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2017:  Legislation To Take Action On

SB 1195 Bullet Points


 
Tune in and listen to one of VICFA's members, Christine Solem, as she discusses how the government will use SB1195 to regulate farming


PLEASE show your opposition to SB1195 which will be voted on THURSDAY 26 January, by the Senate Agriculture Committee.:
1/ IT WOULD GIVE VIRGINIA DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE AND CONSUMER SERVICES FREE ACCESS TO ENTER FARMS AND INSPECT AT ANY REASONABLE TIME, AT THEIR WILL, THEREBY ENDANGERING 4TH AMENDMENT RIGHTS.
2/ IT WOULD ALLOW VDACS TO OFFER IN LIEU OF A CRIMINAL PENALTY FOR OBSTRUCTING AN INSPECTOR, TO LEVY A CIVIL PENALTY UP TO $1000 PER VIOLATION.


SB 1195 Produce safety; farm inspections; Agriculture Civil Penalty Fund; penalties. Sponsor- Senator Richard H. Stuart
SUMMARY AS INTRODUCED: Produce safety; farm inspections; Agriculture Civil Penalty Fund; penalties. Prohibits certain farms from violating the federal regulations that set minimum standards for the safe growing, harvesting, packing, and holding of fruits and vegetables. The bill authorizes the Board of Agriculture and Consumer Services to adopt regulations to carry out the purposes of the law and gives the Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services free access at all reasonable hours to any farm to inspect the farm and take samples. The Commissioner also is authorized to seize certain produce that he believes to violate the federal regulations or state law. The bill makes the act of obstructing an inspector a Class 2 misdemeanor and of violating any other provision of the law or a Board regulation a Class 1 misdemeanor. In lieu of a criminal penalty, the Board is authorized to levy a civil penalty of up to $1,000 per violation, to be deposited in an Agriculture Civil Penalty Fund that is created by the bill.  
Click here Read Full Text.


Please 1/ contact the SENATE AGRICULTURAL COMMITTEE and ask them to vote AGAINST SB1195 2/ come to Richmond next Monday afternoon to lobby for HB2030 Food Freedom Bill which would provide more access to nutrient dense locally produced foods. More information at vicfa facebook page

Agriculture Chesapeake and Natural Resources Committee



 HB 2030 Talking Points  

PLEASE SUPPORT THIS IMPORTANT FOOD FREEDOM BILL IN VIRGINIA HB 2030 Food products; sale at farmers market, farm, or home.
Introduced by: Delegate Nicholas J. Freitas
SUMMARY AS INTRODUCED:
Food products; sale at farmers market, farm, or home. Exempts a producer of food, including milk, products made from milk, and poultry, from regulations of the Board of Agriculture and Consumer Services so long as the sale of such food by the producer is made directly to the end consumer; the sale is conducted at a farmers market or through a home or farm; the food product contains no uninspected meat other than poultry; and the producer informs the end consumer that the food product is not certified, regulated, or inspected.  
Read Full Text .

This broad bill exempts,
"Producers selling food by face-to-face sales directly to end consumers in Virginia at farmers markets or through farm-based or home-based sales. Food sold by such transaction shall be intended only for home consumption and shall contain no uninspected meat other than poultry. The producer shall inform the end consumer that the food is not certified, regulated, or inspected. Nothing in this subsection shall be construed to allow food so sold, except for raw, unprocessed fruits or vegetables, to be used in any food establishment or food processing plant."
ACTIONS TO TAKE NOW!
1/ CALL YOUR DELEGATE AND ASK THEM TO BE A CO PATRON FOR THIS BILL.
2/ CALL THE HOUSE AGRICULTURE SUB COMMITTEE AND ASK THEM TO PLEASE SUPPORT THIS IMPORTANT FARM TO CONSUMER BILL.  Click here For Contact Information.


3/ ATTEND A FARM FOODS LOBBYING AFTERNOON: MONDAY 23 JAN Meet 1pm at the 4th Floor West Conference Room. No experience needed, and a great experience for your children! Click here for more information..

2014:  VICFA Working For a Virginia Constitutional Amendment

Constitutional Amendment Takes Center Stage For 2015  [Download Printable Version]
By: Christine Solem

After more than 20 years of wrangling in the Virginia General Assembly over the people's right to have farm-produced food, it has finally
come down to this - not that a Constitutional Amendment has not been tried before. In 2005, Delegate Tom Gear introduced a Constitutional
Amendment with respect to the right to acquire farm-produced food. The legislation had 20 co-sponsors, but died in the House Privileges and Elections Committee with only 2 voting for it-Delegate Richard Black (now Senator Black) and Delegate Bob Marshall.

