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Action Alerts from the 2013 Texas Legislative Session

  • Local Food Bills on the Move: But Raw Milk Bill is Stuck (5/6/2013) - read more
  • Raw Milk and Cottage Foods Bills in Calendars Committee (4/16/2013) - read more
  • Raw Milk Bill Stalled in Committee: We Need Your Help (4/2/2013) - read more
  • Update on Texas Local Food Bills (3/24/2013) - read more
  • Raw Milk Bill Heard by Public Health Committee: Next Steps (3/1/2013) - read more
  • Raw Milk Hearing on Wednesday, February 27 (2/23/2013) - read more
  • Raw Milk Drop Point Busted - Help Us Change the Law (2/12/2013 - read more
  • Expand Local Food Access (2/6/2013) - read more
  • Want to Easily Buy Farm Fresh Milk? (1/21/2013) - read more
  • HB 46 Filed - Support Raw Milk Access in Texas! (11/14/2012) - see text below

Texans can buy raw milk from licensed dairies, but the regulations require that consumers drive out to the farm, which may be several hours away, to get it.  The state health department says that any form of delivery or group purchasing – including private drop points or friends picking up milk for each other – is illegal.

We have an opportunity to change that and improve access to raw milk in Texas!  HB 46, filed by Representative Flynn, will allow licensed raw milk farmers to sell their products at farmers markets. It will also allow consumers and farmers to agree on delivery arrangements.  This would continue the direct farmer-to-consumer relationship, while ensuring that raw milk is safe and accessible to both rural and urban customers.

HB 46 is critical for reasonable access to raw milk in our state.  If this bill passes, farmers will be able to reach new markets, and consumers will be able to save the time and money they now spend driving (often an hour or more each way) to get milk.

Click here to download HB 46.

Click here to download an informational flyer about HB 46.

TAKE ACTION

  1. Call your State Representative, and urge him or her to co-author the bill.   You can find out who represents you by calling the Capitol Switchboard at 512-463-4630 – tell them your address, and they can connect you to your Representative’s office.  You can also look up your legislators online at http://www.fyi.legis.state.tx.us (*see sample message below).
  2. Email Representative Flynn at Dan.Flynn@house.state.tx.us to thank him for filing the bill.
  3. Donate to the Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance to support our work to pass HB 46 and other local foods bills.  If you donate now, your donation will be matched two-to-one by a generous donor, so you support will go three times as far! www.farmandranchfreedom.org/join-online

*Message: “Hi, my name is ____ and I am a constituent.  I am calling to ask Representative ____ to please support HB 46, the raw milk bill.”

If you have a few minutes, talk with the staffer about why raw milk is important to you and your family.

MORE INFORMATION

  • HB 46 would allow licensed farmers to sell raw milk at farmers markets and through delivery arrangements.
  • The bill does only one thing: it removes the unnecessary marketing barrier to the sale of Grade A raw dairy products.
  • The bill makes no other change to the existing regulatory requirements for raw dairy that have been successful in protecting the public’s health in Texas.
  • Sales will continue to be limited to direct-to-consumer transactions, as they are currently.  The bill does not allow sales of raw milk in grocery stores.

This bill has many advantages:

  • 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 – which impacts the entire community.
  • Improves the safety of raw dairy by allowing producers to transport it to consumers under safe conditions.
  • By allowing a producer to make a single trip to serve multiple customers – rather than having each customer drive to the farm – the bill reduces vehicle miles, improving air quality, traffic congestion, and public safety.
  • Addresses the needs of elderly or disabled consumers who wish to purchase raw dairy products and who have difficulty, or who are unable, to drive to distant farms.

Raw milk has an excellent safety record in Texas.  According to the CDC, between 1998 and 2008, there were only two reported cases of illness from raw milk in our state.   In that same time period in Texas, there were over 12,000 foodborne illnesses reported traced to such foods as strawberries, mangos, beans, lettuce salads, salsa, cheeses, pot pie, chicken salad, hot dogs, deli meats, beef brisket, etc.  Any food carries some risk of foodborne illness, but licensed raw milk farmers take extensive precautions to ensure the safety and quality of their product.

Please support farmers’ and consumers’ rights.
Call your Texas Representative today!


2011 Texas Legislative Session

In 2011, Representative Flynn filed HB 75, to legalize the sale of raw milk at farmers markets and allow for delivery.  The bill died after a Committee hearing.

But the fight is not over!  We are continuing to work to expand raw milk access in Texas.  Stay tuned for more updates during the 2013 Legislative Session that begins in late January.

Special thanks go to Representative Dan Flynn, who authored the bill and worked hard to get it passed.  Representative Flynn and his entire staff were committed to fighting for the rights of our farmers and consumers, and we are very grateful to them!

Special thanks also go to the 24 legislators who co-authored HB 75:

  • David Simpson
  • Dennie Bonnen
  • Eddie Rodrigues
  • Jodie Laubenberg
  • Jose Aliseda
  • Jimmie Don Aycock
  • Marva Beck
  • Cindy Burkett
  • Warren Chisum
  • Garnet Coleman
  • Allen Fletcher
  • Kelly Hancock
  • Charlie Howard
  • Bryan Hughes
  • Jason Isaac
  • Phil King
  • Lyle Larson
  • Larry Phillips
  • Jim Pitts
  • Chente Quintanilla
  • Debbie Riddle
  • Paul Workman
  • Bill Zedler

May 31, 2011: Texas Session Ends and Raw Milk Bill Dies

The bad news is that HB 75, the raw milk bill, is dead.  This is deeply disappointing for both farmers and consumers.  Our raw milk supporters made an incredible showing at the Public Health Committee, both in numbers and in the quality of the testimony.  The other side provided only unsubstantiated fear mongering aimed at protecting the power and control of the large dairy industry.  Unfortunately, the combination of the dairy industry and the medical establishment succeeded in preventing the bill from even getting a Committee vote.

