Tax-Deductible Keep Food Legal Foundation Launches!

Keep Food Legal is thrilled to announce the formation of Keep Food Legal Foundation, our new charitable sister organization.

Keep Food Legal Foundation will allow for an expansion of Keep Food Legal's existing efforts in the areas of education and research by providing access to important new revenue streams--including public charities, private foundations, and other grantmakers; corporations; and individual donors of all types who, like many of you, seek to make tax-deductible, charitable contributions to causes you support.

"With food crackdowns, bans, taxes, and other restrictions increasing in prevalence, there has never been a more important time than right now to support research and education in the area of food freedom," says Keep Food Legal Foundation executive director Baylen Linnekin. "And with the end of the individual tax year, there has never been a better time to consider contributing to the cause of food freedom."

Interested donors may send a check made out to "Keep Food Legal Foundation" to us at the following address:

Keep Food Legal Foundation
3509 Connecticut Ave. NW, #1009
Washington, DC 20008

Please note that while we'll be updating our website soon, our website is only configured currently to accept donations to Keep Food Legal--which are not tax deductible--and not to Keep Food Legal Foundation.

More Information

Keep Food Legal is a tax-exempt organization under IRS § 501(c)(4), and is incorporated as a nonprofit under Washington, DC law. Donations to § 501(c)(4) groups, including Keep Food Legal, are not tax deductible under IRS § 170(c)(2).

Keep Food Legal Foundation has filed Form 1023 with the I.R.S. seeking tax-exempt status as a 501(c)(3) public charity, and is incorporated as a nonprofit under Washington, DC law. Charitable § 501(c)(3) organizations are eligible to receive tax-deductible contributions, to the fullest extent of the law, in accordance with IRS § 170.

"While an organization’s Form 1023 is waiting for approval from the IRS, the organization may operate as a tax-exempt organization," says the I.R.S. "Although donors have no assurance that contributions are tax-deductible for federal income tax purposes until the application is approved, contributions made while an application is pending would qualify if the application is approved."

Note: The purpose of this information is to provide general information only about Keep Food Legal and Keep Food Legal Foundation. Keep Food Legal and Keep Food Legal Foundation do not provide legal or tax advice. We urge you to check with your tax and legal advisors when planning your charitable giftmaking.

Keep Food Legal and Keep Food Legal Foundation Announce New Pro Bono Program

Today Keep Food Legal and Keep Food Legal Foundation are excited to announce the official launch of our new Pro Bono Program. With the launch of this program, we are currently seeking law firms, licensed attorneys, and student attorneys (law students) to take part in a variety of groundbreaking legal actions in support of food freedom.

"With the launch of our pro bono legal program, Keep Food Legal and Keep Food Legal Foundation are taking the next step in our evolution," says Keep Food Legal and Keep Food Legal Foundation executive director Baylen Linnekin. "By adding the opportunity to litigate for food freedom to our current focus areas of research, education, outreach, publishing, and--in the case of Keep Food Legal, advocacy--we expect to be able to more effect more direct and lasting changes."

 

Keep Food Legal and/or Keep Food Legal Foundation seek to partner with law firms and attorneys licensed to practice in at least one U.S. state on a variety of food-related legal matters. Specifically, we are currently seeking to partner with firms and licensed attorneys that wish to provide pro bono legal services--especially writing and filing amicus briefs--and with experienced attorneys interested in litigating in support of food freedom.

Keep Food Legal Foundation is also seeking one or more law students to serve as a student attorney on a per-semester basis. Students currently pursuing a J.D. or LL.M. at an accredited U.S. law school are welcome to apply. This position is unpaid, though students may be eligible to earn law-school credit.

Learn more about our new Pro Bono Program here.

Keep Food Legal Foundation Files Amicus Curiae Brief in Landmark USDA Supreme Court Case

Marvin Horne | Associated PressKeep Food Legal Foundation has filed an amicus curiae brief in Horne v. USDA, a landmark Supreme Court case set to be decided this term. Our brief elucidates--likely for the first time in Supreme Court history--the essential food-related origins of the Fifth Amendment's Takings Clause, which is the central issue in the case. Our brief may also be the first ever to discuss the term "food freedom" before the Supreme Court.

