2011 Legislative Summary

A summary of the state legislative issues affecting sustainable food & farming systems that The Network tracked during the 2011 Legislative Session

The bills and issues listed below affect sustainable food and farming systems. Click here for our  legislative summary  as of May 24 2011.

Restore WIC - Farmers Market Nutrition Program (FMNP) Funding for FY 2012-13 - BUDGET PROTECTS!

Background: The Governor’s budget eliminates the WIC FMNP in FY 2012-13. Department of Health manages WIC FMNP and we urge funding for FY 2012-13 to be restored. DOH is proposing to eliminate FMNP funding and instead allow the more general WIC Nutrition Fruit and Vegetable check to be used to purchase fruits and vegetables from any type of store including farmers markets. By eliminating the program, there will not be a requirement to spend WIC funds at farmers markets. We believe this will significantly hurt farmers that participate in the WIC FMNP and will hurt markets that rely on the FMNP sales to attract vendors. The WIC FMNP leveraged $613,000 federal dollars in 2010. This is a strong program that brings in significant federal dollars, helps our farmers, our children and our local economy! Without a state program, the federal dollars will go to another state, not Washington. The Network urges the legislature to transfer $100K from 2012 funding to 2013 funding. This will not change the governor’s budget but it will ensure maintenance of the program to receive vital federal dollars. The House budge proposal did not include our budget request. The Senate budget proposal did include our budget transfer request. The budget released today includes the transfer, restoring WIC-FMNP  for 2012 and 2013!  Download our outreach flyer  for information a list of organizations, farms and farmers markets that endorse restoring the program.

SB 5029 and HB 1172: Wine & Beer Sampling Pilot at Farmers Market - PASSED!

Background: Under current law beer & wine sampling is not allowed at Farmers Markets. Senator Jeanne Kohl-Welles introduced SB 5029 and Rep Kenney introduced HB 1172 to create a beer & wine-sampling pilot project at farmers markets to allow limited sampling at selected markets for the 2011 season. SB 5029 passed the Senate 41 to 4 and has corssed over to the house with a hearing scheduled for March 17th 10am before the House Committee on State Government and Tribal Affairs. HB 1172 passed the House 77 to 21 and has crossed over to the Senate with a hearing March 17th 10am before the Senate Committee on Labor and Commerce & Consumer Protection. WSFFN urges passage. It passed!

Protect WSDA Small Farm Direct Marketing Program Budget - BUDGET ELIMINATES FUNDING

Background: The House and Senate supplemental budget cuts $291,000 to WSDA Marketing Division which includes the Small Farm Direct Marketing and the Farm to School programs as well as the International Marketing program.  The House and Senate are now working on the biennium budget and WSFFN is concerned they will propose biennium budget cuts to these vital programs that help our farmers.  WSFFN urges maintaining the existing budgets for the Small Farm Direct Marketing and the Farm to School programs because they are strategic investments in building a more local and sustainable food system.  They create local jobs and leverage significant federal dollars into our state. Click here to see our Good Food Coalition's letter to the Ways & Means Committee asking to protect the Domestic Marketing Program and Farm to School. The budget eliminates all general funds for WSDA's Domestic Marketing Program which includes Farm to School and Small Farm Direct Marketing.

SB 5748 Cottage Food Operations - PASSED!

SB 5748 allows cottage food operations to produce food in residential kitchens. Currently they are required to use a commercial kitchen. The bill defines cottage food operations as persons who in residential kitchens produce food that is not potentially hazardous, such as jams, jellies, fruit butter and preserves. Gross sales must be less than $15,000 and must be sold directly to the consumer. Labeling is required. The Senate House and Governor passed SB 5748. It become law on July 22 2011!

 

HB 1801, SB 5653- Model Food Procurement Policy for all State Agencies  DID NOT PASS

Background: HB 1801 and companion SB 5653 recognizes that the State has a role in improving nutritional health and as an employer, food purchased and caregiver, state government should model its behavior in the purchase and service of food. The bill requires Dept of General Administration to adopt a model food purchasing policy for all agencies which meet certain nutritional standards and strongly encourages purchase of Washington grown food. Victor Coleman with the Childhood Obesity Prevention Coalition is the lead. WSFFN urges adoption. HB 1801 was heard in the State Government and Tribal Affairs Committee.

SB 5359 Open Space Revision - PASSED!

Background: These bills are revision to Open Space Program (RCW 84.34.020). SB 5359 and companion House Bill1060 expands “ownership” to allow parcels if managed as one “farm” operation and owned by members of the same family, to be eligible for the open space designation and the associated tax relief.  The Senate passed 5359 40 to 0 and it has crossed over to The House and a hearing is scheduled before the House Committee on Ag and Natural Resources on March 11th 8 am. WSFFN supports these bills as they will encourage farming and farmland preservation. It passed!

Natural Resource Reform – Maintain WA Conservation Commission Independence - GOOD NEWS NO MERGER!

Background: The Governor’s proposal moves WA Conservation Commission under the WSDA. Our concern is that WCC will lose independence and ability to work with many different interests to promote conservation. Program activities would be set by WSDA not WCC. Proposed merger est. savings is $100–200K and WSFFN does not believe the savings justify the impacts.  WSFFN, WA Assoc of Conservation Districts, Dairy Federation, Wheat Growers, Pacific Shellfish Growers, WA Cattlemen’s Assoc and others oppose the merger. No merger!!!

SB 5648- Small Dairy Exemption - DID NOT PASS

Background: Senator Kevin Ranker is sponsoring SB 5648 which would exempt small dairies that sell direct to the consumer from current dairy regulations (RCW 15.36). (i.e. dairies with less than 2 milking cows, 9 sheep or goats, no advertising, and sell only from the farm where produced) similar to exemptions in Oregon, Vermont and Maine. Referred to Ag and Rural Development Committee. Bill did not make committee cutoff and died.

SB 5191- Deleting RCW 28A.320.185 ie School Gardens or farms GOOD NEWS - DID NOT PASS

Background: SB 5191 proposes relief to public school districts by eliminating and delaying numerous school requirements. The proposed bill eliminates, among others,  RCW 28A.320.185 which clarifies that schools MAY operate school gardens or farms. WSFFN does NOT support elimination of the RCW because 1) it does not require schools to operate gardens it is already optional in the statute and 2) it clarifies that if a school wants to feed its students garden produce, it must meet appropriate safety standards. Still in Rules. WSFFN does not support this bill as written.

Fund Washington Recreation and Wildlife Program (WWRP)

Background: WWRP could protect 15 farmland projects worth $8.73million as conservation easements preserving prime agricultural lands. Was not funded. Contact PCC Farmland Trust for more information.

 

 

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