Illinois Food & Agriculture Legislative Update

While our physical offices are in Indianapolis, we serve clients across the country. I am licensed in Illinois and have been following this year's legislative session in Springfield. This post provides a rundown on the bills which could affect your Illinois livestock, cottage food industries, fields, farmers markets, or agricultural businesses. 

H-2820, S-1469, H-2592 / Farmers Markets: these bills amend the Food Handling Enforcement Regulation Act. In short, they make it easier for Illinois farmers to do business. They provide streamlined protocols for food storage and sanitation at farmers markets to replace the current practice of local health departments enforcing irrelevant standards. They also create a Farmers Market Act which provides that the state Department of Public Health will issue permits to operators. Local health departments will monitor for compliance, but only the state will be able to issue fines. 

H-3418 / Urban Agricultural Zones (UAZ): this bill would allow counties or municipalities to create  UAZs consisting of growers and producers. Property taxes would not be increased on UAZs for 25 years and UAZs would be able to receive wholesale water rates. The intent is to encourage food production and create jobs in underserved areas. 

H-3189, S-2070 / Specialty Farm Product Buyers: this would repeal the Specialty Farms Product Act (225 ILCS 660), which requires buyers of certain produce (sweet corn, snap peas, tomatoes, popcorn, and others) to register with the state. 

H-2466 / Raw Milk: this bill would further regulate the sale of raw milk in Illinois. Recent regulatory changes allowed the sale of raw milk on the farm where it is produced, subject to numerous safety requirements. Retail sales of raw milk are prohibited.

H-794 / Meat and Poultry Inspection: this bill would allow Type 1 meat or poultry processing operators to process a persons' meat for personal use. 

H-2510 / Food Handling and Allergen Safety: amends the Food Handling Enforcement Act and would require food service establishments to have at least one person trained in allergen safety on duty at all times. 

H-3157, H-3107 / Food Deserts: Department of Ag shall identify food deserts; Chicago shall waive permit fees to food trucks operating in food deserts.

S-1288, S-1588 / Craft Distillers and Brewers: increases craft distillers' sale and delivery limits and allows certain brewers to sell beer made by brewer on premises.

S-9 / Sugar Beverage Tax: imposes $0.01 per ounce tax on sugar beverages.

S-627 / Genetic Engineering Labeling: requires products which include any genetically engineered materials to be labeled as such.

H-331 / School Nutritional Labels: requires nutritional information to be posted for all food offered at a school.