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.…
Local foods was a hot topic at the 83rd Texas Legislature! FARFA worked on several bills to support local farmers and remove some of the barriers for local food systems. These common-sense bills address the needs of the local foods movement, where local farmers and food producers sell their products directly to consumers in transparent transactions. Helping the local food movement helps small local businesses and our economy.
All three of these Texas local food bills were signed by Governor Rick Perry!
➢ HB 970, the Cottage Foods Bill: Until last year, anyone making and selling any food at all (other than uncut fruits and vegetables) had to do so in a commercial, licensed facility that was subject to regulations designed for large-scale industrial food production. Last session, the Texas Legislature provided that “cottage food producers” could make specific low-risk foods in their homes and sell directly to consumers, up to $50,000 per year, without being regulated by the state and local health departments.…
(June 14, 2013) Governor Rick Perry has signed the three local foods bills passed by the Texas Legislature this session! The cottage foods bill (HB 970), the farmers’ market bill (HB 1382), and the DSHS Better Communications bill (HB 1392) all help make it easier for local farmers and food producers to raise and sell the healthy, local foods that so many consumers are increasingly seeking out.
Many people worked hard to make these bills a reality. Every person who called, wrote, or visited their legislators deserves part of the credit, and we appreciate your activism!
Special thanks go to the bill authors: Representative Eddie Rodriguez, the author of the cottage foods bill; Susan King, the author of the DSHS Better Communications Act, and David Simpson, the author of the farmers’ market bill. (The full list of co-authors is below, together with the descriptions of each bill). Thank you also to Senator Bob Deuell and Senator Jane Nelson for sponsoring the bills in the Senate. These legislators stood up for local food producers and the interests of their constituents against some powerful special interests.…
Updated June 5, 2013:
The Texas Legislature passed three important local foods bills: the cottage foods bill (HB 970), the farmers’ market bill (HB 1382), and the DSHS Better Communications bill (HB 1392). These bills make it easier for local farmers and food producers to raise and sell healthy, local foods.
There is one last hurdle before these bills can become law: Governor Perry. The Governor has three options on each bill: (1) sign the bill, and it becomes law; (2) veto the bill, and it dies; (3) do nothing, and the bill will become law without his signature. He has until Sunday, June 16 to sign or veto the bills.
Please make one last call about the local foods bills. Call Governor Perry and urge him to sign all three local foods bills: HB 970, HB 1382, and HB 1392.
Your calls truly do make a difference. These bills faced opposition from some powerful players at the Legislature, including the Texas Retailers Association and the Texas Municipal League.…
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Texas Senate Approves Cottage Foods, Farmers Market, and DSHS Better Communications Bills
Significant Growth in Support for Local Food Movement at Capitol
AUSTIN, Texas – May 23, 2013 – Yesterday, the Texas Senate voted to pass HB 970, the Cottage Foods Bill sponsored by Senator Robert Deuell (R-Greenville); HB 1382, the Farmers Market Bill (also sponsored by Senator Deuell); and HB 1392, the DSHS Better Communications Act sponsored Senator Jane Nelson (R-Grapevine). All three bills will now go to the Governor for signing.…
Three of our local foods bills passed the Senate today, Wednesday, May 22! Now they go to the Governor for signing.
THANK YOU to everyone who called, wrote, met with their legislators, and spread the word. We’ll post a more complete set of acknowledgements soon.
HB 970 – Encouraging home-based food production, aka “cottage foods”: Until last year, anyone making and selling any food at all (other than uncut fruits and vegetables) had to do so in a commercial, licensed facility that was subject to regulations designed for large-scale industrial food production. Last session, the Texas Legislature provided that “cottage food producers” could make specific low-risk foods in their homes and sell directly to consumers, up to $50,000 per year, without being regulated by the state and local health departments.
The bill has led to the establishment and growth of numerous small businesses in this state, with no reports of resulting foodborne illness.…
Updated May 20, 2013 at 11:45 am:
Good news on our local foods bills in the Texas Legislature! Two of the bills — the Texas Cottage Foods Bill (HB 970) and the DSHS Better Communications Act (HB 1392) — have been scheduled for a vote of the Senate on Tuesday. And the Farmers’ Market Bill (HB 1382), was approved by the Senate Agriculture Committee this morning.
