Monthly Archives: February 2016

The Erma Bombeck of Food Freedom in VA

Loisforblog

Lois Smith, President of VICFA

One of my dear friends I met many years ago is Lois Smith.  A sweet and sassy farmsteading mother of seven.  How appropriate that we met at the General Assembly.  She has a fierce streak for protecting liberty and a hilarious streak  once you get to know her.  A full quarter of what she says is tweetable.

Not only is she funny, she is savvy – politically savvy.  Current president of VICFA, she has been in the trenches for 15 years, guarding the home kitchen exemptions ( VA Code 3.2- 5130) from an over reaching bureaucracy called VDACS.  She knows all the members current and past  of the Agriculture committees for both the House and the Senate.  She knows who is a freedom  loving republican and who is owned by the lobbyists.  She knows all the lobbyists and even has compassion for a few.  She knows Food Freedom crosses political lines and which democrats shook hands with republicans  to promote the good for all.

Lois is the kind of person who is principled and selfless. There are many new young farmers and  food artisans out there  who take advantage with neither concern  nor knowledge of the hard fought rights VICFA had gained or protected. While they sell their goods,  Lois has little time to grow or promote her own farm and goods because  she stands on the wall guarding us.

There is no higher example than when she shepherded the 2016 Food Freedom Act until the end.  She woke up February 1st at 5 am and milked her cow. She then went to work all day, drove to Richmond General Assembly to  see the bill be heard a SECOND time at the 4:30 Agriculture Subcommittee hearing, then went to school until ten p.m. that night.  All for the benefit of people she will never know.  And she isn’t even paid.

I wish there were more Lois-es out there.  Those who understand the value of a home cooked meal, in its terms of  nutrition, economics, community stability and environmental impact, and who can crack a joke so funny it will make your sides split with uncontrollable laughter.

Take the opportunity to  make it to the next VICFA Meeting.  Its the second Sunday of every month at noon.  See their website for details and sign up for the newsletters and action alerts.  You will love the people you meet and Lois is guaranteed to make you smile!

 

 

 

The Queen and Her Knight

sandy-adams-2015

Ruler of Pumpkin Pies

We rid ourselves from Royalty centuries ago, but Sandy Adams, Commissioner of Agriculture controls the Old Dominion, at least in the area of food.

Monday evening, January  25th,  the amended Food Freedom Act,  house bill 619, pared down greatly to just allow baked goods such as pumpkin pies, passed the house agriculture subcommittee.   There was no opposition from Farm Bureau nor Agribusiness Council.  VDACS (Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services)  made no opposition either.  They were present at the bill hearing.

Moving along in parliamentary procedure, the bill, was scheduled to be heard Wednesday, January 27th at 8:30 am.   Lois Smith, president of VICFA was ready to be on hand for any amendments and to testify for the anticipated passage of the bill.  Just before the hearing, she was informed that VDACS had an issue with the bill and it would not be heard in the full committee.   Why did they not mention it Monday night? They were there and could hear fine.   The full committee meeting was just an hour and a half away, they could  make their testimony then, in front of 22 members.

Determined to see the bill pass,  Smith met with VDACS Commissioner Sandy Adams and Dr. Wilkes  to strike a friendly amendment.  A compromise was suggested to add language for what temperature to hold the  foods.   Adams said NO.  We don’t like the bill, period.  We will give you no compromise. You have enough foods you can sell without my approval.  You get no pumpkin pies!!  Interestingly enough, when asked what the regulations were currently on pumpkin pies, neither Adams nor Wilkes could answer.

I thought only our delegates legislate.  At the Food Freedom Task force meetings in 2014, VDACS held that they only follow law, they don’t make it.

It seems something has changed,  maybe she has a Knight that she controls and will do her bidding.  Delegate Barry Knight, that is,  Chairman of the  House Agriculture sub committee and a 12,000  Hog contractor for Smithfield.

It seems Adams has the ability to have a bill  RE-HEARD  because the vote did not go the way she wanted.   How can that be? How can a bill that was heard, voted on in the sub committee and PASSED not be heard in the FULL committee?   Is it within parliamentary procedure for a Chairman to reschedule a vote for a bill that was heard that was on its way to full committee?  How much power does a chairman have? How much power does the state have?

Monday night Feb 1, 2016,  the bill actually was sent back down to the sub committee and presented again.  This time it DIED without a motion.

Let this journey of simple pumpkin pie freedom be a lesson for us all.  We need a constitutional amendment to secure the right to acquire the foods we want.