The beekeeping world is abuzz because state legislators are moving forward with a plan that can result in jail time for Texas honey producers who label their goods incorrectly.
Rep. Ernest Bailes, R-Shepherd, is the author of House Bill 590, which prohibits the use of the term “Texas honey” on goods that don’t “exclusively” contain honey made in Texas apiaries.
Although the idea behind the measure is straightforward, Texas beekeepers claim it might hurt farmers and their way of life. Texas A&M’s AgriLife agency estimates that the state contributed 8.9 million pounds of honey, or $17 million, to the production of honey nationwide.
Dodie Stillman, president of the Texas Beekeepers Association, stated that there are several issues with honey labeling that need to be resolved. “This one is simply not quite where it needs to be,” she said.
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The management of one of Texas’ 157,000 bee colonies can be challenging. Some people would mix Texas-heavy honey with honey from other states because it might be difficult to produce enough honey for a business due to weather circumstances.
Relabeling merchandise can grow pricey or even result in a loss for certain manufacturers. Beekeepers in border regions may have nectar DNA that inexorably combines with that of the neighboring states.
Even with all the leeway, Bill 590 would effectively classify mislabeling Texas honey goods as a class B misdemeanor, punishable by up to 180 days in jail.
Rep. Cecil Bell Jr., a Republican from Magnolia, put forth an amendment to the bill that would let honey producers name their product “produced in Texas” as long as it contained “predominantly” Texas honey.
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