Tag Archives: HB1290

I carried your voice

By Bernadette Barber www.virginiafooedfreedom.org

Dear friends, I represented your voice in the House Agriculture Subcommittee in Richmond, VA  on  Monday, February 2nd, 2015, whichVa Captial was Chaired by Delegate Danny Marshall, (R-14).  House Bill 1290   was introduced by Delegate Rob Bell (R-58).  It is the third time the Food Freedom Act has been introduced in the General Assembly. Delegate Marshall made it clear he knows the issue and did not want more time on it. It was videotaped so the people can see the proceedings and how each member considered the bill, what questions were asked by those members and how they voted.

When Delegate Bell introduced the bill, he made the case that although most everyone shops at major grocery stores, many people would like the opportunity to purchase directly from a food artisan and we should be able to make that responsible decision. He made three points. One was that small producers should not be impeded by over burdensome regulation, two that consumers should have the right to choose via caveat emptor, and three, Virginia was founded on small farms who sold  locally.

Dwayne McIntyre, farmer, father of five and chairman of Russell county republican party was the first speaker. He stated that his testimony last year was on liberty. This year he chose common sense as a theme and used examples of common food items that are currently purchased that are deemed as potentially dangerous, but still available for sale requiring only a label. Among those items were steaks, alcoholic beverages, tobacco, peanut butter, and honey. He mentioned all his children were raised on raw milk.

I spoke next and I addressed the issues of raw milk and the federal meat inspection program’s cooperative agreement with the state. Knowing the VA chapter of the American Academy of Pediatric Association’s lobbyist would bring up misinformation about raw milk, I shared the story of the healing of my own son, who for the first four years of his life was heavily medicated for allergies and spent too many times in the emergency room for febrile seizures. When he was four years old, I took his health into my own hands and got him on raw milk and he since has been allergy free for four years, off all medication, not since been to a hospital or even a doctor. He is that healthy.

The final point I made addressed the false claim I knew would be made by the opposition – that the passage  of the food freedom act would  jeopardize the cooperative agreement the state has with the USDA on the Federal Meat  Inspection Program. Since meat processing is  controlled by the federal government, all slaughter and primary processing are done in inspected facilities. Foods being made for sale in home kitchens would have to have meat that came from an inspected facility.

Bernedette and Holder

Bernadette and Holder Trumbo

The next person that was allowed to speak was Holder Trumbo, a supervisor from  Fauquier County.  He brought with him a resolution passed by the Fauquier County Board of Supervisors in support of the Food Freedom Act. He made an excellent appeal for the small producer, even though he owns a grocery store.  He knows the Food Freedom Act will benefit all farmers and citizens.

Industry hacks

Those who oppose your food freedom. They look like a happy bunch don’t they?

Farm Bureau’s lobbyist,  Lindsay Reames, VA Agribusiness Council’s  Brad Copenhaver and  Virginia State Dairymen’s Association’s Eric Paulson  all spoke in opposition to the bill.  The major objection was the raw milk.  Lindsay Reames made the point that it was because of Farm Bureau that the local food movement exists.  She used the wrong causation, it was from a rejection of the  licensed,  industrially processed globalized  foods that farm bureau promotes, that the local foods movement  has sprung.

Thomas Massie,  a representative for Virginia Veterinary Medical Association, who could not argue the meat inspection issue, said he had concerns about the way animals were raised. Dressed in a white lab coat,  Dr. Bartle, a member of the Virginia Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics  spoke against the bill citing  CDC statistics. After testimony was heard, Del. Charles Poindexter, (R-09) made a motion to table the bill, Del. Barry Knight (R-81) seconded the motion. Del. Will Morefield (R-03) was the only delegate to object to the tabling (killing) of the bill.

The next bill of Food Freedom interest was the Three Cow exemption, hb1461, also known as the Raw Milk bill.  Del Rick Morris (R-64)  introduced it. He spoke of how in 1948 VA code allowed for a three cow exemption so farmers could sell direct. In 1950 when the code was rewritten, the exemption was omitted.  As a part of his testimony, Rick drank a glass of Raw milk provided by his constituent Micah Beachy. He

Del. Morris and Micah Beachy

Del. Morris and Micah Beachy

shared that when he was a child, he would ride his bike to the neighboring dairy farm, fill a jug from the tank and leave a quarter in return.

