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Food Safety Issues Making Their Way to 2015 Legislative Agendas

Legislators and the rest of the policy crowd that hang out in the state capitols are again coming in for the unsolicited advice from the national editorial writers who want to influence processes on a variety of topics, including food safety.

The Wisconsin Journal-Sentinel is warning policy makers against turning the clock back “to the 1020s” when it comes to making raw milk more widely available.

In an editorial published Nov. 18, the newspaper points to the potluck dinner this September for a western Wisconsin football team that left 38 attendees sickened from the consumption of raw milk.

“Wisconsin has been at the heart of a heated debate over raw milk,” the editorial says. “The state allows limited incidental sales, but generally prohibits the sale of unpasteurized milk, which may carry bacteria that causes food-borne illnesses. But some advocates want broader access to unprocessed milk, arguing that raw milk contains beneficial bacteria that they claim are killed by pasteurization—when milk is heated to kill pathogens.”

In the four years since former Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle vetoed a bill allowing commercial sales of raw milk in the state, there has rarely been a time when someone in the Legislature has not been ready with another bill. However, a broad coalition from Wisconsin’s $ 30 billion pasteurized dairy industry and the state’s public health advocates have held off the raw milk advocates in Madison.

It’s just one of the sort of food safety policy debates that could erupt once most state legislative bodies assemble early in 2015. Nebraska’s Lincoln Star newspaper delivered a Nov. 19 message clearly intended for the state’s Unicameral. It says Nebraska’s “modern agriculture needs to do a better job of presenting itself to the world.”

“Too often, the reaction in farm country has been to try to shut out consumers, using tactics like ‘ag-gag’ laws with new criminal penalties for crusaders to trespass on our farmland,” the Star’s editorial writers say.

Last week’s state house elections saw the Republicans “run the table,” according to the Denver-based National Conference of State Legislatures. When the nation’s legislative bodies are called into session in 2015, there will be at least 952 more Republicans holding power in those state houses than Democrats.

According to NCSL, Republicans took away the majorities in 11 legislative chambers previously held by the Democrats. These include the: Colorado Senate, Maine Senate, Minnesota House, Nevada Assembly, Nevada Senate, New Hampshire House, New York Senate, New Mexico House, Washington State Senate, West Virginia House and West Virginia House.

When, after the 2010 elections, the GOP’s lead in legislative seats topped 600, it was considered historic. With some counting still occurring, Republicans are certain of a pickup in the 350-seat range. They have not had that kind of dominance since the 1920s.

The GOP holds both the House and Senate in 30 states, and holds a single legislative chamber in eight other states. Democrats hold both bodies in 11 states, and split with the GOP the opposite chambers in those other eight states.

Republicans picked up the Governor’s mansions in Arkansas, Illinois, Maryland and Massachusetts, but lost Pennsylvania and Alaska for a net pickup of two, taking the number of GOP chief executives to 31, the most by any party in 16 years.

The count leaves 18 Democratic governors and one independent. And one other measure—Republicans control it all, both legislative chambers and the governor’s office in 23 states, compared to just seven for the Democrats.

Since 2010, a couple dozen bills have been introduced attempting to impose penalties for taking pictures or making videos of agricultural facilities without permission. About handful of states have adopted them, and they’ve come to be known as ‘ag-gag’ laws for their effect.

At a University of Nebraska –Lincoln policy conference held ahead of 2015 session of the state’s unicameral, the only one of its kind in the country, the Star said the food and agriculture sectors were told they’d do best for their brands if they listened to people and remained transparent.

And in Wisconsin, the Journal-Sentinel said the state’s problem is not that raw milk is not sold commercially, it is that when the on-the-farm products make 26 people sick and sends ten to area hospitals, the Department of Agriculture sill is not required to tell the public the name of the supplier.

The Star reported the Nebraska policy conference addressed “truths about science, emotion, the media, and food that should be taken to heart at farm country.”

Food Safety News

Food Safety Issues Making Their Way to 2015 Legislative Agendas

Legislators and the rest of the policy crowd that hang out in the state capitols are again coming in for the unsolicited advice from the national editorial writers who want to influence processes on a variety of topics, including food safety.

