Grow Montana 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.

Value-added food production study (SJ13)

Creates an interim study committee to research and propose solutions for value-added food processing in Montana.
For Montanans to better feed ourselves, we need a significant increase in value-added food production such as meat and even vegetable processing. An interim legislative committee, along with government and private agencies who specialize in food and agriculture, should explore ways that our state can invest in value-added production as a form of community-based economic development, where more of the end product’s value stays in Montana and profits recirculate within Montana’s communities. Research should include best practices and models from other states.

Resolution to remove ban on interstate commerce of state-inspected meat (HJ 17)

Encourages more meat processing in Montana by removing the federal ban on interstate commerce of state-inspected meat. This state resolution urges Congress to act.
Montana has a state meat inspection program that is required by the USDA to meet or exceed all federal regulations. State-inspected meat can be sold at any retail, wholesale, or direct market in Montana. However, even though it meets or exceeds federal inspection, it cannot be sold in any other state. This limits the market opportunities for state-inspected meat, discouraging meat producers from adding value to their livestock and entrepreneurs from developing processing facilities in state. Since the lack of local processing is a major obstacle in Montana’s food system, we must work to remove such barriers. Partnering with Montana Farmers Union, Grow Montana promotes a state resolution encouraging Congress to remove the USDA’s ban on interstate commerce of state-inspected

Grow Montana also strongly supported our allies on the following (unsuccessful) bills in 2007:

Regional rural value-added agricultural program (HB 223)

Developed and led by Montana Economic Developers Association.
Funds six Montana Agriculture Innovation Centers to provide technical assistance and capital availability to food and agriculture entrepreneurs.

Revise economic development programs (SB 42 and HB 331)

Developed and led by Montana Economic Developers Association.
Retains Montana’s important agricultural development programs (such as Growth through Agriculture) currently scheduled to expire in 2010 by removing their “sunset clause.”

Improving Access to Healthy School Meals (HB 479)

Developed and led by Montana Dietetic Association and Montana Food Bank Network
Provides $250,000 for small grants to school food services to purchase equipment needed to serve more nutritious food, e.g., salad bars, to implement schools’ new wellness policies.

Urge farm bill priorities (HJ 23)

Developed and led by Montana Farmers Union
Resolution encouraging family farm principles in 2007 federal farm bill.