URGENT JUST IN!
HB 262 On the Agenda for tomorrow morning 9am in the
Full Agricultural Committee
We want to Thank you All for the calls and comments made so far, and if you have not done so, please take the time to contact the Committee members below. Emails may still reach them as well. Thank you.
See a replay of meeting here, HB 262 starts at 4:47:59 PM mark.
One should think carefully when changing the law. Entering farmers markets and roadside markets to he code for “ease of making funds available for marketing”, which is already an option, does not seem to justify the move to include them into to code and under jurisdiction of the Commissioner. A look at the scope of the language in the section of the code shows how broad and encompassing this could go in the future.
During the pandemic farmers markets had to fight to be considered essential, they were held to stricter standards that food grocery stores. How much more control will the next “Health Issue” exact?
Some talking points:
Adding Farmers Markets and Roadside farm markets to the code seems to be a big step just for some marketing… if you look at the following lines after the addition, it states clearly that any agribusiness is subject to inspections for various reasons including any public health issues.
Patron Wyatt said it would not cause any increase in inspection or regulation, so why is it necessary?
*Freedom to pursue direct sales, person to person transactions, without the intervention of governmental oversight.”
*VDACS already has jurisdiction and authority to oversee food safety issues, if needed at Farm Markets and Farm roadside stands, a very low risk food sales venue. they don’t see any need for this amendment to the code.”
*Marketing help/promotion as the reason for farmers markets and farm stands inclusion to the code as per the patron. There is plenty of that type help already available for small farms and Farmers markets.
*More regulation will cost the state and could decrease revenue by some very small farms opting to end sales, due to more hassle to comply, than the revenue it will have supposedly generated.”
*The markets are going strong and more people are buying local than ever before, pulling them into the code will just complicate this forward movement.
HB 262 Agribusiness; includes farmers markets and roadside farm markets.
Introduced by: Scott A. Wyatt | all patrons
SUMMARY AS INTRODUCED:
Agribusiness. Clarifies that existing agribusiness in the Commonwealth includes farmers markets and roadside farm markets.
HB262 introduced by Delegate Scott Wyatt, would add farmers markets and roadside farm markets into the code of Virginia, making them part Virginia Agribusiness and under the jurisdiction of The Commissioner.
We are very concerned as this opens the door to more regulations for Farmers markets, roadside markets, and small producers selling directly to consumers at their farm or at a farmers market; once included in the regulations, they could be subject to more restrictive changes in future regulations. With the dairy inspection activities clause, the potential exists as a way to again try to regulate (shut down) herd share raw milk.
This bill is at the request of the Industry and not farmers or Market Managers. When asked why he put in the bill, Del Wyatt said it was to help with marketing. Many Farmers markets already work with local extension agents and have access to Virginia Grown programs and Virginia’s finest. They do NOT need to be regulated to “help them out”,
Please look at the language of the first paragraph of the bill and see how this will change the freedoms of Markets.
HOUSE BILL NO. 262
“Be it enacted by the General Assembly of Virginia:
1. That § 3.2-102 of the Code of Virginia is amended and reenacted as follows:
§ 3.2-102. General powers and duties of the Commissioner.
A. The Commissioner shall be vested with the powers and duties set out in § 2.2-601, the powers and duties herein provided, and such other powers and duties as may be prescribed by law, including those prescribed in Title 59.1. He shall be the executive officer of the Board, and shall see that its orders are carried out. He shall see to the proper execution of laws relating to the Department. Unless the Governor expressly reserves such power to himself, the Commissioner shall promote, protect, and develop the agricultural interests of the Commonwealth. The Commissioner shall develop, implement, and maintain programs within the Department including those that promote the development and marketing of the Commonwealth’s agricultural products in domestic and international markets, including promotions, market development and research, marketing assistance, market information, and product grading and certification; promote the creation of new agribusiness including new crops, biotechnology and new uses of agricultural products, and the expansion of existing agribusiness including farmers markets and roadside farm markets within the Commonwealth; develop, promote, and maintain consumer protection programs that protect the safety and quality of the Commonwealth’s food supply through food and dairy inspection activities, industry and consumer education, and information on food safety; preserve the Commonwealth’s agricultural lands; ensure animal health and protect the Commonwealth’s livestock industries through disease control and surveillance, maintaining animal health diagnostic laboratories, and encouraging the humane treatment and care of animals; protect public health and the environment through regulation and proper handling of pesticides, agricultural stewardship, and protection of endangered plant and insect species; protect crop and plant health and productivity; ensure consumer protection and fair trade practices in commerce; develop plans and emergency response protocols to protect the agriculture industry from bioterrorism, plant and animal diseases, and agricultural pests; assist as directed by the Governor in the Commonwealth’s response to natural disasters; develop and implement programs and inspection activities to ensure that the Commonwealth’s agricultural products move freely in trade domestically and internationally; and enter into agreements with federal, state, and local governments, land grant universities, and other organizations that include marketing, plant protection, pest control, pesticides, and meat and poultry inspection.”
For these reasons we are asking you to call Del Wyatt (804) 698-1097 or email DelSWyatt@house.virginia.gov and ask him to pull the bill and keep Farmers Markets out of the Virginia code.
PLEASE SHARE WITH OTHERS!