Food Freedom

Food Freedom Legislation Slowly Advancing in States

One big step forward; two temporary steps back.

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Farmer's market
Credit: ** RCB ** / photo on flickr

Last year, Wyoming adopted the country's first formal food freedom law. Shortly after the law passed, I spoke with State Rep. Tyler Lindholm (R), who co-sponsored the bill with a Democratic colleague.

Lindholm predicted the law would be "a game changer" for agriculture in the state.

This week, Lindholm told me it's done just that, so much so that legislators are looking into ways to magnify the law.

"Wyoming has had roaring success[,] and we continue to capitalize on those aspects," Lindholm tells me, "in fact the Agriculture committee for the State of Wyoming will spend the summer studying ways to expand on the Food Freedom Act."

Opponents and critics had long predicted dire consequences if Wyoming's law were to pass. But Lindholm tells me those bad outcomes have themselves not come to pass.

"Currently Wyoming has experienced none of the deaths that we were all warned would happen," Lindholm said this week, "and for that matter none of the illness[es] that were prophesized to take place upon passage of the bill."

Wyoming's success under the new law has inspired other states to consider similar legislation, with mixed results so far.

Utah's legislature recently rejected a food freedom bill, largely over food-safety concerns similar to those unrealized ones in Wyoming.

In Maine, a bill that would have allowed voters to amend the state's constitution—and which passed out of the state legislature but died in the state senate—was mostly great:

"All individuals have a natural, inherent and unalienable right to acquire, produce, process, prepare, preserve and consume the food of their own choosing, for their own nourishment and sustenance, by hunting, gathering, foraging, farming, fishing, gardening or saving and exchanging seeds, provided that no individual commits trespassing, theft, poaching or other abuses of private property rights, public lands or natural resources in the acquisition of food; furthermore, all individuals have a right to barter, trade or purchase food from the sources of their own choosing, for their own bodily health and well-being and every individual is fully responsible for the exercise of these rights, which may not be infringed."

As Andy O'Brien of Maine's Free Press wrote in the wake of the bill's demise, though, the reference to an inherent right to save seeds is problematic.

"In 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court also rejected an appeal by Maine farmers against biotech giant Monsanto to protect farmers from lawsuits if their fields are contaminated by the company's patented genetically modified seeds," O'Brien writes. "It's not known how the amendment's 'right to save and exchange seeds' provision would have impacted GMO patent laws."

The issue with saving seeds arises when a farmer voluntarily signs a contract that says he won't do so, as many seed contracts offered by GMO producers do. The seed language therefore would make it difficult for Mainers to do business with GMO seed producers. And that may have been the point of the controversial language.

Ultimately, Maine's constitutional amendment could have impaired basic freedom of contract and led to the amendment's death in court. That would have made it a setback for food freedom.

In any case, while no state has yet adopted a law like Wyoming's, one state is on the cusp of doing so. Colorado's bi-partisan SB 58 currently awaits the signature of John Hickenlooper (D). The bill, which passed the state senate unanimously, greatly expands permissible cottage food offerings and allows small farmers to sell their own chickens directly to consumers.

"Our goal with the Food Freedom bill was to reduce red tape on local farmers and producers, because Colorado places a high value on a thriving local economy—and healthy, farm fresh foods," said Colorado State Sen. Owen Hill (R), a bill sponsor, in an email to me this week. "SB58 makes it easier for farmers and producers to connect with consumers who are looking for local food options, and it opens the market for the first time in Colorado to allow small poultry producers to sell straight from their farms."

"Reducing barriers to help people grow their food and sell it locally is a win win for Colorado," said Colorado State Rep. KC Becker (D), another bill sponsor, also by email. "Locally grown foods and cottage foods are great for Colorado consumers, farmers, and communities.  The interest in cottage and local foods is strong and growing in Colorado and I'm glad we could help that cause."

Even if few states have passed food freedom legislation, support for such laws is on the upswing. And with good reason.