Micah Beachy was the first to speak. He passed out folders to each delegate that held statistical information and studies on raw milk. He had brought half pint jars of raw milk from his own cow that were carefully labeled and gave one to each member of the subcommittee.  He also brought a half gallon jar of it to share with the crowd which was poured into cups, passed around  and drank during the meeting.  He specifically offered some to Eric Paulson, who is known for not trusting the raw milk from his own dairy’s bulk tank.

Mr. Beachy cited many statistics and studies in favor of raw milk.  He brought up the fact that he is a member of Farm Bureau and that Farm Bureau does not speak for him and the commercial dairy farmers he knows about this issue. He also said that we are in a peaceful food revolution that this issue is not going away.

Christine Solem, a twenty-five-year veteran of the raw milk and local foods movement was brief in her testimony in favor of the bill. She said that although she was no longer milking and seeking to sell, she was 71 years old and seeking to find good raw milk to keep her bone density and longevity.

Joanna Moyer spoke next and was quite eloquent in her testimony, also reiterating the position that although she is a member of Farm Bureau, they do not speak for her on this issue. Joanna is the milkmaid in her family and wants to be an entrepreneur and stay on the farm, making artisan dairy foods. She stated that historically her mountainous region of VA which is very favorable to grazing animals and dairy farming was a lucrative sideline for many diversified farms and helped families keep cash flow in hard times.

Eric Paulson of the Virginia State Dairymen’s Association  spoke against the bill.  He claimed  to the House Subcommittee on Agriculture stating  breaking news on the CDC website on reported deaths from raw milk.  Upon further investigation, there were none.

Again, after testimony, Del.  Charles Poindexter, (R-09) made a motion to table the bill, and Del. Barry Knight (R-81) seconded the motion. Del. Will Morefield ( R-03) was the only delegate to object to the tabling of the bill.

A video of the hearing  can be seen here on our youtube channel http://bit.ly/1zfX4Nv

Please stay tuned for a Food Policy Legislative Workshop that will be held this summer. Thank you so much for following this issue and promoting Food Freedom.


Bernadette Barber and her husband Gary own and operate Tall Trees Farm in the Northern Neck. They view themselves as stewards of God’s green earth and conduct their farm in that light. Following the design of creation their cattle graze in lush verdant pastures; their hogs roam freely in the woods; their chickens and turkeys chase bugs and aerate the soil. She picked up her love for farming from her father who beat leukemia with an organic garden.

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The Time is Now

By Bernadette Barber4982722491_7342befb96_z

The time is now.

Thanks for sticking with me on this, we have made great progress.

The Virginia Food Freedom Act, hb 1290  and the “Three Cow Exemption” ( raw milk bill) hb 1461 will be heard in the House of Delegates Agriculture Subcommittee on,

MONDAY, FEBRUARY 2ND,   4:00 PM IN THE WEST CONFERENCE ROOM ON THE 7TH FLOOR OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY BUILDING.

Please call and /or write  the members of the Agriculture Subcommittee today and Monday. Alert the media in your area of this meeting and bring them along.

The following subcommittee members need to be contacted to let them be reminded of your support on these two very important pieces of legislation.  These delegates  need to vote yes on this bill.  Your encouragement will help.  All of them are your representatives on Agriculture issues, it does not matter if you are not in their district.  They represent you  on matters of food and farming.

Chairman Del. Danny Marshall, (R) District 14 804-698-1014 DelDMarshall@house.virginia.gov

Del. Bobby Orrock( R) District 54 804-698-1054  DelBOrrock@house.virginia.gov

Del. Charles Poindexter ( R) District 09 804-698-1009 DelCPoindexter@house.virginia.gov

Del. Barry Knight  (R) District 81 804-698-1081  DelBKnight@house.virginia.gov

Del. Will Morefield (R ) District 3 804-698-1003  DelJMorefield@house.virginia.gov

Del. Matthew James (D) District 80 804-6981080  DelMJames@house.virginia.gov

Del. Mark Keam (D) District 35 804-698-1035 DelMKeam@house.virginia.gov

Thank you for all your help, you are making a difference!!

