If you are one of the many people who responded to our calls for action this Session, THANK YOU! And … congratulations!
We have a lot of good news to share with you this week.
The Senate unanimously approved the bill that caps farmers’ market vendor permit fees at $100 annually per jurisdiction.
The Senate Health & Human Services Committee unanimously approved the bill to allow farmers to sell ungraded eggs to restaurants and chefs. The Committee recommended it for the local and uncontested calendar, which makes it very likely to pass the full Senate vote quickly. The House version of the bill had a very positive hearing on Monday before the Agriculture Committee; two Big Ag groups registered against it, but we are working to get past that obstacle.
Our lead cottage foods bill, HB 2108 (to expand the law to include pickled vegetables, frozen fruits, fermented foods, and all non-potentially hazardous foods), also had a great hearing on Wednesday, with 37 people and organizations registering in support. The only testimony in opposition was from a group representing public health inspectors, relying on ONE foodborne illness outbreak from fermented vegetables in the entire country. And for the record, a review of the case shows that it was more likely due to cooked vegetables mixed with fermented, not a true ferment.
And finally, in terms of our priority bills, the House bill to eliminate the permits & fees for farmers’ market vendors who want to offer food samples was unanimously approved by the Public Health Committee and recommended for the local & consent calendar.
Another bill we’ve been watching, HB 2761, would reinstate Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) for pork and beef at the state level, and is expected to have a hearing on Tuesday, although it is not yet official. Any beef or pork product sold in Texas would need a label on its package or on the container in which it is displayed, designating its country of origin. Read the text of the bill here.
We still have a lot to do. Each bill has to pass both the House and the Senate, and we have less than 6 weeks to do it. But with your help, we will continue to make great progress!
To keep up with all the bills, be sure to visit our Bill Tracking Page.
Your Action Makes a Difference!
As the session heats up and the legislators and their staff (and us!) are working ever-longer days, we need your support more than ever!
Action Item #1:
Come to the Capitol on May 2 for the Local Foods Awareness Day
Join us at the State Capitol on May 2 when we’ll visit as many legislators’ offices as possible to discuss our 2019 priority bills. Together with farmers and local food consumers from around the state, you’ll be on the front lines educating legislators about the issues important to our movement.
Get more details and register here.
(The event is free – we ask for RSVPs to help plan effectively.)
Action Item #2:
Multiply Your Impact
Please share our alerts with your friends, family, and community! Encourage them to learn more about local food bills and add their voices. Just 10 phone calls – and sometimes less &ndash to a legislator can change their vote.
Support FARFA with your dollars as well as with your voice.
It takes money to do this work &ndash 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!
Action Item #3:
Call your legislators and urge them to support the bills
Even if you have called before, please call again. You can read about all the bills we’re working on here, but the ones listed below are the ones we most need calls on right now. You can talk with your legislators about all six bills or pick those that matter the most to you.
You can find your State Legislators by going to our Elected Official Lookup.
My name is ___, and I live in ___[town]. I am calling to urge Representative/ Senator ___ to support small farmers and local food producers by signing on to the bills listed below.
Add a few sentences about why this is important to you.
These bills all help small, local farms provide their products to consumers:
- HB 503/ SB 80: Allowing the sale of raw milk at farmers’ markets and through delivery.
- HB 644, HB 2108, and SB 572: Expanding the cottage foods law to allow more types of foods to be made in home kitchens and sold more places.
- HB 1284/ SB 1805: Allowing the sale of ungraded eggs to restaurants and retailers.
- HB 1694/ SB 789: Abolishing expensive permits for sampling at farmers’ markets.
- HB 2009/ SB 932: Limiting the fees that local health departments can impose on farmers and farmers’ market vendors.
- SB 1341: Making it easier for farmers to process their chickens on-the-farm.
I urge Representative/ Senator ____ to support local farmers and the consumers who want to buy from them.