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Bill to Exempt Illinois Farmers Markets Advances

State Rep. Chapin Rose, a 38-year-old lawyer representing the rural area around Charleston, IL, is a man on a mission.

Starting his fifth term in the Illinois Assembly, the Republican lawmaker wants pictures on food stamp cards, only one license plate per car, and no state or local regulation of farmers markets.

Wednesday morning, the Illinois House Judiciary’s Civil Law Committee gave a “do pass” recommendation to Rose’s bill to deregulate food sold at farmers markets and charitable fund raising events.

House Bill 1483 got the green light after a quick public hearing and short debate by the committee charged with civil law matters.  

Deregulating farmers markets in the Land of Lincoln is no small item. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), there are 287 active farmers markets in Illinois, including the Charleston Farmers Market in Rose’s hometown.

While Illinois is one of a handful of states where both chambers of the Legislature remain in Democratic hands, Rose is a veteran lawmaker with an ambitious list of his own legislation.

House Bill 1483, which is now headed to the Assembly floor for a vote, would amend the Illinois Food Handling Regulation Enforcement Act. It would prohibit the Illinois Department of Public Health and any unit of local government (cities and counties) from regulating the sale of food at either charitable fundraising events or farmers markets.

The deregulation bill could also apply to thousands of charitable fundraising events over the course of a year.

To escape the food safety police, a charitable funding raising event would have be sponsored by a fraternal or religious organization; involve food sales; and be held for the purpose of raising money for the sponsoring organization.

The bill would cover any farmers market held in a public space where “regional farmers” sell produce and other food items to the public.

The ease at which Rose brought his bill through the committee may be an indication of how exemption bills like this can gain bipartisan support. At the federal level, exempting smaller producers from the FDA Food Safety and Moderation Act came in an amendment sponsored by Montana Sen. Jon Tester and North Carolina Sen. Kay Hagen, both Democrats.

Another bill in the Illinois Assembly is SB 0137, which would deregulate certain “cottage” foods made in home kitchens. It has been assigned to the Public Health Committee, and ahearing has not yet been scheduled.

© Food Safety News
  • Wes King

    My guess is that Mr. Flynn was not there in the committee hearing yesterday, becuase this is not an accurate representation of what occured. The main focus of HB 1483 is public health regulation of charitable fundraising events. Farmers markets were added to the bill because the Illinois Department of Public Health was dragging its feet on forming a taskforce to examine rules and regulations of farmers markets and coming up with a solution to inconsistencies between health departments and their regulation of farmers markets, that they were instructed to create by a House Resolution.
    If Mr. Flynn would have been there in committee he would have known that the bill was passed out under the agreement that it would be held on second reading while Rep. Rose negotiated with the deparment of public health to find a solution to the charitable fundraising event issue. And then the bill would return to committee with an amendment that included the compromise regarding charitable fundraising events and that it would strip the farmers market language from the bill. Rep Rose agreed to strip the farmers market language on the request of those in the local food movement who understand that total deregulation would be bad for farmers markets and that there were other bills out there that addressed his farmers market concerncs. Specificaly, SB 137 which this post menitioned. Also, SB 137 is not in the public health committee it is in Agriculture & Conservation now.

  • dangermaus

    This is exactly what I want. People should be able to buy food from someone they trust, without intervention. I understand that most people don’t want that everywhere, but this law (appears to) address the absolute prohibition of it that seems to have crept into the strangling webs of regualtions everywhere in this country. If you don’t like this, don’t go to farmers markets and stick to Aldi and Costco.
    This is supposedly a free country. It makes no sense to me that some Chicago health department inspector (perhaps with an “unofficial” quota of fines/closures to meet) should have absolute authority to tell me who I can trust to buy food from, or to punish either the farmer or myself for doing it.