there's room for improvement.

Farmer's marketPublic DomainMontana is looking to loosen some food regulations in the state.

By passing a 2013 law, HB 630, Montana legislators required regulators there to find ways to streamline and loosen the state's tangled web of food regulations. The law sought new ideas for fixing the "complex food code with jurisdiction spread between multiple departments and levels of government" and addressing the "growing movement to support locally sourced and community-based food production[.]"

The law mandated a trio of listening sessions—which recently wrapped up—and opened up the process to public comments, which are expected to help the legislature's Economic Affairs Interim Committee draft a series of new reform bills next year.

HB 630 provides a welcome opportunity for Montanans—and those in other states—to consider the ways that regulations can impede agricultural and food entrepreneurship. That problem is national in scope.

Many Montanans appear pleased that the state may release its grip on their purses and plates.

“If there was some kind of streamlining of regulations, that would have a real value in our business,” said Eric Bergman, an organic vegetable, pork, and poultry farmer, in a recent Great Falls Tribune piece on the legislation.

But others have expressed reservations.

Matt Kelley, a Montana health department director, "expressed reservations about [an existing] law and any expansion that would add more products to the exemption," reports the Bozeman Daily Chronicle.

While at least some of the conversation appears to revolve around Cottage Foods, according to a comprehensive 2013 report by Harvard Law School's Food Law & Policy Clinic, Montana already has a Cottage Food law on the books.

The fifty-state report, Cottage Food Laws in the United States, notes that Montana permits Cottage Food operations; allows a "limited list" of approve foods; has no "registration, permit, or licensing requirements"; has no dollar limit on sales; and is one of only three states with no labeling requirements.

In short, the Harvard report indicates Montana's Cottage Food law is already a reasonably good one. In looking to tweak the law, I'd love to see Montana increase the number and type of foods covered under the law. I'd also like to see the state implement some minimum, basic labeling requirements—including requiring that the name and address of the producer and the list of all ingredients appear on any packaging. (And yes, note in that latter sentence that I'm suggesting adding a new food regulation.)

But beyond Cottage Foods, Montana has many areas where it can and should improve the regulatory climate in the state for agricultural and food entrepreneurs.

For example, Montana regulators have needlessly hindered poultry farmers in the state.

“Chicken farmers, in particular in this state, were hard pressed getting started because we kept getting resistance from several different regulatory agencies," said Montana farmer Mark Rehder, in a 2013 Chronicle report. "It makes it difficult for emerging farmers to get a foothold."

And when farmers have tried to take advantage of federal rules that permit small poultry farmers to process their own chickens, Rehder told the Chronicle, the Montana Department of Livestock has scoffed at the federal rule.

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  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Matt Kelley, a Montana health department director, "expressed reservations about [an existing] law and any expansion that would add more products to the exemption," reports the Bozeman Daily Chronicle.

    Someone recognizes his power depends the biggest list of no-no's.

    In other news: If there's a miracle in Sochi this morning, it will be because of the play of Jonathan Quick.

  • Ted S.||

    Fuck, it's snowing again.

  • Free Society||

    fucking love winter. let it snow

  • RishJoMo||

    Well they are jsut going to have to get over it I guess.

  • Notorious G.K.C.||

    Chattanooga auto workers reject management-backed UAW unionization drive

  • The Late P Brooks||

    Matt Kelley, a Montana health department director, "expressed reservations about [an existing] law and any expansion that would add more products to the exemption," reports the Bozeman Daily Chronicle.

    "If we relax our regulatory stranglehold on entrepreneurs and innovators, the Copper Kings have won!"

  • Notorious G.K.C.||

    Social liberals try three times to abort a baby, but he survives and now a two-year-old.

  • Francisco d Anconia||

    Oh well, maybe they can try again.

  • SIV||

    They should move to Belgium.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    Fuck, it's snowing again.

    Back in the olden times, the Adirondacks got fifty feet of snow every winter, and the temperature never went above zero from Halloween to St Patrick's Day. We had to snowshoe to school, because the polar bears kept eating our sled dogs. Kids these days don't kno0w how good they've got it.

  • Wasteland Wanderer||

    Oh we]e would have loved to have snowshoes. We had to wrap our feet with rags and hope we didn't lose too many more toes to frostbite, if the polar bears didn't get to 'em first, on account of our yurt not going all the way to the ground and us not having enough room to lay down without our feet sticking out.

