Virginia

Virginia Bill Would Expand Farm and Food Freedom

Critics may moan about food safety risks, but anyone who's read Joel Salatin's Everything I Want To Do Is Illegal knows that the link between inspection and food safety is tenuous at best.

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Farmer's market
Public Domain

A bill introduced by Virginia Delegate Robert Bell that would dramatically expand the state's Cottage Food and Right-to-Farm laws is now before the Virginia House agriculture committee.

The bill would expand the list of covered foods that can be sold from the home or the farm and permit the direct-to-consumer sale of foods like meat that have been viewed by regulators to be potentially hazardous. Specifically, according to the official summary, it would permit direct-to-consumer sales "by a farm operation employing 10 or fewer people or by a private home" of virtually any otherwise legal food, including but not limited to foods made with "any fruit, grain, herbs, honey, meat, milk, mushrooms, nuts, poultry, seafood, or vegetables[.]"

Currently, the state's Cottage Food law (like many around the country) permits only the sale of a limited number of low-risk foods like dried herbs, vinegar, popcorn balls, cotton candy, dried pasta, roasted coffee, and trail mixes.

The only additional requirement the bill mandates is that sellers label the product "with the producer's name and address, the product's ingredients, and a disclosure statement indicating the product is not subject to Virginia's food safety laws or regulations."

Passage of the bill would provide a much-needed shot in the arm for farmers, entrepreneurs, and their supporters in the state.

"I am hopeful this bill will expand consumer choice in Virginia, and make it easier for producers to directly provide their products to potential customers," Del. Bell told me by email.

Others agree.

"HB135 will keep more of the food dollar in the state and will be a boon for artisan food producers restricted by the current Virginia food laws," says Pete Kennedy, president of the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund, in an email to me.

"The passage of the Food Freedom Act  will generate a boom in the local economy," says Bernadette Barber, who runs Virginia Food Freedom [link corrected], also by email. "People want fresh and local—this is the only way they can get prepared foods conveniently from people they know and trust," says Barber.

The bill also follows the defeat in the state last year of the so-called Boneta Bill, which was a major blow for Virginia's small farmers.

As I wrote last year after the bill's introduction, the farm freedom bill was named for Virginia farmer Martha Boneta, who was fined by Virginia regulators in 2012 for a host of alleged infractions, including hosting a birthday party for a friend's daughter on Boneta's farm without a permit and "advertising a pumpkin carving."

In response, Boneta's supporters sought unsuccessfully to expand the definition of the state's existing Right to Farm Law.

Now Del. Bell's bill would do that—and more.

Critics of Del. Bell's bill will no doubt point to possible food safety issues the bill may raise.

But, as I told Politico's daily agriculture briefing earlier this week, government inspections don't guarantee food safety.

"Critics may moan about food safety risks, but anyone who's read Joel Salatin's Everything I Want To Do Is Illegal knows that the link between inspection and food safety is tenuous at best," I said.

Beyond the bill's mandatory labeling requirements, how's a consumer to know what they're buying?

"You can't get a better inspection than seeing for yourself where and how your foods are made," says Barber.

For those who prefer to eat government-inspected foods, there are certainly plenty of options available today. Del. Bell's bill would give that same choice to those who prefer hyperlocal foods. Its passage would be a victory for food freedom.

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103 responses to “Virginia Bill Would Expand Farm and Food Freedom

  1. Government knows better than religious groups how to ensure something is glatt kosher!

  2. Great article.

    1. Is it just me or is the content of the Disqus module attached to that Politico article more or less unrelated to the content of the article itself? Common for Politico? All I saw was bile. Yech.

      1. Websites with a large readership will almost always have shitty comments, with few exceptions, as they generally cater to the lowest common denominator.

        1. That’s often true, but not always. Bloomberg tends to get a lot of comments, but they’re generally of decent quality. The same is true for the Wall Street Journal.

      2. Is it just me or is the content of the Disqus module attached to that Politico article more or less unrelated to the content of the article itself?