The Wisconsin Journal-Sentinel is warning policy makers against turning the clock back “to the 1020s” when it comes to making raw milk more widely available.

In an editorial published Nov. 18, the newspaper points to the potluck dinner this September for a western Wisconsin football team that left 38 attendees sickened from the consumption of raw milk.

“Wisconsin has been at the heart of a heated debate over raw milk,” the editorial says. “The state allows limited incidental sales, but generally prohibits the sale of unpasteurized milk, which may carry bacteria that causes food-borne illnesses. But some advocates want broader access to unprocessed milk, arguing that raw milk contains beneficial bacteria that they claim are killed by pasteurization—when milk is heated to kill pathogens.”

In the four years since former Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle vetoed a bill allowing commercial sales of raw milk in the state, there has rarely been a time when someone in the Legislature has not been ready with another bill. However, a broad coalition from Wisconsin’s $ 30 billion pasteurized dairy industry and the state’s public health advocates have held off the raw milk advocates in Madison.

It’s just one of the sort of food safety policy debates that could erupt once most state legislative bodies assemble early in 2015. Nebraska’s Lincoln Star newspaper delivered a Nov. 19 message clearly intended for the state’s Unicameral. It says Nebraska’s “modern agriculture needs to do a better job of presenting itself to the world.”

“Too often, the reaction in farm country has been to try to shut out consumers, using tactics like ‘ag-gag’ laws with new criminal penalties for crusaders to trespass on our farmland,” the Star’s editorial writers say.

Last week’s state house elections saw the Republicans “run the table,” according to the Denver-based National Conference of State Legislatures. When the nation’s legislative bodies are called into session in 2015, there will be at least 952 more Republicans holding power in those state houses than Democrats.

According to NCSL, Republicans took away the majorities in 11 legislative chambers previously held by the Democrats. These include the: Colorado Senate, Maine Senate, Minnesota House, Nevada Assembly, Nevada Senate, New Hampshire House, New York Senate, New Mexico House, Washington State Senate, West Virginia House and West Virginia House.

When, after the 2010 elections, the GOP’s lead in legislative seats topped 600, it was considered historic. With some counting still occurring, Republicans are certain of a pickup in the 350-seat range. They have not had that kind of dominance since the 1920s.

The GOP holds both the House and Senate in 30 states, and holds a single legislative chamber in eight other states. Democrats hold both bodies in 11 states, and split with the GOP the opposite chambers in those other eight states.

Republicans picked up the Governor’s mansions in Arkansas, Illinois, Maryland and Massachusetts, but lost Pennsylvania and Alaska for a net pickup of two, taking the number of GOP chief executives to 31, the most by any party in 16 years.

The count leaves 18 Democratic governors and one independent. And one other measure—Republicans control it all, both legislative chambers and the governor’s office in 23 states, compared to just seven for the Democrats.

Since 2010, a couple dozen bills have been introduced attempting to impose penalties for taking pictures or making videos of agricultural facilities without permission. About handful of states have adopted them, and they’ve come to be known as ‘ag-gag’ laws for their effect.

At a University of Nebraska –Lincoln policy conference held ahead of 2015 session of the state’s unicameral, the only one of its kind in the country, the Star said the food and agriculture sectors were told they’d do best for their brands if they listened to people and remained transparent.

And in Wisconsin, the Journal-Sentinel said the state’s problem is not that raw milk is not sold commercially, it is that when the on-the-farm products make 26 people sick and sends ten to area hospitals, the Department of Agriculture sill is not required to tell the public the name of the supplier.

The Star reported the Nebraska policy conference addressed “truths about science, emotion, the media, and food that should be taken to heart at farm country.”

Food Safety News

Food Safety Issues Making Their Way to 2015 Legislative Agendas

Legislators and the rest of the policy crowd that hang out in the state capitols are again coming in for the unsolicited advice from the national editorial writers who want to influence processes on a variety of topics, including food safety.

The Wisconsin Journal-Sentinel is warning policy makers against turning the clock back “to the 1020s” when it comes to making raw milk more widely available.