"Strong rural communities, greater self-sufficiency in food production, and higher food quality will all result if this type of legislation passes," said Pete Kennedy, an attorney with the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund, in an email to me this week.

Despite setbacks in Maine and Utah, food freedom is expanding as a concept, policy, and law.

"This is a war that we can and will win as those that primarily oppose such legislation are short lived in this generation of individuals craving liberty in all aspects," Kennedy tells me.

It turns out that the right to make one's own food choices speaks to freedom-loving consumers and lawmakers across state and party lines.

"In a growing number of states," I noted in a column last year, "it appears the prospects for food freedom are looking brighter each day."

Despite a couple of recent setbacks, those prospects continue to improve.

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  1. Sounds like a solid plan to me dude.

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  2. “Currently Wyoming has experienced none of the deaths that we were all warned would happen,” Lindholm said this week, “and for that matter none of the illness[es] that were prophesized to take place upon passage of the bill.”

    Maybe the food fear mongers should get together with the hysterical environmental clan since they seem to think along the same lines.

    On second thought, maybe not.

    1. In the great tradition of obnoxious bumper stickers, here’s an idea: “Not dying of foodborne illnesses? Thank a regulatory agency.”

      1. “In the great tradition of obnoxious bumper stickers, here’s an idea: “Not dying of foodborne illnesses? Thank a regulatory agency.””

        I don’t recognize your handle, so I’m not sure if you are being sarcastic or you truly believe in the regulatory madness we are now experiencing.

        Although, in a FREE MARKET we would have the choice. There might be a few food inspection companies, similar to Underwriters Laboratories. Farms would pay a fee to get their facilities and crops inspected and would be allowed to display the approval sticker on their crops. The cost, of course, would be passed on to the customer, who would pay a little more for their piece of mind. Other farmers may forego the expense and sell their good without the UFL (Underwriter Food Laboratories) sticker. It would be up to the individual if they want to pay the extra or take a chance.

        So if you like your alarm clock not blowing up in the morning, no need to thank the government. Thank the free market and the Underwriter Laboratories.

        1. UL has morphed into a quasi-regulatory agency.
          As a former electrician, it was well known that installing a lighting fixture, that didn’t have the UL label would ensure that you would not get your job passed by city inspectors.
          Maybe not taxpayer funded but it still becomes regulatory-like to have that private company’s label.

    2. I think it’s a great idea. They could have a picnic

    3. So what makes you think that they aren’t the same bunch?

    4. And the gun controltards.

  3. I can’t wait to launch my line of artisinal assless chaps made from kombucha leather.

    1. I can’t wait to grow my own poisonous cucumbers.

      1. As long as they’re organic.

    2. Chaps. Don’t. Have. Asses. AssEd chaps are called pants.

      1. Thanks for mansplaing that.

        1. Everyone is an asshole about something. Some of mine include commentors who use the redundant phrase ‘assless chaps’ and people who dirve dangerously slow for the traffic conditions.

      2. He knew that. He just wanted to say assless because it’s fun to say and he rarely gets the opportunity to use the term.

      3. “Chaps. Don’t. Have. Asses. AssEd chaps are called pants.”

        I was thinking this. Perhaps he got confused by the rising popularity of the dickless chap, as dickedness is not inherent in the meaning of “chaps”.

        1. the rising popularity of the dickless chap

          *takes notes*

  4. Matriarchy! What is being done to address this inequality?

    http://freebeacon.com/issues/w…..egree-men/

    1. Hey, this is not a chat room. Stop your chat. Stay on topic!

      1. I thought this was dating site?

    2. Of course, the men are too busy raping to get any studying done

      1. One of my favorite Neil Hamburger jokes:

        Why don’t rapists eat at TGI Fridays?

        Because it’s hard to rape with a stomach ache.

