HB 1926: The Homemade Foods Bill

Expanding opportunities for local food producers

 

Home Canned Green BeansDuring the 2011 and 2013 Texas Legislative Sessions, FARFA worked to pass the Cottage Food Bill, legalizing sale of non-potentially hazardous foods prepared in home kitchens. Those sales were only allowed within a specific framework: direct-to-consumer, within a list of very specific foods, and limited to $50,000 in annual sales. Despite the restrictions, a Forbes magazine article estimated that more than 1,000 new businesses have been created under the law.

However, the limitations on what can be produced and where the food can be sold limits the cottage food law’s usefulness for many farmers and food producers. The Homemade Foods Bill, sponsored by Representative Eddie Rodriguez, creates a middle tier of regulation that addresses genuine concerns about the risks of the food and expanded distribution, while still providing realistic opportunity for home production.

HB 1926 allows home preparation of foods such as tamales, canned vegetables, fermented foods, and perishable (potentially hazardous) baked goods.…

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Time to Push for Passage of TX Raw Milk Bill!

House Committees for the 2017 Session of the Texas Legislature have been named, and now is the time to make sure all the House Public Health Committee members are asked to support the Raw Milk Bill, HB 57.

Whether you are a raw milk farmer or consumer, or have never even tried raw milk, this bill is important to the local food movement as a whole for these reasons:

  • Direct farm-to-consumer sales of unprocessed milk can be a lifesaver for many small family farms — we’ve had many farmers tell us that raw milk is what saved them from going out of farming.
  • Everyone should have the right to decide what you eat and what you feed your family.

Help support family farmers and consumers’ rights — speak up for HB 57!

Raw Milk Bill Information

Raw milk is already legal in Texas. There are 45 licensed Grade A Raw for Retail dairies, which are regularly inspected and the milk tested using the same (or higher) standards as for milk in the grocery stores.…

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FARFA’s Local Foods Awareness Day 2017

Make an impact on local food laws by joining us at the State Capitol on Thursday, March 9. Be on the front lines as we educate legislators about the issues important to our movement.

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We’ll help you prepare for Local Foods Awareness Day during a 90-minute webinar on February 28. You’ll learn everything you need to know about the bills we currently have before the 2017 Texas Legislature. And we will cover all the steps to contact and hold meetings with State Senators and Representatives at their Capitol offices. It all takes place in the comfort of your own home … all you need is a computer or mobile device and the internet!

Read More About the 2017 Local Food Bills

 

FARFA’s Local Foods Awareness Day

Thursday, March 9, 2017, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. (If you are unable to be there for the entire day, please register and come when you can!)

PLACE: Legislative Conference Center, Room E2.002, Capitol Extension, Texas Capitol, Austin

PARKING: Reasonably priced parking is available at the Visitors Parking Lot, San Jacinto Blvd., between 12th and 13th streets.…

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2017 Texas Legislative Session

The Texas Legislature is now in session!  We have until May 29 to pass bills to help local farmers and food producers – and to kill bad bills that could endanger the future of agriculture in our state. 

Check out our list of five important good bills that have been filed this session below.

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The Advocacy Process … Step-by-Step

Each bill will be assigned to a committee, which will hold a hearing where the public will testify, both for and against the bill. If you are directly affected by any of these bills and want to testify, please email Judith@FarmAndRanchFreedom.org with your name, contact info, and a brief explanation of your interest in the bill.

If the committee votes in favor of the bill, it then goes to the Calendars Committee (in the House) or the Lieutenant Governor to be scheduled for a vote by the full chamber. Then comes the vote by the full House or Senate.…

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The Demise of the Trans-Pacific Partnership

A broad range of family farm and local food proponents, progressive groups and tea partiers, advocates for labor, the environment, and national sovereignty, and more, had planned a massive call-in effort this week to fight against the Obama Administration’s last-ditch effort to pass the Trans-Pacific Partnership during the lame duck session – and it appears that we have won without needing this final push!

tpp deniedToday Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and other TPP opponents within Congress held a press conference to discuss the end of the trade partnership and what that means for the future of international trade. And late last week, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) separately announced that no action would be taken within either House to push a vote on the TPP.  While President Obama has not publicly conceded, it is apparent that the deal is dead for now.

