Cottage Foods Law Update
Texas House Public Health Committee will hear HB 970
By Anna Toon, 4:40PM, Tue. Mar. 26, 2013
Bakers, artisans, farmers, and the markets are anxiously awaiting the outcome of tomorrow’s hearing on House Bill 970. Filed by Rep. Eddie Rodriguez, D-Austin, and frequently referred to as the Cottage Foods Law, activists are hoping for increased access to locally produced foods.
It wasn’t until last legislative session when Senate Bill 81 was passed that “cottage food producers” were permitted to sell low-risk foods from their homes, directly to consumers. While SB 81 was considered a success, it was not without its limitations: namely, the point of sale was limited to the home, the list of allowed foods was narrow, and zoning restrictions invoked by local health departments prevented so-called "retail" activity in residential areas.
HB 970 would address these issues by expanding the list of low-risk foods to include candy, nuts, nut and fruit butters, dried fruits and vegetables, cereal, granola, dry mixes, pickles, and vinegar. In addition, HB 970 would allow products to be sold at farmers markets, farm stands, fairs, and similar events by exempting cottage food producers from zoning restrictions. “There is definitely consumer demand for these types of homemade foods, and many legal home bakers are eager to expand their product offerings to take advantage of the demand” said Kelley Masters, cottage foods producer and owner of Home Sweet Home Bakery. “By allowing them to sell their products at local events like farmers markets and craft fairs, they would be able to reach new customers and grow their businesses faster than they are currently able to from home,” she adds.
The committee hearing will begin at 8am in Room E2.012 of the Capitol Extension. For more information, visit farmandranchfreedom.org.