Action Alert (Texas): Support Local Food Producers & Local Food Access

The Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance is working on several bills that will help increase access to raw milk, reduce property taxes and fees on sustainable and urban farmers, and eliminate some of the regulatory barriers to local foods. We need your help to move these bills forward!

The first step is to call your State Representative and Senator, and urge them to co-author the bills listed below. To find out who represents you, visit www.fyi.legis.state.tx.us or call 512-463-4630.

Next, make plans to come to Austin on Tuesday, March 19 for the Local Foods Education Day. We’ll share the latest news on all the bills and teach you the basics of being a citizen lobbyist. Then we’ll connect you with others from your area, and you will go as a group to talk with legislators. These face-to-face meetings are one of the best ways to impact legislators, and also a great way to connect with other farmers and consumers who care about local foods!

 

Two of our bills have been filed:

➢ HB 46 improves access to raw milk by allowing the sale of raw milk by licensed farmers at farmers’ market, farm stands, and through delivery. Click here to read more.

➢ HB 254 protects urban farmers and community gardens from paying unnecessary wastewater fees. The water used for agricultural purposes doesn’t enter the wastewater system, yet several farmers currently pay hundreds or thousands of dollars of fees.

 

Six other bills are currently being finalized and will be filed soon:

➢ Encourage home-based food production by expanding the cottage foods bill to cover more foods and allow sales at farmers’ markets & farm stands. This expands on last session’s bill, which enabled individuals to make specific low-risk foods in their homes and sell directly to consumers, up to $50K/year, without regulation by state or local health departments.

➢ Establish fair property tax for urban farms and community gardens by ensuring they can qualify for agricultural property valuation, reducing their tax burden.

➢ Improve access to land for community gardens by protecting landowners from liability if they allow vacant lots to be used as land for community gardens.

➢ Make it easier to offer samples at farmers markets and farm stands by providing clear, appropriate standards for sampling. Current regulations impose extensive, unreasonable requirements that were designed for brick-and-mortar facilities.

➢ Limit fees imposed by local and state health departments for farmers selling directly to consumers. This addresses the growing problems of health departments imposing high or duplicative permit fees, creating a financial burden on small local foods businesses.

➢ Remove barriers to local food production and distribution by allowing people to have licensed facilities within their homes. Current regulations require a separate building to get any kind of license, imposing significant expense on small farmers and food producers.