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Legislation could lessen restrictions for roadside stand owners

Published 10:41pm Tuesday, June 15, 2010

By KATIE JOHNSON
Niles Daily Star

New Michigan legislation may make it easier for roadside stands, farmers’ markets and small producers to grow their businesses.

Rep. John Proos, R-St. Joseph has sponsored House Bill 5280 to lessen Michigan Department of Agriculture restrictions for food production.

The bipartisan legislation, which was approved unanimously by the House of Representatives Tuesday, would not require food be made in MDA-certified kitchens if businesses generates less than $15,000 per year.

“We’ve seen a real barrier to entry to these small businesses,” Proos said Monday. “A lot of those farmer’s markets and the producers coordinate with local bakers and cooks and chefs and so forth to produce various products that showcase the produce that is grown in the region. Many of those are small producers. Small producers cannot sometimes legally use the produce without making it in certified kitchens – a minimum $15,000, depending on retrofitting, to meet the requirements.”

The legislation – modeled after states that have passed the same or similar legislation – does call for safety measures, like labels including lists of ingredients that also fulfill federal requirements, like identifying potential allergens.

“We certainly don’t want there to be food-borne illness in our products,” Proos said.
The legislation will continue to the Senate for approval before heading to the governor’s desk. Gov. Granholm has not offered her opinion on the legislation; however, she governs over the MDA, which has been at negotiation tables. If signed, the legislation would take effect immediately.

The committee process sought input on the legislation from a workgroup made up of the Michigan Department of Agriculture, Michigan Farm Bureau, Farmers Market Association and lawmakers.

Where can I buy local?

To locate Michigan farmer’s markets, visit www.farmersmarkets.msu.edu.

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