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Food safety regs in bill

Published (3/2/2012)
By Sue Hegarty
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Several amendments were added onto an agricultural omnibus bill before it was approved by the House Agriculture and Rural Development Policy and Finance Committee March 1.

HF2398, sponsored by Rep. Paul Anderson (R-Starbuck), was referred to the House Civil Law Committee.

The largest addition to the bill is referred to as the Food Safety Bill, which moves enforcement of food safety regulations into a new chapter of law and grants authority for the Minnesota Department of Agriculture to issue civil penalties under the new chapter, in addition to criminal or administrative penalties.

Other amendments would:

• enable the remaining portion of a 2010 Lutheran Social Services appropriation for disaster and mental health relief in rural communities to be expanded to more counties;

• exempt feed distributors who produce and use their own feed from being charged an inspection fee on the portion they use themselves; and

• allow a county to charge and collect a civil penalty of up to $1,000 per violation from public land owners who do not control obnoxious weeds on their land.

This last amendment was offered by Committee Chairman Rep. Rod Hamilton (R-Mountain Lake), who said farmers are complaining that thistles on land managed by the Department of Natural Resources are spreading to their properties. Private land owners can be fined.

“What’s good for the goose is good for the gander,” Hamilton said.

Sen. Doug Magnus (R-Slayton) sponsors the Senate companion, SF2061 which awaits action by the Senate Agriculture and Rural Economics Committee.

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