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Legislature Hearing More Small Farm/Local Food Bills

Bipartisan efforts in support of local food continue
Virginia B. Wood, 1:15pm, Tue. Mar. 19, 2013

On Wednesday, March 20, two bills that remove some of the unnecessary financial barriers for small, local farmers and food producers will be heard by Texas House of Representative committees. Rep. Eddie Rodriguez (D - Austin)and Rep. Susan King (R- Abilene) have each authored bills.

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HB 1306, the bill to give fair tax treatment to small-scale and sustainable producers, will be heard by the Agriculture and Livestock Committee in Room E1.010. The bill clarifies provisions in the current state law that have been misinterpreted by county tax assessors to exclude vegetable growers, urban farmers, community gardens, and diversified farms from obtaining agricultural valuation on their property. Rep. Eddie Rodriguez (D-Austin), founder and leader of the first-ever bipartisan Farm-to-Table Caucus, is the author of HB 1306.

HB 1392, the “DSHS Better Communications Act” that would require the state health department to respond to people’s inquiries, will be heard by the Public Health Committee in Room E2.012. Rep. Susan King (R-Abilene) has authored this bill, in response to incidents where the agency has refused to give appropriate guidance to farmers and small-scale producers on the application of laws designed for large, industrial-scale operations.

Both small farmers and local food consumers are encouraged to attend Wednesday's hearings, and many more are gathering today at the Local Foods Citizens Lobbying Day, organized by Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance (FARFA). Grassroots supporters for local farmers and the local food system have been active this legislative session, both calling and showing up at the Capitol in person.

“The legislators are hearing about many of the barriers that get in the way of farmers producing healthy, local foods at affordable prices,” observed Judith McGeary, Executive Director of FARFA and a sustainable local farmer. “These bills would provide both economic opportunities for farmers and increased access to quality foods for consumers.”

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