'Food freedom' hot topic for Fremont County producers

Apr 27, 2017 By Andrea Novotny, Staff Writer

The local food community rallied at the The Middle Fork in Lander Friday for Wind River Farm to Plate Let Food Freedom Ring event this past weekend.

State Rep. Tyler Lindholm, R-Sundance, a co-sponsor of the now two-year old legislation, brought attendees up to speed on the major changes made to the legislation in the recent legislative session.

The Food Freedom Act, which was created to limit restrictions on small-scale agriculture producers, most notably by legalizing the sale of raw milk, was expanded and clarified again in January.

Now, rabbit and fish, with the exception of catfish, have been added to the list of meats that can be purchased under the act.

Lindholm says the lack of government regulation places the burden of responsibility in knowing that the goods are safe on both the producer and consumer.

"If you're going to be selling goods to your neighbors, you don't want to poison your neighbors," he said.

Another change, starting July 1, will enable commercial establishments to sell inspected and uninspected foods side-by-side, provided there is a barrier between inspected and uninspected items, the items are paid for on separate cash registers and the producer is also the owner of the commercial establishment.

Earlier that day Lindholm spoke to other groups about the act, including Lander Valley High School students.

The event also gave local producers a chance to showcase their food, and Slow Goat Farm owner Ben Elzay told the group about how the passage of the legislation has facilitated the growth of his farm.

Farmers market organizers also noted a sharp spike in attendance, number of vendors and variety of goods sold since the act was passed.

Lander farmers market organizer Florence Consolati said the number of vendors has more than tripled since 2014, going from a total of 20 vendors, with an average of about seven at each market, to a total of 66 last year, with more than 20 at each market.

Riverton market organizer Sherry Shelley said the Riverton market, which is slightly bigger than the Lander market, has also experienced steady growth in that time frame.

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