Our brief was authored by Keep Food Legal Foundation executive director Baylen Linnekin (along with George Mason University Law School student Kathleen Garman, who was a student in Linnekin's Food Law & Policy Seminar at the law school last semester), who also serves as a co-amicus. It supports plaintiff Marvin Horne (pictured at right). Horne saw nearly half of a recent year's raisin crop he owned subject to seizure by the USDA, thanks to an absurd, New Deal-era USDA raisin marketing program. Horne sued, claiming rightly that the seizure amounts to an unconstitutional taking, and that he is due compensation equal to the dollar value of raisins the USDA program takes from him.

Our brief describes how a person's rights in food as property go back to Magna Carta, and notes that in 1641 Massachusetts established the first protection against uncompensated takings (specifically, of cattle and other personal property). In the years prior to and during the American Revolution, we detail, the British increasingly violated the colonists’ personal property rights in food. Founding Father James Madison drafted the Takings Clause in order to protect the property rights of Americans by preventing the government from engaging in any such future abuses, we argue. The essential food-related origins of the Takings Clause we reveal in our brief, we conclude, suggest that courts should interpret the Takings Clause most broadly in cases where--as in this case--the government takes personal property, particularly food.

Horne v. USDA is the most important food-regulatory case in recent memory. A victory for plaintiff Horne could spell the end of the USDA's wasteful (not to mention unconstitutional) raisin marketing order program. The program's continued existence likely hinges on a USDA victory in the case. A USDA loss here would be an enormous victory for raisin growers, handlers, consumers, and food freedom. But a victory for Horne could also spell the end of dozens of equally terrible USDA marketing programs, including separate ones governing--as Linnekin wrote in a recent Reason column on the case--"almonds, apricots, avocados, cherries (both sweet and tart), Florida and Texas citrus, cranberries, dates, grapes, hazelnuts, kiwifruit, olives, many onions and pears, pistachios, California plums and prunes, many potatoes, raisins, spearmint oil, tomatoes, and walnuts."

Oral arguments in the case are set for Wednesday, April 22. Linnekin, a member of the Supreme Court bar, plans to be in attendance.

Want more? Read Linnekin's 2013 column on the Horne case here.

Keep Food Legal Foundation's Baylen Linnekin Discusses Plans for New Federal Food Safety Agency on HuffPost Live

Alyona Minkovski

Keep Food Legal Foundation executive director Baylen Linnekin took part in a HuffPost Live discussion yesterday on a new proposal by President Obama to strip the FDA and USDA of their dual (and often dueling) food-safety oversight authority. The proposal calls for the creation of a single new sub-agency within the Dept. of Health and Human Services--where the FDA is housed--to oversee federal food-safety efforts.

Linnekin appeared on HuffPost Live alongisde host Alyona Minkovski and fellow guests Christopher Waldrop of the Consumer Federation of America and Robert Brackett of the Institute for Food Safety and Health. The segment runs about 20 minutes. Watch it by clicking on the video at right or at this link.

And be sure to click here to see more of our media appearances.

Keep Food Legal Foundation Files Amicus Brief in Important Fifth Amendment Food Takings Case

Keep Food Legal Foundation filed an amicus curiae (or friend of the court) brief this week in federal court in an important appellate case that centers on the federal government's wrongful taking of the assets of Florida tomato growers in 2008. The case, DiMare Fresh, Inc. et al. v. United States, now before the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, where we filed the amicus brief, pits a host of Florida tomato growers against the federal government.

The case arose after the FDA issued a warning to U.S. consumers in 2008, urging them not to buy Florida tomatoes. The agency claimed the tomatoes were responsible for a widespread outbreak of foodborne illness. But the agency had its facts wrong. It turns out tomatoes were never the cause of any illnesses, and that hot peppers grown in Mexico were entirely to blame for the outbreak.

