In the four years since it became legal in Texas to sell certain foods made in home kitchens, a burgeoning “cottage food” industry has emerged in the state, launching more than 1,000 new businesses.
Reducing unnecessary regulatory barriers for small businesses like these is a large part of the mission of the Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance (FARFA)
, a Texas-based non-profit that advocates on behalf of independent farmers, ranchers, and small local food producers.
The passage of the 2011 and 2013 Cottage Food Laws is one of our advocacy success stories. But the story is not over. Last session, we worked with State Representative Eddie Rodriguez, who sponsored another bill to expand the opportunities for these home-based food businesses. Although the bill did not pass last session, we are looking forward to having it re-introduced in 2017.
The current Cottage Food Law limits sales to direct-to-consumers at specific locations such as farmers’ markets, as well as limiting the foods allowed to specific shelf-stable, low-risk items; plus, annual sales are capped at $50,000. Any items beyond those restrictions must be produced in commercial kitchens.
The new bill, which we refer to as the Home Processors Bill, would allow foods such as tamales, canned vegetables, fermented foods, and perishable baked goods to be made in home kitchens. Sales would be allowed both directly to consumers and wholesale, including through mail order and internet sales, as long as the producer and consumer are both in Texas.
The Home Processors Bill includes specific sanitation measures, food safety training, and health department inspections. These measures address legitimate health and safety concerns in a reasonable, scale-appropriate manner that is still feasible for small businesses.
The passage of this bill is a priority for FARFA, benefiting not just producers, but also consumers, who will gain improved access to healthy, locally produced foods.
Please encourage your state legislators to vote “yes” on the home processors bill in 2017, increasing opportunities for hundreds, if not thousands, more small business owners.
Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance has a 10-year history of successfully advocating at the national, state, and local level to shape legislation and regulations supporting the success of independent farmers and local food producers. We focus on changing burdensome laws that impede the ability of small-scale, sustainable producers to provide their products to consumers at fair market prices. A non-profit organization, FARFA receives no public funding, but depends on the generous contributions of its members and other individuals in order to fulfill its mission. For more information, go to FarmandRanchFreedom.org.