North Dakota Food Freedom

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SB 2269 - The Rewriting of Our Cottage Food Law

GREAT NEWS!
SB 2269 was killed on the
House floor April 18, 2019.


After many twists and turns, the final version of SB 2269 accepted by the conference committee would have greatly restricted the foods legal to sell and denied families the right to continue marketing the products they've been legally making for nearly two years.


Although the Senate voted nearly unanimously (44 yes, 2 no, 1 absent) to approve the conference committee's version of the bill April 18th, the House of Representatives took on those who believe homemade food is "too risky" because it's "potentially
 dangerous. 


After spirited debate, the House voted 26 Yes, 65 NO, and 3 absent to defeat the conference committee version. This allows the current Food Freedom law to stand as is.


Please take time to write a personal thank you to your representatives if they are listed above in red. These representatives believe you are safe producers of homemade food and drink products. We have earned their trust and need to do our utmost to keep it.


You can view video of floor comments on SB 2269 throughout the process here.

CONFERENCE COMMITTEE REPORT

During the third meeting of the conference committee April 17th, the group voted to send this version to the House and Senate for concurrence.


In addition to removing the low acid canned foods, they greatly restricted refrigerated items. Those are specifically enumerated on page 6, lines 11-17. No coleslaw, pasta salad or vegetarian items would be allowed. If you sell carrot sticks, you can’t include a dipping sauce unless it’s a high acid canned product. In other words, this has become a generic cottage food bill that you have in most states and not anything like our current law.

 

Now we want to not only get a Do Not Concur on the conference report, but we need a vote not to appoint a new conference committee.

 

PLEASE contact your legislators - and others! - immediately. This could be voted on the floor as early as tomorrow, Thursday, April 18th.

NOTE: Conference Committee members Senator Oley Larsen and Representatives Aaron McWilliams and Kathy Skroh did their best for our side. The final bill just falls short of our current law. We need to hold the line.

SB 2269 with All the House Ag Committee amendments just passed the House on a vote of 70 to 21 with 3 absent.

Please thank our supporters!

Now the bill goes back to the full Senate where they can vote to accept the House amendments (extremely unlikely) or to send the bill to conference committee (more likely).

We'll keep you informed.

To read the bill carrier's speech, click here.



You can watch the House floor video here.  Fast forward to 1:41:12 to see the debate.

April 11, 2019 Update - The Conference Committee will be: Senators Klein, Myrdal and Oley Larsen. House members are McWilliams, Dobervich and Satrom. At the moment, we think they will probably meet on Tuesday, April 16th, but that hasn't been officially posted.
SB 2269 as Amended is on the House Calendar for Tuesday, April 9, 2019.

Please ask your representatives to support the bill with House Amendments.


Here's the current version of the bill with amendments:
https://www.legis.nd.gov/assembly/66-2019/documents/19-0887-05000.pdf

Here's the link to all the House members:
https://www.legis.nd.gov/assembly/66-2019/members/house

April 4, 2019 Update


GOOD NEWS!! House Ag Committee adopted our amendments - plus a couple of others - and recommends Do Pass Amended on a vote of 7 yes, 5 no and 2 absent (who were our supporters).



What got added in amendments?
  • Drinks!
  • Low-acid foods - which must be pressure canned and have a special warning label.
  • Refrigerated items, which can also be transported as refrigerated and NOT frozen.
  • It's very clear now that you can dehydrate, freeze-dry or blanch and freeze cut fruits and vegetables for sale.
    Whole fruits and vegetables can be sold directly to restaurants and retail stores.

All the amendments requested by LeAnn Harner on behalf of cottage food operators were adopted in one form or another EXCEPT the requirement for a food safety class. She'd offered that amendment simply to reassure committee members that we were serious about food safety. In an astounding turn of events, the attorney for the Health Department said the requirement of the Health Department to provide a class and offer certification (wording slightly different than LeAnn suggested) could make the Health Department more liable if something went wrong, so they supported deleting that requirement.

There was an attempt to require cottage food producers to carry liability insurance, but it was defeated.

The fight is NOT over. Now the bill moves to the House floor, where it could be debated as early as Monday. We need to get the message to House members to support SB 2269 as amended.

If this bill doesn't pass the House, we go back to the 2017 legislation as law. That's not a bad thing. But with this amended bill, we have a chance at a really clear law that soundly sets policy for the Health Department.

Please share this information and get your friends, family members and all cottage food enthusiasts to contact their House members.

March 29, 2019 Update


No action taken on House Ag Committee. Next meeting set for Thursday, April 4th.


Today the committee reviewed the Health Dept's recommendations concerning amendments offered in testimony by LeAnn Harner on behalf of producers. LeAnn also had a chance to make brief comments.

Highlights:
Health Dept IS willing to include whole, uncut, fresh fruits and vegetables. They've also included "drinks" within the definition of "food" so beverages would be allowed.


However - they are NOT budging on allowing the canning of low-acid fruits and vegetables OR transporting refrigerated foods (except for eggs).


The Health Dept also did NOT suggest requiring a food safety class because the foods they believe should be allowed are low risk.


Committee members ARE listening to us and sympathetic to cottage food producers. We need to keep contacting those committee members and asking them to support the amendments.


Here's the main points to share with the House Ag Committee: (Email addresses on the right.)

1. Current law already allows the canning of low-acid foods. This legislation merely clarifies current law. We offered to require pressure canning simply because that's how low-acid foods are already handled.

2. Current law already allows refrigerated goods to be sold as long as they are transported frozen OR picked up at the seller's home. We believe if buyers are competent to transport refrigerated goods, then sellers should be allowed the opportunity to transport those same products. The proposed amendments to 2269 on refrigerated goods clarify that unfrozen may be picked up at the seller's home OR the seller may transport as long as goods are kept at 40 degrees or less. Given technology with availability of portable refrigerated units and plug-in coolers, maintaining that temperature is possible. Plus - NOT ALL SALES take place one 100 degree days in July. Many of the sales and transportation issues happen on cool days, when it's much easier to control temps. Allowing sellers to transport refrigerated items simply puts those living in the country on more of an even playing field as city residents making the same food where they're closer to customers.

3. We're asking the Legislature to determine the law - not the Health Department.The clarity of this bill will send a message to the Health Department

4. Finally, if the committee doesn't wish to clarify those points with the amendments, please vote Do Not Pass.

5. Thank the committee for their serious consideration. This committee has been very fair and generous with their time both in hearings and in private conversations.

SB 2269 has passed the ND Senate with some amendments.
You can see the amended version here:

Here's some of the written testimony presented
to the House Ag Committee on March 22nd.
Read a full report of the hearing here.

Testimony from Food Freedom
Food Freedom asked for more amendments so
SB 2269 reflects the bill passed two years ago.
Without those amendments, we OPPOSE the bill.