In an editorial published Nov. 18, the newspaper points to the potluck dinner this September for a western Wisconsin football team that left 38 attendees sickened from the consumption of raw milk.

“Wisconsin has been at the heart of a heated debate over raw milk,” the editorial says. “The state allows limited incidental sales, but generally prohibits the sale of unpasteurized milk, which may carry bacteria that causes food-borne illnesses. But some advocates want broader access to unprocessed milk, arguing that raw milk contains beneficial bacteria that they claim are killed by pasteurization—when milk is heated to kill pathogens.”

In the four years since former Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle vetoed a bill allowing commercial sales of raw milk in the state, there has rarely been a time when someone in the Legislature has not been ready with another bill. However, a broad coalition from Wisconsin’s $ 30 billion pasteurized dairy industry and the state’s public health advocates have held off the raw milk advocates in Madison.

It’s just one of the sort of food safety policy debates that could erupt once most state legislative bodies assemble early in 2015. Nebraska’s Lincoln Star newspaper delivered a Nov. 19 message clearly intended for the state’s Unicameral. It says Nebraska’s “modern agriculture needs to do a better job of presenting itself to the world.”

“Too often, the reaction in farm country has been to try to shut out consumers, using tactics like ‘ag-gag’ laws with new criminal penalties for crusaders to trespass on our farmland,” the Star’s editorial writers say.

Last week’s state house elections saw the Republicans “run the table,” according to the Denver-based National Conference of State Legislatures. When the nation’s legislative bodies are called into session in 2015, there will be at least 952 more Republicans holding power in those state houses than Democrats.

According to NCSL, Republicans took away the majorities in 11 legislative chambers previously held by the Democrats. These include the: Colorado Senate, Maine Senate, Minnesota House, Nevada Assembly, Nevada Senate, New Hampshire House, New York Senate, New Mexico House, Washington State Senate, West Virginia House and West Virginia House.

When, after the 2010 elections, the GOP’s lead in legislative seats topped 600, it was considered historic. With some counting still occurring, Republicans are certain of a pickup in the 350-seat range. They have not had that kind of dominance since the 1920s.

The GOP holds both the House and Senate in 30 states, and holds a single legislative chamber in eight other states. Democrats hold both bodies in 11 states, and split with the GOP the opposite chambers in those other eight states.

Republicans picked up the Governor’s mansions in Arkansas, Illinois, Maryland and Massachusetts, but lost Pennsylvania and Alaska for a net pickup of two, taking the number of GOP chief executives to 31, the most by any party in 16 years.

The count leaves 18 Democratic governors and one independent. And one other measure—Republicans control it all, both legislative chambers and the governor’s office in 23 states, compared to just seven for the Democrats.

Since 2010, a couple dozen bills have been introduced attempting to impose penalties for taking pictures or making videos of agricultural facilities without permission. About handful of states have adopted them, and they’ve come to be known as ‘ag-gag’ laws for their effect.

At a University of Nebraska –Lincoln policy conference held ahead of 2015 session of the state’s unicameral, the only one of its kind in the country, the Star said the food and agriculture sectors were told they’d do best for their brands if they listened to people and remained transparent.

And in Wisconsin, the Journal-Sentinel said the state’s problem is not that raw milk is not sold commercially, it is that when the on-the-farm products make 26 people sick and sends ten to area hospitals, the Department of Agriculture sill is not required to tell the public the name of the supplier.

The Star reported the Nebraska policy conference addressed “truths about science, emotion, the media, and food that should be taken to heart at farm country.”

Food Safety News

Food Safety Issues Making Their Way to 2015 Legislative Agendas

Legislators and the rest of the policy crowd that hang out in the state capitols are again coming in for the unsolicited advice from the national editorial writers who want to influence processes on a variety of topics, including food safety.

The Wisconsin Journal-Sentinel is warning policy makers against turning the clock back “to the 1020s” when it comes to making raw milk more widely available.

In an editorial published Nov. 18, the newspaper points to the potluck dinner this September for a western Wisconsin football team that left 38 attendees sickened from the consumption of raw milk.