        I for one am glad to comment on a website where the comments always remain on topic.

  3. So now, instead of laws that tell us what is illegal, we need laws that tell us what is legal. Well, I guess it’s easier that way, since the number of legal activities can be counted on one hand.

    1. My first thought as well. I guess repealing existing law is just too hard and probably politically impossible for some things.

      1. My first thought as well. I guess repealing existing law is just too hard and probably politically impossible for some things.

        Legislatures can’t be seen repealing a law because it would be a tacit admission that they made a mistake, and they just can’t have that. They’ll “improve” or “modernize” a law through more legislation in order to make it “better” but they can never outright repeal a law because that would be a public admission that the legislature is fallible.

    1. Hey, I just got fired! But, I probably shouldn’t have been jacking off to it.

    2. Cat shows man who’s boss. But what is the connection to Ag products?

    3. He had been in the shower when some mechanical problem came up in the dishwasher. The man did not hesitate to fix the problem as he stood.

      Intellectually, Lena Dunham is right. Being naked and doing shit other than bathing or fucking happens, but I’m pretty sure I don’t want to see him fixing the dishwasher naked any more than I want to see her naked while she sits around eating cake on the toilet.

  4. “You can’t get a better inspection than seeing for yourself where and how your foods are made,”

    given, of course, that you are an *expert*.

    1. He’s no less an expert than some government bureaucrat.

    2. Aren’t most adults experts on food safety, since they regularly take steps to avoid food poisoning? Everyone who cooks for themselves knows not to wipe your ass then make a sandwich, cook chicken and pork all the way through, etc.

      I just bought some eggs from a neighbor, and the outside of the shell isn’t quite as clean as the ones from a supermarket, but since I wash my hands after handling them it doesn’t much matter.

      1. It was a revelation when I realized pork could be cooked medium rare.

        1. I read somewhere that only one incident of trichinosis has been verified in the 20th century in the US.

          1. I know a Google search is really complicated, but you are wrong. It’s not that common anymore, but from 2008-2010, 20 cases a year were reported to the CDC.

            1. And most of those were either home raised, or wild boars.

              1. And currently over 90% of trichinosis cases are from bear rather than pig.

    3. I’m being sarcastic.

      Perhaps I should have said:
      “given, of course, that you do not need a custodian.”

    1. Who is that?
      If that were legit it seems it would be all over the news everywhere

      1. Yeah, it took me longer than expected to realize it was insane conspiracy mumbo-jumbo because the domain was real-sounding: mind.com. I keep hearing these commercials on right-wing talk radio for things like “secretmoney522.com”…I guess you can still make good money betting on people’s stupidity.

      2. It’s an area of argument over whether the SV40 virus can cause cancer in humans. The evidence is circumstantial and the exact mechanism has not been demonstrated. Cancer in animals under lab conditions has been established. That the polio vaccine was contaminated with the virus is not under question, it definitely was from ’55 to ’61.

        In the Soviet Bloc and other countries, it is believed that the contamination in the vaccine supply lasted up until 1980.

        1. This is apparently an old story:

          http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pm…..MC1941725/

          But so what? There are probably tens of thousands of as-yet-unrecognized viruses wandering all around, and every day brings more. It’s evolution, deal with it!

          Also, in the Soviet Bloc, milk and meat from Chernobyl were mixed up with produce from other regions to “dilute radioactivity” then delivered to consumers. Collectivist bureaucracies work!

      3. Who is that?

        I have no idea, it popped up on my fb this morning. I have several “friends” that pretty much believe everything they read in the alternative media. If they aren’t talking about the evils of vaccines it’s the evils of GMOs etc.