  • Francisco d Anconia||



  • Rich||

    University of Arizona class requires students to participate in 'Condom Olympics'

    for their three-credit “Sex, Health, and AIDS” class. The students planned “athletic events such as a condom-wrapped egg toss.” “Hopefully this will get students comfortable knowing what condoms are.” “Students can also see and make condom art and join a condom scavenger hunt.”

    "Professor, could we play 'Hide the Salami' instead?"

  • Notorious G.K.C.||

    Get students comfortable knowing what condoms are? What's next, getting them accustomed to wearing their caps backward and saying "dude"?

  • Rich||


    I *might* understand this if it were at BYU.

  • Notorious G.K.C.||

    These administrators seem to think it's the dark night of repression, when the govt is trying to imprison poor Maggie Sanger and put Dick and Jane back in the classroom and bobby soxers dance the Jitterbug and think the stork brings babies and courageous pioneers are trying to get What Every Wife Should Know past the post office censors.

  • Francisco d Anconia||


    Talk to my bishop? I'll do more than talk to that little bastard. Know what I mean?

  • silverfang789||

    Back in the 1800s, many people cooked and sold their own food. Why should it be illegal today?

  • Bardas Phocas||

    Do you know how many people died in the 1800s?
    A lot.

  • Rich||


  • Cdr Lytton||

    I think they're all dead at this point.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    Fuck the UAW

    The United Auto Workers suffered their most crushing defeat in a generation Friday night when workers at a Volkswagen plant in Tennessee voted against unionizing their shop. The vote was seen as a critical test of the UAW’s ability to organize in the South, which is fast becoming America’s new manufacturing center of gravity.

    Employees rejected the UAW 712 to 626, the culmination of a months-long battle that pit the union against local politicians, including Governor Bill Haslam and the state’s Republican legislature, who feared that unionization threatened Tennessee’s ability to compete for business against rival states.

    Excellent. I saw something yesterday which made me think the union had won that vote. I'm relieved. Maybe people (in the private sector) have finally figured out the union does not really have the workers' best interests at heart.

  • Jerry on the boat||

    "Hey you guys, you want to become the next Detroit?"

  • Francisco d Anconia||

    This shit brings a tear to my eye. This is capitalism at its finest. Producers will go where they can make money. If you are stupid enough to inhibit their ability to do so they will leave you in a pit of despair of your own creation. (See Detroit!)

    Foreseeable outcomes are foreseeable and the good folks in Tennessee aren't going to kill the goose.

  • montana mike||

    UAW dying a slow death, coincidently auto sales dad loves his diesel powered passat. I've driven it, the turbo rocks and 45 mpg (my old man is anal about mileage) aint too bad.

  • Rich||

    Americans are enthusiastic about the promise of science but lack basic knowledge of it, with one in four unaware that the Earth revolves around the Sun

    Poll Worker: "Does the Earth revolve around the Sun or not?"

    Potential Voter: "Huh?"

    Poll Worker: "No vote for YOU! Next!"

  • lap83||

    Poll Worker: "No vote for YOU! Next!" There! One vote for the Democrat candidate.

  • SIV||

    I like that a majority of 18-24 y/os think astrology is scientific.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    Krugabe: still crazy.

    It’s all very well to talk in the abstract about the dignity of work, but to suggest that workers can have equal dignity despite huge inequality in pay is just silly. In 2012, the top 40 hedge fund managers and traders were paid a combined $16.7 billion, equivalent to the wages of 400,000 ordinary workers. Given that kind of disparity, can anyone really believe in the equal dignity of work?

    In fact, the people who seem least inclined to respect the efforts of ordinary workers are the winners of the wealth lottery. Over the past few months, we’ve been harangued by a procession of angry billionaires, furious that they’re not receiving the deference, the acknowledgment of their superiority, that they believe is their due. For example, last week the investor Sam Zell went on CNN Money to defend the 1 percent against “envy,” and he asserted that “the 1 percent work harder. The 1 percent are much bigger factors in all forms of our society.” Dignity for all!

    I especially like that "winners of the wealth lottery" part.


  • Rich||

    It’s all very well to talk in the abstract about the dignity of work, but to suggest that workers can have equal dignity despite huge inequality in pay is just silly.

    I have to agree with Kruggie here.

