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Thursday, February 4, 2010

HB 1222: Farmers Market Bill Promotes Pickles, Pie, and Sales Tax Revenue

Rebecca Terk of Flying Tomato Farms explains why House Bill 1222 is a hugely important bill for farmers markets, entrepreneurship, and local sales tax revenues. Go read!

HB 1222 does two simple things. First, it removes the requirement that local entrepreneurs selling fruits and vegetables or homemade baked or canned goods obtain a license to do business. A decision last summer by the South Dakota Department of Health to start enforcing this hundred-dollar license requirement drove a number of farmers market vendors out of business.

But HB 1222 isn't anarcho-capitalism. It's other main provisions impose clear, reasonable safety requirements on vendors. Vendors need to get third-party verification that their canning process is clean. They then need to attach to each product a label with standard information—product name, ingredients, producer name and contact info, production date, and a disclaimer saying, basically, "I'm homemade! Watch your allergies."

Avid gardener and local foods maven Terk notes that HB 1222 is exactly what vendors want. It's also similar to "pickle laws" that every surrounding state has to support farmers markets (why is South Dakota always playing catch-up?).

House Bill 1222 is a good bill. It's about local food, local business, and local self-sufficiency. It will help Madisonites meet their yearning for more local grocery selection for at least a couple months each year.

Our Rep. Mitch Fargen (D-8/Flandreau) is on the House Commerce Committee, which gets first crack at this bill. Call Fargen and his fellow committee members, urge them to give this farmers market bill a big "Do Pass!"

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