From John Paff, Jr., Candidate Maryland House of Delegates 34A:
On February 18th, Senate Bill 198 & Senate Bill 199 both passed the Senate on the third reading with a unanimous vote of 47-0. Now, Del. Riley, as a bartering chip, is holding them hostage in the house for two of his bills. Del. Riley is preventing the passage of SB198 & SB199, not because he does not agree with the bills, but to try and convince some of the local State Senators to support his bills (casino nights for non-profits and to have a student representative as a member of the elected school board). I have no problem with either of the bills Del. Riley has put forward; however hurting the farmers of Harford County, as part of a political maneuver, is unacceptable! Here are the two bills Del. Riley is single handedly holding up:
SB198: Altering the definition of “food service facility” to exclude the sale of specified raw agricultural products at a farmer’s market from regulation as a food service facility; prohibiting a local jurisdiction from requiring a license for the sale of raw agricultural products at a farmer’s market; clarifying that a license is not required to deliver prepackaged food products; requiring the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to establish a producer mobile farmer’s market license; etc.
SB199: Authorizing a county to establish a seasonal farmer’s market producer sampling license to allow a producer of a farm product to prepare and offer samples of the product at a farmer’s market; requiring the license to be valid at all farmer’s markets in the county for a specified time period, for a single fee; limiting a licensee to offering samples only of a farm product produced by the licensee; requiring a county issuing the license to adopt specified ordinances; and requiring a specified department to adopt regulations.
Both of these bills are desperately needed to protect one of Harford Counties most precious and treasured resources, our Farms. Over the years, the Maryland General Assembly has taxed and regulated our farmers right out of business! The other day, I returned home from work, used our small tractor to cut the grass, tilled my daughters’ garden, and then mucked the stall for our miniature horses. It took me about 2 hours and in the end I was exhausted. After all of that, the only thing I could think about were the farmers of Harford County. I only did 1/10 of what they do in a day and I was exhausted! Then I remembered I had to run to the store for a gallon of milk before bedtime and as I saw the total for the gallon of milk I remembered what I had heard a few days before, out of that $3.60 the farmer only makes about $1. I decided at that moment that I would only buy local!
The people of Harford County need this legislation as much as the farmers do. My family and I travel from our home in Abingdon to several different farms and farmers markets to enjoy fresh fruits and vegetables several times a year. Whether it’ fresh ice cream from Brooms Bloom Dairy, “pick your own” strawberries or pumpkins from Brad’s, stopping at Lohr’s road side stand for some berries or just walking through the farmer’s market, this is part of what makes Harford County a great place to raise a family. Fresh samples, as well as, simplifying the process for the farmers would increase both customers and product at farmers markets. Some will lead you to believe that these bills only benefit the farmers, but I would strongly disagree! This affects all of Harford County. Blocking SB198 & SB199 will hurt the current and future economy of Harford County. It affects anyone harvesting, transporting, selling or buying local!
I wonder how “Jones Farm” feels about their delegate playing Russian roulette with their life’s work? If we do not stand up now, we will slowly begin to lose one of Harford’s most important resources. Monday April 12th is the last day of the session. I need you to immediately contact Del. B. Dan Riley and ask him to allow SB198 & SB199 to come to a vote on the house floor.
Phone: 410-841-3280 or 1-800-492-7122 ext 3280
John M. Paff Jr.
Maryland House of Delegates 34A