Can Community Capital Finance the Next Generation of Farmers?

By Christina Oatfield, Policy Director //

After the 2008 economic recession, banks were more conservative about lending and the general public was more aware of the flaws in our financial institutions and related regulations. Since then, small businesses, start-ups, nonprofits, investors, and ordinary folks with modest savings have shown growing interest in fundraising strategies such as crowdfunding, crowdinvesting, direct public offerings (DPOs), and community capital. These strategies all involve raising money from a large number of supporters, through donations or investment dollars from the business owner's friends and family, customers, and members of the broader community who wan8990215169_23df5741d9_q.jpgt the business to succeed. Community members who have a personal interest in or see the value of a local business are often  willing to take more risk or a more modest return on their investment than would a financial institution or investment professional who seek to maximize profits above all else. This is just one reason why beginning farmers might find community capital attractive.

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Homemade Food Bill (AB 626) Stalls in Assembly

By Christina Oatfield, Policy Director

We recently learned that AB 626, the currently pending California homemade food bill, has stalled in the Assembly Appropriations Slide35.JPGCommittee, meaning that no more votes will happen this year. The committee will resume consideration of the bill in January.

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On Farmland Finance for the Next Generation of Farmers

By Christina Oatfield, Sustainable Economies Law Center Policy Director

I just stumbled upon an opinion piece by Adam Calo in the San Francisco Chronicle from several months back, which describes the crisis of farmland access and ownership facing beginning farmers. It very poignantly calls on farmers and eaters to engage in policy, specifically around farmland ownership and lack of access to farmland on reasonable lease terms for beginning farmers.

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New Homemade Food Legislation - 2017

On Tuesday, a bill was introduced in the California legislature to expand the types of homemade foods allowed to be sold in California, especially hot meals. The bill, AB 626, was introduced by Assemblymembers Eduardo Garcia and Joaquin Arambula, however, the bill is still in “spot bill” form, meaning that the full details are not yet written in the public record. The current bill just paints a picture in broad brushstrokes of what the two Assemblymembers seek to achieve. Nevertheless, this is really exciting and potentially groundbreaking legislation! However, after much deliberation and meetings with stakeholders around the state, we’ve decided that we will only support further homemade food legislation if it ensures some form of community ownership of any web platforms intermediating the sale of homemade foods.

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Stockton Mom Prosecuted for Selling Homemade Food

By Christina Oatfield, Sustainable Economies Law Center Policy Director

 

Reports emerged this week that a single mother in Stockton, California named Mariza Ruelas is being prosecuted by the San Joaquin County district attorney for selling homemade food - an alleged violation of the California Health and Safety Code’s provisions on food safety. According to the Washington Post, the LA Times, the Guardian, and numerous other media outlets, she could face fines, years of jail time and one or more misdemeanors on her record. Mariza reports that she was a member of a club that meets regularly to share, casually barter, and occasionally sell food. She told the Washington Post “There wasn’t anybody selling it daily. A lot of times, they were just getting back what they put into the ingredients.”

 

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Preliminary Feedback on New Homemade Food Sales Policy

By Christina Oatfield, Sustainable Economies Law Center Policy Director

 

Over the last few weeks, we’ve been having some interesting discussions with environmental health regulators, homemade food producers, commercial food producers, farmers’ market managers, and other stakeholders on our tentative legislative proposal to greatly expand the scope of homemade food sales in California to also include hot meals, fresh salads, and other perishable foods not currently on the list of allowed foods for home kitchens. We’ve been discussing this idea a lot recently, and you can catch up on the conversation by reading our previous posts here. Looking for more basic information on the existing law? Check out our Homemade Food Act page here.

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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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