Our work matters
A look at the ongoing list of VICFA’s historical accomplishments.
February 2018 – Herdshare Regulatory Bills SB962 and HB825 fail! Victory in Virginia!
Thanks to a huge outreach effort by VICFA to many other groups across Virginia and the resulting tsunami of phone calls, emails, and visits to delegates and senators offices in Richmond, the Senate bill SB962 failed to pass out of committee, and the House bill HB825 was withdrawn. For votes search the bill number on this website: http://www.lis.virginia.gov
For a report on the Senate Agriculture Committee hearing and video go to https://www.realmilk.com/tag/raw-milk-bill-va
January 2018 – “Yogurt Exemption” Bills carried by Senator Creigh Deeds and Delegate Rob Bell
Companion bills HB516(Del Rob Bell) and SB675(Sen. Creigh Deeds) that would have added homemade yogurt to the list of products you are able to make in a home kitchen without inspection faced intense opposition from Virginia Farm Bureau, Virginia Dairymens Association, Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services(VDACS), Virginia Department of Health(VDH), Virginia Cattlemens Association and representative of Virginia Pediatricians.
In spite of there NEVER HAVING BEEN AN OUTBREAK OF FOODBORNE ILLNESS IN THE WHOLE USA ASSOCIATED WITH HOMEMADE YOGURT, according for the Center for Disease Control website, both bills failed to pass out of committee. Thanks to those Senators and Delegates who did support the bills.
December 2017- Press Release: in response to Del Barry Knight’s HB825 herdshare regulatory bill, which was soon to be followed by the filing of Sen Mark Obenshain’s companion bill SB962.
Virginia Independent Consumers and Farmers Association
Contact: Anne Buteau (President, VICFA) 434-263-4946
Christine Solem: ”the goat lady” 434 973 6505
Richmond, VA. Food freedom advocates are fighting mad over proposed new government authority to impede the ability of citizens to choose what to eat.
As a result of HB825 by Del Barry Knight (R-81st Part of Virginia Beach and Chesapeake), government regulators would have broad new powers to interfere with private herd share arrangements.
Like most states, Virginia has never specifically tried to curtail herd share raw milk agreements, but this proposed legislation for the first time would create onerous paperwork and invasive regulations into this voluntary food choice freedom engaged in by consenting adults.
Herd shares are a way for individual consumers to purchase a percentage of a dairy herd and enjoy the milk derived from it.
“This bill will take away my milk, as the person who I have a herd share with will not submit to the intrusions and demands of this bill.” Says Christine Solem of Charlottesville, who is well known in Richmond as “the goat lady”.
Solem said In the 80’s and 90’s I had my own goats for milk, but now that I’m older I need someone else to do the work of milking and caring for the animals. Fresh milk is important to my health, and now I am dependent on milk from my herd share. The herd share agreement is a private contract and the government has no business intruding.”
Reaching into that private freedom-of-choice contractual arrangement, HB825 would require herd share dairies to register with the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS), be open to unwarranted premises and paperwork inspections, and adhere to yet-to-be-written stipulations put forward by VDACS.
The herd share arrangement creates ownership in the milk, on the part of the consumer, identical to procuring your own cow or goat and drinking its milk.
“Herd share participants engage in this relationship specifically to exercise their choice to opt out of orthodox pharmaceutical, sterilization and other procedural protocols that they believe compromise the integrity and safety of milk.” says former Virginia Independent Consumers and Farmers Association (VICFA) president Joel Salatin.
“Choosing what to feed my own internal microbiome is a sacred human right,” said Virginia Independent Consumers and Farmers Association (VICFA) president Anne Buteau.
Buteau said “This bill is not about safety but control of the food supply. Our private property rights and the right to privacy are at stake here, and also the right to acquire the foods of our choice, which should be a fundamental right not something that we have to fight for.”
“In the name of food safety, the government tyrannizes the freedom to opt out. How a culture views its heretics defines both its compassion and its tyranny,” said Salatin, VICFA co-founder and local food freedom advocate.
“Many of us think pasteurization is not safe. Many of us think VDACS is not safe. Why can’t the bureaucrats let us eat what we want?” he asked.
Any violation of or failure to comply with the provisions of the legislation or any resulting regulations would be a Class 1 misdemeanor.