“Wisconsin has been at the heart of a heated debate over raw milk,” the editorial says. “The state allows limited incidental sales, but generally prohibits the sale of unpasteurized milk, which may carry bacteria that causes food-borne illnesses. But some advocates want broader access to unprocessed milk, arguing that raw milk contains beneficial bacteria that they claim are killed by pasteurization—when milk is heated to kill pathogens.”

In the four years since former Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle vetoed a bill allowing commercial sales of raw milk in the state, there has rarely been a time when someone in the Legislature has not been ready with another bill. However, a broad coalition from Wisconsin’s $ 30 billion pasteurized dairy industry and the state’s public health advocates have held off the raw milk advocates in Madison.

It’s just one of the sort of food safety policy debates that could erupt once most state legislative bodies assemble early in 2015. Nebraska’s Lincoln Star newspaper delivered a Nov. 19 message clearly intended for the state’s Unicameral. It says Nebraska’s “modern agriculture needs to do a better job of presenting itself to the world.”

“Too often, the reaction in farm country has been to try to shut out consumers, using tactics like ‘ag-gag’ laws with new criminal penalties for crusaders to trespass on our farmland,” the Star’s editorial writers say.

Last week’s state house elections saw the Republicans “run the table,” according to the Denver-based National Conference of State Legislatures. When the nation’s legislative bodies are called into session in 2015, there will be at least 952 more Republicans holding power in those state houses than Democrats.

According to NCSL, Republicans took away the majorities in 11 legislative chambers previously held by the Democrats. These include the: Colorado Senate, Maine Senate, Minnesota House, Nevada Assembly, Nevada Senate, New Hampshire House, New York Senate, New Mexico House, Washington State Senate, West Virginia House and West Virginia House.

When, after the 2010 elections, the GOP’s lead in legislative seats topped 600, it was considered historic. With some counting still occurring, Republicans are certain of a pickup in the 350-seat range. They have not had that kind of dominance since the 1920s.

The GOP holds both the House and Senate in 30 states, and holds a single legislative chamber in eight other states. Democrats hold both bodies in 11 states, and split with the GOP the opposite chambers in those other eight states.

Republicans picked up the Governor’s mansions in Arkansas, Illinois, Maryland and Massachusetts, but lost Pennsylvania and Alaska for a net pickup of two, taking the number of GOP chief executives to 31, the most by any party in 16 years.

The count leaves 18 Democratic governors and one independent. And one other measure—Republicans control it all, both legislative chambers and the governor’s office in 23 states, compared to just seven for the Democrats.

Since 2010, a couple dozen bills have been introduced attempting to impose penalties for taking pictures or making videos of agricultural facilities without permission. About handful of states have adopted them, and they’ve come to be known as ‘ag-gag’ laws for their effect.

At a University of Nebraska –Lincoln policy conference held ahead of 2015 session of the state’s unicameral, the only one of its kind in the country, the Star said the food and agriculture sectors were told they’d do best for their brands if they listened to people and remained transparent.

And in Wisconsin, the Journal-Sentinel said the state’s problem is not that raw milk is not sold commercially, it is that when the on-the-farm products make 26 people sick and sends ten to area hospitals, the Department of Agriculture sill is not required to tell the public the name of the supplier.

The Star reported the Nebraska policy conference addressed “truths about science, emotion, the media, and food that should be taken to heart at farm country.”

Food Safety News

Louisiana Legislative Debate: Child Victims of Raw Milk Illness Can Just ‘Go To Heaven’

Debate on a Louisiana bill to allow on-the-farm raw milk sales by dairy farmers directly to consumers took a strange twist down the “what if” road last week.

Under the bill, consumers would replace state inspectors for making sure the raw milk is safe for human consumption. That provision led to an eye-opening exchange between Louisiana State Rep. Robert Johnson (R-Marksville) and raw milk advocate Audry Salvador.

As captured by Michelle Southern, Baton Rouge reporter for WWL-AM radio, Johnson started out by saying that his problem with the bill was not that it allows people to milk their own cows and give the raw milk to children.

