Good News, Bad News, and One Last Call Request
The good news is that portions of the cottage foods bill and the farmers market bill have passed the Texas Legislature as part of SB 81, an overall food safety bill. The bad news is that Harris County Health Department snuck in an amendment at the last minute that limited the sales of unregulated cottage foods to the producers homes, preventing producers who sell at farmers markets from benefiting.
Even with the change, SB 81 is an important step forward for local foods. Representative Rodriguezs section for farmers markets will protect farmers from unnecessary mechanical refrigeration or heating mandates. It will also clarify that farmers market vendors can obtain temporary food establishment permits without regard to the number of days the farmers market runs, which has been an issue for several markets around the state. And while Representative Kolkhorsts final cottage foods provision is limited to sales from the producers homes, it still opens door for many home bakers and canners.
We will work next session to expand the cottage foods provision to cover sales at farmers markets, as well as to expand the list of unregulated foods.
The last step in this process is the Governor. He has three options: sign the bill, take no action (and the bill becomes law after 20 days), or veto.
Call Governor Rick Perry at 1-800-252-9600. Message: My name is ____, and I urge the Governor to sign SB 81, the local foods and food safety bill.
You can also send the Governor a message online at http://governor.state.tx.us/contact/assistance.aspx
You can read more details about the bill and Harris County at http://farmandranchfreedom.org/Texas-2011
You can read the full bill at http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/tlodocs/82R/billtext/html/SB00081F.htm
We owe a major thank you to Chairwoman Kolkhorst and Representative Rodriguez for introducing the cottage foods and farmers market bills and working incredibly hard to get them through the Legislature. Special thanks also go to Senator Nelson for concurring in the amendments to her bill.