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A year like we’ve had calls for legislation. COVID, massive power and water outages, a budget shortfall, and on top of that, the timing of redistricting — these are all action items for the Texas state legislature, which started its session in January and will meet until May 31, 2021. Crises that came to a head over this year need to be comprehensively addressed by governance. Food resilience is one.

Grocery store shelves have been emptied by stockpiling and supply chain disruption, exposing the vulnerabilities of a non-resilient food supply. Mutual aid groups have rushed to provide extra-governmental assistance, including winter storm relief funding from the Texas Organic Farmers’ and Gardeners’ Association (TOFGA), which has raised over $113,000 and counting for Texas farmers and ranchers, and which you can donate to here. When the storm hit, TOFGA was in the middle of its annual farmers conference. While events like the poultry tour problem-solved by airing pre-recorded footage, the Texas Organic Farmers’ and Gardeners’ Association pressed on with one of their last virtual events in their month-long conference on Sustainable Agriculture policy with Judith McGeary, director of the Farm & Ranch Freedom Alliance (FARFA).

McGeary’s session was a seminar on important bills coming through the Texas legislature. The Farm & Ranch Freedom Alliance has proposed five bills on meat, eggs, soil, and sampling. Resilient food will depend on local growers; currently, regulations stand in the way of small growers. These bills rewrite obstructive legislation. Synopses of the legislation is available here.

2019 was a good year for the small farm regenerative movement in Texas, where the lobbying group passed five bills, better than expected. 2021 is crucial. The Farm & Ranch Freedom Alliance hosted a Virtual Agtivism recently. The push was mostly to encourage calling local representatives. ‘You can tell when you walk into a room where they’ve heard from their constituents,’ McGeary said. As we hear in radio, the more calls, the more listeners.

– Frani O’Toole

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