State Investment in Double SNAP Dollars: Win-Win-Win for Montana

House Bill 235 goes to the House floor TODAY, 3/10, at 1:00pm. All House members will be voting on this bill. Take Action NOW!

Food insecurity in Montana is projected to increase by nearly 30% as a result of COVID, with more than 141,000 Montanans at risk of hunger. SNAP helps many families make ends meet, but affording healthy food can still be difficult. Incentives such as Double SNAP Dollars help to stretch limited food budgets and make healthy, local food more affordable.

HB235 provides $95,000 in state funding (over two years) to expand access to Montana’s Double SNAP Dollars program.

  • What is Double SNAP Dollars (DSD)?
  • DSD is a nutrition incentive program that provides a dollar-for-dollar match (up to $20/day) for SNAP customers to spend on local produce
  • DSD is currently offered at 23 Montana farmers markets, 2 Community Supported Agriculture (farm share) programs, and 1 retail grocery store across 13 Montana counties
  • SNAP customers have spent $500,000 on local foods through DSD since 2015, directly supporting Montana farmers

Why do we need state investment?

  • State investment would provide stability for current DSD sites and allow the program to grow to new communities and retailers
  • Increased access to DSD means improved food security and health outcomes for families in need, and increased revenue for Montana farmers. Find our DSD Fact Sheet Here.

HB235 is a win for our families, farmers and economy. Email your Representative today to ask them to support this bill — click here!

Update on Double SNAP Dollars Bill

The Double SNAP Dollars Bill passed the House Human Services Committee on with a vote of 14-5. Read the updated bill HERE and the Fact Sheet HERE. Stay tuned for future action alerts from us after the transmittal break.

Soil Health Innovations Conference March 8-9, 2021

Looking to learn more about soil health and get connected to a community on the cutting edge of soil health across the country? Check out NCAT’s Soil Health Innovation Conference, happening March 8-9, 2021. Register at this link: https://soilinnovations.ncat.org/register/

Oppose SB 199 Today! – Action Alert

Grow Montana has a history of helping develop state legislation that is collaborative and based on common sense.     

We urge our representatives to oppose SB 199, an unnecessary and potentially damaging bill that interjects language in existing law that has not been vetted by agencies or the public. The bill disregards existing state law and administrative rules, as well as federal regulations. The Grow Montana Food Policy Coalition urges our legislators to work with our public agencies and citizens to maintain the existing laws until they can be reviewed through a thorough, collaborative process. Grow Montana supports legislation that encourages and supports value-added pursuits such as cottage food. It cannot support legislation that imperils already existing and thriving cottage food businesses.  

History of Collaborative Law Making & Enforcement

  •  In 2013 Grow Montana worked with Kathleen Williams in the passage of HB 630, a study bill to support locally sourced and community-based food production, commonly referred to as “cottage food,” while ensuring food safety.  The bill initiated      a two-year effort with agencies and citizens to develop consensus recommendations. 
  • The Montana Legislature recognized the value of this work and passed Montana’s current cottage food law, The Montana Food Policy Modernization Act,  in 2015 with unanimous bipartisan support. The Montana Food Policy Modernization Act has spurred a robust cottage food program. Today, over 300 Montanans operate food businesses, producing more than 6,000 food products from their home kitchens that are sold directly to consumers without a food license. 
  • Stakeholders continue to work together to simplify the application process for cottage food operators and expand the list of allowable, food products. AERO (Alternative Energy Resources Organization) is working with the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services right now to assemble a working group of cottage food operators, farmers, and public servants to propose changes to the cottage food rule. You can learn more about the project here (https://aeromt.org/what-we-do/cottagefood/)

The 2021 legislative session is ignoring these accomplishments by advancing a bill that undermines the Montana Food Modernization Act. The existing Montana cottage food law represents agreement between agencies, legislators, producers, and consumers. It succeeds in supporting value-added cottage food businesses, while also protecting Montana consumers from unsafe food. 

Action     

This bill has passed the senate and has been moved to the House. Please contact your legislators and encourage a NO vote on SB199. 

You can find your elected officials and their contact information by visiting https://leg.mt.gov/legislator-lookup/

Use the following link to contact the legislators or email them directly:  https://leg.mt.gov/web-messaging/ .

Please see the  talking points MEHA has generated about this bill HERE

ACT NOW! Help pass SB 180 through the Senate!

Today, the Montana Senate will vote on the Soil Health Subcommittee Bill (SB180).

We need your help to make sure Montana’s senators vote in favor of soil health and pass SB 180. Please contact your senator today (phone and email guidance below). You can find your elected officials and their contact information by visiting https://leg.mt.gov/legislator-lookup/.

Please call your senator and ask them to support the Soil Health Subcommittee Bill (SB 180). Below is an example script you can use. We encourage you to personalize it before contacting your senator. Every call helps to pass this bill through the Senate floor.

