Texas Cottage Food Bill – SB 81.

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

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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.

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