Austin, TX — State Representative Erin Zwiener (D-Driftwood) today introduced a bill aimed at helping Texas agriculture by giving farmers tools to navigate regulation.
HB 3115, if enacted, would establish an office of agriculture and rural ombudsman in the office of Texas Economic and Tourism Development to serve as an expert resource for farmers and small-scale food producers, many of whom say the current system is inefficient and too complex.
“We need to be making it easier for farmers to grow, harvest, and sell their crop,” Rep. Zwiener said. “As it stands, the system is a complicated maze that many farmers — especially first generation farmers — have trouble navigating. With this bill, we can encourage the establishment and growth of Texas agriculture and food business and provide a much-needed resource for those businesses that are providing food — and jobs — for Texans.”
HB 3115 would require the appointed ombudsman to have expertise at the local, state, and federal regulations applicable to agriculture businesses.
The ombudsman’s office would respond to questions relating to regulations that apply to agriculture businesses, as well as provide contact information for officials that can provide further assistance for these businesses.
“Establishing this office will ensure agriculture businesses are given the proper attention and fair treatment they deserve,” Rep. Zwiener said. “I look forward to working with my colleagues to make the system a little fairer for those who put food on our table.”
The average age of Texas farmers and ranchers is 58-years-old, and for only the second time in the last century, the number of farmers under 35 years old is increasing, many of whom live in Rep. Zwiener’s House District 45. The millennial generation includes 257,454 farmers.
More than 20 percent of all farmers are beginning farmers, creating a greater need for assistance navigating agriculture regulations and protocols.