toward the bottom of his message, steve bemis writes that
"Salmonella, the pathogen of concern with eggs, is far and away a concern
with industrial-sized operations " . . .
i'm wondering what evidence there is that salmonella is much more of a
concern in large poulty operations than in small poultry operations . . .
craig k harris
department of sociology
michigan agricultural experiment station
national food safety and toxicology center
institute for food and agricultural standards
food safety policy center
michigan state university
From: Michigan organic growers seeking and offering information and ideas
[mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Dutcher Farms
Sent: Thursday, December 04, 2008 8:02 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Fw: HB6657 Removing Egg Amendment
Please take a moment to read this , the bill was temporarily stalled
yesterday on the House floor due to the language in the bill. It is my
understanding that even Rep. Meisner who introduced the honey and maple
syrup bill was not aware that eggs had been rewritten into the bill. PLEASE
take the time to contact your representative this morning and ask they
remove the egg portion of this bill.You can find your Representatives phone
number on this site. www.house.michigan.gov/replist.asp
Sorry for such short notice and any duplications, this is extremely
important to young and beginning farmers and famers markets statewide!!!!
John & Cindy Dutcher
----- Original Message -----
From: Steve Bemis
To: [log in to unmask]
Cc: Katherine Fedder ; Dutcher Farms ; Dru Montri ; Elaine Brown ;
[log in to unmask] ; [log in to unmask]
Sent: Wednesday, December 03, 2008 9:59 PM
Subject: HB6657 Removing Egg Amendment
Hi Pam - As you may know, I have taken active interest in recent years in
issues affecting small farmers, including defending Richard Hebron the
farmer who was busted a couple of years ago making deliveries into Ann
Arbor. I was a leader in implementing the PDR millage in Webster Township
to help preserve farmland, and I'm a founding Board member of the
Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund (www.farmtoconsumer.org). In all such
cases, I have advocated for small farmers pro bono.
I'm writing because we need help to unscramble (pun intended) HB6657
(originally introduced by Andy Meisner) and remove the amendment therein
which would include shell eggs. The effect of this amendment is to
radically restrict, from 3000 hens down to perhaps 200 hens, the size of an
egg operation exempt under Michigan law. By "clarifying" a situation which
does not need clarifying, a major restriction on the viability of a small
farmer's income from eggs would be implemented. Michigan's small farm
economy does not need such additional burdens.
Briefly, the following excerpt from the Egg Law of 1963 provides
Act 244 of 1963
289.333 Sale by producer to consumer or first receiver.
All producers shall comply with this act except those selling eggs of their
own production direct to consumers or when delivering or selling to a first
History: 1963, Act 244, Eff. Sept. 6, 1963
MDA has been taking the position, that the Egg Law of 1963 has been
superseded somehow by the Food Code (derived from the Federal model act) and
thereby imposes Food Code licensing and sanitation provisions on farmers
selling eggs of their own production direct to consumers at farmers'
markets. I do not read the Food Code as doing what MDA says, since the only
reference to eggs in the Food Code, is a provision therein putting a cap of
3000 hens on such production.
In other words, read together properly, the Food Code simply puts a 3000 hen
cap on the above-cited section 13, which otherwise would exempt unlimited
direct-to-consumer sales (a farmer selling to a "first receiver" is also
exempt, but a first receiver is nevertheless subject to the licensing,
washing, grading, cartoning, etc. provisions of the egg law since a first
receiver can in turn sell to a retail outlet and hence the additional
regulatory oversight is appropriate).
Since MDA claims the Food Code does something that it does not in fact do,
their logic is to offer in HB6657 language to include shell eggs in a new
amendment to the Food Code which would exempt up to $15,000 in gross sales
of eggs. HB6657 was originally designed to cover small farms producing
honey, maple syrup, etc. At $3.00 per dozen, the proposed amendment would
thus exempt about 5000 dozen eggs a year, which is about 96 dozen per week,
which is 1154 eggs per week, 165 eggs per day, or a flock of perhaps 125
hens (at $2.00 per dozen, about 200 hens) at typical production rates.
When I initially spoke with Kathy Fedder about this last week, I was not
aware that such a clarification was not necessary, nor did I appreciate its
impact on small farmers. I have since clarified my views on this directly
to Kathy raising the concerns that I express here (and continue to do so, by
copying her on this email). I fear, however, the wheels are now turning on
the floor to enact the egg amendment to HB6657, and this will be a step
backward for small farmers who otherwise are struggling to serve the
burgeoning direct-food public demand under typical farming pressures,
exacerbated by rocketing feed and fuel costs for most of the past year.
We don't need this amendment to include eggs (I don't opine on HB6657
without the egg provision - it seems OK, but I'm not familiar with the
much-more seasonal honey and maple syrup); we do need MDA to "clarify"
existing law as it is written, namely to exempt direct farm to consumer egg
sales from flocks of up to 3000 hens as provided under the Egg Law of 1963
as modified by the 3000 limit in the Food Code.
Finally, food safety should not be a concern here. Salmonella, the pathogen
of concern with eggs, is far and away a concern with industrial-sized
operations (100,000+ hens in gigantic facilities) where the crowding, forced
molting and other pressures on the birds are much more likely to produce
disease. Any outbreak from a small producer, rare in any case, would have
natural limitations by the small number of people affected from any one
producer, with a product that is typically cooked in any case. Again, to
the extent there is a weighing of risk, that calculus has already been
weighed in the presently-existing law limiting to 3000 birds and we don't
need further restrictions and confusion in this area.
Thanks for reading this. I would appreciate your looking into this, and
speaking on our behalf.
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