But time is running short. Any bill that does not pass the Senate by this Wednesday, May 22, dies.
Even if you have called before, please take a few minutes to take action again!
Please call or email your State Senator and urge him or her to vote YES on HB 970, the Cottage Foods bill; HB 1392, the DSHS Better Communications bill; and HB 1382, the Farmers Market bill.
Please also call or email Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst. The Lieutenant Governor is the one who decides the order in which bills are considered by the Senate, so he plays an important role in whether bills live or die.…
Three local foods bills have been approved by the Texas House and will be considered by the Texas Senate. Two of them – the “cottage foods” bill (HB 970) and the DSHS “better communications” bill (HB 1392) – will be heard by the Senate Health and Human Services Committee next Tuesday, May 14. Check out the Take Action section below to see how you can help keep these important bills moving forward.
We also have the report about the bills that did not make it in the More Information section at the end.
The cottage foods bill, HB 970, would allow small-scale producers who make low-risk foods at home to sell directly to consumers at farm stands, farmers’ markets, and community events, in addition to selling directly from their homes. Cottage food producers would not be regulated by the health departments, although they would have to get a food handlers’ license (which can be acquired through a 2-hour online course).…
Three of our local foods bills are moving forward in the Texas House of Representatives!
The cottage foods bill, HB 970, passed it first vote on Saturday! Two more bills — the DSHS Better Communications Bill and the farmers’ market sampling & cooking demonstration bill — are scheduled for a vote this week. All of these bills help our local farmers and food producers get their products to market.
These bills need your support to keep moving, all the way through the Senate and to the Governor!
Unfortunately, the raw milk bill and three more local foods are still stuck in the House Calendars Committee. If they are not put on the schedule by tomorrow, Tuesday, May 7, then they will die without ever being voted on. We were told that the raw milk bill would be voted on, but it is not yet scheduled — so our focus in the last push is to get a vote for raw milk!…
Two of our local foods bills will be voted on in the next few days! Cottage foods is on Saturday, and DSHS Better Communications is on Monday.
The cottage foods bill, HB 970, would allow people to make low-risk foods at home and sell them to consumers at their homes, farm stands, farmers markets, and community events. Cottage food producers would not be regulated by the health departments, although they would have to get a food handlers’ license (which you can get through a 2-hour online course).
The DSHS Better Communications Act, HB 1392, would require the state health department to respond to requests about how the law applies to specific situations. Since the laws are written for large-scale operations, it’s often unclear what a small farmer or food producer has to do to comply. HB 1392 would require the agency to state its interpretation of the law, and protect farmers who comply in good faith from being fined.…
Support HB 970, the “Cottage Foods Bill,” by Eddie Rodriguez
HB 970 would expand the current cottage foods law to include more low-risk foods, and allow for sales at farmers’ markets, farm stands, and community events. The bill provides opportunities for micro- and start-up businesses to meet the growing demand for locally produced foods in both rural and urban areas.
Authors: Eddie Rodriguez, Kolkhorst, Stickland, Muñoz, Jr., Farrar. Co-Authors: Dennis Bonnen, Capriglione, Larry Gonzales, Hernandez Luna, Howard, Hughes, Phil King, Susan King, Laubenberg, Lavender, Menendez, Murphy, Naishtat, Ralph Sheffield, Scott Turner, Walle, and White
Supporting Organizations: Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance; Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund; Food Democracy Now; HomeGrown Revival; Organic Consumers Association; Slow Food Austin; Slow Food South Texas; Sustainable Food Center; Texas Certified Farmers Market Association; Texas Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association; Weston A. Price Foundation
Supporting Farmers’ Markets: Barton Creek (Austin); Cedar Park; Dripping Springs; Fair Market (Tyler); Heritage Guild of Collin County & Chestnut Square Historic Village; HOPE (Austin); Jacksonville; Manor; Mueller (Austin); North Central Texas (Tarrant County); River Valley; and Rusk (Henderson).…