  5. Sammy So So says that jsut aint gonna go down like that. WOw.

    http://www.AnonPlanet.tk

    1. I’d like to hear from the Japanese cellist, Yo Ma Ma.

      1. I once had a dream where I was at a concert featuring him and Bela Fleck, the music was incredible.

  6. So now, instead of laws that tell us what is illegal, we need laws that tell us what is legal.

    EVERYTHING NOT PROHIBITED IS MANDATORY

    1. Everything not mandatory is prohibited

  7. That there is such a thing as a “Right-to-Farm law” makes my head hurt.

  8. If SweatingGin is here, my answer to last night’s question about changing his handle to Gershon is…

    Do it! Do it! We need some Biblical names around here.

    1. How about “King James”?

      1. How about George III? Could be revolutionary!

      2. Instead of Gorshon, change one letter and be Gorshin!

    2. It seemed like a better idea at the time, and I started the video at the wrong spot.

      1. How about another gin reference? Or do you think if we called you Beefeater it would get misinterpreted?

      2. Translation: Now it’s the korning, and you’re sober. Too bad – I hope you reconsider the next time you are…ebullient.

        1. Now it’s the morning, etc.

        2. Ebullient? Good word.

          Wasn’t even really looking for a change, just an excuse to post a Rush video.

          1. Ebullient? Good word.

            “Lachrymose” is to “dyspeptic” as “ebullient” is to?….”effervescent”!!

            /Barney Gumble, preparing for the SATs

  9. Just a couple pics of SpaceShip 2 firing its engines on its third test flight.

    1. There’s a video here, which awesomely uses some skippy embedded player instead of Youtube but is still worth watching.

  10. What’s the law now? Because I’m routinely buying meat direct from a central virginia farm that gets dropped at a neighbors house. Like 1/4 cow 1/2 pig.

    1. I’m also buying from a small butcher in Lovingston (Rock Barn) that is buying from local farms. Curious as to what regulations they are forced to comply with.

      1. Local meat would be great if I could buy it fresh, but apparently the regs require it to be frozen. Why? Dunno, maybe to ruin the meat so that I’ll just go to the supermarket?

    2. LOL buying meat that is 3/4ths known.

      nice device.

  11. What I find interesting is this. I know a lot of progressives who are of the type that stress buying local, organic and humane crops/livestock, and from ‘small family farms.’ They seem to have an almost reactionary fondness for a past when people tilled the soil sustainably without fertilizer and raised their own corn and free ranging cows without Roundup or antibiotics, and what they could not grow themselves they bartered for with local tradesmen and farmers whom they could know and trust, perhaps at something like the ‘farmer’s markets’ the current group loves to visit.

    What interests me is that this vision seems at odds with a big strain of progressive thought: that we live in a world too complex for government at the highest levels not to get involved in with a mass of regulations and expert oversight. I mean, when they envision a yeoman farmer of yesteryear certainly they do not see regular visits by a USDA or FDA official at the farm, do they?

    So my questions are, do they see this tension? How do they resolve it? And is this an opportunity for us to introduce them to how libertarianism would comport much better with their first vision?

    1. No they don’t and it is in the interests of libertarians to point it out as often and politely as possible.

      1. I do not pretend it is a representative sample, but a huge number of the progressives I know subscribe to this view. It is remarkably ill fitting with the classic progressive view of a technocratic society and state, so perhaps it represents a significant potential opportunity for libertarians (as you say, pointing it out politely rather than haranguing and ridiculing them about the dissonance would probably be the better way to go).

        1. Look up “Cognitive Dissonance” in the dictionary where you will undoubtedly see the grinning visage of one your favorite progtards.

          1. It almost worked. I did google “Cognitive Dissonance” and up popped a photo of Chris Christie. Unless you consider him a progtard, which I think some folks on this board do.

            1. I would not consider Christie a Progtard, per se but definitely “progtardesque”, much like I consider our unfortunately current President to not be a card-carrying Fascist, but certainly executing his self-recognized duties in a Fascistic manner.

    2. Not going to work. They’re going to point to the much higher incidence of infectious disease, infant mortality, etc, in those eras (correcting for population density). They’ll say that we can combine the benefits of “natural farming” and the revelations of science.

