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Hui on the Food Bill

Hi Everyone

Thanks to all those who attended the Hui on the Food Bill yesterday.  I thought I would write a quick summary and action points so that people get a sense of what happened if they weren’t able to attend.  It’s probably incomplete or I may get some things wrong so feel free to add to and correct my email.

Thanks to Huhana Davis and Denise Roche and Piritahi Marae who made the event possible and to Stephan who came up from Malborough to talk about the Bill and its implications.

Key Decisions

1  That One Waiheke All list will be used to communicate on this issue
[Andrew says: you can sign up by registering at http://onewaiheke.opengroups.net, or clicking the link in the box to the right.]

2.  The Food bill has had a first hearing.  It is unlikely that it will be reopened for submissions.  However, it is possible that the Select
Committee could hear submissions in a particular community.  As Waiheke is a place where there are a number of initiatives – food coops, small growers and producers, buyer’s club, etc.  it seems like a good place for them to come to, to get a sense of what we need from a Food bill.
In order for this to happen, we would need to lobby the Select Committee and the Chair.
Denise to be in contact with Stephan – to a) get his email, b) provide list of Select Committee and Chair.  c) It would be good if Stephan could draught the kind of request we need to make so that the Select Committee has the right kind of pressure to listen to comments and submissions here or at least have our comments included in their decision process.

3.  To find a way of describing cottage/small scale growers/producers (at the moment this is poorly defined in the bill)

4.  Exemptions to compliance will be on a case by case basis so one option is for all of Waiheke to apply for exemption or for all small scale growers/producers to band together to seek exemption and their own compliance rules – which could be that we comply to the current rules on safe handling of food.

As an additional point, it’s a good Idea to circulate this widely to people/coop lists etc/growers to join the discussion.

Key Points from Discussion

The Food Bill is primarily about Food safety in terms of preparation and handling.

While we are concerned about GMO – this bill is not really about the growing of seeds and plants which is covered elsewhere.  The intention is to make it clear in the Bill that it does not refer or encompass seeds.
However, in terms of food safety labelling of food as GMO is not seen as important or a health risk and yet many of us do want to know how the food is labelled.

It has been designed primarily with our export markets in mind and what big distributors/growers do with food and seems to neglect what small scale growers/cottage industries do.

There was a strong feeling that Waiheke small scale production should be exempt from this Bill and it does not apply to the kinds of things produced here.  Also that instead of complying with the Bill and tweaking it, we should not be forced into it at all.

Initiatives that challenge Community enterprise should be resisted and that we don’t need more regulation than that which is currently available.

Costs of compliance could force small producers out of the market or inhibit people from having a go at starting up a food business.

Penalties may increase from $5000 to $100,000 which is also a disincentive.

They need to define cottage industry and have some sort of blanket exemption that covers this – not say that they will exempt people on a case by case basis.  If you produce food, you shouldn’t have to spend time complying with additional paperwork to get an exemption.

Food labelling.

The Bill currently says something to the effect that if you don’t eat animal product because you are a vegetarian, that is an ethical issue but not a food safety issue.  However it was felt that  a) people’s ethical/religious views should be respected b)  people need to know what’s in their food as they may be allergic and they have a right to know if their food contains cloned or GMO organisms, what additives are in it as well as the country of origin.

Bartering

The notion of bartering needs to be clearly defined or removed as a) it’s impossible to police, b) it’s ludicrous that trade in produce needs to be micromanaged.

Ministerial power

It seems the Minister has a lot of power to add/remove things which seems wrong.

Some things in the food bill may not be so bad – the fact that compliance is standardised across communities.

This Bill is not the TPPA, but it’s exclusion of the needs of small growers/producers and community initiatives provides a potential challenge to our ability to grow our own food, provide for our own community food security, and encourage local entrepreneurship.

Stephen and Denise have both said that they are interested in supporting this issue.

Kind regards and please do feel free to add/or correct what has been written, perhaps in the same thread so it’s not lost.

Shirin Brown

Posted in Community, Food, Governance.

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