Monthly Archives: July 2010

HB 5837: Michigan Cottage Food Operation Bill is now a law

It is offical HB 5837 is now a law. Thanks to everyone who helped make this possible.

Ann Arbor Food

I attended the bill signing. Also in attendance was Jeff McCabe of Selma, Amanda Edmonds of Growing Hope, Rep. Pam Byrnes, and Governor Granholm.

See News Video

So what does this mean to local food venture in Michigan? Amanda talked about how the passing of this bill into law will mean that more people can start their food business. The cost and access to a commercial kitchens will no longer be a barrier to starting certain food businesses. The hope and the potential is that some of these small start ups will lead to larger local food product businesses that will provide greater access to local food, put Michigan on the map for food tourism, and create more jobs from small businesses.

I can confirm first hand about the bill is creating new jobs because it help to create one for me and my girlfriend Emily. We are happy to announce our new business thanks to this new law: Inchworm Bakery.

This new law affects me directly and instantly because I plan to bake some pocket pies, and cookies as early as Thursday and have them packaged, labelled and ready for sale.

Come visit me at the Westside farmers market to get a sample of the new Inchworm Bakery’s baked goods of pocket pies, and shortbread cookies.

CB

HB 5837 Passes the Senate

It was a rainy day at the Westiside Farmers Market today. The rained cleared just as the market was closing. Most vendors will tell you that rain is great for growing, but not so much during market days, which results in people staying home.

So I ran over to Selma to donate some of my extra pea shoots for the thursday night work party supper, and for the friday morning meal. I got talking to Jeff and he told me that HB 5837, the cottage food bill passed the michigan state senate.

I was surprised that it passed so quickly. In fact I am surprised it passed at all. Readers of my blog might have followed this ongoing saga, which looks like it will have a very happy ending for local food producers.

When this bill get signed into law by Jennifer Granholm, my plan is to make and sell hand pies at the Westside Farmers Market. I am also playing around with making a organic energy bar.

Thanks to everyone who worked to make this happen. I know I was on the phone bugging my state reps to pass this bill.

Happy Baking everyone

CB

Boycott BP: The Station Owners Part 2

Readers of this blog will know about my BP Boycott. My previous post went into a lot of the why’s, of the Boycott.  I addressed a major criticism with a BP Boycott, which is how it will affect the Independent BP Station Owners. It has been suggested by various articles (See Newsweek), and even from people on the street when I protest that Boycotting the BP stations only hurts the independent owners, and not BP, and thus taking the whole point away from the BP Boycott.

I considered this then I saw this pie chart printed on another gas stations pump. Note where this information is coming from. It is from the NACS, the National Association of Convenience and Petroleum Retailer. The idea behind the this chart from the gas station retail industry is to say:

Don’t blame the gas station for the high gas prices. It is not our fault because we do not make much money.

Lets look at these numbers:

58% for the crude oil (Which will go to BP)
17% for refining (Also going to BP)
14% in taxes (to pay for the up keep on road we drive on)
9% retail and distribution cost with %20 of that going to credit card companies
1% Lastly, the station owner will take in only %1 income from the sale of gas

So this means that of the $20 I spent today to fill up at a non-BP station, the owner takes in $.20.

So really the station owners do not make their money from the gas. They make way more off of the slushees, chips, beer, wine, lottery tickets, soda, candy, cigarette, ice cream, pork rinds, and hot dogs etc…

BP or other gas companies by contrasts will take in %75 from the sale. In the case of my last gas purchase $15 of $20. Of course not all of that is profit, but the record profits that all oil companies have seen come from these numbers.

And how did oil companies like BP make record profit and keep as much of my $15 dollars as possible? Their profit comes from in part from saving money by not spending it on safety R&D, and by hiring lobbyist to pay off politician to keep the profits coming.

So if all the oil companies are lax on safety why demonize BP right?

Because of the oil spill disaster in the gulf, and BP as far as the US is concern, is the worse oil company by far. The economic and environmental impact for the US will far out shines all other oil companies.

So if you are mad at BP, but do not want to hurt the gas station owners get your gas at another station, and buy your convenience stuff at an independent BP stations if you must. But won’t that just hurt the other gas station whose company did not create the worse environmental disaster in US history?

Related Post: BP Boycott: The Station Owner’s?

BP Boycott: The Stations Owners?

I read a good piece in newsweek that talked about the BP Boycott. The gist was how all gas companies kind of suck either environmentally, or human rights wise, or both. So why single out BP with a Boycott was the sentiment because we gas car drivers were really to blame for using gas not the station owners we are boycotting.

From the Newsweek article why a Bp Boycott will not work:

Unless someone figures out how to make gasoline bought from BP produce exhaust that forms a big “BP” when it spews out your tailpipe, no one knows where you gassed up.

Really?? We are a bumper sticker nation, and a Boycott BP bumper sticker tells other drivers what gas you do not have in your car. Another sticker may say if your child is an honor student, or who you voted for in the last presidential election, or where you like to vacation in the summer. In fact more people will see my car’s bumper sticker than read this blog all year.