The damage the FDA warning caused to Florida tomato growers was enormous. All told, the FDA's erroneous warning cost Florida tomato growers hundreds of millions of dollars in losses.

But a lower federal court ruled last year in favor of the federal government.

"The ruling unsettles numerous growers, who collectively lost several hundred million dollars following FDA food safety warnings in 2008 that proved erroneous," one report declared in the wake of the lower ruling last year by the U.S. Court of Federal Claims. "The ruling also curtails other growers tempted to base similar challenges on the constitutional requirement that the government pay compensation for taking property."

That constitutional requirement is the Takings Clause, an integral part of the Constitution's Fifth Amendment. The Takings Clause, as we describe in our brief, states government may only take private property for "public use," and requires the government to provide owners whose property is taken for public use with "just compensation."

Keep Food Legal Foundation filed the amicus brief jointly with its executive director Baylen Linnekin, who wrote the brief, in support of DiMare Fresh and its co-plaintiffs. The brief describes how the origins of the Takings Clause go back to Magna Carta (Britain's charter of rights, authored in 1215) and a 1606 English court case involving the food preservative saltpeter. As we describe, in both Magna Cara and the Saltpeter Case--as well as in the first American protection against government takings, the Massachusetts Body of Liberties, from 1641--limitations on government takings of food and requirements of compensation in the event of such takings were central to the development of takings law. Simply put, there would likely be no Takings Clause were it not for protections of the rights of property owners against government takings of food. As we describe in our brief, the development of American thinking on takings continued through the 1760s, when British laws began to target colonists' food for seizure and consumption, and coalesced during the American Revolution, when British troops seized colonists' food without compensation.

The history we describe to the court places food at the very heart of the origins of the Takings Clause. Such origins are often key, as we note, in helping courts to determine the proper interpretation of fundamental rights. It's for that reason that our amicus brief urges the court to "grant the full weight of the Takings Clause [in this case] in order to protect the fundamental rights of producers and consumers of food alike."

To the best of our knowledge, constitutional scholars have only hinted previously at the essential links we describe between food and the Takings Clause. Prof. Richard Epstein, for example, in his seminal 1985 work Takings, writes that "[t]he dominant motivation for the clause may have been the taking of food and supplies during time of war for the support of government troops."

While the theory that a "taking" arose in the FDA tomato case--due to the fact the federal government's improper warning to consumers caused producers to lose money and property--is relatively novel, it's not without precedent. Just this month, a court in Wales awarded a plaintiff £9,000,000 (roughly $13.5 million USD) after a typo by a government office there wrongly informed creditors that a 124-year-old business had gone bankrupt. The typo caused the business's creditors to pull all of their orders with the company and--in a cruel twist--actually caused the otherwise-vibrant engineering business, which had 250 employees, to go bankrupt. The court ordered the government to pay the firm £9 million because of its error.

Though the DiMare Tomato case is important on its own merits, it has gained added importance in light of the U.S. Supreme Court's decision last week to revisit the case of Horne v. USDA. In that case, a family that markets raisins sued the USDA to force the agency to compensate the family after the USDA forced it (along with raisin handlers around the country) to turn over cash or almost half their raisin crop to the agency in return for the purported privilege of handling raisins. Keep Food Legal Foundation anticipates filing an amicus brief in the Horne case in support of the Horne family.

If you would like to support our continued work on this and other important issues, please make a tax-deductible donation to Keep Food Legal Foundation today.

BREAKING: Keep Food Legal Foundation Earns Tax-Deductible 501(c)(3) Status from IRS!

Keep Food Legal Foundation logoWe are thrilled to announce that Keep Food Legal Foundation has secured tax-exempt 501(c)(3) status from the federal government. We received notice of our status as a public charity recently in a determination letter provided by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

As many of you know, we launched Keep Food Legal Foundation in 2012 in order to expand Keep Food Legal's existing efforts in the areas of education, outreach, and research and publications. Since filing our application for tax-exempt status with the IRS in 2012, we waited anxiously for word of our application. After we responded earlier this year to an IRS request to provide additional information, we continued to wait until we received the agency's determination letter this summer.

