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The foodie caucus

Sure, why not?

Rep. Eddie Rodriguez

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.

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7 Comments

  1. Mike P says:

    Because clearly it’s more important that folks have their farmers markets than actually fully funding the programs that will assist those who REALLY need the help.

  2. Brad M. says:

    Mike,

    Funny…I don’t remember the Foodie Caucus focusing on any sort of funding, but rather education policymakers.

    If you got a beef with the Legislature then call them out on that, but it sounds a little whiny to say “more important that folks have their farmers markets”. These food producer folks are Texans. It sounds good to me to keep our dollars in Texas businesses.

  3. Mike P says:

    I just think it’s a distraction that will make these folks feel warm and fuzzy and bipartisan…but won’t really help solve any of the real PROBLEMS that our leg has created and perpetuated in the last few years.

  4. Charlene B. says:

    Isn’t one of the real issues jobs? If it’s easier for people to make money, then it’ll be easier for them to afford medical care, and childcare, and they won’t have to rely on publically funded programs so much. A mother who is allowed to sell homemade bread won’t have to rely on food stamps to feed her family.

  5. Mike P says:

    Charlene, your response sounds a bit like you’re justifying removing any safety net for the poor by making it easier for them to fend for themselves. That’s not the kind of dog-eat-dog society I want to live in.

    I thought we had kinda evolved into human-treat-other-human-with-respect instead of dog-eat-dog.

  6. [...] TX. The foodie caucus. [...]

  7. Judith says:

    Mike, no one’s talking about using any funding for the food caucus’s programs, so it’s not an issue of taking funds away from any other program. Charlene’s example is right on point. I’ve talked to a woman in Wichita Falls who has been on food stamps for many years, even though she has a job; but the income from her home baking business has enabled her to get off food stamps. Another woman I’ve spoken with has a child with medical problems, and the income from her baking business enables her to help pay for the medical care needed, while still being at home with her child. The small farmers who sell food at farmers markets typically spend whatever money they make (which isn’t a lot) with other small, local businesses. And many of the same changes needed to help our local farms will also help community gardens and people who want to raise food for themselves. Thi sisn’t a zero sum game — it’s a way to help people in multiple ways at the same time.

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