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Texans Unite to Support Local Food Bills

Local Foods Citizens Lobbying Day heads to the Capitol
Anna Toon, 9:00am, Mon. Mar. 18, 2013
Wastewater fees, property taxes, and regulation at farmers' markets are just a few of the issues to be addressed this Tuesday, March 19, at the Capitol.

Spearheaded by the Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance (FARFA), Texans who support local food will gather at the Capitol for Local Foods Citizens Lobbying Day. Participants will learn lobbying basics, connect with proactive citizens from their area, and meet with legislators. Indeed, with nine local food bills on the legislative agenda, visible and vocal support is a powerful tool and direct contributor to the success of the bills. "Showing up in person creates a relationship and an accountability that our elected officials cannot get away from,” says Nancy Falster, a farmer from Winnsboro and member of FARFA. “This is where the changes will be made – face-to-face," she adds.

In fact, many of these bills directly affect the ability of small, family farms to stay economically viable. Among the notable bills are House Bill 46 and HB 970. Sponsored by Rep. Dan Flynn, R-Canton, HB46 would expand sales of raw milk by allowing licensed dairy farmers to sell raw milk at farmers' markets, make home deliveries, and allow for other delivery arrangements with their customers. Currently pending a vote by the House Committee on Public Health, this bill would lessen the burden on both dairies and consumers. HB970, widely known as the “cottage foods bill,” by Rep. Eddie Rodriguez, D-Austin, would permit more producers of house-made, low-risk foods to sell at farmers' markets by expanding the list of approved foods.

According to FARFA’s Executive Director Judith McGeary, “Local foods bring together legislators who are on opposite sides of almost every other issue.” She explains, “Local food benefits the environment, the economy, and people’s health, so both liberals and conservatives, urban and rural members, can see the benefits to their communities. Our citizen lobbying day reflects this diversity, bringing together people from all backgrounds and perspectives from across the state.”

For more information about FARFA or Local Foods Citizens Lobbying Day, visit farmandranchfreedom.org, email info@farmandranchfreedom.org or call (254) 697-2661.

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