Despite the disappointment, it is important to recognize the very real progress that we made in the effort to pass HB 75.  Before this year, many legislators had never even heard of raw milk and assumed that the only option was the pasteurized product from the factory farms.  After hearing from their constituents, 24 Representatives from both parties and all over the State joined Representative Flynn as joint and co-authors of the bill.  Many others expressed their support for the bill during meetings with FARFA members.  Legislators and staffers who tried raw milk were personally impressed by its quality.  Raw milk has gone from being unknown to being recognized as a significant, positive issue.

The fight is far from over.  Bills often take more than one session to succeed, and we will spend the next year and a half laying the groundwork to bring back the raw milk bill in the next legislative session.  Big Ag’s control over our food supply has taken decades to develop, and it will take time and sustained efforts to take back control of our food supply.

Thank you all for your support in the recent months.  Your phone calls, donations, and physical presence at the Legislature has helped affect the laws governing our farms and our food.  Please watch for future alerts on how you can help educate legislators about raw milk in the interim period before the next session.


May 1, 2011: Texas Legislature Takes Action on Some Local Foods Bills - But Raw Milk Bill is in Trouble

The good news is that HB 2084, the local foods omnibus bill, has been unanimously approved by the House Public Health Committee.  The version passed by the Committee would allow people making low-risk foods (baked goods, jams, jellies, and dried herbs) to sell directly to consumers without needing a commercial kitchen or state inspections, up to $50,000 in gross sales.  It also provides for hearings to be held before the next legislative session on the issues of regulatory fees imposed on small-scale cheesemakers, barriers to the ability of food stamp beneficiaries to use their benefits at farmers markets, and problems faced by urban and sustainable farmers in being valued as agricultural use for their property taxes.  Three "urban farming" bills have also been approved by the House Agriculture Committee.

Time is running out, however, on the raw milk bill, HB 75.  Despite the incredible showing of support at the Committee hearing, with over 130 people signing witness sheets supporting the bill, the House Public Health Committee has yet to vote on the bill.  At this stage, the only thing that stands a chance of pushing this bill forward is pressure from the Committee members' constituents, the people who they are accountable to in the next election.

Below is a list of the counties and zip codes for each Committee member, to make it easy for you to figure out if you are a constituent.  If you live in one of these districts, please call or email your Representative today or Monday to urge them to vote yes on HB 75.  (You can leave a message on their voice mail if you call today.)   Be sure to mention that you are a constituent.

MESSAGE:  My name is ____, and I am a constituent.  I want you to do everything you can to bring HB 75 to a Committee vote immediately and to vote YES on HB 75.

COMMITTEE MEMBERS: phone number, email, and district (Note: where the district includes only part of a county, we have listed the specific zip codes within that county)

Chairwoman Kolkhorst: 512-463-0600 or Lois.Kolkhorst@house.state.tx.us
DISTRICT: All of Austin, Grimes, Washington, and Walker Counties

Vice Chairman Naishtat: 512-463-0668 or Elliott.Naishtat@house.state.tx.us
DISTRICT: Part of Travis County, specifically zip codes: 78712, 78756, 78701, 78704, 78705, 78751, 78757

Representative Davis: 512-463-0389 or Sarah.Davis@house.state.tx.us
DISTRICT: Part of Harris County, specifically zip codes: 77005, 77046, 77098, 77006, 77019, 77027, 77025, 77030, 77401

Representative Alvarado: 512-463-0732 or Carol.Alvarado@house.state.tx.us
DISTRICT: Part of Harris County, specifically zip codes: 77012, 77017, 77023, 77034, 77087, 77587

Representative Schwertner: 512-463-0309 or Charles.Schwertner@house.state.tx.us
DISTRICT: All of Milam County and part of Williamson County, specifically: 76511, 76527, 76530, 76537, 78613, 78628, 78633, 78641, 78642, 78681

Representative Truitt: 512-463-0690 or Vicki.Truitt@house.state.tx.us
DISTRICT: Part of Tarrant County, specifically zip codes: 76034, 76051, 76092, 76137, 76244, 76248

Representative Veronica Gonzales: 512-463-0578 or Veronica.Gonzales@house.state.tx.us
DISTRICT: Part of Hidalgo County, specifically zip codes: 78501, 78504, 78573, 78574

Representative Susan King:512-463-0718 or Susan.King@house.state.tx.us
DISTRICT: All of Nolan and Taylor Counties

Representative Zerwas: 512-463-0657 or John.Zerwas@house.state.tx.us
DISTRICT: All of Wharton and Waller Counties and part of Fort Bend County, specifically zip codes: 77406, 77407, 77417, 77441, 77444, 77461, 77485, 77494

(Note: Representative Coleman and Laubenberg are also on the Committee, but they are already co-authors of the bill and committed to supporting it)

You can also check who represents you by calling the Capitol Switchboard at 512-463-4630 online at http://www.fyi.legis.state.tx.us


April 26, 2011:  Thank you again to everyone who called, emailed, or came to last week's hearing on raw milk and the local foods bills.  You really made an impression!

Unfortunately, it's not clear if it was enough of an impression on the issue of raw milk.  While the cottage foods bills appear likely to be approved by Committee, the future of the raw milk bill is unclear.  Big Dairy's opposition combined with the medical associations' unsupported assertions of danger are making some legislators wary of supporting the bill. (you can read the report from the hearing here)

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