So many people have contacted us with their concerns about the Food Bill that I requested a further meeting with officials to discuss these concerns (officials have already agreed to amend the bill to make it clear it will not apply to seed saving, in response to a request from me.)
I concluded from my briefing with officials that the Food Bill has ended up inadvertently capturing things like home gardening, bartering and seed exchange, which should never have been covered in the bill in the first place, because of its broad coverage and definitions (eg its definition of sale includes bartering).
Officials argue that the Director General will be able to exempt entire categories of groups, such as those engaged in bartering or selling direct to consumers at Farmers Markets from coverage of the bill, and this is their intention.
The problem is that these exemptions will be at the Director General’s discretion, and so there is no certainty that they will happen.
So, I have proposed to officials that a much better approach is to amend the bill now so that it automatically exempts all home growers , people selling directly to consumers, people involved in bartering or food exchange etc.
Officials are considering my request.
Even more problematic is the way the Food Bill cracks down on those selling small amounts of produce to a retailer, such as twenty lettuces to the local vegetable shop.
I have therefore proposed that home growers who sell small amounts of produce locally also be exempt from the bill . This exemption should be extended to small certified organic growers, as they already have to follow organic standards and get audited, so they hardly need a further layer of regulation, bureaucracy and costs.
We will be pushing hard for these amendments and will likely vote against the Food Bill if it continues to progress through Parliament in its current form.
More posts on the Food Bill
The Food Bill, not as sweet as first appeared – Steffan Browning, 18 January 2012
Mojo And Steffan lead Green response to Food Bill – Mojo Mathers, 21 December 2011