Good news, bad news with Texas food and farm bills – we need your help with both!

 
We have good news and bad news from the Texas legislative session. The good news is that both the raw milk bill and the cottage foods bills (along with 5 other local food bills) have been approved by the Public Health Committee! HB 46, the raw milk bill, would allow licensed farmers to sell raw milk at farmers’ markets and people’s residences. HB 970, the cottage foods bill, would allow people to make low-risk foods in their homes and sell them directly to consumers at farmers’ markets and community events, up to $50,000 per year. Thanks to your support, these bills have made it past the first major hurdle. The bills now go to the Calendars Committee to be scheduled for a vote of the full House. If they aren’t scheduled by May 9, the bills will die.

For a description of these and five more good local foods bills that are waiting for a vote: http://farmandranchfreedom.org/texas-local-food-bills-2013

The bad news is that the animal ID bill has been set for a vote on the Senate floor this Thursday morning on April 25, and it is also in Calendars on the House side. HB 2311 (House version) / SB 1233 (Senate version) would authorize the Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC) to adopt federal animal ID requirements, including that all poultry be individually tagged with permanent leg bands, unless they are from a commercial hatchery or a confinement operation. The bill would also authorize TAHC to adopt future federal regulations whenever it wants, which could mean new regulations on sheep, goats, pigs, cattle, and horses.

For more information on the animal ID bills: http://farmandranchfreedom.org/texas-animal-id-bills

Thank you for helping the voice of small farmers, independent ranchers, and local food consumers heard at the Texas Capitol! If you have any questions, please email Judith McGeary at judith@farmandranchfreedom.org or call Alexandra Landeros at (512) 537-2692.
 

TAKE ACTION

Even if you have called before, it is important that you make the calls this week. Legislators often ignore bills until they are past Committee, so it is important that they know these bills are moving forward. And on the Animal ID issue, we must rally as many calls as possible because the Agribusiness groups are using dirty tricks to push these dangerous bills through quickly.

You can find out who represents you at www.fyi.legis.state.tx.us/Home.aspx or by calling the Capitol Switchboard at 512-463-4630. The Switchboard can connect you to their offices, and it takes just a couple of minutes.

 

texas-capitolTAKE ACTION #1: Call your State Senator today or tomorrow (Senate will be voting Thursday morning)

  • Ask him or her to OPPOSE the Animal ID bill: HB 2311 / SB 1233.

 

TAKE ACTION #2: Call your State Representative this week

  • Ask him or her to SUPPORT the raw milk and cottage foods bills (HB 46 and HB 970), and the other local foods bills;
  • Also ask him or her to OPPOSE the Animal ID bill: HB 2311 / SB 1233.

It’s critical to call both your State Representative and Senator on the Animal ID bill, since Senate will be voting on it on April 25, and the House may be voting on it soon.

 

TAKE ACTION #3 – Call the Calendars Committee members (if you live in Austin, we encourage you to visit their offices at the Capitol)

Click here for a full directory of the Calendars Committee, sorted alphabetically and also by office location at the Texas Capitol building (includes maps).

The Calendars Committee is responsible for scheduling bills for a vote by the full House. Please call each of the Calendars Committee members and urge them to:

  1. Set HB 46 and HB 970 (the raw milk and cottage foods bills) for a vote as soon as possible.
  2. Oppose HB 2311, the Animal ID bill.

If you are in one of the Committee member’s districts, please ask your friends and family in the area to call also. Calls from constituents have the greatest impact! (note that the zip codes are often “split” among multiple districts).

If you visit the Capitol, most of the Calendars Committee offices have green and red sheets of paper so that people can register their support or opposition. If an office doesn’t have sheets available, you can leave your information with the person at the front desk.

  • Fill out a green sheet (support/set for a vote) for each of the local foods bills.
  • Fill out a red sheet (oppose/tag) for the Animal ID bill.

Be sure to take the list of bills so you have the correct bill numbers handy.

Please remember that the legislators and staff are all working VERY long days right now. Be polite and respectful of their time!

 

If you prefer email to phone calls, you can email your legislators using this formula:
Representatives: Firstname.Lastname@house.state.tx.us
Senators: Firstname.Lastname@senate.state.tx.us

If you email, be sure to include a sentence or two at the beginning about who you are and why you care about this issue! Form letters have very little effect.