We've been so busy chatting about beer legislation, we've failed to recognize a few other important food and drink bills working their way through the Texas Legislature right now. There are a few worth watching, particularly if you like farm-fresh goods.
House Bill 46, filled by Representative Dan Flynn (R-Van), would expand legal sales of raw milk to farmers markets and allow for other delivery options. As it stands now, Texas law allows raw milk to be sold only on the farm where it's produced.
Judith McGeary, executive director of the Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance, testified on behalf of this bill before the Public Health Committee and argued that licensed raw milk producers meet extensive regulatory requirements to protect the public health and safety.
"There have been six illnesses attributed to raw milk in Texas in the last 20 years," stated McGeary. "More illnesses have been attributed to strawberries and chicken soup than to raw milk in this state, and it certainly has a better track record than raw oysters, which the Texas Legislature voted to protect last session."
The bill has been introduced in committee and is awaiting a vote. Follow it here.
House Bill 970 would allow more people to produce low-risk foods, like dried fruit, granola, cereal, candy and vinegar, in homes and sell directly to consumers at farmers markets. This is an expansion the cottage food bill that passed during the previous session which allowed limited baked good sales from person to person.
And, addressing the issue of sometimes high fees at farmers markets, House Bill 910, sponsored by Representative Lois Kolkhorst, would cap the health permit fees imposed on farmers market vendors to $50 per year, per county or city. Andrew Smiley, deputy director of the Sustainable Food Center, said this bill is about "keeping producers' costs down so prices of healthy food remain accessible for consumers."