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Oklahoma Senate advances legislation to anonymize home food production

Shoppers look around the Farm Market at Scissortail Park.
Kyle Phillips
For Oklahoma Voice
Shoppers look around the Farm Market at Scissortail Park.

The state Senate on Monday advanced legislation aimed at increasing the anonymity of producers who sell homemade foods.

House Bill 2975 would allow homemade food producers to pay $15 to obtain a registration number from the Department of Agriculture that could be used on a product. Currently, homemade products must include the producer’s name, phone number and physical address.

Sen. Warren Hamilton, R-McCurtain, said the legislation was requested by a constituent, who while working at a farmer’s market, had a customer express “over exuberant interest.” He said a consumer was able to use the information provided on the producer’s goods to basically stalk or harass them.

He said if someone wanted more information about a product or needed to report a safety concern, they still could do so by using the producer number on the label. They’d interact with the Department of Agriculture rather than the producer.

But Senate Minority Leader Kay Floyd, D-Oklahoma City, said she fears the measure will create a problem for consumers in the event that a food product injures or sickens them.

She said there is no language in the bill that would require the Department of Agriculture to ever provide a producer’s contact information.

Floyd questioned how consumers could seek relief if agricultural leaders decide to keep producer information confidential.

She said there are processes that could be put in place to ensure both producers and consumers are protected.

Hamilton agreed the procedure to release information is not specifically outlined in his bill, but he said the idea that someone wouldn’t be able to hold a deficient producer accountable is “a bit of a stretch.”

The measure, which passed 37-6, returns to the House for consideration.

Oklahoma Voice is part of States Newsroom, a nonprofit news network supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Oklahoma Voice maintains editorial independence.

Janelle Stecklein is editor of Oklahoma Voice. An award-winning journalist, Stecklein has been covering Oklahoma government and politics since moving to the state in 2014.
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