The grassroots opposition to the TPP can be traced back to June 2010, when advocates for small farmers, labor, consumers, and other movements began to raise concerns about the secretive negotiations.…

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A Full Agenda for the 2017 Session: The Issues to Watch

As autumn sets in, state legislators turn their attention to the bills they will champion in the coming year. Thanks to our Texas members, FARFA is positioned to lobby the Texas Legislature extensively, and we have a full plate of bills planned for 2017.

We’ve made progress on gaining backing – and sponsors – on our proposals, so this is the latest on where each of those bills stand.

Property Taxes

Although Texas law provides for “agricultural valuation” of land used primarily for raising food, many farmers across the state have experienced problems in qualifying for such valuation due to bias against sustainable farming methods, urban farms, and produce farmers. This has meant that small, sustainable farmers have often paid thousands of dollars in additional taxes – a significant burden for these small businesses that provide food for local communities.

Last session, FARFA supported a bill:

  • To specify that mixed vegetable and fruit production qualifies as “agricultural use”;
  • To direct tax appraisers to consider the type of production used, including organic and sustainable methods such as rotational grazing, in determining the degree of intensity of use necessary to qualify;
  • To direct the Comptroller to develop guidelines to address under what conditions small tracts and diversified farms qualify for agricultural valuation.

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Texas Legislators Hold Water Hearings

Do you have views about Texas’ water resources that you’d like to share with state legislators? Now is your chance. Two committees are each holding interim hearings next Thursday, October 13, providing the perfect opportunity to share your experience and beliefs.

HEARING ONE: The House Agriculture Committee hearing will meet Thursday morning, starting at 9 am, to hear testimony on the following topic:

“Determine the sources of water used by Texans in the production of food and fiber, and examine the current water delivery methods and water conservation goals for agricultural use. Evaluate whether there are more efficient and effective water-usage management practices that could be employed in the agricultural industry, and determine the impact of crop insurance requirements on producers.”

HEARING TWO: The House Natural Resources Committee will start its hearing at 1 pm and cover several topics, the most important of which is to “examine the regional and state water planning process.”

The committee will focus on multiple aspects of the water plan, including the “interaction between the planning process and groundwater management” and “whether the ‘drought of record’ remains the appropriate benchmark for planning.”

Have you tried to be involved with the planning process and run into barriers?…

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Setting the Record Straight on Raw Milk Illnesses

As published in a recent Austin American-Statesman article, the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) is now claiming that there were two small outbreaks of foodborne illness linked to raw milk in the spring of 2015. But this is the first time in the year and a half since the outbreaks happened that the agency has said anything about them. The article raises far more questions than it answers.

Here’s what typically happens when two or more people get sick from a foodborne illness:

The investigating authority first asks each person to list everything they ate or drank in the days before they got sick. As you can imagine, people’s recollection is often incomplete, especially when they’re sick. So the lists may or may not include the food product that had the bacteria. If the health department is able to identify a common food consumed by each of the affected persons, they then attempt to trace the food product to the farm or food manufacturer where it was produced.…

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Tell Texas Legislators to Hold Health Department Accountable

As we alerted you earlier this summer, the Texas Department of State Health Services has undertaken a campaign of aggressive enforcement against raw milk farmers and their customers.

This situation poses many problems for local food producers and consumers – whether you drink raw milk or not:

  • The use of law enforcement to intimidate consumers.
  • Changing the enforcement of the law based on a change in agency personnel – even though nothing has changed in the regulations and no illnesses have occurred.
  • Government harassment of producers based on complaints filed by competitors, not the public.

We’re already seeing the latter two cropping up with other types of local foods (although not as dramatically as with the raw milk busts).
This needs to stop. The health departments should be focusing on actual health risks, not using complaints from competitors as excuses to harass small local farmers and their customers.

FARFA’s been active in developing legal arguments, talking with agency officials and legislative staffers, consulting with the farmers, and more.…

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The TPP Fight Is Here

President Obama has just officially put Congress on notice that the TPP is coming.  To try to counter the opposition to this terrible trade agreement, the Administration is planning more than 30 high-profile events with cabinet members before the end of the month to push members of Congress to support the TPP.

But the momentum is on our side, and we have to keep it that way!  Obama has acknowledged that he cannot get a vote to approve the TPP until after the elections because it is such a political hot button topic.  We need to tell our legislators that we expect them to stay consistent and vote against the TPP after the election, as well as saying they’re against it before.

This two-thousand page document would set the rules for all the countries in it – including the U.S. – on agriculture, food, intellectual property and patents, banking, and more.…

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