Texas Local Foods

Although local foods travel a short physical distance from farm to table, farmers travel a long road with obstacles: government laws and regulations made by and for the benefit of big corporate agribusinesses. Many of the barriers take the form of so-called food safety regulations, which are designed to fit the large industrial-scale operations that are the source of the majority of the foodborne illness outbreaks in this State and across the country. FARFA is working on scale-appropriate regulation that recognizes that one of the best ways to ensure food safety is to improve access to locally grown and produced foods, either sold directly by the producer to the consumer or with very short, transparent, and accountable supply chains.

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Support local foods in Texas

 

March 23, 2015: The Texas Legislature is kicking into high gear, and we have some great bills that will help local farmers and food producers bring you more of the delicious local foods you want!

Seven bills have been introduced to eliminate barriers for local farmers and artisan food producers, including bills to:

  • allow the sale of more foods produced in home kitchensFighting for Food Freedom
  • reduce property taxes for sustainable farmers, urban farms, and community gardens
  • expand where raw milk can be sold
  • increase agency accountability and responsiveness to small farmers’ concerns
  • require the labeling of genetically engineered foods

More information on each bill is at the end of this alert.

Will you help us get these important bills passed?  

TAKE ACTION

The legislators need to hear from YOU!  The chance of any of these bills passing this session depends heavily on the voice of committed Texans. It only takes a few minutes to contact your legislator, and it really does make a difference.…

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GMO labeling bill filed in Texas!

Texas State Representative Carol Alvarado has filed a bill to require the labeling of foods containing genetically engineered ingredients.   If passed, this bill would mean Texans would finally know which foods in the grocery stores have genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

Just filing this bill in a state with massive agribusiness and biotech industries is a major step!  But there is a very, very long road between filing the bill and getting it passed.

Will you help us fight for your right to know what’s in your food?

 

TAKE ACTION

1.     Call your State Representative and urge him or her to co-author HB 3499.

Call the Capitol Switchboard at 512-463-4630 or go to www.fyi.legis.state.tx.us  to find out who your State Representative is.

When you call, identify yourself as a constituent and ask to speak to the staffer who handles food issues.  Be brief and polite.  You can pull some talking points from our fact sheet, but don’t try to cover all of it – focus on why this issue is important to you.…

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Texas Legislative Update

 

Local foods are a hot topic in the 2015 Texas legislative session!  FARFA has eight bills that have been, or are about to be, introduced that will help to grow the local food movement, making it easier for farmers to make a fair living and for consumers to access high-quality local foods!

Please contact your State Representative and State Senator and urge them to co-author the bills listed below.  You can find out who represents you at:

You can download one-page fact sheets for each bill by clicking the “more information” link at the end of each paragraph.

We are also tracking several more good bills on issues related to agriculture, water, and eminent domain, as well as several bad bills.  Please check out our additional bills list below, after the description of our top priority bills.

FARFA’s Priority Bills to Support

HB 91, by Representative Dan Flynn, would expand access to raw milk.

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2014 Austin City Council and Mayoral Candidates: Runoffs

Several of the seats on the new Austin City Council will be be determined in a run-off election on December 16. Early voting is underway through this Friday, December 12. You can find early voting locations at www.traviscountyclerk.org/eclerk/Content.do?code=E.47

To find out more about the candidates and districts, visit www.austinchronicle.com/elections

During the general election, Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance sent a questionnaire to all of the candidates for whom we could find email addresses. We provided a brief background on some key issues, and asked five questions.

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What Does the Right to Farm Mean to You?

cafo-cattle2

The Texas Legislature will soon consider a bill addressing local regulation of farming operations. The Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance wants to hear from you in order to help shape our position on this issue.

“Right to farm” laws affect not only what farmers can do on their own property, but what rights their neighbors (both farmers and nonfarmers) and community have.  Read more to learn about the history and potential future expansion of the Right to Farm statute, as well as how you can provide your feedback via a short survey.

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Action Alert (Texas): Support Home Food Producers

Texas Home Processors Bill | Homemade Pumpkin Pie

Now that we’re in the end-of-year holiday season, food becomes central to our gatherings with friends and family. In addition to spending time in the kitchen, many people will also be seeking out locally produced foods such as bread rolls, pies, cranberry sauce, and canned vegetables to go along with their festive meals.

Some of these foods are now available from local individuals making them in their home kitchens, thanks to our success in passing the Texas Cottage Foods Law in 2011 and 2013. And Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance (FARFA) is now working on a Home Processors Bill that would expand the types of foods that could be made in home kitchens and where they can be sold.

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Texas Legislative Agenda 2015

texas capitol

The Texas legislative session is approaching fast! Although the Legislature won’t convene until January 2015, bills will start being filed in mid-November after the elections. The Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance has an ambitious agenda again this year. Since bills often take more than one session to pass, we will continue to fight for important bills from the last round:

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Action Alert (Texas): Tell State Health Department to Give Farmers Straight Answers

DSHS Better Communications Act

In 2013, we won a major victory in Texas with the passage of the DSHS Better Communications Act, HB 1392. This important bill, sponsored by Representative Susan King, requires the Department of State Health Services (DSHS) to respond promptly when a farmer or food producer asks about what the law is and how it applies to their situation.

Seems pretty basic, right? Sadly, you would be shocked by how many farmers and food producers have run into problems simply getting a straight answer as to what they have to do to comply with the law. It’s one of the most common problems we hear, all over the state.

Passing HB 1392 was a major step forward for the local foods movement in Texas.

The next step is agency rulemaking. DSHS recently proposed regulations to implement HB 1392. The proposed regulations mostly follow the language of the bill, but the agency has added a provision for the requests to be submitted on an approved form.…

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Texas DSHS Better Communications Bill 2013 FAQ

 
In the 2013 Texas legislative session, the Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance worked to pass several bills to help small farmers and local food producers. The Cottage Foods Law and the Farmers Market Bill are covered separate posts.

Click here to download a printable PDF version that covers both the Farmers’ Market Bill (HB 1382) and the DSHS Better Communications Bill (HB 1392). Both go into effect on September 1, 2013.
 

DSHS Better Communications Bill (HB 1392)

 
The Department of State Health Services (DSHS) has primary jurisdiction in areas where there is no local health department. In addition, many local health departments enforce the DSHS regulations, rather than adopting specific local regulations.

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Texas Farmers’ Market Bill 2013 FAQ

In the 2013 Texas legislative session, the Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance worked to pass several bills to help small farmers and local food producers. The Cottage Foods Law and the DSHS Better Communications Bill are covered separate posts.

Click here to download a printable PDF version that covers both the Farmers’ Market Bill (HB 1382) and the DSHS Better Communications Bill (HB 1392). Both go into effect on September 1, 2013.

Farmers’ Market Bill (HB 1382)

The Farmers’ Market Bill has two sections: (1) sampling at farmers’ markets and farm stands, and (2) cooking demonstrations at farmers’ markets.

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