State Rep. Eddie Rodriguez, an Austin Democrat and admitted foodie, is creating the Farm to Table Caucus of the Texas House. Rodriguez is expected to send letters to all of the House’s 150 members Monday and invite them into the bipartisan group.
As it seeks to ride the wave of popularity of buying local food, the caucus will be focused on making it easier for small producers of healthy food to expand their markets, while allowing for increased availability of their locally produced food.
“It’s the outcome of a movement that’s happening around the state,” Rodriguez said. “It’s about time for something like this to happen.”
The caucus will focus on educating policymakers and the public about the value of small food producers, making sure government agencies don’t get in the way of small operations’ progress and helping to remove obstacles to the development of the market.
The result could be a new form of local economic development, Rodriguez said.
He also said that the caucus will marry the interests of rural and urban Texas, two factions that regularly find themselves at odds in the Legislature over a variety of issues such as transportation, public education and access to health care.
Rep. Lois Kolkhorst of Brenham, who along with Rep. Rodriguez sponsored the Cottage Food bill that was passed last session, will be the caucus’ vice chair. The Lege recently had its first ever joint hearing between the House Agriculture and Livestock committee and the House Urban Affairs committee, so there’s clearly some momentum on this. I’ll be interested to see who joins up and what they do with it next session.