      Raw milk aficionados are incredibly stupid cranks attempting to roll back the clock to before the germ theory was accepted. All their supposed evidence for health benefits is based on junk science and there is a real danger of infection. However, as long as they’re only hurting themselves* I consider it none of my biz. Progressives don’t tend to have that attitude.

      *When children are getting fed raw milk it gets thorny though, as even the most hardcore libertarian would agree that children deserve an elevated level of protection from harm caused by their parents.

      1. Raw milk aficionados are incredibly stupid cranks attempting to roll back the clock to before the germ theory was accepted.

        No they’re not. Pasteurization is not required when dealing with small volumes.

        1. Tuberculosis and strep bacteria don’t take up much space, so I’m not seeing how volume has anything to do with it.

    3. I do believe most of them will work their minds around to some sort of vision of local yeoman farmers expertly regulated by a perfectly harmonious system of local yeoman FDA inspectors.

      Actually seriously, to most of them FDA and USDA regulation is invisible magic that it just there in the background. Nobody really thinks about it, or what it costs, or how it interferes with small farm operations. It is assumed that the regulatory overhead is a minor, almost trivial burden.

    4. Bo–

      Good point. Could it be that this farm freedom issue could be a cross-over issue? It may present an opportunity for advocates of liberty to win over some converts.

      Yea, I’m an optimist, but unless the person is comatose, they’ve still got a functioning brain even if it is mostly brainwashed. I’d like to think that the right message in the right context given in a less than strident & confrontational manner may influence some of these folks.

    5. . . . a past when people tilled the soil sustainably without fertilizer . . .

      You mean a past that never existed.

    6. Liberals fight for the right to do what they want.

      Libertarians fight for the right for you to do what you want.

  12. So my questions are, do they see this tension? How do they resolve it? And is this an opportunity for us to introduce them to how libertarianism would comport much better with their first vision?

    No, Violence, not really.

    In the tension between state control and idyllic pastoral visions, I’d bet most progressives will go with state control. The raw milk raids are a good example. “You can’t just go selling unpasteurized milk!”

    1. I just do not see the kind of progressives I know that go out of their way to buy eggs from a local farmer, produce from a farmers market, and honey from Amish beekeepers to be supportive of raw milk bans. I think that is something their technocratic regulators in the bureaucracy cooked up and perhaps they just do not know is going on.

      1. Are you sure they’re progressives?

      2. Most progressives aren’t bad people. They’re just idiots.

      3. I don’t see how that follows. Their affinity for those food items not condemned by “public health advocates” as dangerous to human health, does not imply a general live-and-let-live attitude about food choices.

        And as the saying goes, ignorance is not innocence. Those who support big government have a responsibility to keep tabs on what it’s doing.

      4. what you see them do and the policies their votes support may not be the same. Cognitive dissonance, I believe someone else said.

  13. Cats and dogs living together.

    WTF, Cleveland? We’re trying to have a civilization here.

    1. See! They *told* us gay marriage would lead to this! We were warned. Why, oh why, didn’t we listen!

  14. Republicans are evil, ch. 4,739

    And yet, nearly 1.3 million of those long-term unemployed had their federal jobless benefits abruptly cut off at the end of last year, after Republicans refused to renew the federal unemployment program in the latest budget deal. Each week the program is not reinstated, another 72,000 jobless people who otherwise would have qualified for benefits will find there is no longer a federal program to turn to. Worse, in the Senate this week, after a show of willingness to discuss renewing the benefits, Republicans objected to a bill to do just that. They had demanded that a renewal be paid for, but they didn’t like how Democrats proposed to do that ? with spending cuts at the end of the budget window in 2024 in exchange for relief today.

    There was no need to pay for the benefits, which have such a crucial and positive effect ? on families, the economy and poverty ? that it would be sound to renew them even if the government borrowed to do so. But Republicans would rather criticize President Obama’s handling of the economy than help those left behind.

