Regulars and Shorts

Building a better food system, one bill at a time.

By Greta Belanger deJong

Citizen lobbyists bring home the raw cream and butter.

Symbria and Sarah Patterson of Red Acre Center in Cedar City are a mother and daughter team who founded the Utah Farm & Food Conference in Cedar City four years ago. They also lobby at the State Capitol for the rights of Utah’s small farmers which, in turn,  benefit all those who support a local food economy. Here’s their wrapup on the 2020 session:

HB 232 Food Revisions (Rep.  Marc Roberts)

WOW. This could really save some small farms and ranches post Covid-19. This restricted agri-tourism food establishment permit bill will now allow farms and ranches to host events that include food that will not need to be prepared in a commercial kitchen. They must apply to the Health Department for a permit to use their private home kitchen. This permit would be issued on an annual basis to alleviate additional work for our already busy ranchers and farmers. Passed, waiting for the governor’s signature.

Rep. Christine Watkins introduced a companion bill with the same provisions as HB 232, that would allow home kitchens to be licensed as micro-enterprise food establishments. People could then make and serve food using their private home kitchens. This will go farther next year. In the post-pandemic economy it could be a lifeline for many of our marginalized population.

 HB 248 Agriculture Amendments (Rep. Logan Wilde)

Possibly the most important work of the session. Because we have boots on the ground and eyes on the lookout, we caught this.

We added a five-line amendment to this 40-page bill that, had  it not been amended, backyard gardeners and farmers who are federally exempted under the Food Modernization Safety Act would have been required to register and be inspected. Passed; waiting for the governor’s signature.

HB 387 Shell Eggs Amendments (Rep. Marc Roberts)

Last year an egg bill was run that inadvertently omitted the ability for producers having fewer than 3,000 laying hens to sell to stores. This bill would merely remedy that oversight. It passed out of the first committee and the House but time did run out. We will run it again next year.

HB 134 Raw Milk Amendments (Rep. Kim Koleman)

This bill adds to the products that may be made from raw milk and offered for sale. It will allow producers who are licensed to produce raw milk to also produce cream and butter made from raw milk. Passed; waiting for the governor’s signature. u

Read about the Red Acre Center at and donate if you can. Symbria and Sarah are doing work on the Hill that we all benefit from, in the form of easier access to better food while nurturing community and the land.

The (near) future of fruits and vegetables

U.S. fruit and vegetable farmers rely heavily on Mexican labor. But this year, due to cautions regarding the coronavirus, the U.S. has suspended processing guest worker visas.

A ready workforce may be found among the millions of Americans filing jobless claims, but some farmers worry there will be a demand for higher wages among that demographic.

With the unlikelihood that the new policy will be reversed soon, according to the food industry website, we can expect shortages or higher prices for leafy greens, celery, broccoli, cauliflower, radishes and melons.

Alternatives: buy a share in a local CSA.  Or plant a garden! (To get started, see James Loomis’ “Garden Like a Boss” column in this issue.)


This article was originally published on April 2, 2020.