VT Bill Tracking
Here are some of the bills that would affect agriculture that Rural Vermont is currently tracking in the Statehouse. Some of them are bills we support, some we have concerns about, and some we have no position on. Where possible, links are provided to the legislative bill tracking system, where the text of the bills can be read and their progress through the Statehouse followed.
H.0112: An act relating to the labeling of food produced with genetic engineering
S.0089: An act relating to food produced with genetic engineering. The Vermont Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act will require food sold in retail outlets such as grocery stores (not including restaurants) to be labeled if produced with genetically engineered ingredients. In addition to this disclosure, genetically engineered foods will be prohibited from being advertised as ‘natural.’ With advice from Vermont Law School’s Environmental and Natural Resources Law Clinic this legislation has been drafted to insulate Vermont from potential biotechnology and big food industry law suits. Furthermore, to align Vermont with the national labeling movement, these bills have been drafted to be as consistent to international standards and what is being proposed in other states as possible. H.112 is gaining most of the attention as the House Agricultural committee heard a lot of testimony during the 2012 legislative session and has just recently passed it out of the committee. After clearing the House Judiciary Committee, we look forward to an upcoming vote on the floor of the Vermont House.
H.0490: An act relating to authorizing industrial hemp licenses
S.157: The bill drafted by the Senate Agricultural committee simply allows the Vermont Agency of Agriculture to issue permits to cultivate hemp, effective on July 1, 2013, thus contrary to the federal prohibitions in the Controlled Substance Act. The bill simplifies the permitting process to make it efficient and manageable. The bill also stipulates that the Agency of Agriculture attach a warning notice to each permit that discloses that cultivating hemp would still be in violation of the Federal Controlled Substance Act. This would notify farmers that they could risk property forfeiture, loss of agricultural loans, and other federal aid programs if convicted on federal charges. In the House, Representative Teo Zagar, along with 15 cosponsors, introduced H. 490 to authorize the Agency of Agriculture to issue hemp permits on July 1, 2013. H.490 does not address the permitting process. As the Senate Agriculture Committee has already passed S.157, we anticipate working more with the House Agriculture committee to pass legislation this year.
S.70: An act relating to the sale of raw milk at farmers’ markets. S.70 was introduced by Sen. John Rodgers (Caledonia-Essex-Orleans) on behalf of his constituent Frank Huard, to allow Tier Two raw milk producers the ability to sell raw milk at farmers’ markets. However, following substantial testimony by Frank, his customers, and staff from the Agency of Agriculture and Health Dept., the bill became more complicated and picked up a lot of provisions that would place additional restrictions on all raw milk producers, including mandatory registration for all raw milk producers. When it became clear that the Senate Ag committee intended to pass the bill with the increased restrictions, concerns were raised. The Committee then amended the bill and removed the registration provision before a Senate floor vote. The amendment and S.70 both passed on a voice vote. Although S.70 does not provide the kind of comprehensive reform that Rural Vermont is seeking, we hope that when it gets over to the House we may be able to improve it.
H.0515: An act relating to miscellaneous agricultural subjects. The House Agricultural committee passed out a “miscellaneous” housekeeping bill that covers multiple issues. Related to Rural Vermont’s issue work, we are paying close attention to two particular provisions of this legislation. One provision of the bill links current Vermont itinerant slaughter laws to the Federal Code of Regulations, and another provision removes the prohibition of slaughter house employees from engaging in itinerant slaughter. As H.515 moves to the Senate for review, Rural Vermont will be monitoring the bill to ensure the interests of family farmers are represented.
Other Bills that may be of interest to Rural Vermont members:
H.0162: An act relating to creating a tiered benefit structure in the Use Value Program
H.0202: An act relating to the definition of farming for purposes of the Use Value Program
H.0329: An act relating to the Use Value Program
H.0365: An act relating to Act 250 jurisdiction in flood hazard areas and river corridors
H.0448: An act relating to Act 250 and primary agricultural soils
H.0449: An act relating to Act 250 and primary agricultural soils
H.0514: An act relating to the tax liability of certain agricultural workers and employers
S.0097: An act relating to farm structures