    “I will gladly pay you in 2067, for a hamburger today.”

    1. Yeah, if you’ve been unable to find a job for 30 months, you’re either lazy or unemployable. The economy’s bad but not that bad.

      1. Or you’re picky and won’t accept even a temporary deviation from your career path. As a mediocre biochemist, I know the feel. I also know I need to have a real job.

  15. Now that we are moving towards food freedom, can anyone tell me WHERE can I buy an ionizing-rays food irradiator (perhaps from a private seller or a “business with less than 10 employees”) so that I can NUKE my food and kill booger-cooties? Is that asking too much?

    1. Good point.
      Why bother with pasteurization, if you can have a home-irradiator to do it for you?

      My bet is that there is probably some absurd government regulation that prevents people from making such devices, because TEH RADIATION! OMG! THREE HEADED BABIES! CANCER!

      1. Well, the regulations that will keep people from throwing radioactive sources in the trash out of ignorance may not be a *completely* bad thing.

        1. Yeah that Cobalt 60 is going to ruin your day.

          It think it also ruins the nutritious value somewhat.

          1. Y’all please go contemplate the dangers of cars, guns, tobacco, chain saws, and the lead and acid in your car batteries. All deadly dangers? Yet we are (mostly) trusted with them. We are NOT trusted with radioactive cooties just because the Government Almighty and the voters are paranoid and irrational, that is all. Radioactivity is a natural thing? And is actually GOOD for you in small doses! If we pollute our environment with a few more radioactive cooties, we will all (most of us collectively) be better off! Y’all think I am blowing smoke?!? No, go study the results of what Government Almighty has found, see http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pm…..MC2477708/ , from Government Almighty itself! Even Guv-Mint Almighty admits that lose-dose radiation is actually GOOD for you! So much for all the ridiculous over-reactions around all but the innermost cores or areas that have had nuclear accidents! Japan’s recent over-reaction doubtlessly harmed and killed more people? Some evacuees committed suicide due to the stresses of forced re-locations? Than would have been harmed by far less over-reactions. The link I have cited here, shows low-level radiation (in an “accidental human experiment” if you will, in Taiwan) actually reduced cancers to a mere 3% of that of the general population there! This is “radiation hormesis” and media and Government Almighty need to do more to publicize this!

            1. Irrational fear of radiation could be compared to salt? If I eat 5 pounds of salt, it will KILL me! So let’s outlaw all salt in my diet! Well DUH, I have GOT to have LOW doses of salt in my diet, or that (TOTAL lack of salt) will kill me as well! The RIGHT amount is what is needed! “Moderation in all things”, some ancient Greek said! We moderns are, in too many ways, WAY more stupid than the ancients, and I blame the fact that stupid people are allowed to vote!

  16. Drugs are bad, children, mmmmkay?

    Colorado is being watched by other loosey-goosey states that may jump on the drug-decriminalizing bandwagon. Twenty-one states and the District of Columbia already allow for sales of marijuana for supposedly “medical” use.

    Crime-ridden Washington, D.C., is actually considering a ballot initiative to legalize the drug. The Washington Times reported exclusively Tuesday that if the measure is approved by voters ? and, most critically, by Congress ? residents would be allowed to grow marijuana in their homes and transfer up to an ounce.

    This demonstrates how activists are totally uneducated about the severe consequences of smoking pot.

    1. Er, isn’t DC supposed to have home rule unless Congress specifically overrides it? Just like CO and WA, District authorities can simply refuse to enforce federal law. The difference being that Congress can (constitutionally) force them to enforce it.

  17. Mr. Stimson, a former defense attorney, has written extensively on drug policies and the dangers of marijuana. He predicts that Colorado’s social experiment will fail badly.

    “Nothing positive will come out of it,” he stated. “You’re going to have lower test scores and a class of people who are unemployable because they are stoned all the time. People are going to die on ski slopes, on the roads.”

