Here are more clarifications about Cottage Food Bill.  Under the new law you cannot sell at farmers markets – just directly from your home (as if you weren’t doing that already).

http://www.texascottagefoodlaw.com/TheLaw/LawSummary.aspx

http://www.robbwalsh.com/2011/05/victory-texas-cottage-food-bill-passes/
and a link to the rules.

1. Food must be sold from your home, directly to another consumer.  No
sales at farmer’s markets, county fairs, roadside stands, local
festivals, craft shows, wholesale, or resale to restaurants, grocery
stores, coffee shops, etc.  The food must be purchased at your home.

2. Foods are limited to non-potentially hazardous baked goods
(cookies, cakes, breads, Danish, donuts, pastries, pies, and other
items that are prepared by baking the item in an oven), canned jams,
jellies, and dry herb mixes. THESE ARE THE ONLY FOODS ALLOWED.  If you
do not see it on this list, it’s not allowed.

3. Annual gross income from sales of above food items must be $50,000 or less.

Taken from the FARFA website, regarding the Cottage Food Bill and other similar bills this past legislative season . . .

———————————————————————————————-

FARFA worked on several bills in the regular 2011 Texas legislative session.  While the raw milk bill (HB 75/ SB 237) died, portions of the cottage foods (HB 1139 and HB 2084) and farmers market (HB 3387) bills were passed within SB 81.  Specifically, under SB 81, small-scale producers of low-risk foods are exempt from regulation under the following conditions:

1)  They are selling non-hazardous baked goods, canned jams or jellies, or dried herbs directly to consumers;

2) They make $50,000 or less in gross sales of these foods;

3) They sell from their home; and

4) They label the food with a label that includes the name and address of the producer, and a statement that the food is not inspected by the state or local health departments. (The Department of State Health Services will adopt a rule governing the labeling requirement)

SB 81 also includes two provisions to help farmers market vendors:

1)  Clarifies that farmers and food vendors at farmers markets can obtain temporary food establishment permits for up to one year, without limiting permits based on the number of days during which the farmers market takes place.  This provision recognizes that farmers markets are special events regardless of the number of days that they occur on, while providing the flexibility for local governments to decide the best option for their jurisdiction.

2) Prevents mandatory mechanical refrigeration or electric heating requirements.  While the state and local health departments can still adopt rules governing what temperatures foods must be kept at (to keep cold foods cold and hot foods hot), they cannot dictate the specific method by which the farmer or vendor meets these requirements.  The only exception would be when a municipality owns the farmer’s market.  In those cases, the municipality may specify the method to comply with food temperatures.

These farmers market provisions do not apply in counties with a population of less than 50,000 people and over which no local health department has jurisdiction.

Read the entire text of SB 81

OTHER BILLS OF INTEREST

To read the full text of each bill, click on the link with the bill number.

HB 268 – Relating to the exemption from sales and use taxes … for timber and certain items used in or on a farm, ranch, timber operation, or agricultural aircraft operation.

HB 274 – Relating to the reform of certain remedies and procedures in civil actions and family law matters, referred to as “Loser pays.”  This bill will make it more difficult for individuals and small nonprofits to take on large corporations in the Texas courts.

HB 414 – Relating to the regulation of equine dentistry and the conducting of licensing examinations by the State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners.  Background:  in 2006 the Texas Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners established a rule that floating horses’ teeth was veterinary medicine. After several lawsuits and multiple bill introductions, a bill was passed this session that makes floating a horses’ teeth a veterinary procedure, but allows non-veterinarians the ability to provide this service under “appropriate” supervision of the veterinarian.

HB 1451 – Relating to the licensing and regulation of certain dog and cat breeders; providing penalties.

HB 1992 – Relating to the authority of the Texas Animal Health Commission to set and collect fees.  Provides authority to TAHC to set fees “for any service provided by the commission” through 2015.

HB 2471 – Relating to limiting the civil liability of certain persons who obtain or provide medical care and treatment for certain animals.

HB 2994 – Relating to the creation, operation, and funding of the urban farm microenterprise support program.

SB 18 – Relating to the use of eminent domain authority.

SB 89 – Relating to summer nutrition programs provided for by school districts.

SB 199 – Relating to agricultural projects in certain schools, including the eligibility of nonprofit organizations that partner with schools to receive grants.  Authorizes TDA to provide grants to nonprofits that partner with schools in urban districts to demonstrate projects designed to foster an understanding and awareness of agriculture.

SB 332 – Relating to the ownership of groundwater below the surface of land, the right to produce that groundwater, and the management of groundwater in this state.

SB 387 – Relating to the sale and consumption in this state of raw oysters harvested from Texas waters.

SB 449 – Relating to the appraisal for ad valorem tax purposes of open-space land devoted to water stewardship purposes on the basis of its productive capacity.

