West Texas Farmers file suit against DSHS to sell pickled produce

The McHaney family has been pickling produce since they were young enough to remember. After working in Houston the couple decided to retire in Hearne, Texas and farm their own vegetables.

However, they quickly learned there was more profit in pickled produce.

According to the Texas Cottage Food Law passed in 2011, people can sell specific items from their home which include bread, jams, spices and cucumber pickles.

However, the law doesn’t include other types of pickled produce.

Unfortunately for the McHaney family cucumbers are not the easiest to grow on their land. "We don't do very well cucumbers on our place you know different crops have different homes," Jim McHaney said.

The law requires farmers to obtain a manufacturer’s license in order to sell pickled produce but the McHaney’s said it’s a lengthy expensive process.

Producers have to undergo training, install a commercial kitchen and pay fees.

A process Texas Department of State Health Services spokesperson Chris Van Deusen said ensures safety for consumers. “When you get into pickling and things that aren’t going to be refrigerated things that are going to be left on a shelf until they are opened that raises some health concerns,” said Van Deusen. “The reason for the law and the regulations are to keep consumer’s safe and of course that’s what we’re interested in we don’t want anybody to encounter an issue when they are going out and purchasing food.”

The McHaney’s filed suit against the Texas Department of State Health Services to change legislation to allow farmers to sell other pickled produce items without the license.

They hope that through their lawsuit legislation can be changed not just for them but for all farmers.