        1. Amazing

      2. They should give them credit hours for extracurricular activities.

  5. So depressing that everything has to be phrased in terms of what they think the results will be, how the government will improve food quality and freshness etc, instead of simply acknowledging the right to do what you want with yourself and your property as long as you don’t harm others. Same rationale was used to impose the FDA and other bureaucracies in the first place, and all their individual regs, and every other aspect of coercive government — occupational licensing especially, with its bogus health and sanitation aspects.

    Like a balloon, popping up wherever it’s not being squeezed, and the public hasn’t got hands big enough to squeeze the whole thing back down to a manageable size.

    1. They could always vote libertarian. Lol. Although I wonder if the public sector workers would go postal if that happened.

    2. Maybe your hands aren’t big enough. Trump’s hands, OTOH…

      1. I been trumped!

    3. That’s when you use a pin and pop the zit.

    4. To: Scarecrow & WoodChipper Repair,
      It becomes easy to see why if you read a news story about anything that goes wrong.
      The default is always whether government should, or could have done anything about the situation. That feeds the narrative that it is government’s responsibility and politicians, who are a cowardly bunch, will pass a law so they won’t get blamed, coupled with other ones that immunize them from blame if that law doesn’t work.
      “There oughta be a law” and “who can I sue” are virtual mantras in American culture and the media is a big driver of that situation.

  6. You can’t take away the government’s right to control people and let people make choices for themselves. What is this, the wild west? I think the King needs to send troops to quell this rebellion.

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    1. Cool story, brah.

      1. His new job is editor for Reason.

  8. OT: Derp-meme floating around Facebook:

    If people working full-time jobs still need food stamps to get by, they’re not the ones leaching off the government. Their employers are.

    I suppose if employers were forced to pay their employees enough that they wouldn’t need food stamps, employers would enjoy a concomitant decrease in the taxes they are forced to pay. But somehow I doubt these lib-derps would go for that.

    1. “From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs.” I wonder why nobody thought of that before?

      1. It makes me wonder what the teach in history class, anymore. Seriously, who’s got a kid in public school, and what does their textbook say about the 20th century?

        1. Just has a picture of a white man. With a gun. And a shovel.

        2. “Some bad people didn’t want to share :(“

    2. I’m speechless.

    3. I know someone who thinks along these lines. Then, one day, he asked me advice about some business ideas in the food industry. I sent him a long email explaining all the pros and cons and cons and pros and everything in between.

      He response was something along the lines of ‘wow, I had no idea’.

      That’s the point. People who subscribe to such nonsense don’t know anything – until they have to go onto the other side.

      Another anecdote. My father in law was a big shot in the grocery industry and had to deal with the unrealistic demands of the unions (the store was struggling and they refused to make concessions so the company sold and that was that and many lost their jobs). He used to tell the head honcho ‘Arnie. One day you’re gonna be on this side and you’ll understand.’

      Years later ‘Arnie’ did go to the other side and when he bumped into my FIL he said, ‘You’re right. I do understand now’.

    4. People go on food stamps because it pays for their food. It really has nothing to do with whether or not they’re being paid “enough” by their employers.

      1. I know Americans think Canadians are socialists – and it’s not an overly inaccurate thought – but sometimes I think we have less of welfare state than the Americans do. Food stamps is one of them.

      2. Yeah. If they didn’t have food stamps, I’d wager food would be the first thing they’d buy with their paychecks. Or am I supposed to believe that they don’t make enough even for that?

        It’s laughable that they think this is such a great, novel point. All you can do is 😐 and walk away.

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  11. Progressives have 100 years deciding which race babies can be born, telling farmers what or what not to grow. They tell you where to go to school and how you must plan for retirement.
    They are not going to give up controlling the diets of what they see as uneducated, pions.

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  13. RE: Food Freedom Legislation Slowly Advancing in States
    One big step forward; two temporary steps back.

    Since when do the masses have freedom to choose their own food?
    What a ridiculous idea.
    What next?
    Freedom to choose their own clothes?
    Give me a break.

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  15. BUT, if people are granted a constitutional right to food, aren’t they then going to demand free food?

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