What does Keep Food Legal Foundation's new tax-exempt status mean for our future? We anticipate it will allow for an expansion of our existing efforts in the areas of education and research by providing access to important new revenue streams. Fellow public charities, private foundations, other grantmakers, corporations, and individual donors of all types who, like many of you, seek to make tax-deductible, charitable contributions to causes you support will all be eligible to make tax-deductible donations to Keep Food Legal Foundation.

Your support has already been evident. Since its formation in 2012, Keep Food Legal Foundation has already raised tens of thousands of dollars, far outpacing the money Keep Food Legal has raised during its existence. And we're pleased to inform you that our new 501(c)(3) status means all of the funds you donated to Keep Food Legal Foundation since June 13, 2012--along, of course, with all of your donations from this point onward--are tax-deductible to the fullest extent of the law.

Many of you likely noticed our fantastic new Keep Food Legal Foundation logo, which sits at right. It's just one of many changes you'll begin to see around these parts. In the coming months, we'll have more to share about our upcoming projects, including a redesign of our website, an anticipated Kickstarter campaign to support our Opt Out of School Lunch project, two research reports, an update on our FOIA lawsuit against New York City (which has provided us with thousands of pages of documents to review), new promotional materials, and many other details about our planned future efforts. If you would like to support our work in these areas, you may do so either at our donation page or by sending a check to us at the mailing address at the bottom of this page.

In the meantime, we want to thank you again for your past, present, and future support of our work. Without you, Keep Food Legal Foundation would never have become a reality. 

Generous Keep Food Legal Foundation Donor Agrees to Match Donations $2 for Every $1 Through End of 2013!

Matching Donation

Greetings and Happy Holidays from Keep Food Legal Foundation!

Love food freedom? Thinking about donating to a nonprofit before the end of the year? Then we've got the perfect offer for you!

We're thrilled to let you know that an anonymous donor has agreed to donate $2 to Keep Food Legal Foundation for every $1 you donate to Keep Food Legal Foundation through the end of 2013--up to a maximum total commitment by the anonymous donor of $10,000!

Don't delay. Please donate to Keep Food Legal Foundation today!

This donor's generosity could help us raise up to $15,000! That would help solidify Keep Food Legal Foundation's mission of food freedom education, research, writing, and outreach in the New Year!

But we can only raise the full amount we're seeking--$15,000--if supporters like you donate today!

How does it work? If you donate $100 to Keep Food Legal Foundation today, the anonymous donor will donate $200. Donate $1,000? They'll donate $2,000! They'll keep matching donations, $2 to $1, until they've donated $10,000. But this donor's generous offer ends at 11:59 p.m. EST on December 31, 2013! So please donate to Keep Food Legal Foundation today!

Please visit our secure donation page to learn more and donate by credit card or PayPal right now!

Thank you very much for your generosity and your faith in the mission of Keep Food Legal Foundation!

More Information

Keep Food Legal Foundation, incorporated in Washington, DC, filed Form 1023 paperwork with the Internal Revenue Service (I.R.S.) seeking tax-exempt status as a 501(c)(3) public charity in November 2012. Donations to 501(c)(3) groups are tax deductible to the fullest extent of the law under I.R.S. § 170.

Why hasn't the I.R.S. yet ruled on our application for tax-exempt status? According to the I.R.S website, the agency won't begin reviewing applications for tax-exempt status filed in November 2012 for another six months (May 2014).

What does that mean for you and your donation to Keep Food Legal Foundation?

"While an organization’s Form 1023 is waiting for approval from the IRS, the organization may operate as a tax-exempt organization," says the I.R.S. "Although donors have no assurance that contributions are tax-deductible for federal income tax purposes until the application is approved, contributions made while an application is pending would qualify if the application is approved."

Disclaimer: The purpose of this communication is to provide general information about Keep Food Legal Foundation. Keep Food Legal Foundation does not provide legal or tax advice. (Neither do we tell you what to eat!) We urge you to check with your tax and legal advisors when planning your charitable giftmaking.