HB 590 (Ernest Bailes) The bill would add language to Chapter 131 of the Texas Ag Code that would require honey labeled “Texas honey” to consist exclusively of honey produced from apiaries in Texas. As with other labeling requirements under Chapter 131, Texas Department of State Health Services would be the agency tasked with enforcement, and violations carry criminal penalties.
Why does it matter to TBA?
The TBA membership has passed resolutions stating:
Whereas TBA strongly encourages the honest and ethical marketing of honey, and the promotion of pure Texas honey, Be it Resolved that TBA will continue to promote programs that advance that cause.
Whereas TBA recognizes the importance of accurate labeling of honey, Be it Resolved that TBA will support initiatives including legislation that lead to more honest labeling practices in the industry.
TBA members support honest labeling practices in the honey industry.
HB 590 was filed by Rep. Ernest Bailes at the request of one of his beekeeper constituents.
Voted out of Committee without revision on March 8, 2023.
As a TBA Board, we discuss and review potential legislation that may affect beekeepers within the State and have a dedicated Legislative Committee that follows along and meets with legislators as needed. We support some bills and oppose others, as appropriate, in line with TBA’s mission and resolutions. TBA has chosen not to take a firm stance for or against this bill and has instead decided to share with our members some bullet points in regard to this bill and let the members decide as individuals if and how they may want to contact their representatives.
- TBA does support any effort to substantially improve truth in labeling in the honey market.
- While this bill potentially adds penalties for those who violate the legislation, there is currently no process or infrastructure to enforce the bill. This leaves the bill without a clear path for enforcement or processes for complaints.
- Currently, there is no reliable way to test honey affordably for the place of origin leaving test results subject to some interpretation. For example: pollen from sesame plants or clover (while they exist in some parts of Texas) are more commonly associated with China or the Dakotas respectively.
- It is unclear what impact this bill may have on the Texas honey market. There are studies being done on the financial impact that similar bills have had in other states and the TBA board believed that awaiting these results, further market research, and future discussions would be in the best interest of Texas Beekeepers.
We do look forward to working with stakeholders to create a more comprehensive bill in the future that would achieve more transparent labeling practices in the State of Texas.
- HB 590 is set for hearing before the House Agriculture and Livestock Committee on March 1, 2023.
- The 88th Session Committee Broadcast Archives has posted the video from the meeting.
https://tlchouse.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=78&clip_id=23895 if you want to skip forward to 1:24 it starts there.
- HB 590 was heard in public hearing on March 1, 2023.
- HB 590 was voted favorably out of committee on March 8, 2023.
- HB 590 was brought to the House floor for a vote on March 28, 2023. An amendment to change the word “exclusively” to “predominantly” was offered by several representatives. The amendment failed on a 30 to 108 vote.
- HB 590 was brought to the House floor for a final vote. It passed 130 to 16 and was sent to the Senate.
- HB 590 was assigned to the Water, Agriculture and Rural Affairs committee in the Senate on March 30, 2023.