“My problem is that you don’t want DHH (Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals) to do any kind of inspection, any kind of permitting process,” said Johnson. “And then you want to exempt yourself from any kind of liability just in case somebody messes up. And when you say ‘child’ … ‘death of a child’ … that’s a very serious thing to me.”

Salvador then volunteered to Johnson that it would be the responsibility of the consumer to make sure they are purchasing from a reputable farmer.

“I can watch everything they do if I want,” said Salvador.

Johnson said, “What about those who don’t?”

“That is their fault.”

“What about the child that dies that has no one to protect him?,” Johnson asked.

“Well, before the age of reason they can go to Heaven,” said Salvador.

“That’s your answer?! Mr. Chairman, I move that we voluntarily defer this bill,” Johnson said, and he also demanded that farmers not be exempted from liability if someone gets sick from raw milk.

That exchange aside, the House Committee on Agriculture, Forestry, Aquaculture, and Rural Development narrowly recommended passage of House Bill 247 on a 9-6 vote. It was a victory for two rural Democratic legislators who brought the bill forward.

Commercial sale of raw milk is now illegal in Louisiana, and the Agriculture Committee gave the issue its first real legislative attention in a decade.

State Reps. Stephen J. Ortego (D-Carencro) and Michael E. Danahay (D-Sulphur) are the sponsors of HB 247, which was introduced on Feb. 20.

As drafted, HB 247 would:

  • Open up an exemption for raw milk from state food safety statutes.
  • Allow “incidental sales” of raw goat milk and unpasteurized whole milk, which is defined as average monthly sales not exceeding 500 gallons per month.
  • Limit sale to the farm where the raw milk is produced.
  • Permit advertising of the location of the farm where the raw milk is sold.
  • Require on-the-farm warning signs and on-the-bottle labels.
  • Outline how seller contact information must be listed on the product label.
  • Open farms to inspection by consumers.

Here is an example of the warning that HB 247 would require on the farm signs and bottles: “This product sold for personal use and not for resale, is fresh whole milk that has NOT been pasteurized. Neither this farm nor the milk sold by this farm has been inspected by the state of Louisiana. The consumer assumes all liability for health issues that may result from consumption of this product.”

Further action on the bill by the Louisiana House has not been scheduled. Lawmakers in Baton Rouge go home on June 2.

Food Safety News

Banana workers affected by pesticide block Costa Rica’s Legislative Assembly

Banana workers affected by pesticide block Costa Rica’s Legislative Assembly

A group of banana workers blocked the entrances and exits of the Legislative Assembly yesterday for at least an hour.

The move came after the workers had waited until 7pm for the hearing of Bill 18.802, which aims to provide direct compensation to workers affected by the pesticide Nemagon, a pesticide which was commonly used on banana plantations and which causes a number of diseases, most commonly sterility in men. The bill was scheduled to be read yesterday, but by 7pm the group began to grow angry as it became apparent that the bill would not be heard by the end of the day.

Shortly after 7pm, the workers began blocking the entrances and exits to the Legislative Assembly, preventing lawmakers from leaving.  The situation continued for about an hour, until security forces arrived at the scene and dispersed the workers.

“We have been asking for this bill since July 2003,” a spokesperson for the workers told the daily Diario Extra, who said he has suffered health problems as a result of his exposure to Nemagon.  The man added that medical examinations – apparently to determine sterility – by the National Insurance Institute (INS), which has provided compensation to some workers, are “inhuman.”

Nemagon was banned in the United States in 1979 after the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) determined the pesticide was a carcinogen and caused sterility in male mammals, including humans.

The pesticide is also known to contaminate groundwater, even years after its use is discontinued. Human exposure comes as a result of inhalation, skin contact, or from contaminated drinking water. Besides causing sterility, Nemagon, also known as DBCP, has been determined to be one of the most powerful cancer-inducing agents, even in low doses.

In Nicaragua, where DBCP use has also been widespread, 67% of male banana workers are sterile, while 33% of female banana workers have uterus or breast cancer. Other workers suffer from cancer of the testicles, stomach, and kidneys.

