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A legislative proposal is gaining traction to add olive oil to the list of Oregon farm goods that can be sold directly to consumers without a food processing license.

Fruits, vegetables, nuts, grains, honey, eggs and certain prepared products don’t come under the Oregon Department of Agriculture’s regulations for food processors under a law passed in 2011.

David Lawrence, a farmer who grows olive trees near Amity, Ore., said he planned to sell his self-milled olive oil to the public last year but found out the product was “totally worthless.”

The Oregon Department of Agriculture informed him that olive oil isn’t exempt from licensing requirements under the state’s farm direct marketing bill, prompting Lawrence to forgo harvest of some olives.

“We had no use for them because we could not sell the stuff,” he said.

Senate Bill 390, which would change the statute to include olive oil, unanimously passed the Senate and is now headed for a vote on the House floor with a unanimous "do pass" recommendation from the House Committee on Agriculture and Land Use, which approved the bill May 2.

Rep. Brian Clem, D-Salem, said he was involved in the development of the farm direct law but the subject of olive oil hadn’t come up at the time.

Clem also mentioned the idea of delegating more authority to ODA to add appropriate products to the list as necessary.

“We don’t need to come back every year for this stuff,” he said.

I've been working at Capital Press since 2006 and I primarily cover legislative, regulatory and legal issues.

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