Outcome for Local Food Legislation

Senate approves Farm-to-Table Caucus bills

Farm stand at Hope Farmers Market
Farm stand at Hope Farmers Market

A few months ago Jim Hightower told members of the Texas Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association to jump on the Texas Farm-to-Table Caucus like “gators on a poodle.” As it turns out, this was wise advice.

The first state legislative caucus of its kind in the nation, the Caucus focuses on public policy relating to the production, distribution, and consumption of Texas foods. As a result of Caucus efforts, three local food bills are now on their way to the Governor’s desk.

House Bill 970, widely known as the cottage foods bill, by Rep. Eddie Rodriguez, D-Austin, and HB 1382, the farmers market sampling bill, by Rep. David Simpson, R-Longview, cruised through the Senate this week. HB 1392, the Department of State Health Services Better Communications Act, by Rep. Susan King, R-Abilene, also passed the Senate.

"The passage of these bills marks a great first session for the Caucus," said Rep. Rodriguez. "These are good first steps toward updating rules that burden small food producers and family farms across the state.”

While the passage of the Animal ID bill has been particularly disappointing for farmers and local food advocates, great progress has been made since the last legislative session. In 2011, three local food bills were introduced and only one passed, but the current session has seen nine local food bills introduced and three pass. While this is the end of the road for local food bills this session, plans are undoubtedly underway for 2015.

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