FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Selena Saucedo Booth
TEXAS HOUSE FARM-TO-TABLE CAUCUS BILLS PASS SENATE
AUSTIN, Texas – May 23, 2013 – Two bipartisan supported farm-to-table bills, House Bill 970, the “Cottage Foods Bill,” by Representative Eddie Rodriguez (D-Austin), and House Bill 1382, the “Farmers’ Market Sampling Bill,” by Representative David Simpson (R-Longview) passed out of the Senate yesterday. These bills are now headed to the Governor for his signature to become law.
“The passage of these bills marks a great first session for the Caucus,” said Representative Rodriguez. “These are good first steps toward updating rules that burden small food producers and family farms across the state.”
HB 970 will expand the list of allowable foods for sale to include other safe food items such as: roasted nuts, fruit butters, candies, cereals, granolas, vinegars, pickles, roasted coffee, tea and dried herb mixes. This bill removes barriers for local food producers to sell outside the home by providing for the sale at other customarily direct-to-consumer locations like farmers’ markets and other events.
HB 1382 will allow farmers and food producers to provide samples of produce at farmers markets. This bill simplifies the current provision in the Health & Safety Code and expands it to all farmers’ markets and farm stands. Current regulations for providing food samples are based on the conditions in brick-and-mortar facilities and pose unnecessary challenges for farmers who want to provide samples of their food to customers at farmers’ markets.
“I support bills like this because they’re promoting small businesses, as well as providing healthy food choices that are grown or prepared right here in Texas,” said Caucus Vice-Chair Representative Lois Kolkhorst (R-Brenham), Chair of House Committee on Public Health. “The success of the caucus this year proves that the food freedom movement is alive and well in Texas.”
Another important bill for Texas farmers and small food producers, HB 1392 by Caucus Member Representative Susan King (R-Abilene), will direct the Department of State Health Services (DSHS) to respond to inquiries about the law and its application to food producers passed the Senate late yesterday. Farmers and small-scale food producers have faced serious problems because of the inability to determine what is actually required under current regulations. This bill requires DSHS to respond to requests for information regarding the regulation of food within 30 days.
Though bills to simplify urban farm agricultural valuations and reduce fees on direct to consumer sales by farmers didn’t win passage this session, the Caucus will continue to build a legislative agenda during the interim focusing on a range of issues that affect small family farms, urban farms and food producers statewide.
About Texas House Farm-to-Table Caucus
The Caucus is the first state legislative caucus of its kind in the nation. It is a bipartisan organization of the Texas House of Representatives interested in public policy relating to the production, distribution and consumption of Texas foods. The Caucus officers include Representative Eddie Rodriguez (D-Austin), Chair; Representative LoisKolkhorst (R-Brenham), Vice-Chair; Representative John Kuempel (R-Seguin), Secretary; and Representative Armando Walle (D-Houston), Treasurer.