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Local Food Bills Heard by Texas House Public Health Committee

Improving Economic Development and Access to Healthy Food

Two important local food bills were heard before the Texas House Public Health Committee at the Capitol yesterday on Wednesday, February 27.

Over 100 Texans – including registered dietitians, nurses, licensed raw dairy farmers, and raw milk consumers – attended the hearing and registered in support of HB 46, sponsored by Representative Dan Flynn, which would allow licensed dairy farmers to sell raw milk at farmers’ markets, as well as do home delivery and make other delivery arrangements with their customers.

While the number of family-owned dairy farms has dramatically dropped over the last several decades, raw milk has provided a practical way for farmers to stay in the dairy business and remain financially and environmentally sustainable.

“What is the difference economically between conventional milk and raw for retail milk? It is the life or death of a dairy farm,” said raw milk dairy farmer Bob Stryk, of Stryk Jersey Farm in Schulenberg, Texas.

Much of the testimony and Committee discussion focused on the safety aspects.

“Licensed raw milk producers meet extensive regulatory requirements to protect the public health and safety,” stated Judith McGeary, Executive Director of the Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance.  “There have been six illnesses attributed to raw milk in Texas in the last twenty years.  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 second bill, HB 910, sponsored by Representative Lois Kolkhorst, and joint-authored by Representative Eddie Rodriguez, chair of the bipartisan Farm-to-Table Caucus, would cap the health permit fees that could be imposed on farmers and farmers’ market vendors to $50 per year per county or city.  Over 80 Texans registered their support, and the Texas Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association, Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance, Sustainable Food Center, and two individual farmers’ market organizers testified.

“House Bill 910 is about economic development – supporting financially viable markets for family farmers. And it’s about access to healthy food – keeping producers’ costs down so prices of healthy food remain accessible for consumers,” said Andrew Smiley, Deputy Director of the Sustainable Food Center.

For more information visit, email or call (254) 697-2661. 

About Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance

Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance (FARFA) is a national organization that supports independent family farmers and protects a healthy and productive food supply for American consumers.  FARFA promotes common sense policies for local, diversified agricultural systems.