We won! No more high permit fees for farmers markets

The Texas House on Tuesday voted unanimously to pass SB 932. This bill caps the permit fees that local health departments can impose on farmers & farmers’ market vendors to $100 per year, total!

The bill already passed the Senate, so now it just needs to go to the Governor.

Thank you to everyone who called and wrote their legislators to support this important legislation! This will help small farmers and local food producers all over the state saving them money and, in many cases, making the difference in their ability to sell at certain farmers’ markets.

We want to recognize Representative Terry Wilson and Senator Bryan Hughes for filing and championing this bill. You can send a quick thank you note to both of them:

Terry.Wilson@house.texas.gov
Bryan.Hughes@senate.texas.gov

And another of our priority bills–HB 2107, the Local Health Department Better Communications Bill–is scheduled for a vote by the full Senate tomorrow on the “local and uncontested” calendar, which means it is extremely likely to pass!

We still have five other bills that we’re fighting for, including a renewed push for the on-farm poultry processing bill. But two of them–the Fair Taxes for Small Farmers bill and the ungraded eggs bill–are in trouble.

Please help us get all of these bills over the finish line! Take a few minutes to look at all three action items below, and make your voice heard.

You can read more about these bills and the many others we are working (either to support or stop) on our bill tracking page. The page includes links to fact sheets on each bill, providing you with all the details.


Action Item #1:
Call your legislators and urge them to support all the local food bills

 

You can find your State Legislators by going to our Elected Official Lookup or calling the Capitol Switchboard at 512-463-4630.

If you call after-hours, just leave a message on their machine. If you send an email, please be sure to add a few sentences to personalize it and explain why these issues are important to you!

Sample message for calling your State Representative:

My name is ___, and I live in [town]. I am calling to urge Representative ___ to support small farmers and local food producers by voting yes on two important bills:

  • SB 572, to expand the cottage food law; and
  • SB 1805, to allow the sale of ungraded eggs by farmers to restaurants.

Add a sentence or two about why local farms & food are important to you, whether it’s about one of the bills in particular or the whole community in general.

Sample message for calling your State Senator:

My name is ___, and I live in [town]. I am calling to urge Senator ___ to support small farmers and local food producers by voting yes on three important bills:

  • HB 97, to provide for fair, consistent property tax treatment for small farmers;
  • HB 410, to allow small rabbit and poultry farmers to process on-the-farm; and
  • HB 1694, to stop expensive permits for sampling at farmers’ markets.

Add a sentence or two about why local farms & food are important to you, whether it’s about one of the bills in particular or the whole community in general.


Action Item #2:
Focus on the Senate Property Tax Committee

 

HB 97, the Fair Taxes for Small Farmers bill, is in trouble. It must get a hearing in the Senate Property Tax Committee this week, or it will die.

Below are the members of the Property Tax committee, who control the future of this bill. Please check to see if you live in any of their districts. If you do, please call their offices ASAP and focus your message specifically on supporting HB 97. And then spread the word to everyone you know in the district to do the same!

Paul Bettencourt, Chair
Phone: (512) 463-0107
Email: Paul.Bettencourt@senate.texas.gov
Counties: Harris, part. (northwest Harris County, Tomball, Jersey Village, Hedwig Village, Bunker Hill Village, Hunters Creek Village, Piney Point Village)

Angela Paxton, Vice-Chair
Phone: (512) 463-0108
Email: angela.paxton@senate.texas.gov
Counties: Collin, part. Dallas, part. (McKinney, Allen, Fairview, Frisco, Plano, Richardson, Lucas, Parker, Murphy)

Brandon Creighton
Phone: (512) 463-0104
Email: brandon.creighton@senate.texas.gov
Counties: Chambers, Jefferson, Galveston (part), Harris (part), Montgomery, part. (Magnolia, Conroe, Patton Village, Mont Belvieu, Beach City, Anahuac, Nome, China, Beaumont, Nederland, Port Neches, Groves, Port Arthur)

Kelly Hancock
Phone: (512) 463-0109
Email: kelly.hancock@senate.texas.gov
Counties: Dallas, part. Tarrant, part. (Haltom City, Watauga, Keller, North Richland Hills, Westlake, Euless, Grand Prairie)

Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa
Phone: (512) 463-0120
Email: juan.hinojosa@senate.texas.gov
Counties: Brooks, Jim Wells, Hidalgo (part), Nueces (part). (Mission, McAllen, Edinburg, Falfurrias, Premont, Alice, Agua Dulce, Orange Grove, Robstown, Driscoll, Bishop, Petronilla)


Action Item #3:
Call Chairman Springer

 

The ungraded eggs bill is on life support. If you have not yet called Chairman Springer, please do so TODAY, and urge him to allow a committee vote on SB1805, the ungraded eggs bill. Please be polite–rudeness or anger will backfire.

Committee office: 512-463-0762
Email for committee staff: Alexander.McMillan_HC@House.texas.gov (use a subject line like “Vote Yes on SB 1805”)

A phone call has the greatest impact, but a personalized email also works. Remember to keep the conversation polite and short.

Sample message:

Hi, my name is ___. I urge Chairman Springer to allow SB 1805, the ungraded eggs bill, to be voted on by his committee. This bill helps both small farmers and the consumers who want greater access to locally raised foods.

Add just one or two sentences about why this is important to you, whether you are a farmer, or you like eating at local-sourcing restaurants, or you simply want more opportunities for small farmers.

This is one of the very rare times where we are encouraging people to call whether or not they live in the legislator’s district. If you do live in the Chairman’s district (see the map at https://fyi.capitol.texas.gov/fyiwebdocs/PDF/house/dist68/m1.pdf ), be sure to explicitly say that when you call the office and reach out to all your friends and family in the district to encourage them to call as well.


Action Item #4:
GIVE

 

Support FARFA with your dollars as well as with your voice. It takes money to do this work printing fact sheets, PR work, gas and parking at the Capitol, and more. More members means not only more funding, but also more visibility and impact at the Capitol!

Please join today. And if you’re already a member, please consider an extra donation to help us in these last three weeks of the session!