SB 479 – Relating to limiting the liability of certain persons for farm animal activities.  Extends the protections against liability  that are currently provided for equine activities to all farm animal activities, such as fairs, rodeos, and parades.

5-7pm. At Hope Fellowship – 1721 Sanger Ave. (the big green/gray house!) Learn how to preserve some basic foods – to extend all those lovely things you grow into seasons beyond their time. Mary will be demonstrating by canning wild mustang grapes for a lovely jam – and possibly show-casing some of her famous wild plum jam.  Led by Mary Hudson. Please RSVP your attendance to Bethel – vista@worldhungerrelief.org.

Please consider donating $5 to help the Urban Gardening Coalition continue our workshops into the future.  And bring something snacky to share with others – so we don’t all get cranky with edible anticipation!

Originally appearing on Minnesota Public Radio online – “Mpls. passes plan to expand urban farming” - by Madeleine Baran

April 15, 2011

St. Paul, Minn. — A plan to expand urban farming in Minneapolis received final approval from the city council and Mayor R.T. Rybak on Friday.

The Urban Agriculture Policy Plan opens the door for farmers to use land for commercial farms. It also recommends incorporating urban agriculture into the city’s long-range planning efforts. As part of the plan, the city will review its land inventory to look for places to grow food.

“I think it’s a big step forward,” said City Council member Cam Gordon, a key supporter of the plan. “It’s going to allow commercial growing in the city and really create a local food economy.”

Local food advocates said the plan was needed in part because the city lacked zoning codes for market gardens or urban farms. They said that made it impossible to create innovative local food ventures. The council still needs to formally approve the changes to the zoning code, but city planner Amanda Arnold said she expects that to happen by the end of the year.

The plan is part of Homegrown Minneapolis, a broader effort to strengthen the local food movement. Over the past two years, the city has created community gardens on city-owned lots, developed mini-farmers markets in urban areas, and led workshops on canning food.

Article originally appears on the Farmers Market Coalition website.  To read the complete article, visit the FMC website.

States advocate for legislation and regulation to support home-based micro-processing

Posted on April 19th, 2011 by admin. Filed under News, Newsletter.

By Drew Love, FMC Research & Education Intern

When the Food Safety Modernization Act passed in 2010, it established an important precedent by allowing smaller, direct-marketing farms to be exempt from many of the new federal requirements, provided that they could prove compliance with applicable state and local regulations. Now, a wave of legislative and regulatory activity has been sweeping across the country, with states attempting to create more explicit rules governing the sale of food at farmers markets and other direct-to-consumer outlets. Some of these laws, generally referred to as “Cottage Food,” or Home-based Food Processor bills, allow small-scale food producers to make low risk food products in their own kitchens, and then sell their products directly to consumers at venues like farmers markets. In 2011 alone, Arizona, Florida, New Jersey, South Dakota, Washington, and Pennsylvania have introduced similar legislation. Maryland and Oklahoma are in the process of re-introducing cottage food laws after seeing legislation die in committee in 2010.

It seems like a basic idea, doesn’t it? But reshaping cottage food regulation has a dramatic impact on the viability of small scale food producers. Without cottage food regulation, these same bakers, cupcake chefs and artisan jam producers would have to make their food in a certified commercial kitchen. Commercial kitchen rentals, as it turns out, are often prohibitively expensive for an upstart business. Even if small businesses do have the income stream to rent a kitchen, it still takes a significant bite out of their profit margin.

So how do these cottage food laws work? . . . .

To continue reading, please visit the article on the FMC website.

A new book of stories by people who have started or returned to farming is accepting submissions now. The hope for the book is to inspire readers to get involved in the “good food movement” in some way.

Check out the website, which just went live: www.farmwhispers.com, forward to your networks, and consider making a submission.

He’s looking for stories from now through June, with hopes to publish this fall.  

 

Possible topics for stories: 

How we changed

  • Starting out anew
  • Taking a different path
  • Picking up stakes
  • Giving up a high-power career
  • Taking a new look at life
  • Overcoming frustrations
  • Getting older, still farming
  • Fighting the desire to give up
  • Making do, becoming self-sufficient
  • Finding your break
  • Reaching your breaking point
  • Finding your specialty
  • Balancing the farm with other career

How we endured

  • Enduring mud, drought, storm
  • Delighting in the fresh air
  • Coaxing along old farm equipment
  • Dealing with predators and pests
  • Doing things the old way
  • Giving in to the new ways
  • Finding solutions in technology
  • Losing a job to mechanization
  • Learning to use new farm equipment

How we got along

  • Raising a family
  • Struggling, striving, thriving
  • Dealing with other farmers
  • Preserving values and traditions
  • Dealing with city folk
  • Learning from neighbors
  • Learning country ways
  • Surviving hard times
  • Celebrating good times
  • Dealing with Big Agriculture
  • Dealing with bankers
  • Humorous story with a lesson

[From Robb Walsh's Texas Eats blog]

The Go Texan Restaurant Round-Up kicked off yesterday. As part of the month-long promotion, restaurants around the state will be featuring local food products and donating part of their profits to the Food Bank. Grassfed beef meatloaf at Beaver’s in Houston sounded good. So did the shrimp at Eddie V’s.