“Hello, my name is [YOUR NAME] and I live in [INSERT YOUR TOWN HERE]. I am calling to ask you to support the Soil Health Subcommittee Bill, SB 180. Healthy soils allow farmers and ranchers to keep more money in their pockets, build resilient farms and food systems, and protect water quantity and quality. Keeping soil healthy is especially important to Montana, where agriculture is a leading industry. The task force proposed in SB 180 can address the unique needs of and challenges faced by Montana’s producers as they work to scale up the use of soil-building practices. Investing in a soil health study will lead to a stronger and more resilient Montana. Please support the Soil Health Subcommittee Bill, SB 180 and ensure it passes through the full Senate. I appreciate your time and consideration.”

Tips for calling your representatives:

  • Let them know that you are a constituent. Be sure to say the community you are from. Elected officials are most interested in your opinions if you are their constituent.
  • Know your facts. Be sure you have the basic information about your topic in front of you when you call. You should be able to specifically describe the topic about which you are calling and state your opinion on what your legislator should do. To learn more about SB 180, please visit http://www.growmt.org/policy.
  • Add your own words. The provided script is useful, but you should make the phone call as personal as possible. Representatives and staffers want to hear your individual story and how the issue impacts you on a personal level.
  • Note your expertise. If you have professional experience with the issue you are calling about, be sure to mention it (e.g. farmer, rancher, member of an agriculture organization, etc.). This will establish your credibility on the issue and may even prompt the aide to ask you for some guidance on the issue.
  • Be brief. Elected officials receive a high volume of phone calls every day, so keep your call short and to the point.

We encourage you to call your senators—it’s one of the most powerful ways you can weigh in on SB 180. However, if you prefer to write to your elected officials, please contact them through this form to ask for their support the Soil Health Subcommittee Bill (SB180). Below is a template you can use. We recommend you personalize it before sending it to your senators.

Dear Senator [INSERT YOUR ELECTED OFFICIAL HERE]

I live in [INSERT YOUR TOWN HERE] and am writing to ask you to support the passage of the Soil Health Subcommittee Bill (SB 180).

Healthy soils allow farmers and ranchers to keep more money in their pockets, build resilient farms and food systems, and protect water quantity and quality. Keeping soil healthy is especially important to Montana, where agriculture is the leading industry.

The Soil Health Subcommittee Bill builds upon important work that has already been done in the state by establishing a task force to make recommendations on the role of a state soil health program. It will allow for public input from stakeholders, identify the most effective ways to invest in our state’s soil health, and report findings and recommendations for protecting and building soil health in Montana.

Please support the Soil Health Subcommittee Bill (SB 180) and ensure it passes through the Montana Senate. I appreciate your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

[INSERT YOUR NAME HERE]

Action Alert: Help Pass Soil Health Subcommittee SB 180 through the Senate

On 2/26/21 the Senate Natural Resources Committee passed the Soil Health Subcommittee Bill (SB 180) 7-5. SB 180 is now moving to the Senate floor and will go up for vote in the next week. We need your help to make sure Montana’s senators vote in favor of soil health and pass SB 180.

You can find your elected officials and their contact information by visiting https://leg.mt.gov/legislator-lookup/.

Please call your senator and ask them to support the Soil Health Subcommittee Bill (SB 180). Below is an example script you can use. We encourage you to personalize it before contacting your senator. Every call helps to pass this bill through the Senate floor.

“Hello, my name is [YOUR NAME] and I live in [INSERT YOUR TOWN HERE]. I am calling to ask you to support the Soil Health Subcommittee Bill, SB 180. Healthy soils allow farmers and ranchers to keep more money in their pockets, build resilient farms and food systems, and protect water quantity and quality. Keeping soil healthy is especially important to Montana, where agriculture is a leading industry. The task force proposed in SB 180 can address the unique needs of and challenges faced by Montana’s producers as they work to scale up the use of soil-building practices. Investing in a soil health study will lead to a stronger and more resilient Montana.

Please support the Soil Health Subcommittee Bill, SB 180 and ensure it passes through the full Senate. I appreciate your time and consideration.”

Tips for calling your representatives:

  • Let them know that you are a constituent. Be sure to say the community you are from. Elected officials are most interested in your opinions if you are their constituent.
  • Know your facts. Be sure you have the basic information about your topic in front of you when you call. You should be able to specifically describe the topic about which you are calling and state your opinion on what your legislator should do. To learn more about SB 180, please visit http://www.growmt.org/policy
  • Add your own words. The provided script is useful, but you should make the phone call as personal as possible. Representatives and staffers want to hear your individual story and how the issue impacts you on a personal level.
  • Note your expertise. If you have professional experience with the issue you are calling about, be sure to mention it (e.g. farmer, rancher, member of an agriculture organization, etc.). This will establish your credibility on the issue and may even prompt the aide to ask you for some guidance on the issue.
  • Be brief. Elected officials receive a high volume of phone calls every day, so keep your call short and to the point.