Please join us on Monday, February 2nd  4 p.m.  at the General Assembly Building,  7th floor West Conference room.  Show your support,   Be heard!

Real change happens when everyday people like you and I take a stand for what we believe in.

Thank you for standing with me on this issue.


Bernadette Barber and her husband Gary own and operate Tall Trees Farm in the Northern Neck. They view themselves as stewards of God’s green earth and conduct their farm in that light. Following the design of creation their cattle graze in lush verdant pastures; their hogs roam freely in the woods; their chickens and turkeys chase bugs and aerate the soil. She picked up her love for farming from her father who beat leukemia with an organic garden.

LIVE, Food In the Lobby Day – Richmond, Va

By Matthew French
Once a year, Richmond is flooded with the baser sort. No, I’m not talking about theFood Freedom Logo return of our delegates for the first day of the legislative session, I’m talking about Lobby Day.
True, we are here to lobby for a bill, at least the Food Freedom Act won’t cost the taxpayer anything and won’t rob you of any freedoms.
I will be updating this post throughout the day for those who could not make it but would like to be kept in the know. I will add a timestamp so you can keep up with the latest.
You can also follow the hashtag #foodinthelobby on Twitter for
the latest.

3:30 pm – Meeting with Del. Pillion went well. He confirmed his support for HB 1290.


3:00 pm – We are trying to confirm that HB1290 will skip to full committee.


1:30 pm – Del. Will Morefield has committed to co-patronage of the Food Freedom Act.


10:00 am– The subcommittee meeting hearing the merits of HJ519 is over. Farm Bureau, Virginia Dairyman’s Association, and Virginia Agribusiness Counsel spoke in opposition to the amendment. The industrial Ag groups used the same old worn out lines. The highlight came towards the end when Rep. David Ramadan said, “I ain’t buying it. I grew up on raw milk.” We have a video we will share soon.

Update: You can see the video of Del. David Ramadan here.


8:30 am – Subcommittee meeting on hj519 constitutional amendment “Right to Aquire Food” is getting under way.


Matthew French is a farmer in southwest Virginia. He and his family operate their 200-year old farm where they raise pastured poultry, free-range pigs, grass-fed lamb and a variety of vegetables. You can find more from him at www.thefrenchfamilyfarm.com

Farm Bureau Is Bad People

By Matthew French
Likely in life you have met a person who, at first, seemed to be a great individual. You hung out with them, you had them over to dinner, you even took in a baseball game together. When times got tough for them you helped them out a little. But the more you were around them something nagged at you. Somewhere in the back of your mind you knew something wasn’t right. Over time, it was becoming clear that they weren’t, as we say, good people.

As I get older, and I hope a little wiser, I like to think I’m getting better at spotting the bad eggs of this world earlier. It’s not easy though, and I still sometimes need the help of another pair of eyes. Someone who has seen the not so pretty side of

How Farm Bureau works

How Farm Bureau works

someone.

