Past Food Policy Work

2011 | 2009 | 2007 | 2005

2011 Grow Montana Legislative Session Highlights

Secure funding for four established Food & Agriculture Development Centers.
In Montana’s 2009 Legislative Session, Grow Montana led the effort to establish the Food and Agriculture Development Center network, which is administered by the Montana Department of Agriculture. These centers help entrepreneurs capitalize off of new market trends in value-added local food production and the development of farm-based renewable energy projects. In just its first year the program served 100 entrepreneurs, creating and retaining almost 133 in-state jobs, and introducing almost 40 new local products for Montana consumers.

A core coalition member, the Montana Farmers Union, led our efforts in working with other groups to help secure two more years of funding for the centers. The first bill to support the centers (Rep. MacDonald) died in committee, but HB 611 (sponsored by Rep. Cook) was amended in the last days of the session to include reduced, but still manageable funding levels for the centers. This ensures that they will continue to fill a critical role in establishing the entrepreneurial support system necessary to actually build the food production, processing, and distribution infrastructure needed to localize Montana’s food system.

A resolution encouraging Farm to School programs SJ 19
Farm to School programs connect schools (K-12) and local farms and ranches in order to serve fresh and healthy Montana grown foods in school cafeterias and provide experiential agriculture, health, and nutrition education opportunities to students.

SJ 19 (sponsored by Sen. Caferro) encouraged Montanans to recognize the first week of October as “Montana Farm to School Week”, and to recognized Farm to School as programs that both purchase agricultural products from local farmers and educate students about healthy food choices and why local agriculture is valuable. Unfortunately, due to a missed deadline in the legislative process this resolution died, but Grow Montana is prepared to pass this resolution in 2013 in order to bring further promotion, coordination, and support to Farm to School across the state.

In 2011, Grow Montana strongly supported HJ 8, an interim study on reducing child hunger in Montana which was developed and led by the Montana Food Security Council.

Grow Montana supports the numerous ways to address child hunger in Montana identified in this resolution and are especially supportive of the resolution’s exploration of “ways to encourage the use of Montana farm products in schools.”

Grow Montana’s 2009 Legislative Priorities

A Bill to Support Montana Food and Agricultural Development Centers HB 583
Montanans want a safe and stable food and energy supply. We could meet that demand ourselves, but we lack critical food processing and alternative energy production infrastructure to meet the demand. Sponsored by John Fleming (D – St. Ignatius), HB 583 provides funding for six established food and agricultural development centers – traditionally known as “food innovation centers” and more recently “bio-product innovation centers”– to maintain and modestly build on Montana’s capacity to assist entrepreneurs in the areas of food manufacturing and alternative energy production. These centers hold tremendous potential for economic development in both urban and rural communities by ensuring that more of the state’s food, agricultural, and energy dollars circulate in Montana – revitalizing communities, improving access to healthier food for our citizens, and reconnecting our rural and urban economies. An FAQ paper has also been developed, read it here.

Grow Montana’s 2007 Legislative Priorities

Montana food to institutions SB 328
Allows public institutions more flexibility to buy Montana-produced food through an optional exemption in the Montana Procurement Act.
Current law requires public institutions, such as universities and K-12 schools, to buy the cheapest food possible (in contract purchases). Though not all Montana-produced food is more expensive than national competitors, public institutions should be allowed to consider where and how the food was produced when making decisions. Grow Montana proposes an optional exemption from the Montana Procurement Act to allow institutions to buy Montana-grown food within specified parameters. The exemption would be used only when consistent with the agency’s fiscal goals and constraints. The full text of SB328 is available as a PDF download.

Grow Montana’s 2005 Legislative Session Highlights

Grow Montana’s 2005 Legislative Session Highlights

Led the winning legislative campaign to authorize the Montana Department of Livestock to inspect mobile meat slaughter units. By harvesting animals on-farm in an inspected mobile unit, farmers and ranchers can sell meat at any Montana retail, restaurant, or direct market.
Read the bill’s full text.

Initiated a bill to make it easier for Montana’s public institutions to purchase Montana-produced food. Though the bill ultimately died in the House Appropriations Committee, several other winning committee and floor votes showed broad support for helping Montana’s food producers enter Montana’s public food service markets.
Read the bill’s full text.