    I have *much* more dignity than he, despite the fact that he "makes" vastly more money than I.

  • Nazdrakke||

    People with aspirations to a better life are threats to the status of the Top Men and their careful plans for our lives. Obviously creating a society, or better, say a brave new world requires them to create conditions where everyone knows their proper place and never reaches for more. Our modern Confucians.

  • Francisco d Anconia||

    Did the "Equality of Dignity Act" finally get passed? I missed it.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    And there’s another group that doesn’t respect workers: Republican politicians. In 2012, Representative Eric Cantor, the House majority leader, infamously marked Labor Day with a Twitter post celebrating ... people who start their own businesses.


  • Whahappan?||

    People who start their own businesses aren't workers, silly!

  • Sevo||

    Obama brings rain to CA!

    "California drought: Obama wades into water wars in visit"

    Well, actually a lot of jaw flapping and your money, but even the Chron has to admit the problem is not money, nor even a drought year:

    "Sarah Woolf, a partner with Clark Bros. Farming in Fresno County, told the Associated Press that when it comes to persistent issues such as water management in the valley, "throwing money at it is not going to solve the problem long term.""

    CA's storage infrastructure is largely as it was 70 years ago when the population was less than half what it is now.

  • Square||

    If they would throw money at some dams and canals, that might help, but oddly no one but Feinstein and Boxer seem to be proposing using the money in that way.

    Is it a bad sign when CA's two Dem Senators are the two people closest to talking sense about a situation?

  • Sevo||

    "Is it a bad sign when CA's two Dem Senators are the two people closest to talking sense about a situation?"

    Feinstein I can see delivering comments on the matter, and by the luck of the draw, occasionally hitting the target.
    In Boxer's case, I'm always looking behind her for the ventriloquist with his hand up her ass.

  • Francisco d Anconia||

    But building reservoirs is unnatural.


  • Square||

    Alas, this is our trouble. Hundreds if not thousands of deep steep-walled canyons with narrow mouths, not one of which could possibly be filled with that evil demon substance they call "water" for fear of the environmental destruction it will wreak.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    CA's storage infrastructure is largely as it was 70 years ago when the population was less than half what it is now.

    They're working on it. Reducing the population, that is.

  • RishJoMo||

    Sometimes man you jstu have to roll with it, Thats all dude.

  • The Late P Brooks||


    “While we certainly would have liked a victory for workers here, we deeply respect the Volkswagen Global Group Works Council, Volkswagen management and (German union) IG Metall for doing their best to create a free and open atmosphere for workers to exercise their basic human right to form a union,” King said in a statement.

    You have a "basic right" to quit and go work somewhere else, fucko. Or buy up a controlling interest and, as owner, make decisions about labor and product policies. Fuck you and your union.


    Volkswagen has said it favors the creation of a German-style “works council,” which gives workers a voice on a variety of product and other decisions. Under U.S. law, a union must represent employees for a company to form a works council.

    Huh. But they only want what's best for the individual downtrodden workers, and don't you forget it.

  • Cdr Lytton||

    I call bullshit. It may be against the law to setup a company sponsored labor union but I doubt there's a prohibition about 'giving employees a voice on a variety of product and other decisions'.

  • lap83||

    I don't know if this was posted earlier this week, but I thought it was interesting. "Pandora thinks it knows if you're a Republican"

    The Democrat-predicting music made sense...Bob Marley, Jazz, etc, but some of the Republican-predicting tastes surprised me. GOPers predictably like Gospel, but they also like....New Age? Huh.

    My tastes are all over the place, but I classify myself as independent.

  • John Galt||

    Montana, where the men are men and the women go "baaaa!"


    When I realized the water situation in California was man made by the EPA to protect smelt fish and controlled the water I just shook my head.

  • hajar||

    Thank you for information

  • Joao||

    Good for Montana. Best wishes for a fair and speedy resolution to your food over-regulation.

  • montana mike||

    I live in Montana and all the local farmer's market types are aghast that new regs are pinching their business going forward (which are absurd).

    Ironically most of these folks are progtards and completely missed the point that regulations don't just effect CORPORASHUNZ. The irony is delicious and I like good tomatoes, but I'm enjoying these fucking idiots experience unintended consequences. Smugness being bitch slapped is always delightful. I'm not holding my breath that these idiots can figure it out.


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