Farm Bureau is one of those bad eggs. Growing up in an agricultural community Farm Bureau is part of it through and through. Every month a bill comes from them. Every month a magazine shows up in the mailbox. Every year you attend the annual banquet. It becomes ingrained in you that Farm Bureau is on the side of small farmers, just like us, all across the state.
But Farm Bureau is anything but for the small farmer and definitely not on the side of the consumer. They have stood in the way of many different bills that would have made it easier for farmers to do business. For a long time, they stood in the way of the Boneta Bill which protected farmers property rights.
No, Farm Bureau is not a friend of the small direct to consumer farm.
Lately, their target has been the Virginia Food Freedom Act. Last year they actively lobbied against the bill. On the day of the vote in the subcommittee, they stood with the delegation of opposition. Yes, they stood with those opposed to farmers being able to produce and sell more food to their customers.
One of those that spoke in opposition said that if that bill had passed that farmers would be slaughtering their cattle on the side of the road, hanging them from front loaders, and selling the cuts to people as they passed by. Farm Bureau aligned themselves with people who believe that farmers are so stupid that they don’t even understand basic food safety and that consumers are so stupid that they would buy from stupid farmers.
That’s right, Farm Bureau thinks farmers are stupid. Some friend, right?
But hold on it gets better. Last year my father attended the annual Farm Bureau Banquet. After all the cursory “look at how great Farm Bureau is” speeches and bragging about the legislation that they helped pass (one of which was the Boneta Bill), my father cornered the state Farm Bureau representative and asked him a few questions. One of the questions he asked was how come Farm Bureau was not supporting the Virginia Food Freedom Act. Would you believe he told my dad they were supporting it!
This was news to us. They have been one of our biggest detractors. Earlier last year they basically walked out of the Food Freedom Taskforce meetings without even making an offer. So now they are for the bill?
After many, many, phone calls, we were informed that the representative had misspoken. I personally believe this was a continuation of the deception they spin that they are for the small farmer.
If you are a member you had better be a good little submissive one. Don’t fall too far out of lock step or you may find yourself looking for insurance. I have heard several stories from across the state of farmers losing their insurance for asking questions at Farm Bureau meetings. And other stories of farmers losing their coverage for selling direct to consumers after years of coverage through Farm Bureau (Half way down the post is where they mention losing coverage https://www.facebook.com/InTheoryFarm/posts/894904803871699 ).
It took me some time, but I realized that Farm Bureau was not my friend. They are not on my side. No, my friends, Farm Bureau is not on the side of small farmers.
They are bad people.

Matthew French is a farmer in southwest Virginia. He and his family operate their 200-year old farm where they raise pastured poultry, free-range pigs, grass-fed lamb and a variety of vegetables. You can find more from him at www.thefrenchfamilyfarm.com

Liberty Is Risky

Liberty is risky.  When you let people make their own decisions and self-determine what they eat, decisions can be quite subjective.  You even risk making bad decisions or allowing scofflaws to sell snake oil.
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But is the answer government oversight on every decision?  Does regulating every morsel of food insure its safety? Certainly not, as the number of food-borne illnesses and recalls attest. The truth is that a perfect system does not exist. Offering more freedom is risky, but so is complete governmental control. Government experts marched together telling the populace to eat trans-fats and carbs. The official USDA food pyramid probably did more to destroy America’s health than any other single official act.
Subjecting all food to bureaucratic intervention between producer and buyer simply insures that all food must please bureaucrats. That’s an important reality. Government regulators are subject to the same nature as anyone else. Politics, power, and prestige afflict all people, regardless of where they work.
Pleasing bureaucrats requires pleasing cultural orthodoxy. What happens when the orthodoxy is wrong?  The heretics are burned at the stake nonetheless. Today, many of us dare to question the orthodoxy du jour.
Here is a sampling of today’s orthodoxy:
1.  Chemicals are safe; compost is unsafe.
2.  Mono-speciation is safe; multi-speciation is unsafe.
3.  Sterile is safe; biologically active is unsafe.
4.  People should not visit farms; people bring diseases.
5.  My body belongs to the state; self-determination is unsafe.
6.  People can’t be trusted;  people in government can be trusted.
7.  Local food can’t feed the world; we need concentrated animal feeding operations.
8.  Sick animals are merely pharmaceutically disadvantaged;  the terrain theory is nuts.
9.  Food should be cheap; expensive food is elitist.
10.  People are too stupid to make food decisions; bureaucrats must make all food decisions.
On it goes, but you see the drift. The orthodoxy is palpable and clear. But what do you do with nonconformists? Do you burn them at the stake? Or is it not indicative of a liberty-oriented, person-respecting, diversity-loving culture to let the heretics practice on themselves, to innovate?
Those who suggest that allowing food to be grown and sold without governmental intervention
will plague society with poor food and sick people have no basis for the assertion.  Today, those of us who want to produce for our neighborhoods do so with a plethora of knowledge and infrastructure unavailable to our ancestors. Microscopes, stainless steel, indoor plumbing, on-demand hot water, soap, and refrigeration were science fiction in our great-grandparents’ days.
The Virginia Farm Food Freedom Act, known as HB1290, leverages this knowledge and savvy to a futuristic place of innovative food. Rather than being stuck in outdated orthodoxy, freeing food and farm entrepreneurs to access their neighbors with heresy food like raw milk, home-made beef stew, and microwavable shepherd’s pie identifies Virginia as a place that embraces liberty and the future.
The future is always scary. Would you rather go there with several heretics, or securely wrapped
in the protection of today’s orthodoxy? Many of us would choose the heretics, knowing from history that these folks understand thought and practice freedom. When you’re facing uncertain times, you usually want someone willing to think creatively, not someone stuck on forms, licenses, and an archaic orthodoxy.
So let’s join hands and push the Food Farm Freedom Act forward in the upcoming General Assembly. Let’s dare to dream about a food system that embraces innovation.  Today’s orthodoxy will give us more of the same: cancer, Type II diabetes, obesity, autism, and food allergies.  How about something different? Your heretic farmers who fertilize with compost, make cheese in their kitchens, and build immune systems rather than using drugs are ready to take us into tomorrow’s solutions. Get on the freedom train.

