Governor Brown Signs Seed Exchange Democracy Act

New Law Supports Food Security and Resilience by Promoting Seed Sharing

Sacramento, California – September 12 – On Friday, Governor Jerry Brown signed into law the Seed Exchange Democracy Act, an amendment to the California Seed Law promoting food security, urban agriculture, and climate resilience by removing regulatory barriers to noncommercial seed sharing activities, including seed libraries. Introduced by Assemblymember Marc Levine (D-10), AB 1810 exempts non-commercial seed sharing activities from industrial labeling, testing, and permitting requirements. The new law will increase access to healthy and nutritious food by fostering stronger local seed systems and encouraging seed saving.

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Calling all fans of local seed in California!

The California Seed Exchange Democracy Act will be up for a vote in the State Senate Agriculture Committee on June 21. We need your help to pass this bill to legalize seed sharing!

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Update on the new homemade food bill!

By Christina Oatfield, Sustainable Economies Law Center (SELC) Policy Director

 

I recently blogged about new legislation seeking to expand the legal scope of the sales of homemade meals and we at the Sustainable Economies Law Center (SELC) co-hosted a town hall about it last Wednesday, April 20. Here’s a continuation on that story with some major updates and reflections on the future of homemade food in California….

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A New Homemade Food Act

In late February of this year California State Assemblymember Cheryl Brown introduced AB 2593, a bill to legalize the sales of homemade food, including hot meals, within certain limits. The bill would provide a dramatic expansion of California citizens’ ability to legally sell homemade food. Sustainable Economies Law Center (SELC) was heavily involved in advocating for the California Homemade Food Act of 2012, a.k.a the cottage food law, authored by Assemblymember Mike Gatto. So we wanted to post about this new bill, although SELC is not sponsoring or supporting it at this time.

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Legislature Passes AB 234

Last Friday the California State Legislature passed AB 234 - a bill to improve the law affecting "community food producers" and gleaners who provide fresh fruits and vegetables to people in California.

You can read more about the bill and legal background in our previous Food News Blog post here.

The bill is now on the Governor's desk awaiting his signature or veto. This is the last step in the lawmaking process. We will know by October 11 whether this bill will become law effective January 1, 2016. We think that it is very likely that the Governor will sign the bill. We will write a follow-up post after the Governor announces what he has decided to do with the bill.

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Changing Laws Affecting Community Food Producers

Christina_Oatfield_Food_News_blog_photo.jpgAt the Sustainable Economies Law Center (SELC) we frequently run up against the challenge of agricultural and food safety laws that are not designed with the local food movement in mind. So many of these laws are clearly designed to facilitate a food system comprised of long distribution chains catering to very large enterprises. The idea of direct, farmer-to-consumer transactions is sometimes just not contemplated as a real possibility by the law.

We at SELC believe that agricultural regulations should be more risk-appropriate and scale-appropriate in order to remove unnecessary barriers to small-scale sustainable farming, community-supported enterprises, farmer-to-consumer sales, and local food consumption generally. That's why we have advocated for laws such as the California Homemade Food Act and the Neighborhood Food Act, and supported local initiatives to legalize urban agriculture, among our many policy campaigns.

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Food Bikes

The Sustainable Economies Law Center (SELC) has been delighted to host Berkeley Food Institute summer fellow John Romankiewicz, who is looking at the barriers to entering the mobile food business, with a particular focus on food bikes! What’s a food bike you ask? It’s a low-footprint, low-capital alternative to a food truck. If you’ve ever traveled around Asia or Latin America, you know that most “street food” is peddled by cart or bicycle as opposed to food trucks. Some examples of local food businesses getting around the East Bay by bicycle include Bicycle Coffee, El Taco Bike, and Curbside Creamery (left to right, below).

 

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