2017: HB2030 Del Nick Freitas (Food Products; sale at farmers market or home)
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 .
VICFA initially supported this bill, but found out that it had morphed into a “raw milk sales” bill with language relating to herdshares. This was a stealth attack on herdshares and the precursor to what happened in the 2017/18 legislative session. Following a number of amendments HB2030 was thankfully killed in the House Agriculture Committee
2017: SB 1195 Sen. Richard H. Stuart.
VICFA opposed this bill with respect to personal property rights and privacy issues, but it eventually passed.
SUMMARY AS PASSED: Produce safety; farm inspections; civil penalty. 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 reasonable hours to certain farms to inspect the farms and take samples. The Commissioner also is authorized to seize certain produce if he believes it is being grown, kept, or exposed for sale or held in violation of federal regulations or state law, and the bill provides a court process by which the seizure may be contested. The bill authorizes the Board to levy a civil penalty of up to $1,000 per violation, to be deposited in the Virginia Natural Resources Commitment Fund. The bill includes provisions that would cause it to expire upon the repeal of the relevant federal law, the granting of an exemption under such federal law, or the cessation of federal funding.
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- VICFA was asked to be a part of the on-farm activity working group that resulted in legislation SB 51 and HB268 that help protect farmers’ rights to engage in usual and customary activities such as lawful direct farm-to-consumer sales and agri-tourism.
- VICFA worked with Delegate Orrock to amend his home-processing bill to include specific language to include a wider variety of products such as pickles and fermented vegetables, pasta, dried herbs, flavored vinegars, granola etc. This bill passed unanimously in both houses and was signed into law on 3/13/13 and went into effect July 1, 2013, after 5 years of citizen lobbying at the General Assembly.
- VICFA continues to lobby for the “Pickle Bill” introduced by Delegate Habeeb. The bill died in Sub-committee without a motion. Subcommittee members Orrock, Marshall, Poindexter, Knight, Moorefield, James, and Sickle, seemed not to like the bill.
- VICFA Holds a farm-to-table dinner at Hilton McLean Tysons Corner prepared by Chef Thomas Elder using locally sourced ingredients. Guest speakers Joel Salatin of Polyface Farms and John Whitehead of The Rutherford Institute educated people about the importance of food freedom.
- VICFA lobbies to pass the “Pickle Bill” sponsored by Senator McDougle. It was withdrawn due to amendments proposed by Senator Hanger that would have created more regulations. Thanks to Christine Solem’s wisdom, VICFA had Senator McDougle put in writing that VICFA had the right to pull the bill, which was crucial as he did not want to pull it after amendments were put on.
- VICFA members challenged the state over scrapie regulations.
- VICFA has Delegate Tuscano sponsor the “Pickle Bill”. Bill dies without a motion in sub- committee floor.
- ICFA opposed the scrapie regulations which made all sheep and goat owners subject to animal identification regulations. Violators will be charged with a class 1 misdemeanor. VICFA supported Kathryn Russell and her court challenge of these regulations. The case was taken all the way the United Stated Supreme Court but to no avail.
- VICFA passes the landmark “Kitchen Bill ” which allows direct sales to the consumer without government inspection of baked goods, jams and jellies, and candies.
- VICFA president Wayne Bolton hosts the “Farmers Market Reporter” radio show, funded by VICFA.
- Avian Flu became a real threat to the industrial poultry industry due to bad husbandry practices. Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) tried to pass a bill that would make outdoor poultry illegal. VICFA was able to get the bill amended in a way that protected the growing numbers of pasture-based poultry producers.
2006 to 2013
- VICFA was one of the first groups to oppose the National Animal Identification System (NAIS) which would have disproportionally hurt small farmers. VICFA was instrumental in establishing a “National Independent Consumers and Farmers Association”, and staged several lobbying efforts at the federal level. Our efforts helped block a provision in the Farm Bill that would have allowed the government to make (NAIS) mandatory. Eventually NAIS was abandoned due to the widespread opposition to it, and responsibility for Animal ID schemes was shifted more to the states.
- Our first Farm Food Voices event is held in Albemarle County. This was a success with great speakers and a farm fresh food banquet. Great crowds and education!
- Governor Mark Warner signed a bill that would made it a crime for citizens to make products from the milk from their own dairy animals. VICFA worked to get a law that stated dairy owners could make products for their own consumption.