Joel Salatin is a Farmer, Author, and a Local Foods Advocate. He and his family operate Polyface Farms in Swoope, Virginia. You can learn more about him and his farm on their website: www.polyfacefarms.com

Our Segment on Fox & Friends

By Matthew French – www.virginiafoodfreedom.org

Video link below

On Sunday morning Bernadette Barber was on Fox & Friends Weekend to talk about the Virginia Food Freedom Act (HB 1290) and she took a sweet potato pie with her. She has done a great job representing the idea and spirit of the legislation.

One of the great comments she made was that this bill was not just for farmers.

“This is not just for farmers, this is for everyone in Virginia. People that live in apartments, in cities, in the suburbs; whatever you can make in your kitchen that your neighbors and family and friends would like to purchase, as long as you have that label on there it’s a legal sale. This will revolutionize the food scape in Virginia.”

I believe this is an aspect of the bill that needs to be made more well known. Folks who are living in the innercity and struggling to make ends meet could add to their income by preparing home cooked meals for sale. And who knows, they could end up with their own cooking show on T.V. Don’t laugh, it has happened before.

You can watch the full two and half minute video by clicking below. I hope you will share this video with your friends. We need to pass the Virginia Food Freedom Act and to do that we need as many people to see this as possible.

Question: Are you ready to see this bill signed by the Governor?  Let us know your thoughts in the comments below. 

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Matthew French is a farmer in southwest Virginia. He and his family operate their 200 year old farm where they raise pastured poultry, free-range pigs, grass-fed lamb and a variety of vegetables. You can find more from him at www.thefrenchfamilyfarm.com

The Christmas Season Is Upon Us

By Bernadette Barber – www.virginiafoodfreedom.org With the Christmas season upon us, many of us reflect on the poor and hungry.  It is the Christ like thing to do.  It is a charitable thing to do.  If you are reading this, you probably own a computer and live in a warm home.  Many Virginians don’t and they  live in poverty with hunger at every turn. You can change that forever, not by giving money to the next food charity who asks for a IMG_0152.JPGdonation,  but by making one phone call, to your delegate  and ask him or her to  co-patron –  HB1290  the Virginia Food Freedom Act. This bill will alleviate poverty and hunger.  It will benefit the health of all.   We need freedom.

Our most vulnerable are children of single mothers.  Many single mothers have access to a kitchen, they are feeding themselves.  Many of them would like the opportunity to make foods they can sell to their friends and neighbors, but the regulatory environment prevents it.  Passage of HB1290 would change their lives overnight- and allow them to create a home-based business where they could still take care of their children and make a living.

The elderly are the next most vulnerable to poverty and hunger.  Many of them have the knowledge and skills to make good healthful traditional foods.  They can not only feed themselves, but feed their neighbors as well,  taking a strike at poverty and hunger with one fell swoop. Many of them grew up with that freedom.  Its time we gave it back to them. How empowering would that be to our senior citizens?   We owe it to them.  Ask yourself, would you like to be on the receiving end of charity or be in a position to care for yourself and others?