Costa Rica ranks far ahead of any country in the world in its use of pesticides – more than double number two Colombia, according to rankings by the World Resources Institute. 

Source: insidecostarica.com

Publication date: 4/2/2014


FreshPlaza.com

GE Salmon, Apples Keep Genetic Labeling On Legislative Menu in Olympia

Usually the Washington Legislature will steer clear – at least for a while – of a topic voters have settled in a recent initiative. That unwritten rule might ordinarily keep bills for labeling genetically modified food off the table for a while since voters narrowly nixed that idea in deciding against Initiative 522.

House Bill (HB) 2143, calling for labeling genetically engineered salmon, may be an exception to that rule. A U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) ruling on an application for a fast-growing GMO salmon is expected later this year.

State Rep. Cary Condotta (R-East Wenatchee), a sponsor of HB 2143, says that since Washington state already requires labeling salmon as either “farmed” or “fresh,” it only makes sense to also label “transgenic” fish. The bill also prohibits raising GMO fish with fins in state waters.

The state’s aquaculture and biotech industries oppose HB 2143. In testimony this past Friday in Olympia, industry representatives charged that the bill was introduced to stigmatize genetic technology and generate fear.

They also said that the bill is unnecessary and claimed state law already prohibits transgenic fish in aquaculture. And they reminded a committee hearing on Friday that state voters have already spoken in their 51-49 percent rejection of I-522 last November.

Proponents said the state has to protect Washington’s native salmon population, and they claimed those fish stocks would be threatened by FDA approval of the first GMO animal approved for human consumption. FDA is reviewing comments on the issue and has not promised a delivery date for a decision. The application under consideration is from Aqua Bounty Technologies.

Testing is also now under way in Washington state and New York, both apple-growing regions, of two varieties of the non-browning Arctic Apple. The Arctic Apple is being developed by Okanagan Specialty Fruits, Inc., of British Columbia.

The Yakima-based Northwest Horticultural Council, representing the region’s fruit industry, wants USDA to reject the GMO apple to avoid marketing confusion for traditional and organic apples. The council says it has no concerns over food safety.

Another bill in Olympia could apply to the Arctic Apple. A USDA decision on the Arctic Apple could come this year.

Food Safety News

Public Health Impact Levy, Urban Ag Zoning, and GMO Ban Among Latest Western Legislative Ideas

More evidence is in to support the old theory that legislative ideas move from west to east in the United States. This is primarily because California remains a hotbed for progressive ideas of all sorts.

California Senate Bill 747 is back for 2014 in an amended form. It would allow the state to levy $ 20,000 on retailers or producers of products that might contribute to “public health epidemics” for “risk assessments and mitigation documents” which then could be used for regulatory purposes.

The “adverse impact” on public health in California would have to exceed $ 50 million before the provisions of the statute would apply. The bill as amended is scheduled for a hearing Jan. 15 before the Senate Health Committee.

Also in California, the Berkeley-based Sustainable Economics Legal Center, which helped draft and pass the state’s new Cottage Food Law, is going to be seeking support for a bill making it a right to grow food. It is essentially a measure to trump city zoning laws that often limit urban farming activities.

Some cities have eased up on urban farming as it has become a more popular activity, but not enough, according to the center’s Christina Oatfield. She says California cities are not keeping up with the urban agriculture movement.

The California bill will address the growth and sale of edible plants, but will not address the popular backyard poultry movement for producing eggs. The center has apparently decided that backyard animal farms cause more problems for cities.

Meanwhile, Big Island Councilwoman Brenda Ford wants a ban on all genetically modified crops in Hawaii County. Ford is bringing back the issue many thought was decided a month ago when Hawaii County limited GMO production to contained facilities such as greenhouses and exempted Hawaii’s genetically engineered papaya crop and its Big Island Dairy.

Ford insists that re-visiting the issue is not a waste of time, although she also said she doesn’t expect a ban to pass. What’s important, she indicated, is that the county discusses the issue going forward.

Food Safety News

Animal Ag’s 2014 Legislative Strategy: Require Quick Abuse Reporting

If early bill filings are any indication, animal agriculture is going to go for cruelty laws with short reporting deadlines.

