The first amendments in six years to Wyoming’s much-cited Food Freedom Act are now pending with the Legislature in Cheyenne.
Senate File (SF) No. 102 is sponsored by Senators Salazar, Barlow, Biteman, Boner, Driskill, Hutchings, and Steinmetz and Representatives Neiman, Ottman, Penn, and Somers. As the prime sponsor, Sen. Tim Salazar, R-Riverton, is confident the bill will be adopted and signed into law,
The Wyoming Food Freedom Act was originally adopted in 2015, setting the new ground for marketing homemade food. Its first amendments came in 2017. SF No. 102 adds the concept of a “designated agent” that may “facilitate sales transactions” in the marketing, transport, storage, or delivery of food and beverage products.
Wyoming lawmakers view their Food Freedom Act as a “home run,” with no evidence that the trade in homemade food is making people sick. The act also allows commercial sellers to sell inspected and uninspected foods side-by-side as long there is a separate cash register and barrier provided.
The Wyoming Food Freedom act recognizes direct transactions between the producer and the consumer. The amended version for 2023 adds producers of eggs and products to those who can sell their products at farmer’s markets, farms and ranches, and homes and offices.
The changes Sen. Salazar came up with, including the role of a “designated agent” were proposed after raw milk dairy sellers began collecting payments in a milk pail. The raw milk is left at a “farmer’s market” store and the consumer picking some up puts money in the pail under an “honor system.”
The Wyoming Department of Agriculture does not view the milk pail as any different than any other direct payment system. The amended version of the Food Freedom Act would prevent the state from promulgating any standards that are required by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Salazar says SF No. 102 is “extremely important” to local producers in his Fremont County. The bill is assigned to the Senate Agricuture Committee
The 2017 amendments changed the Food Freedom Act “to allow for a producer’s production and sale of homemade food or drink for an informed end consumer’s home consumption and to encourage the expansion of agricultural sales at farmers’ markets, ranches, farms and producers’ homes.”
The clarifications made in 2017 also included:
- Creating definitions for “homemade,” “producer,” “process” and “this act.”
- Homemade food products are specifically exempt from state licensure, permitting, inspection, packaging, and labeling requirements.
- Meat products and animals that may be sold under the act are identified.
- Farmers markets, farms, ranches, producer homes and offices are all named as places where transactions may occur.
- Permitting state agencies, upon request, to provide assistance, consultation and inspection services.
Rabbit and fish were added as products consumers can purchase directly from producers, and Wyoming adopted a 1,000 bird exemption that is modeled after a federal regulation permitting the butcher and annual sale of up to 1,000 chickens directly to consumers.
Nothing in the Wyoming Food Freedom Act precludes the Wyoming Department of Health from investigating outbreaks of foodborne illnesses, nor does it in anyway impacts state brand inspections.
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