But this was before everyone started dropping like flies from agribusiness food production. When I first started lobbying in 1992 I had to haul around this huge stack of reference materials to prove that large scale food production was the culprit. I don't have to do that anymore; it's common knowledge. The CDC reports that 1 out of 6 will get sick from food poisoning each year. Heck, if you went to Court, you probably would not even have to prove it. You would just have to ask the Court to take judicial notice of the matter as it is common knowledge.

And who hasn't seen Food, Inc? Now, 10 years later, everyone is much more informed, the local food movement is monumental and it is time to try the Constitutional Amendment again.

But Why a Constitutional Amendment? There have been several attempts to introduce broad legislation to exempt all on-farm sales of food or food products. The first was an on-farm exemption for all farm-produced food in 1997 introduced by Senator Emmett Hanger, the second in 2005 by Delegate Albert Pollard, and thirdly the Food Processing Bill introduced this year by Delegate Rob Bell and championed by Bernadette Barber, which actually included more than just farm-produced products. All three Bills were very broad and none passed. The most successful was Delegate Pollard's-it did pass the House but lost in the Senate Ag Committee. Bills such as these are very difficult to draw up as there are so many laws and regulations in Virginia on food production that it is analogous to dealing with Pandora's Box.

Smaller more specific bills such as the Home Kitchen Bill in 2008 have been more successful. You lose you rights a little at a time, and in the food theater we have lost a lot; therefore, incremental progress seems to work better to get these rights back. But who can wait a lifetime for this to happen. Since a Virginia Constitutional Amendment would trump any statute or regulation it would hopefully provide faster relief.

The Proposed Constitutional Amendment would read,

"That the people shall have a right to acquire, for their own consumption, farm-produced food, directly at the farm from the farmer who produced it."

"Of course" everyone says, that is the gut reaction. Notice that nothing's stated about the farmers' right to sell it. This is on purpose. It is undoubtedly an intentional quirk of the law that it is not illegal to buy certain farm-produced food, it is only illegal for the farmer to sell it. This proposed Amendment would give the consumer what is called "standing" in Court to challenge the fact that they cannot get, for instance, raw milk from their local farmer. See, Courts aren't really interested in you if you're not illegal.

I hate to burst everyone's bubble, including my own, who believes that farmers should have a Constitutional right to sell their farm-produced food, but Courts have ruled that any business may not operate if what they are selling or doing is deemed to be injurious to the public health and safety. The government doesn't even need a warrant if emergency circumstances exist to enter and shut the business down. Since the legislature has been so difficult to deal with because of all the outside monetary pressure from big business interests, a Constitutional Amendment such as this one could move the battle into another branch of government, i.e., the judicial branch, which may provide a more advantageous arena for change.

The Constitutional Amendment Involves a Fundamental Right

Surely the right for a person to contract for his own food directly from the farmer who produced it is a fundamental right. The Amendment further restricts the acquisition to "at the farm"-no internet or delivery or farmers' market sales. This restriction focuses the right. We are not talking about the general public here. Individuals have the right to life, liberty and property and no State can take that away without due process of law. Years ago most everyone raised their own food; that is not the case today. We the people must have the freedom to seek out and obtain the type of food we want from the farmer of our choice. After all, there is only one person in the world who knows truly what food he wants and that one person is you, because you and only you experience how it goes down, goes through and comes out. Yuck.

In July of 1980 I was taken to Court by the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer services and the Health Department in an attempt to obtain an Injunction prohibiting me from renting my goats on a daily basis so that people who came to me for raw goat milk could have it. I couldn't legally sell it. In denying the Injunction Albermarle Circuit Court Judge, David Berry, ruled that, as he construed the law and regulations that it was the general public that is to be protected by laws and regulations from the consumption of disease carrying milk, but that in this case,

"...everyone of these people who have engaged in this transaction on the other side have sought Mrs. Solem out. She has not placed her goods or products in commerce. She has sold them, if it's a sale, on the premises and the customer has sought her out, and I am unprepared and certainly unwilling to say that the customer is to be protected from himself when he knows what he is getting and is asking for it. The Injunction therefore is denied."

That ruling was overturned on other grounds by the Supreme Court of Virginia in April of 1983-so the farm food fight has really raged on for the last 35 years-and now-it all comes down to the Constitutional Amendment.

 

Please click here to view and/or download printable information flyer
 


VICFA Encourages You to View the Film Farmageddon 

 http://farmageddonmovie.com/ 


Stand Against Animal Disease Legislation Requiring Mandatory Animal Traceability
VICFA participated in a letter expressing opposition to proposed legislation.  For more information, view our
November 2011 VICA Voice Newsletter

 

 

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