As a representative from Wextern Colorado Congress of Mesa County, I testified about the importance of economic diversity, and how agri-tourism could help to fill the jobs gap for those who are still unemployed in Mesa County.
The bill passed out of committee on a 5-1 vote, with one Republican Senator voting against the bill. The two points of contention were the requirement for labeling and a mandate for producers to have liability insurance. The insurance requirement was placed in the bill in order to get the support of the Farmer’s Union, who were against the bill during the last session. Two of the GOP Senators expressed concern that producers were being required to purchase an insurance product that may not be affordable or available. The labeling requirements were placed in the bill to satisfy concerns of the health department.
Watching the hearing was amusing, in a black humor sort of way. The two GOP Senators who seemed to have most concern with the law began their attack with an assumption that a whole new layer of regulations were being imposed on small farmers. Nothing could be further from the truth—this bill was designed to exempt small producers from commercial kitchen and inspection requirements. Once they figured that out, they persisted in their anti-regulation rant, probably out of force of habit. In the end the one no vote was because of the requirement to put labels on these feeds.
Speaking strictly as a consumer, I’ve been trained to read labels for ingredients and nutritional values. I’m not sure I would buy a food that didn’t have at least the ingredients listed on a label. I’m sure there are many consumers just like me. Essentially, the Senator with the no vote was saying that it’s okay if sales can’t be made to consumers like me, thus limiting the business potential for these food producers. Dumb.