Grow Montana is a broad-based coalition whose common purpose is to promote community economic development policies that support sustainable Montana-owned food production, processing, and distribution, and that improve all of our citizens' access to Montana foods. Read More >>
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Help improve Montana's food regulations!
Deadline extended to February 17th!
Are you a producer, business owner, or consumer who has been impacted by Montana's current food regulations? Do you wish the laws were more in line with what you are trying to achieve? Now is your chance to speak out!
Thanks to a bill passed during the 2013 legislative session, the Departments of Agriculture, Health and Human Services, and Livestock are reviewing and streamlining food regulations in the state — from what kinds of food can be sold at farmers markets and other venues to licensing requirements and the standards for processing facilities.
But they need to hear from you! We need your voice and perspective to explain how the current laws should change in order for local and regional food to flourish. Public input is the bedrock of this process—if you have a story, idea, or recommendation about how to make the food rules better in Montana, please make your voice heard!
**UPDATE**: The deadline for written comments has been extended through February 17, 2014. Comments should sent to Cort Jensen at email@example.com. For more information, click here.
Policies to Support a Montana-based Food System
In the 2013 legislature, Grow Montana promoted sensible and sustainable food policy, serving as the driving force behind bills to jump-start Farm to School efforts in the state and support Montana's network of Food and Agricultural Development Centers. We also worked alongside our allies to streamline food safety regulations, open markets for local producers, and preserve Montana's agricultural lands. Click here to read some of the highlights.
Food System Research Highlights
In 2011, nationally-recognized food system analyst Ken Meter of Crossroads Resource Center was commissioned by Grow Montana members and others to do a series of studies on Montana's regional food economy. Meter identifies the purpose of our food system as being four-fold: to build health, wealth, connection, and capacity in our communities. The first Local Farm & Food Economy Study covered a five county area in western Montana—where Meter presented his findings at standing-room-only community gatherings in Kalispell and Ronan. According to Meter's study, area farmers earned $76 million dollars less by selling commodities in 2008 than they earned in 1969. He also highlighted that direct farm-to-consumer sales in that region are 3.5 times the national average, and that purchasing 15% of food directly from producers would generate $66 million in new income for western Montana farmers. Read highlights of his western Montana research [PDF/200KB], or view slides from Meter's western Montana presentation. [PDF/6.05MB]
Meter later completed three more studies of a 32-county area encompassing Montana's Golden Triangle, southeast of the Golden Triangle, and eastern Montana. He presented his findings at the Montana Farmers Union (MFU) convention in Great Falls. Research on the Golden Triangle covers one of the most productive grain growing areas in the country, and in particular, of hard red winter wheat that is shipped to export markets in Asia. MFU staff Sandy Courtnage explains "Meter did not propose that all farmers should entirely change what they do; but he was able to make a very convincing case that 'Finding Food in Farm Country' is a very difficult thing to do. If developing a community based food system is a goal of these areas, some planning and incremental adjustments are needed." Read highlights of his Golden Triangle [PDF/235KB] and southeast of Golden Triangle [PDF/230KB] and eastern Montana [PDF/233KB] reports.
Learn more about Grow Montana's research.
Local Foods Video
Ever wonder why it can be so hard to find locally-grown foods in an agricultural state like Montana?
Grow Montana, Montana Farmers Union, and Community GATE Farm to Table Project put together this video to explore exactly that question. Enjoy!
Please click the arrow to watch the video.
Montana's Food System in ChangeThis 10-minute video tells the history of Montana's food system from a time when the state's farmers and ranchers produced most of Montanans' food--through agriculture's shift to commodity production for export following WWII. The story describes the rise of hunger in Montana and suggests a return to producing food for local consumption as a possible path to economic revitalization and food security.
This video was produced for the March 2007 Montana Governor's Summit on Food and Agriculture by the summit planning committee, with production completed under the auspices of the Montana Department of Agriculture by Murmax Productions of Power, Mont. To order copies of the DVD please contact debbier(at)ncat.org.
Please click the arrow to watch the video.
(Approx. 10min in length)
Explore more Grow Montana Resources.
Grow Montana Steering Committee Members
Montana's Steering Committee also includes ongoing advisory participation from the Montana Department of Agriculture and the Montana Office of Public Instruction's Team Nutrition Program.
Did You Know?
If each household in Montana spent just $10 a week on Montana-produced food, we would redirect $186 million dollars each year to the state's food producers.
Want more facts like these about Montana's food system?
[PDF / 133KB]