“Produce growers represent a textbook example of what businesses describe as regulatory fatigue….’It is just that one layer after another gets to be — trying to top the people before them,'” says an apple grower near Albany. Food law expert Baylen Linnekin sees a comparative compliance advantage going to mass-scale growers as well as foreign produce suppliers. And now here comes the Food Safety Modernization Act, often warned of in this space [Steve Eder, New York Times]
For years the government of Spain did its best to suppress small-scale cheesemaking, one of the traditional products that now does much to burnish the image of Spanish food around the world. But scofflaw dairies kept the craft alive, I explain in a new Cato post based on an Atlas Obscura account (“Franco had imagined large, industrial operations. Instead Spaniards enthusiastically supported small, black market cheesemakers.”)
House members introduce “Save Local Business Act (H.R. 3441), which would restore the traditional joint employer standard that the NLRB upended and modifies the definition of joint employer under the Fair Labor Standards Act to be consistent with the definition under the National Labor Relations Act.” [Trey Kovacs, CEI, Connor Wolf/Inside Sources Ben Gitis, American Action Forum, earlier on Browning-Ferris and joint employer standard]
Loyal patrons of well-known Manhattan restaurant China Fun were surprised by “the restaurant’s sudden Jan. 3 closing,” explained by owners’ son Albert Wu in a goodbye letter citing ten categories of regulation-driven cost including health insurance, insurance, and the minimum wage [New York Daily News]. The “endless paperwork and constant regulation that forced the shutdown accumulated over the years”:
“The climate for small businesses like ours in New York have become such that it’s difficult to justify taking risks and running — nevermind starting — a legitimate mom-and-pop business,” read a letter posted by the owners in the restaurant’s front door.
“The state and municipal governments, with their punishing rules and regulations, seems to believe that we should be their cash machine to pay for all that ails us in society.” …
Wu cited one regulation where the restaurant was required to provide an on-site break room for workers despite its limited space. And he blamed the amount of paperwork now required — an increasingly difficult task for a non-chain businesses.
“In a one-restaurant operation like ours, you’re spending more time on paperwork than you are trying to run your business,”
A spokesman for the office of New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city offered small business free help from compliance advisers.
Gothamist on why the Robicelli bakery of Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, has decided to move to Baltimore, worn down by hassles with New York labor laws, utilities, rents, alternate side of the street parking enforcement, and more:
The culture of fining small businesses and attaching expensive requirements for permitting and other work can make owners feel as though they’re ATMs for the city, from what some call excessive policing of restaurants by the DOH to the installation of a hand sink that cost the couple $10,000 after acquiring and hiring the necessary permits and persons to get the work done up to city code. “If you see some guy having an ice cream cart in front of his shop? Huge permit! Outdoor seating? Huge permit! If you decide you just want to have a bench in front of your store but somebody decides to pull it out a little bit so it’s a little bit over 18-inches off the front? Fine! Massive fine!” …
“New York now is a city of no. You have this great idea? No, you can’t do it. You want to try this out? No. You go to Baltimore and it’s a city of, ‘Well why the f— not? Let’s try this!’ They really, really love their city and it’s exciting. It’s that energy I felt when I was growing up in New York.
30-employee Woof ‘N’ Poof, which manufactures stuffed collector dolls and other novelty accessories in the northern California community of Chico for sale in Nordstrom and other stores, may soon call it quits [Debbie Cobb/KHSL via Richard Rider, Flash Report]:
[Owner Roger] Hart says a raise in minimum wage and workers compensation are just a couple of issues that have made it difficult to keep the business financially afloat here. Hart said, “The high cost of doing business in California coupled with ridiculous regulatory environment makes it virtually impossible to do business.” He says he has seen an 11% hike in payroll.
…A recent visit by an inspector with the Department of Consumer Affairs set the company back. The inspector from Sacramento cited him for having the wrong size font on the decorative pillow labels. He was told to take the labels out, or they would have his inventory seized. It was a costly fix.
Government is just another word for the things we do together, like threatening to seize pillow inventories with wrong-font labels.
- If the law was symbolic, consumers were apparently unswayed by its symbolism: L.A. zoning ban on new freestanding fast-food restaurants had no effect on obesity [The Guardian, NPR, Baylen Linnekin, earlier]
- More on draft new federal dietary guidelines: “Report lays groundwork for food ‘interventionists’ in schools, workplaces” [Sarah Westwood, Washington Examiner, earlier, public comment open through April 8]
- Opposition to GMOs is not humanitarian [Telegraph] Washington Post editorial rejects labeling on GMO foods;
- Baker fell afoul of French law by keeping his boulangerie open too often [Arbroath]
- A sentiment open to doubt: “There is a great need for lawyers to utilize their policy and litigation tools in the fight for a better food system.” [Melanie Pugh, Food Safety News]
- “Food policy” progressives “whistle same tune as large food producers on issue of food safety” [Baylen Linnekin, related on single-agency scheme, more Linnekin on competition-through-regulation among makers of wine corks]
- Why restaurant operators need to know about patent trolls [James Bickers, Fast Casual]
New Cato Research Briefs in Economic Policy No. 20 takes up a question often raised in this space before [Hester Peirce, Ian Robinson, and Thomas Stratmann, Cato]