Or is insurance, too, beneath the “live free or die” mantra that is currently being taken to the extreme by a few folks in New Hampshire.  Food freedom is one thing, but de-regulating what I’m sure is a sizeable industry in the state is not without its problems.  The Legislature seems comfortable with the safety risks that deregulation poses, and its not my intent to tell them they’ve not thought long or hard enough about those risks (the answer to that is clear), but have the legislators who are pushing bills 1650 and 1402 thought at all about requiring insurance, or if that is too onerous, perhaps an injury fund that will help severely injured people deal with present and future medical costs. 

Do not think that this isn’t a problem.  It’s a problem everywhere, in states where there is no attempt to simply allow food producers to opt out of food safety regulation entirely, and it will be a problem in a state that is on the precipice of allowing exactly that.  Raw milk producers are the primary offenders–i.e. producing a product with known risks and not doing right by customers by having insurance in place to address medical costs, past and future, for severely injured people–and it is no enticement toward insuring a business to completely de-regulate it. 

These bills will:

  • eliminate license requirements for so-called homestead food and allowing on-farm sales of raw milk products
  • exempt home-based operations with annual sales of $10,000 or less and exclude potentially hazardous food from license requirements (potentially hazardous foods, including acidified and low-acid canned foods, are those requiring temperate controls because they are “capable of supporting the rapid growth of pathogenic or toxigenic microorganisms” such as Clostridium botulinum (botulism)).
  • Permit home and roadside sales and transactions at farmers’ markets.
  • Allow raw milk dairies that produce 20 gallons or less a day to operate without being licensed; these dairies could also sell other raw milk-based products.  

These bills will also result in more foodborne illness.  At the very least, Legislators should put some thought in to what comes out the other end of this process.  It’s not just going to be rich butter, cream, and bucolic goodness.  This is the real world.