Monday, April 18, 2011

inform yourself - act now - your voice matters



Action Alert
Texas Raw Milk and Local Foods  
Bills Set for Hearing  
    
The House Public Health Committee will hear the raw milk bill, cottage foods bill, and local foods omnibus bill next Wednesday, April 20.   See logistic details below . 

We need your help!

Please make plans to join us at the Capitol on Wednesday.  We need a large turnout to let the Committee members know the level of public support for these bills.  You don't have to testify to be heard - you can have a powerful impact just by being there and filling out a card in favor of the bills.

Our goal is to have a room packed with raw milk and local foods supporters, but to keep the testimony short so that we respect the legislators' time and the need for them to also hear the other bills on the agenda for the day.  Remember, by filling out the card, you will be listed as a witness in support of the bill, whether or not you testify.  If you wish to testify, please plan to keep your comments to no more than 3 minutes - and shorter is even better.  Focus on why this issue is so important to you and key facts.  If you are a constituent of one of the Committee members, be sure to mention that fact.

While you're at the Capitol, you can increase your impact by taking a few minutes to visit your Representative and Senator in person.  We'll have flyers available with talking points on the raw milk bill and the other local foods bills that have been filed.
CALL YOUR LEGISLATORS     
If you can't come to the hearings, please take a moment on Monday or Tuesday to call your Representative and Senator to urge them to co-sponsor the bills and help move them forward.   

You can find out who represents you at www.fyi.legis.state.tx.us  or by calling the Texas Capitol Switchboard at 512-463-4630.   

After calling your own legislators, you can help further by emailing all of the Committee members to urge them to approve these bills as soon as possible.  The list of Committee members and their email addresses are below.

Please help spread the word!  Invite your friends to join you and be part of taking back control of our food supply.

*** There is a chance that the raw milk bill will also be heard in the Senate Committee on Tuesday.  But it is not yet confirmed, so stay tuned for the next action alert ***
WEDNESDAY HEARING on HB 75 (raw milk), HB 1139 (cottage foods), and HB 2084 (local foods omnibus)

WHERE:   Texas Capitol, Room E2.012

DATE:       Wednesday, April 20

TIME:         8 a.m.  

Please try to arrive a few minutes early, so you can fill out a card in support of the bills.  The Committee will meet from 8 am to 10 am, and will probably re-convene in the late afternoon to finish the hearing.

If you can stay all day, that is great!  But if you need to leave early, don't worry. Just fill out the card in support of the bills before you leave, and you'll be listed on the witness lists in support of the bills.  You must be there in person to hand in the witness card.

PARKING:  Parking is usually available at the Capitol Visitors Center, located between Trinity and San Jacinto Streets at 12th and 13th.  You can find a map and other options also listed at http://www.tspb.state.tx.us/SPB/Plan/Parking.htm
MORE INFORMATION    
There are three "local foods" bills that are expected to be heard on Wednesday: HB 75 / SB 237 (raw milk), HB 1139 (cottage foods), and HB 2084 (local foods omnibus).   
Here's a bit of information on each:
  • Improving access to raw milk: Grade A licensed farmers can sell raw milk in Texas, but only "on farm," i.e. consumers must drive out to the farm.  HB 75 and SB 237 would allow licensed farmers to sell at farmers markets and make delivery arrangements with their customers.  You can read our fact sheet about raw milk at http://texasrealmilk.org/Learn-More
  • Promoting "cottage foods": The costs of a commercial kitchen can be prohibitive for start up businesses and small-scale producers.  HB 1139 and HB 2084 would allow small-scale producers selling low-risk foods, such as jams, jellies, baked goods, and dried herbs, to sell their products directly to consumers without needing a commercial kitchen.
  • Local Foods Omnibus: In addition to promoting cottage foods, HB 2084 would lower fees on small-scale cheesemakers, enable electronic food stamp benefits to be used at farmers markets, and identify the barriers to fair property tax treatment for organic, urban, and sustainable farms. 
Please come on April 20th to help support raw milk and local foods with these important bills! 
For more information, go to www.FarmAndRanchFreedom.org 
Below is a list of the House Committee members and their emails.  If you cannot come to the hearing in person, you can email each Committee member to express your support for the bill.   

Be sure to put "Support HB 75, 1139, and 2084" in the subject line of your email.

Chairwoman Kolkhorst:        Lois.Kolkhorst@house.state.tx.us      
Vice Chairman Naishtat:       Elliott.Naishtat@house.state.tx.us

Rep. Alvarado:          Carol.Alvarado@house.state.tx.us
Rep. Coleman:         Garnet.Coleman@house.state.tx.us
Rep. Davis:                Sarah.Davis@house.state.tx.us
Rep. Gonzales:         Veronica.Gonzales@house.state.tx.us
Rep. King:                  Susan.King@house.state.tx.us
Rep. Lobenberg:      Jodie.Laubenberg@house.state.tx.us
Rep. Schwertner:     Charles.Schwertner@house.state.tx.us
Rep. Truitt:                 Vicki.Truitt@house.state.tx.us
Rep. Zerwas:            John.Zerwas@house.state.tx.us
FTCLDF is a 501(c)(4) non-profit organization made up of farmers and consumers joining together and pooling resources to protect the constitutional rights of the nation's family farms and the consumers who patronize them. 

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