Victory for the Cottage Food Bill!

The "Come and Bake It" cookie/flag

UPDATE: The governor signed the Texas Cottage Food Bill into law on June 17. Starting in September 2011, home bakers, canners and farmers will get an exemption from regulations required that food sold to the public must be produced in a certified commercial kitchen. The new bill will not allow home cooks and farmers to sell their prepared foods on the internet or at Farmers Markets, however. Sales of such products must be direct to the consumer and not exceed $50,000 a year. Here are the rules.

In a Houston Press story titled “Come and Bake It!” back in February, we considered the Texas Cottage Food Bill, a change in health department regulations that would allow home bakers and small farmers an exemption to sell cookies, cakes, jams and jellies and other low-risk prepared foods direct to the public.

Illegal home bakers who supported the new law used a Facebook page titled “Texas Baker’s Bill” as a gathering point. The freedom fighters chose a version of the Gonzales “Come and Take It” flag as their logo, substituting a slice of cake for the cannon and changing the words to “Come and Bake It.”

State Rep Eddie Rodriguez

After a town hall meeting with chefs and urban farmers in October 2010, State Representative Eddie Rodriguez (D – Austin) introduced several bills to support Local Food. Along with the Texas Cottage Food Bill, he also introduced another piece of legislation streamlining regulation of Farmers Markets that also passed in this session. And in a Local Food trifecta, Representative Boris Miles (D-Houston) won support of a bill to promote urban farming. Legislation legalizing “raw milk” sales was defeated.

A Texas Cottage Food Bill was supported by a bipartisan alliance of urban Democrats championing Local Food and Republicans opposed to Big Government. Representative Lois Kolkhorst (R-Brenham), the chairwoman of the House Public Health Committee, called it the “food freedom bill” and fought hard to get the legislation passed. The measure also had the support of rural representatives like Sid Miller (R-Stephenville) who sought help for small farmers.

So we will be counting on Texas food bloggers across the state to tell us where to find new roadside stands and home bakeries. Hopefully the law will be signed in time for peach canning season.

13 thoughts on “Victory for the Cottage Food Bill!

  1. Mande Kalbfleisch

    Thank you so much! The Texas cottage food bill means a lot to my family!

  2. Maury

    Any chance of this NOT being signed? I’m still leery of claiming victory since so much can happen so quickly.

  3. robbwalsh Post author

    It’s a victory to get the bill through the legislature. It’s true that Perry could reject it, but the bill’s supporters include lots of rural Republicans. For good measure, call Governor Perry and tell him to sign SB 81 (Cottage Food Bill). 1-800-252-9600

  4. Robb Walsh

    Fantasic. This is long overdue for sure. Good work everyone!

  5. Denay

    Question: Damen Roy
    May 31, 2011 at 5:42 am

    Does this included Frozen flavored treats?

    Damen, no, this does not mean frozen flavored treats. Remember nothing highly perishable.

  6. Marcie

    Can someone please explain to me why this would be a good idea to pass?

  7. Marcie

    He needs to not sign this! Why make it easier for all the illegal caterers out there? Please tell me why you think this is a good idea??

  8. Aghastronome

    I had hoped it would include sales at Farmer’s Markets. Otherwise, that function goes to someone with a brick/mortar and that rather destroys the spirit of the market, in my opinion.

  9. Wanda Newton

    So now what does a person do with the bill being passed and signed and stating that we would not be controlled by the State Health Department; yet they have now required all manner of rules upon a cottage/home baker. If a person decides to become a home/cottage baker; are we forced to comply with the rules of the health departments? It is very important for each of us who is considering a home bakery to know what our ruling is; do we or do we NOT have to abide by these outlandish rules?

    We all need help and do not know where to go for this help!!

  10. Wanda Newton

    If the list of foods state exactly what can be sold then how can people want to know if it covers hot tamales, frozen treats etc. It clearly states only BAKED foods and what type of baked foods and then jellies and jams. That is it!!! Read the list.

    Let’s all band together and get help on this Health Dept problem… Can Rick Perry not give us help in this department???

  11. Pam Morris

    Is selling on a FB page to the public not selling directly to the consumer?

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