I even made my own sticker: click here to get sticker (All of the proceeds will go to the American Bird Conservancy who is doing some great work in the Gulf)

But I feel that pointing the finger at you and me, and joe gas powered car driver is wrong. You, me and Joe did not drive down to the gulf, and dump our oil from our car onto the beach.

BP screwed up big time, and they had no back up plan, or no plan really at all. And they spent millions of dollars not on safety, but lobbying for policies that help them maintain profits, which were created in part from cutting corners on safety, and ensuring they did not have to spend money on oil spill clean up R & D.

Now the BP gas station owners are taking a hit from consumer driven outrage with a BP station boycott. So are the gas station owners innocent here like I have heard during my BP Boycott efforts? They are unlucky I would say for choosing BP. But they are not innocent. They make their money selling gas with a BP label on it, and that includes all of the environmental destruction that has come to mean.

Will these BP station owners who are now affected by the BP Boycott go pro environment and strong government regulation, or will they vote with lobbying dollars paid to national associations to prevent a greener world?

Read for yourself.

Here is some copy from the National Association of Convenience Stores (and Petroleum Retailers) web site

What NACS Is Doing
While NACS is not taking the lead on these issues, NACS is incorporating the following positions into its advocacy and communications:

  • NACS believes that recent transportation fuel prices are fundamentally the result of inadequate supply at a time of increasing international demand and that these prices are having a negative effect on consumers and retailers alike.
  • NACS believes the United States can and must take a more aggressive role in providing for its own energy needs by concurrently expanding its use of domestically available natural resources and promoting the development of marketable alternative fuels.
  • NACS believes the commodities futures markets play an important role in the transportation fuels sector, but that questions concerning its operations must be resolved in a manner that poses the least amount of disruption to the market.

Therefore,

  • NACS supports oil and natural gas exploration and production on domestic land, including:
    • The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge
    • The Outer Continental Shelf
    • The Gulf of Mexico
  • NACS supports development of alternative forms of petroleum resources, including:
    • Production of shale oil reserves in Utah, Colorado and Wyoming
    • Utilization of oil sands imported from Canada
    • Conversion of coal into liquid oil
  • NACS supports the development and marketing of alternative transportation fuels, provided:
    • Such fuels are implemented with due respect to the existing storage and distribution infrastructure and maximize the compatibility of the same.
    • Retailers are not required by law to convert existing equipment to accommodate new fuel formulations and are left to make conversion decisions based upon the development of consumer demand
    • Policies are implemented in such a way as to not disadvantage the development of particular fuels or feedstocks
  • NACS supports enhanced transparency in the commodities futures markets, including:
    • Identification of traders, commercial and non-commercial
    • Other features deemed by experts to promote transparency and eliminate potential deceptive practices

In other words, the retailers are in favor of cheap, and fast oil (gas) where ever, and however they can get it, which includes BP station owners. Let the environment be damned. It is all about price to drive consumer demand. There was no mention about money for R&D to prevent spill or clean up technology when a spill occurs nor about supporting legislating their industry to be cleaner, safer, and greener.

What also stands out is:

Retailers are not required by law to convert existing equipment to accommodate new fuel formulations and are left to make conversion decisions based upon the development of consumer demand.”

Basically the retail petroleum sellers will fight any regulation that would require retro fitting for different fuel sources unless a “consumer demand” warrants it. This consumer demand will not happen because there will not be any “supply” to create it because the industry will fight legally requiring non-gas fuel distribution accessibility. If you are waiting for the gas station owners to champion green energy, don’t hold your breath. They are just as into oil profits as their corporate parents. The slogan might as well be “Pump Baby Pump.”

According to the NACS web site: In 2008, the industry sold $450.2 billion worth of fuel, representing 72 percent of the industry’s total sales for the year

So we are talking about a huge industry with a lot of political pull. This boycott is not just about BP gas stations. It is to send a message for all gas station owners that the actions of their parent, and the policies their industry supports will affect their bottom line. Any gas brand can be next, so it is in the best interests of all station owners regardless of company affiliation to insist on higher safety standards to protect the environment, and to investment in R&D for spill recovery.

So far it has been in the best interests of the gas station industry to do business as usual and make a living off the status quo.

The Newsweek article suggested that the Boycott would not work because there is no better alternative. We can choose from one company that really sucks, and a company that sucks less.

But I do not agree.

Many articles talk about using less gas, rather then boycotting BP. This sounds nice, and I am trying to do this myself, but if the companies are still risking the environment regardless if we use slightly less gas, what really has change?

The fact is Boycotts do work. The BP Boycott is working, and BP is taking notice. Not because BP’s bottom line is majorly affected. It is not. This is in large part because BP holds massive US contracts to supply both of our Wars.

It is working because it affects BP’s brand, and as a result their stock price.

But more than that, this Boycott bands together a large group of people who vote our conscience at the pump, and who could also push now in wake of the worse environmental disaster in US history for strong regulation, and laws. Part of this BP Boycott is the US Gov’t contract BP Boycott. This can be done by contacting your Federal representative, and the White House directly. And another part is a BP Boycott against BP stock. A massive sell off of BP stock will directly affect BP’s bottom line too.