Texas Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples hosted a breakfast at Lola’s to kick off the Houston portion of the program. Staples is from Palestine. We started talking about disappearing East Texas restaurants at the press breakfast. There aren’t many Southern-style restaurants anymore we both agreed. “I used to eat at a place called Billy Burgers in Neches when I was a state rep.,” he said. “He got homemade pies from a lady that lived nearby.” The health department doesn’t allow that today.

Over-regulation is one of the problems that makes it difficult for people to make a living, he said. Senator John Whitmire, who was also sitting at our table, agreed and said he found himself becoming more of a libertarian every day. I asked the two politicians if they would support an exemption from health department regulations that would allow home cooks to sell products like pies and preserves at farmer’s markets. (Such “Cottage Food Laws” already exist in many states.) Both Staples and Whitmire agreed that this was an excellent idea.

 

In fact the Texas Cottage Food Law was proposed at the 2009 session and was approved by committee, but was never voted on. The law is expected to come up again in the 2011 session, so there is time for food lovers to get on the bandwagon. But the existing bill, also called the Texas Baker’s Bill only includes cakes and cookies.

The proposed law still wouldn’t get the government off the backs of little old ladies who bake pies. We would be much better off with a law like the one the one that was passed in Michigan. Read this excerpt from an interesting guest editorial by a leader of the Michigan Cottage Food Movement on the subject:

“I can buy my daughter a Twinkie. But I can’t buy her a fresh, homemade pickle at a farmers’ market.” The words of Texas Township (Michigan) Farmers Market Manager, Donna McClurken expressed the feeling of many in the hearing room on May 5 as she testified before the Michigan House Agriculture Committee about a bill called “The Cottage Food Law.”

Every revolution encounters crossroads as it pushes forward – places where fundamental decisions about direction are made. In Michigan, House Bills 5280 and 5837 – amendments to the Michigan 2000 Food Law to allow small scale home preparation and processing of food for direct sale – constitutes such a crossroads for the Local Food Revolution.

These identical bills (one Republican, one Democratic) establish “cottage food operations” that produce “baked goods, jams, jellies, candy, snack food, cereal, granola, dry mixes, vinegar and dried herbs” as “exempt from the licensing and inspection provisions” (of the 2000 Food Law), as long as the food is (1) only sold at farmers markets, homes, farm markets or roadside stands, county fairs, town celebrations, festivals and events and (2) annual gross sales do not exceed $15,000.

Bills similar to HB 5280/5837 had been introduced in two previous legislative sessions. The May 5 hearing before the Michigan House Agriculture and Tourism Committee marked the first time this proposal had received a formal hearing.

The bills were quietly opposed by the Farm Bureau and the Michigan Department of Agriculture (MDA) on the grounds that “cottage food” products posed unfair competition to food producers who, in the words of the Farm Bureau representative at the hearing, “follow the rules.”

The MDA opposed the bill because it posed an “unwarranted hazard” in a time of increasing food contamination incidents around the nation.

These arguments have little merit. The idea that a grandmother making jam in her kitchen is somehow a threat to Welch’s is nonsense. The food safety crises of the last couple of years come almost exclusively from large-scale industrial food production shipped over long distances. There is virtually no evidence that local food production sold directly to consumers has caused any health problems. Michigan citizens are smart enough to follow common-sense food safety precautions.

In spite of this and a flood of constituent communications to legislators in favor of the “Cottage Food Bill”, its future passage was anything but certain.

The Cottage Food Bill of Michigan – like similar measures adopted by 12 other states – marks a crossroads in the local food revolution here. If it passed, the command-and-control industrial food system fueled by government subsidies and run by government inspectors to benefit large corporate food interests would be excluded from the most vibrant and diverse grassroots portion of the local food revolution.

The Cottage Food Bill represents the development of true food democracy – a local food system based on face-to-face transactions, diversity of products produced locally, and core values embedded in a hand-shake compact between producers and consumers. The raw milk movement represents another example of this kind of food democracy.

The Cottage Food Bill represented something more. For dozens, hundreds of Michigan families facing hardship in increasingly desperate financial times the bill offered them a way to supplement their income, producing food for their neighbors.

Amanda Edmonds of Ypsilanti’s Growing Hope organization told the committee the story of an unemployed woman who began such a business and grew it into a now inspected business that employed six people. The Cottage Food Bill would actually work to promote small-scale entrepreneurship, not just talk about it like a distant island we all want to visit someday.

The benefits of this kind of local food production go far beyond financial survival. Cottage food production would enable stronger community ties – building connections and resilience in a time when both are needed desperately in Michigan.

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