Posts Tagged ‘local foods’

SD Home-Processed Foods Law Gets Unnoticed Updates

I no longer live in South Dakota, but when I saw this legislative–>hoghouse maneuver, it really ticked me off.

Without consulting or notifying those who are affected, or those who actually worked on this legislation in the last session, SD legislators made some changes to the Home-Processed Foods Law and got them through committee and passed without anyone noticing–until now, that is.

First off, on initial introduction, HB1240 would have required a yearly $40 license from the Health Department to operate a “cottage food industry.”  Then the bill was hoghoused (SD speak for “stripped of its language and pretty much completely changed but still under the same bill #”) and changed to one that sets a $5000 yearly income limit on sales of homemade baked goods (pdf!).

I know the history of the SD Home-Processed Foods Law, so I know whereof I speak.  When our producer group worked with the SD Dept. of Health to draft this law, we asked for our own version of the MN Pickle Law, which does have a $5K income limit per year on home-processed baked goods and acid or acidified canned goods, but does not require testing of those canned goods.

What we ended up with was a version that allowed home-processed shelf-stable baked goods and acid and acidified canned goods to be sold at farmers markets, farm stands, and “similar venues”–but those acid and acidified foods needed to be tested by a “third party processing authority.”  And, there was no yearly income limit on sales of these goods.  At that time, the Health Department deemed income limitations unrelated to preserving the public health.

The recent legislation does not set a yearly income limit for the canned goods (cutbacks to the Cooperative Extension–the main processing authority–should pretty much see to that), but it does set a yearly income limit on baked goods.

So, why exactly did South Dakota’s legislators suddenly decide a fee limit was needed?  And why weren’t there any discussions about this new legislation with the people who are affected by it?

Representatives Greenfield and Sly? Senator Nygaard?  South Dakota’s small producers are on the line, and they have some questions…



HB 1222 Passes out of Commerce Committee

Cross-posted from the Vermillion Area Farmers Market blog.

The Home Processed Foods Bill, which paves the way for small producers to sell certain products direct to consumers at farmers markets and roadside stands without a commercial food vendors license, has passed unanimously out the the House Commerce Committee this morning.

The bill provides for sales of shelf-stable baked goods and home-canned goods (with third party certification of the recipe and method) prepared in producer’s homes to be legally sold direct to consumers, as has been the tradition across the state for many decades.

The bill was a joint effort between members of the Dakota Rural Action Small Farms Committee and the South Dakota Department of Health to alleviate the current strict regulations against all sales of home-produced foods anywhere in the state.

DRA Small Farms Committee approached the Department of Health last season, following surprise inspections at the Black Hills Farmers Market in Rapid City that shut down some long-time vendors, and because of producer questions and concerns about the accessibility and clarity of existing rules and regulations concerning small-scale food production in the state.

Earlier this winter, Small Farms Committee members (myself included), DRA staff, and Dept. of Ag and Health officials met in Pierre to start talking over the needs of small producers and hashing out what the Home-Processed Foods Bill might contain.  Work on the proposed bill continued via phone and e-mail through the winter months.

The Home-Processed Foods Bill, or HB 1222, now passes to the full House for consideration.

Trellis-pulling and tax subtraction

Spent a good portion of yesterday out in the gardens–pulling the rest of the posts and cattle panels that formed the trellising in the east garden.  I’ll be putting some of it back up in the lower part of that garden before too long to support indeterminate tomatoes and pole beans.

The problem with keeping the trellising in one place for more than a couple of years, besides the obvious crop rotation issue, is that we have a lot of mulberry trees around the garden.  Birds eat the berries, perch on the trellises, and do what birds do.  In a short period of time, if you don’t cultivate closely, mulberry trees start growing right along the trellis line.

So, I cleaned up and detached the panels, with H helping me carry them up to their temporary storage spot, and then pulled all the posts.  It’s no wonder, with work like this, that my shoulders and chest circumference seem to grow a size during garden season (no gutter jokes, please).

Once the panels and posts were out, I raked all the old vines and detritus off the beds to allow for tilling to re-establish the beds along a better path-to-bed ratio that also puts them in line with the beds in the central garden, where I’ve seeded chickling vetch green manure as a cover crop.

A couple of USD students came out in the afternoon to do a local foods interview, and we took about an hour talking to them.  It was too sunny to shoot video–nice because I gave up the idea of wearing makeup out in the garden, and didn’t want to look like Nixon in the Kennedy debates.

Once they left, I transplanted two flats of Talon yellow onions into one of the last three unplanted beds in the west garden.  Watered everything, and called it a day.

This morning I’m working on locating a tax subtraction worksheet for our farmers market vendors selling to EBT clients.  Because most market vendors sell goods with the sales tax already included (to avoid having to bring a large amount of change), they’re going to need an easy way to figure out the price without tax to sell to EBT clients.

Some states have already put together these worksheets, and Sandy at SD Dept. of Social Services is looking at other state’s websites to see what she can come up with.  I called SD Dept. of Revenue and learned the simple formula to subtract the tax with a 6% rate, but our state does not have a handy table.

It’s kind of exciting to be the first market in SD going through the whole of this process and identifying key pieces of information and infrastructure needed to make it easier for us and those who come after us.

Today I’m probably stuck here in town–Earth Day and I can’t be at the farm!–but I’m waiting for Federal Express to deliver our shiny new wireless POS device.  That’s the major purchase in this process, and they won’t just leave it on the doorstep.

Tonight is the Dakota Rural Action Evening of Green local foods meal and launch of the 2nd edition of the SD Local Foods Directory.  Hopefully, the POS device will come before we need to take off to spend the evening in Brookings with our fellows producers and friends.