Time to Push for Passage of Texas Raw Milk Bill!
Updated March 2017
House Committees for the 2017 Session of the Texas Legislature have been named, and now is the time to make sure all the House Public Health Committee members are asked to support the Raw Milk Bill, HB 57.
Whether you are a raw milk farmer or consumer, or have never even tried raw milk, this bill is important to the local food movement as a whole for these reasons:
- Direct farm-to-consumer sales of unprocessed milk can be a lifesaver for many small family farms -- we've had many farmers tell us that raw milk is what saved them from going out of farming.
- Everyone should have the right to decide what you eat and what you feed your family.
Help support family farmers and consumers' rights -- speak up for HB 57!
Raw Milk Bill Information
Raw milk is already legal in Texas. There are 45 licensed Grade A Raw for Retail dairies, which are regularly inspected and the milk tested using the same (or higher) standards as for milk in the grocery stores. Yet government regulations require consumers to drive to the farm every time they want milk, burdening both consumers and farmers.
Representative Dan Flynn has introduced a bill, HB 57, to allow licensed farmers to sell raw milk at farmers' markets and to make delivery arrangements with their customers. This bill reduces costs and difficulties for consumers, while allowing farmers a fair opportunity to market their products.
We came very close to passing this bill last session. We have a real shot at passing it this session -- but we need as much support as possible, as early as possible.
Take Action #1
Call or email your State Representative to urge him or her to support HB 57 and help move the bill forward. A phone call has the greatest impact and allows you to find out if they supported the raw milk bill last session (if they were in office). Remember to keep the conversation polite and to-the-point.
You can find out who your State Representative is by going to www.fyi.legis.state.tx.us or calling the Texas Capitol Switchboard at 512-463-4630.
If you call after hours, you can simply leave a message:
"Hi, my name is ____, and I am a constituent. I am calling to urge Representative ______ to co-author HB 57, the raw milk bill, and to help the bill move forward as quickly as possible. I would like to know where my Representative stands on this issue, please. You can call me back at _________."
If you prefer email, your Representative's email address is simply FirstName.LastName@house.texas.gov.
More information and talking points about the bill are at the end of this alert.
Take Action #2
HB 57 has been assigned to the House Public Health Committee. If you live in the district of one of the Committee members, please take the time for a personal call and be sure to mention that you're a constituent -- and get as many of your friends and neighbors to call and email as possible! Constituents carry the most weight with the Committee members.
Members of the House Public Health Committee
Chairman Four Price (Amarillo and parts of the Panhandle: Carson, Hutchinson, Moore, Potter, Sherman counties)
Diana Arevalo (part of Bexar County: Zip Codes 78201, 78207, 78228, 78229, 78230, 78240, 78249)
Cindy Burkett (Rep. Burkett has joint-authored the bill -- so, say "thank you!")
(part of Dallas County: Zip Codes 75040, 75041, 75043, 75088, 75089, 75149, 75150, 75159, 75180, 75181, 75182, 75253)
Garnet Coleman (part of Harris County: Zip Codes 77002, 77003, 77004, 77006, 77007, 77010, 77019, 77021, 77033, 77048, 77061, 77075, 77087, 77089, 77098)
Nicole Collier (part of Tarrant County: Zip Codes 76012, 76102, 76103, 76104, 76105, 76107, 76110, 76111, 76112, 7615, 76119, 76120, 76133, 76134, 76140)
Philip Cortez (part of Bexar County: Zip Codes 78002, 78006, 78023, 78039, 78052, 78073, 78211, 78224, 78226, 78227, 78236, 78242, 78245, 78251, 78252, 78253, 78254, 78255)
Bobby Guerra (part of Hidalgo County: Zip Codes 78501, 78503, 78504, 78539, 78572, 78573, 78574, 78577)
Stephanie Klick (part of Tarrant County: Zip Codes 76053, 76117, 76118, 76137, 76148, 76180, 76182, 76244)
Tom Oliverson (part of Harris County: Zip Codes 77065, 77070, 77375, 77377, 77379, 77429, 77433, 77447, 77484)
J.D. Sheffield (Comanche, Coryell, Erath, Hamilton, McCulloch, Mills, San Saba, and Somervell counties)
Bill Zedler (part of Tarrant County: Zip Codes 76001, 76002, 76017, 76028, 76036, 76060, 76063, 76123, 76134, 76140)
HB57 would legalize the sale of raw milk by licensed farmers directly to consumers at farmers' markets, and allow farmers and consumers to agree to delivery arrangements.
- Raw milk is already legal in Texas, but unfair marketing restrictions burden both farmers and consumers.
- Only 16 illnesses have been allegedly linked to raw milk in Texas in the last 19 years -- less than one illness per year on average -- out of an estimated three quarters of a million Texans who drink raw milk.
- Texas Grade A Raw for Retail dairies are subject to regulations that meet or exceed all regulatory standards for pasteurized milk.
- HB 57 simply allows licensed farmers to sell raw milk at farmers' markets and through delivery arrangements. Sales are limited to direct farm-to-consumer and will NOT be allowed in grocery stores.
- HB 57 improves the safety of raw dairy by allowing producers to transport it to consumers under safe conditions, rather than relying on consumers to remember to take coolers and ice.
- By allowing a farmer to make a single trip to serve multiple customers, rather than having each customer drive to the farm, the bill reduces vehicle miles, benefiting air quality, traffic congestion, and public safety.
HB 57 benefits rural economies because direct farm-to-consumer sales of raw milk can mean the difference between a net loss on the farm and a reasonable income for the farm family.
Local Food Bills That Died (including Raw Milk Bill)
Updated June 25, 2013
The legislative process is set up to make it difficult to pass bills, especially grassroots bills. From the beginning, we knew that the majority of our bills would most likely not make it all the way through, although we had no way of predicting which.
Four of our bills made it through the substantive committees, either Public Health or Agriculture, but then died in the Calendars Committee without being scheduled for a vote of the full House. The Calendars Committee is always a difficult hurdle; this session, however, Calendars became notorious throughout the Capitol for killing hundreds of bills, scheduling far fewer than usual for votes by the House.
Grade A Farm Fresh Raw Milk
HB 46, the raw milk bill, was the most controversial of all our bills this session, yet again. The bill would have improved access to raw milk by allowing licensed farmers to sell raw milk directly to consumers at farmers markets and consumers’ residences. Like last session, we faced staunch opposition not only from the Texas Dairymen’s Association, but also from the far more powerful Texas Retailers’ Association and the Texas Medical Association. While medical associations across the country disapprove of raw milk, Texas appears to be unique in the fact that our medical association makes lobbying against raw milk a high priority.
Thanks to the growing, organized grassroots support for raw milk, we were nonetheless able to get the bill approved by the Public Health Committee with a strong 9-2 vote. The bill’s sponsor was told that the bill would get a vote on the floor of the House, and we believe we had the votes to pass it. But it got stalled in Calendars. All of the Calendars Committee discussions are done behind closed doors, so we cannot be certain about who bears the responsibility for killing this bill. We do have good reason to believe, however, that Sarah Davis of Houston played a key role. Houstonites should demand an explanation!
As disappointing as it is to lose the raw milk bill a second time, it is important to note that we made progress. Last session, the bill never made it out of the Public Health Committee – this time, it did. Each time we take a step forward, we build more strength and come closer to success in the next round.
Click here to read about the other local food bills during the 2013 Texas legislative session.
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