Friday, February 10, 2012

Texas Promises to Tangle Farmer's Markets in Red Tape

Please ask the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) to stop making things more difficult for local food producers.

In SB 81, the Texas Legislature included a provision to make it easier for individual vendors at farmers' market to obtain a temporary permit to prepare food on-site in order to cook hot food or prepare samples. The bill also protected farmers' market vendors from state or local authorities dictating how they maintain safe temperatures for foods.

Instead of implementing these improvements, the agency has proposed a rule that would classify farmers' markets as "food establishments," in the same category as restaurants and grocery stores. This change will place new burdens on farmers' market organizers. It potentially creates new problems for every vendor at the markets, although the full consequences are unclear. The agency has also added "cut tomatoes" and "cut leafy greens" to the list of "potentially hazardous foods." The agency has failed to provide any explanation of the consequences of these changes for our farmers and market organizers.

You can write the head of the agency by email. A sample letter is available here.
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