We can rebuild our communities- one bite at a time- by passing the Virginia Food Freedom Act. You may not know it but unless a government agent comes to your home, most foods are illegal to sell in VA.  Especially that “Potentially Hazardous”  Christmas favorite-  Pumpkin Pie. Its time we change all that and light up our legislators phones like a Christmas tree….  Ask them to co-patron the Virginia Food Freedom Act HB1290. The most important representatives you have are the 22 members  on the Agricultural Committee, especially the 8 on the Agricultural subcommittee- they have the power to kill the bill- they are the gate keepers.   You can find a complete list of all the contact information here online and below.  THEY are YOUR representatives regarding food and farm issues.  It does not matter if your district representative is not on that board; those members serve the WHOLE state for food and farm issues.  The list of the Agriculture committee is attached.  The members on the subcommittee are written in bold, they need to be called first.  The one with the asterisk , Tommy Wright,  has already co-patroned the bill and needs thank you notes.  He is up against Goliath for doing so, and we need to show him  our support. Lets tell the state of VA, no more hunger  games this Christmas, or any other Christmas.  Lets pass house bill 1290

Delegate Name, Party affiliation, district number, e-mail address,  capitol switchboard phone number, district phone number  

Del. Ed Scott ( R) District 30  delescott@house.virginia.gov     804-698- 1030    540-825-6400

Del.Lee Ware (R)65 dellware@house.virginia.gov  804-698-1065 804-598-6696

*Del. Thomas C. Wright (R)61 delTwright@house.virginia.gov  804-698-1061 434-696-3061

Del. Bobby Orrock (R)54  DelBOrrock@house.virginia.gov 804-698-1054 or 540-891-1322

Del Danny Marshall R14 deldmarshall@house.virginia.gov  804-698-1014 434-797-5861

DelCharles PoindexterR9 delcpoindexter@house.virginia.gov  804-698-1009 540-576-2600

Del. Barry Knight R81 delbknight@house.virginia.gov 804-698-1081  757-426-6387

Del. James Edmunds R60 delJedmunds@house.virginia.gov 804-698-1060  434-476-0077

Del. Tony Wilt (R) District 26  deltwilt@house.virginia.gov   804-698-1026 or 540-437-1450

Del. Will Morefield (R) 3 deljmorefield@house.virginia.gov 804-698-1003 or 276-345-4300

Del. Michael Webert R18 delmwebert@house.virginia.gov 804-698-1018 or 540-999-8218

Del. Margaret Ransone R99 delmransone@house.virginia.gov 804-698-1099 or 804-472-4181

Del.Matthew Fariss R59 delmfariss@house.virginia.gov     804-698-1059 or 434-821-5929

Del. Jackson Miller R50 deljmiller@house.virginia.gov 804-698-1050 or 703-244-6172

Del. Robert Bloxom R100  delrbloxom@house.virginia.gov 804-698-1000 or 757-824-3456

Del. Kenneth Plum D36  delkplum@house.virginia.gov 804-698-1036 or 703-758-9733

Del. David Bulova D37 deldbulova@house.virginia.gov 804-698-1037 or 703-310-6752

Del. Mark Sickles D43 delmsickles@house.virginia.gov 804-698-1043 or 703-922- 6440

Del. Matthew James D80 delmjames@house.virginia.gov 804-698-1080 or 757-967-7583

Del. Luke Torian D52 delltorian@house.virginia.gov 804-698-1052 or 703-785-2224

Del. Mark Keam D 35 delmkeam@house.virginia.gov 804-698-1035 or 703-350-3911

Del. Alphonso Lopez (D) 49 delAlopez@house.virginia.gov 804-698-1049 or 571-336-2147

Bernadette Barber and her husband Gary own and operate Tall Trees Farm in the Northern Neck. They view themselves as stewards of God’s green earth and conduct their farm in that light. Following the design of creation their cattle graze in lust verdant pastures; their hogs roam freely in the woods; their chickens and turkeys chase bugs and aerate the soil. She picked up her love for farming from her father who beat leukemia with an organic garden.