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Libertas Institute supports this bill.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has stated, as its official opinion, that “There is no absolute right to consume… any particular food.” This statement, contained in a reply to a lawsuit filed against it by the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund, lays bare the thinking behind voluminous federal laws and regulations governing the production and sale of food, as exemplified in the contentious passage of the Food Safety Modernization Act a few years ago, which significantly expanded the regulatory reach of this federal agency.
Last year, we published a public policy brief establishing opposition to this claim, asserting that individuals do indeed have the right to grow and consume food, and that neighbors and consumers have the right to acquire food at a farm, free of burdensome regulations intended for—and properly applied only to—food meant to be acquired at restaurants or retail outlets where the consumer is totally unaware of the food’s source and safety.
House Bill 277, sponsored by Representative Marc Roberts, advances this initiative by aiming to statutorily exempt direct-to-consumer food sales from certifiation, licensure, regulation, or inspection by the state. This exemption would apply to food that is:
- both produced and sold within the state;
- sold directly to an informed end consumer (who does not resell the food); and
- for home consumption only (not used in preparation at restaurants, sold at retail establishments, etc.).
Before selling food that has been exempted, the producer is required to tell the end consumer that the food is not certified, licensed, regulated, or inspected by the state. Effectively, this creates a “buyer beware” scenario, and allows consumers to access local foods for lower costs, as the producer would not be required to comply with costly regulations designed and properly applied only to producers whose food is sold to individuals who have no awareness regarding the source or safety of the food.