Late last year, New Hampshire House Bill 110 was amended to give anyone who witnesses another person performing acts of cruelty to livestock exactly 48 hours to report it to local law enforcement.

As it’s now drafted for the 2014 session, HB 110 does not ban on-the-farm pictures or videos and does not make applying for farm work a crime for someone also working as an undercover animal cruelty investigator.

Those elements were included in a couple dozen “ag-gag” bills introduced in various states before 2013, but they now appear to be falling out of favor.

Kay Johnson Smith, chief executive officer of the national Animal Agriculture Alliance, has acknowledged to industry media that quick reporting is the group’s 2014 legislative strategy.

“If you see something, you should say something; it’s that simple,” she says.

Johnson claims that animal welfare groups that go undercover at animal agriculture facilities string out investigations to tie abuse that’s documented to brand names to drum up publicity. Short reporting deadlines mean that patterns of abuse cannot be documented, according to animal welfare groups that do such investigations.

While undercover investigators often work successfully with local law enforcement, timely reporting is a fairly consistent theme in criminal law. In Colorado, which does not have an “ag-gag” law, an undercover investigator working for Compassion Over Killing was herself charged with animal cruelty for waiting two months to report the incident.

Bills containing quick reporting provisions of animal cruelty could be considered in both New Hampshire and Indiana as early as next week.

Food Safety News

State Legislative Season Begins Anew With Some Familiar Proposals

After going 0 for 11 in the states last year and losing again on a state initiative ballot last fall, animal agriculture and GMO labeling campaigners are back with their same old bills because it’s the start of a new legislative season in most states. Who says America isn’t the land of second chances?

In the New Hampshire House, one of the largest legislative bodies in the land, an attempt will be made to get a divided Environment and Agriculture Committee to move a bill to the floor requiring the labeling of genetically engineered food. Democrats control the New Hampshire House 220-179. Starting Wednesday, it will begin where it left off in 2013: trying to decide if it should require additional labeling on food items which committee members last year seemed to agree were safe.

As many as 26  state legislatures could consider similar bills for labeling genetically engineered foods during the 2014 legislative season. Two Northeastern states, Connecticut and Maine, have passed bills requiring labeling of genetically engineered foods, but both of those laws are contingent on other states in the region taking the same action.

Voters in California and Washington state in 2012 and 2013, respectively, narrowly defeated ballot initiatives for labeling genetically modified foods. Likewise, similar initiatives could be filed this year in Oregon and Colorado.

A majority of state legislatures will be in session by mid-January. Off-year elections in 2013 did little to change the partisan makeup in the state houses. Last November, the Virginia House turned a shade more red (Republican), while the New Jersey General Assembly ended up a little darker blue (Democratic).

Overall, however, the GOP dominates state legislatures, maintaining control in 26 states and sharing it in five others.

Like those who want genetically engineered food labeled, animal agriculture interests who favor so-called “ag-gag” laws are also going to be back when the 2014 legislative seasons get under way.

Already, the Corrections and Criminal Law Committee of the Indiana House is reportedly scheduled to hear a Hoosier version of an “ag-gag” bill as early as Tuesday. It was filed quickly enough to be numbered Senate Bill (SB) 101, and opponents say it is “more radical and overreaching” that SB 373, which failed to pass the 2013 session.

Typically, “ag-gag” bills put restrictions on taking pictures or making movies of agricultural operations without permission of the owner and prohibit other tactics used by undercover operatives investigating animal abuse.

Fifteen such bills were introduced in 11 states last year, and Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam vetoed the one that got the farthest after one of Nashville’s best-known stars, Carrie Underwood, came out against it.

State legislatures will be gaveled into session by the end of January in Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

Most states hold elections during even years, and legislatures adjourn earlier to accommodate the coming campaign season.

