If you read the From 0 to 35 in Mississippi post here last fall, you know that the good food revolution in my neighboring state has been lacking a few important items to help build their capacity such as USDA processing facilities. The news of one opening in MS is very, very welcome as without it, producers are severely limited to what, where and how much they can sell. Let’s hope this is the beginning of a new level of infrastructure for direct marketing family farms across the Magnolia State.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently finalized two new food safety rules, the Preventive Controls Rule and the Produce Safety Rule, under the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). These rules establish new requirements for farms and food businesses, with different levels of compliance based on operation type and size. In order to help farmers and food businesses navigate the new federal food safety requirements, the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) has released an updated version of our “Am I Affected?” FSMA flowchart.
Originally created during the FSMA proposed rulemaking stage, the flowchart has now been modified to reflect the final versions of the rule governing produce farms (the Produce Rule) and the rule governing food-processing facilities (the Preventive Controls Rule).
Source: See entire 2016 FSMA flowchart
BY far, the most visited posts on this blog over the last two years have been those on cottage food laws. As someone who ran markets in a city/state with byzantine rules and a total lack of clarity for producers, I was gratified when a cottage producer took it upon herself to push for such a law in Louisiana, following recent adoption of one in neighboring Mississippi. That law had been championed by a task force headed ( I believe) by a researcher from Harvard.
Markets can help this process even when not leading it by maintaining and sharing their internal process for inspections, permits and on-site pricing/labeling rules with those advocates working to begin or expand their cottage food laws.
In addition, markets can collect qualitative data through Marker Surveys (allowing them to write a quote on the sheet) from shoppers about how they feel about the short chain system that relies on the deep and regular relationship they have in their markets and then to share those stories with those advocates.
In addition, I’d be happy to share the template of the mystery chef project that I employed at my markets which encouraged selected market community members to purchase products already at market and gave a written assessment on the taste, display and labeling of that product. That assessment was sent via postcard to the vendor via mail and a copy was put into their file. The most common result was a positive assessment and so we also encouraged them to display the postcard at their table if they wished. Send me an email to dar wolnik at gmail if you want me to send you that template-that is if I can find it. Additionally, the other piece of that system was the mystery shopper surveys that we also created; one of the templates is available on the http://www.marketumbrella.org site on their Marketshare page. All it requires is the creation of a free log in and password to see all of the resources they offer on their page.
Here are the results from my posts about cottage food laws; and the link below leads to a very good framework for those states (or cities or counties) to plan or expand their own systems: Securing or Expanding Your State Cottage Food Law – Real Food – MOTHER EARTH NEWS
June 2015: The update means no label is required to sell raw honey and deletes the earlier need for registering at the state for sales tax collection. However, if there is local (parish or municipality) sales tax registration and collection required, it does not lift that requirement.
The following foods were specifically listed:
- Baked goods, including breads, cakes, cookies and pies
- Dried mixes
- Honey and honeycomb products
- Jams, jellies, and preserves
- Pickles and acidified foods
- Sauces and syrups
Good site for the cottage food community which includes some interpretation of laws.
More detail from the sales tax issue. The original article from TP overstates the sales tax issue a bit. I asked for a clarification from the sponsor and this is what I was sent:
The pertinent information is in the bill itself on page 1, line 19 through page 2, line 5 of HB 79 Enrolled – which provides as follows:
“No individual who prepares low-risk foods in the home shall sell such foods unless he is registered to collect any local sales and use taxes that are applicable to the sale of such foods, as evidenced by a current sales tax certificate issued to the seller by the sales and use tax collector for the parish in which the sales occur.”
This means that if any local sales taxes are applicable to the sale of the food, then the seller must be registered to collect that tax in order to sell his home-produced food legally. If no local sales taxes are applicable to the sale of the food, then the seller doesn’t need to be registered to collect taxes on the sale of the food.
The main purpose of this particular amendment that HB 79 makes to the cottage law is to strike the reference requiring sellers to register to collect state sales tax. This correction was necessary as state sales tax does not apply to food for home consumption
Hope this helps,
Legislative Assistant to
Representative Richard Burford
Under the new law, the five-year contract stays with the property even if it’s sold, but if an owner wants to get out of it they can pay back taxes and interest. San Francisco’s ordinance limits the tax savings of individual property owners to $25,000 per year; if the savings are higher, an official review is necessary. City officials in Sacramento, Fresno, San Jose and San Diego have expressed interest, but haven’t yet passed the necessary local legislation.
Los Angeles is close to doing that, and Clare Fox of the Los Angeles Food Policy Council estimates there are 8,600 parcels within Los Angeles city limits that qualify.
How nice to see so many benefits listed for growing food:
“It’s about food security and food access, but it’s also about transforming blighted vacant places that are prone to illegal dumping into community places,” she said.
“It’s a way to beautify the neighborhood and stabilize real estate values. Plus, there are the environmental benefits.”
I had the great pleasure to become acquainted in 2012 with this innovative program that is closely linked to the North Carolina farmers markets and individual farmers to get food flowing to more people- but this model made sure that it was NOT at the expense of farmers businesses. Their Donation Stations allows customers to buy an extra share to donate to those in need and also allowed farmers credit for any donations that they made. Their wholesale work to get more agencies to buy regional food is also extremely important.
Some extremely important advocacy has been done by NSAC and FMC on the need for more edits to the FSMA in order for family farms and small business producers to be able to survive and thrive. Their recommendations include needed edits to the rules for farmers markets to be able to manage risk and yet to be allowed to encourage innovation to happen. Please read their updates and analysis on the FSMA and get your comments in by December 15.
Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) | Farmers Market Coalition.