Ag-related bills signed into law in North Dakota
BISMARCK, N.D. -- North Dakota Rep. Luke Simons says he's stirred up some controversy with some of the bills in his first session in the North Dakota Legislature. The Dickinson-area rancher says his Constitutionalist views have been at odds with ...
BISMARCK, N.D. - North Dakota Rep. Luke Simons says he's stirred up some controversy with some of the bills in his first session in the North Dakota Legislature. The Dickinson-area rancher says his Constitutionalist views have been at odds with members of his Republican party.
"People think I'm kind of a radical, but I think they're kind of Communists," he says.
So for one of his bills to pass unanimously was a big victory for him. North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum on April 12 signed Simon's "North Dakota Food Freedom Act," House Bill 1127, into law.
The new law will allow farmers or those with home kitchens sell their goods directly to consumers. Such transactions will be allowed at farms, ranches, farmers markets, farm stands or home-based kitchens.
Previously, certain home-cooked items were off limit for sale unless they were coming from inspected kitchens. Most of the prohibited items were foods that could be dangerous if not stored or prepared properly.
The bill didn't pass exactly as it was originally written. Simons had tried to make raw milk one of the products farmers could sell, but that was a non-starter for many in the Legislature.
Raw - or unpasteurized - milk is blamed for disease outbreaks across the country. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says 26 states reported 81 disease outbreaks from raw milk from 2007 to 2012, causing 979 illnesses and 73 hospitalizations. The CDC also reports the incidence of raw milk-related outbreaks has increased. The majority of outbreaks involved at least one child younger than 5.
Once the raw milk provision was removed, the bill passed without any problem.
Though Simons was disappointed the raw milk portion of the bill didn't make it into law, he's still pleased with the outcome.
"It still made it so you can sell a sour cream and raisin pie, or basically anything you want to sell," he says.
And he hasn't given up on making raw milk legal to sell. All session, he drank raw milk on the North Dakota House floor.
"People are warming to the idea," he says. "I've drank raw milk on the floor almost the whole session. People are seeing that I'm not getting sick."
New authority for brand inspectors
Other new laws will clarify some statutes regarding livestock sales and the powers of brand inspectors.
Though North Dakota's three livestock investigators already were considered peace officers under North Dakota law, it wasn't clear whether they had the ability to issue uniform complaints and summonses.
House Bill 1291, signed by Burgum on April 5, will give the brand inspectors that authority, says North Dakota Stockmen's Association spokesman Trevor Graff.
Graff explains the North Dakota Century Code already allowed peace officers to issue a complaint or summons without going to a prosecutor, but it was unclear whether the brand inspectors who are also licensed peace officers were allowed to use that power. The new law makes it clear that brand inspectors can issue the documents.
Graff says he doesn't know if the lack of ability to issue summonses or complaints has impeded any investigations, but the Stockmen's Association was pleased with the law change to clear things up.
The association also was pleased with the passage of House Bill 1208, which requires that bills of sale be provided for livestock within 15 days of purchase.
"It's kind of a tricky situation sometimes when those don't get transferred," he explains.
The bill, signed into law in March, sets the same timeline for providing a bill of sale as for providing a title in the event of a vehicle sale, Graff says. The new law will provide some certainty and some protection for purchasers of livestock.
"If they haven't met that timeline, you can take some action," he says.