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New food-related laws to take effect Sept. 1

Addie Broyles

Well, isn’t this an interesting time to be watching the state capitol so closely?

State legislators might still be working into July, but in the regular session, they sent a number of food-related bills to Governor Perry, who signed most of them last month.

The following bills will go into effect on Sept. 1:

The so-called Cottage Foods bill (HB 970) from Rep. Eddie Rodriguez (D-Austin) expands the list of allowable foods that you can make at home and then sell to directly to consumers. When the cottage law first passed in 2011, it was limited mostly to baked goods, but now producers can make “low-risk foods,” including roasted nuts, fruit butters, candies, cereals, granolas, vinegars, pickles, roasted coffee, tea and dried herb mixes. The bill also allows the producers to sell at direct-to-consumer locations like farmers’ markets and other events, which was previously restricted.

The Farmers’ Market Sampling bill (HB 1382) from Rep. David Simpson (R-Longview) will allow farmers and food producers to provide samples of produce at farmers markets and clarifies the standards for cooking demonstrations at markets.

A third food bill, the Department of State Health Services Better Communications Act (HB 1392) from Rep. Susan King (R-Abilene), requires the department to work with small farmers and food producers to help them understand how regulations for large-scale industrial facilities apply to them.

Despite protests from small farmers and the Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance, the Animal ID bill (HB 2311) passed, which will require both large- and small-scale farmers to tag animals when moving them within the state. Current regulations require them to do this when moving animals across state lines.