The Future of Farmland (Part 2): Grabbing the Land Back

By Neil Thapar, Food and Farmland Attorney //

black-land-matters-v3-png-design.pngThe first part of this blog introduced the most recent iteration of domestic land grabs, by way of Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs). These investment schemes threaten an equitable and sustainable future for farmland ownership and stewardship by prioritizing profits, commodifying land as a financial asset, and consolidating ownership with absentee-landlords. As the farmland REIT sector grows, Sustainable Economies Law Center is busy researching and piloting alternative models of farmland ownership that prioritize racial equity, ecological sustainability, and long-term stewardship. While consolidation, characterized most recently by REITs, represents the history of farmland ownership, we see the democratic, cooperative, and community-controlled models below as the future.

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The Future of Farmland (Part 1): The New Land Grab

By Neil Thapar, Food and Farmland Attorney //

Land-Grab-300x200.jpgIf you don’t follow investment trends, you may not know that one of the hottest investment opportunities in recent years is land, specifically farmlandMany investors, weary of investing in the stock market in a post-Great Recession era, are seeking alternative, stable investment opportunities. Farmland values have historically increased at a steady rate. As an added bonus, investors can also profit from whatever agricultural activities take place on the land. The flood of investment over the last several years means that agricultural land itself is being treated more and more like a profitable financial asset, instead of a productive natural resource. In a decade where both the average value of farmland and age of farmers have hit all-time highs, increased Wall Street ownership of farmland threatens a just transition by furthering principles of profit maximization, financialization of land, and absentee ownership.

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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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