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North Dakota Food Freedom

House Floor Speech from the bill carrier Rep. Aaron McWilliams, pictured on the left, April, 2019

Mr. Speaker and members of the assembly,

After much testimony, discussion and negotiations your Agricultural committee voted 7-5 with 2 absent Do Pass.

This bill further clarifies and defines what food products are allowed in the cottage food market as well as outlines labeling requirements. In the previous legislative session, we passed the cottage food bill thus opening small business opportunities for cottage food producers around the state. As a result of the previous bill the industry has seen more than a 30% increase in participants with several moving from the cottage food market to the commercial market.

All food products that were allowed in the previous bill are allowed in this bill. The previous cottage food bill provided confidence for producers to enter the market but it still left some ambiguity in several key areas.

Section 1 of the bill provides a detailed definitions section.

Section 2 describes the who, what, when, and where a cottage food producer can sell the product.

Section 3 outlines what products can be sold and under what preparatory conditions.

In Section 3, page 6, line 8 you will see a restriction on refrigerated goods. This particular section caused a bit of confusion over last two years so we clarified that refrigerated goods can only be transported refrigerated for up to four hours; otherwise they must be frozen. Apparently there were some questions about whether or not a cottage food producer could make and sell alcoholic beverages so we included it on the list of prohibited items.

Section 4 addresses the labeling requirements for cottage food products. We had a lengthy discussion on whether or not to include low acid foods. The committee supported an amendment to include low acid food, as long as its pressure canned, but also supported a separate warning label to indicate the higher risk associated low acid foods.

On page 7, line 20 you will see that we are directing the health department to provide a list of accepted high acid foods. The reason for this list is that if a cottage food producers canned item does not appear on the list then it must contain the high risk warning label.

Mr. Speakers and members of the assembly this bill serves to give greater industry confidence and clarity and your committee recommends a Do Pass. THE END

Thank you Representative McWilliams for carrying the bill so well!