Food Safety News

CGA Navigates Legislative Issues

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The California Grocers Association here has become a more effective advocate for the industry over the last five years because of a more deliberate emphasis on government relations, Ron Fong, president and chief executive officer of CGA since 2008, told SN. Ironically for the business-oriented association, its progress has come from working extensively with a Democrat-controlled state legislature, he said. Speaking shortly before the association’s …

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Supermarket News

CGA Navigates Legislative Issues

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The California Grocers Association here has become a more effective advocate for the industry over the last five years because of a more deliberate emphasis on government relations, Ron Fong, president and chief executive officer of CGA since 2008, told SN. Ironically for the business-oriented association, its progress has come from working extensively with a Democrat-controlled state legislature, he said. Speaking shortly before the association’s …

Registering for Premium Content on Supermarket News will give you INSTANT access to invaluable articles and media content that industry professionals rely on. You will have access to our special reports, feature articles, and industry analysis. It’s FREE, easy and quick.

Already registered? here.

Supermarket News

CGA Navigates Legislative Issues

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The California Grocers Association here has become a more effective advocate for the industry over the last five years because of a more deliberate emphasis on government relations, Ron Fong, president and chief executive officer of CGA since 2008, told SN. Ironically for the business-oriented association, its progress has come from working extensively with a Democrat-controlled state legislature, he said. Speaking shortly before the association’s …

Registering for Premium Content on Supermarket News will give you INSTANT access to invaluable articles and media content that industry professionals rely on. You will have access to our special reports, feature articles, and industry analysis. It’s FREE, easy and quick.

Already registered? here.

Supermarket News

2013 Legislative Season Ends with ‘Ag-Gag’ Bills Defeated in 11 States

It took a time-killing debate in the Indiana General Assembly and a game-changing veto by Gov. Bill Haslam in Tennessee. And only when North Carolina’s Legislature adjourned for the year last Friday could animal welfare groups say they had defeated ag-gag everywhere it had a chance of becoming law.

All the so-called ag-gag bills — designed to prevent undercover activists from documenting activities at animal facilities — that were seriously considered by lawmakers in 11 states this year are dead. North Carolina’s adjournment put a period on a 2013 legislative season that failed to produce even one victory for animal agriculture interests.

Ag-gag bills, as defined by animal activist groups, typically ban photography and video on private property, make it crime to apply for a job under “false pretenses” and require quick reporting of documented animal abuse.

Six states have adopted ag-gag laws since 1990. Three of those came in 2012 when Iowa, Utah and Missouri adopted them. 

North Dakota, Montana and Kansas were first to adopt such provisions into law back in 1990-91.

Several animal activist groups routinely work with undercover operatives who go about the country obtaining employment at animal agriculture facilities and then secretly recording mistreatment of animals. Groups like the Humane Society of the United States( HSUS), Mercy for Animals, The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) and People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) say ag-gag bills suppress their whistleblower activities, which often result in criminal convictions for animal cruelty.

This legislative season, the animal groups enlisted a broader coalition of interests against the bill, from country stars in Tennessee to journalistic organizations in Washington D.C. In the end, they’d killed bills in Arkansas, California, Indiana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Vermont and Wyoming,

In a statement, ASPCA said 70 civil liberties, environmental, prosecution, First Amendment, labor and even some farming groups had signed the opposition statement to the state bills. Polling conducted last year showed 71 percent of Americans supported the undercover work by animal welfare groups to expose animal abuse, and 64 percent opposed making such efforts illegal.

In addition to blocking more state ag-gag laws, animal welfare groups have filed a lawsuit to challenge the constitutionality of Utah’s law. As best as anyone knows, the Utah law is the only ag-gag measure ever used to prosecute someone.

Last spring, Utah resident Amy Meyer was charged under the Utah ag-gag law for using her cell phone to videotape alleged animal abuse occurring at a slaughterhouse The case, however, was dismissed without prejudice after it was established that she was on public property at the time.

“Ag-gag legislation threatens a wide array of public interests—including animal welfare and food safety—by silencing the very people in a position to document abuse,” said Nancy Perry, senior vice president of ASPCA Government Relations. ”We hope the defeat of these 11 bills encourages lawmakers to shift their focus toward achieving accountability for those who are inflicting abuse on animals and putting consumers at risk instead of focusing on misleading efforts to suppress whistleblowers who want to expose those problems.”

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