    The think tank expert further explained, “Countries that have legalized marijuana have experienced negative social effects. They’ve seen more dependency ? marijuana is highly addictive and a gateway to harder drugs ? and more crime and a bigger black market because the drug cartels undercut legal sellers and also target youth.”

    Be very very very very afraid.

    1. “People are going to die on ski slopes, on the roads.”

      “The tide really seems to be turning on this weed thing. Gotta double down, hyperbole harder.”

    2. “You’re going to have … a class of people who are unemployable because they are stoned all the time.”

      Says you, Stimson! They can be employed as *marijuana testers*!

    3. How can Emily Miller, a very intense pro-gun advocate, be such a moron that she makes almost the exact same arguments against weed that progs make against guns?

      Here’s a hint to any pro-gun conservatives who decide to come out in favor of pot bans: A government capable of banning a drug nationwide is capable of one day banning firearms.

      1. Particularly since, unlike firearms, it’s impossible to use marijuana to violate other people’s rights. Well, unless you spill bongwater in their car.

      2. Or, “me today, you tomorrow.” Maybe there ought to be a[n Iron] Law.

      3. “When they came after the stoners, I said nothing…”

  18. “HB135 will keep more of the food dollar in the state and will be a boon for artisan food producers restricted by the current Virginia food laws,” says Pete Kennedy, president of the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund, in an email to me.

    Sadly, artisanal mayonnaise is not on the list of allowed products.

  19. How can Emily Miller, a very intense pro-gun advocate, be such a moron that she makes almost the exact same arguments against weed that progs make against guns?

    I’m going to go out on a limb and say she wants what she approves of to be legal, and what she disapproves of to be illegal. Conservative soccer mom nannyism, FTW!

  20. Please tell me I’ hallucinating this comment…

    “You evidently don’t have a clue what food prices are in much of the world nor what the safety factor is in their food supply. This country would crumble in a New York minute if the Farm Bill were allowed to revert. If it wasn’t the prices, it would be the health of Americans”

    1. If the food was contaminated enough by lack of regulation, I am sure Americans will discover that they actually transform into Marvel Comic Mutant Superheroes.

  21. I read on the WSJ that congresscritters are coming to an agreement regarding cutting (‘cutting’) 9 billion from foodstamps. I imagine this is probably related to getting more unemployment benies. I couldn’t read the whole story.

    1. That’ll screw over quite a few folks that are in the services considering the amount of them with EBT cards.

    2. Sure, and then next week, Obama and the Democrats will bitch about the cuts to the food stamp program and whine and call the Republicans meanies, until the Republicans give in like the spineless losers they are.

      The whole thing about not extended UI benefits was PART OF THE BUDGET DEAL LAST MONTH, which was the deal they made when they caved on the sequester, which was the deal they made when they caved on taxes, which was the deal they made when they caved on the debt ceiling.

      1. You know what the next budget deal the Republican make will be?

        It will be, ok, we’ll spend more money on food stamps, and in exchange, we’ll spend more money on defense.

  22. my co-worker’s aunt makes 67 dollars/hr on the internet. She has been out of a job for 9 months but last month her pay check was 18639 dollars just working on the internet for a few hours. browse this site

    ???????? http://www.tec30.com

  23. I do hope this wonderful food freedom will also be extended to include all those who practice urine therapy.

    1. You can have a golden shower anytime. Feel free.

      1. Lonely Stalker,

        I don’t think you understand. This is where people piss in a bottle and drink their own urine as a method of therapy, especially in India.

        How about a urine bottling plant where the American public can be introduced to drinking someone else’s piss beside their own for those in our great nation who already practice urine therapy?

        This is what I am talking about. Some sort of inspection is needed don’t you think, otherwise drinking un inspected piss can be risky.

        Let me now what your thoughts are on this Lonely Stalker. Thanks a bunch.

        Cordially,

        Mandalay

  24. But the idiot masses might start giving this non-inspected food to kids!

  25. Around them hills over there dude.

    http://www.Anon-Global.tk

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