SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – One state lawmaker wants to make it easier for people to buy local, homemade foods by bypassing some of the strict inspection rules. Senator Cliff Pirtle says what Senate Bill 118 does is cut the red tape that gets in the way of farmers and ranchers selling directly to the public.
“Let’s say you have an apple tree and you made some apple butter since you processed that, it actually qualifies for gross receipts tax but if you go down to your Walmart or your Albertsons and you want to buy Welch’s brand apple butter, not grandma’s apple butter, there’s no tax on the one at the grocery store. So this would ensure they receive the same deductions at the grocery store at farmers markets and things,” Sen. Pirtle said.
It’s called the Food Accessibility Act and it would let people buy homemade products and producer-raised meats and fish that haven’t gone through the typical inspections or regulations. The bill also wants the state to create a meat inspection program to replace the federal meat inspections from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Other lawmakers and people in the agriculture industry say they like the spirit of the bill but are cautious about any potential illnesses or other problems that could happen if the foods don’t go through routine inspections.
“I do feel that we are going to be seeing more and more folks coming up with opportunities to create their grandmother’s salsa or whole made tortillas as a way of supplemental income, however, we need to have those guidelines in place,” said Sen. Carrie Hamblen (D-Las Cruces).
When it came down to a vote, lawmakers were split on the bill but it is being moved on to the next committee. The bill would also exempt agriculture products from the gross receipts tax.