We encourage you to call your senators—it’s one of the most powerful ways you can weigh in on SB 180. However, if you prefer to write to your elected officials, please contact them through this form to ask for their support the Soil Health Subcommittee Bill. Below is a template you can use. We recommend you personalize it before sending it to your senators.  


Dear Senator [INSERT YOUR ELECTED OFFICIAL HERE]:

I live in [INSERT YOUR TOWN HERE] and am writing to ask you to support the passage of the Soil Health Subcommittee Bill (SB 180).

Healthy soils allow farmers and ranchers to keep more money in their pockets, build resilient farms and food systems, and protect water quantity and quality. Keeping soil healthy is especially important to Montana, where agriculture is the leading industry. While federal programs support the adoption of soil-building practices, state leadership can address existing gaps and provide for the unique needs of and challenges faced by Montana’s producers to scale up the use of soil-building practices. The task force established through this bill will identify those gaps and provide recommendations for how to close them so that Montana’s farmers and ranchers get the resources they need, the way they need them. 

The Soil Health Subcommittee Bill builds upon important work that has already been done in the state by:

  • Establishing a task force made up of 16-members to make recommendations on the role of a state soil health program.
  • Involving broad public input from stakeholders for feedback on local needs and the best ways to address them.
  • Assessing soil health conditions and researching soil health programming and resources in Montana to identify the most effective ways to invest in our state’s soil health.
  • Reporting findings and recommendations for protecting and building soil health in Montana.

Soil is one of our greatest natural resources. The thoughtful approach to soil health proposed in the Soil Health Subcommittee Bill (SB 180) will address necessary economic, environmental and agricultural issues and lead to a stronger and more resilient Montana.

Please support the Soil Health Subcommittee Bill (SB 180) and ensure it passes through the Montana Senate. I appreciate your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

[NAME]

[ADDRESS]

Why Montana Needs the Double SNAP Dollars Program

Prior to COVID-19, 1 in 10 Montanans, including more than 36,000 children, struggled to afford all the food they need. Food insecurity in Montana is projected to increase by nearly 30% in 2020, with an additional 32,000 Montanans at risk of hunger. Many of these families participate in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Programs (SNAP) to keep food on the table, however, affording healthy food can be difficult. Research shows that incentives such as Double SNAP Dollars are effective at increasing the consumption of fruits and vegetables, which has lasting positive impacts on health. 1 in 3 Montana farmers markets accept SNAP benefits, and that number is growing. These markets are an important sales outlet for many small farms in Montana. Double SNAP Dollars encourage families to spend their SNAP dollars locally, bringing increased revenue to Montana’s farmers while improving access to healthy, Montana-grown produce for low-income families. Learn More Here.

COOL Bill HB 324 Tabled in House, SB 210 Continues in the Senate

The COOL Bill HB 324 was tabled in the House Agriculture Committee last week, but stay tuned because the Senate version of COOL is still live! Check out the bill language for SB 210 on the state legislature’s website here and learn what you can do to get it passed through the Senate Agriculture Committee from our coalition members at Northern Plains Resource Council.

To learn the many reasons why Montanans support COOL, check out this article from the Public New Service on why ranchers want more truth in labeling for meat origins.

Call your Senators in support of SB180!

On 2/17/21 the Senate Natural Resources Committee held a hearing on the Soil Health Subcommittee Bill SB 180, and now we need your help to make sure senators on the committee vote in favor of soil health:

Please call your Senator and ask them to support the Soil Health Subcommittee Bill, SB 180. Below is an example script you can use. We encourage you to personalize it before contacting your Senator. Every call helps to pass this bill through committee.

“Hello, my name is [YOUR NAME] and I live in [INSERT YOUR TOWN HERE]. I am calling to ask you to support the Soil Health Subcommittee Bill SB 180. Healthy soils allow farmers and ranchers to keep more money in their pockets, build resilient farms and food systems, and protect water quantity and quality. Keeping soil healthy is especially important to Montana, where agriculture is a leading industry. The task force proposed in SB 180 can address the unique needs of and challenges faced by Montana’s producers as they work to scale up the use of soil-building practices. Investing in a soil health study will lead to a stronger and more resilient Montana.

Please support the Soil Health Subcommittee Bill (SB 180) and ensure it passes through the Senate Natural Resources Committee. I appreciate your time and consideration.”

Tips for calling your representatives:

  • Let them know that you are a constituent. Be sure to say the city and state you are from. Elected officials are most interested in your opinions if you are their constituent.
  • Know your facts. Be sure you have the basic information about your topic in front of you when you call. You should be able to specifically describe the topic about which you are calling and state your opinion on what your legislator should do. For specific information on SB180, visit our policy page.
  • Add your own words. The provided script is useful, but you should make the phone call as personal as possible. Representatives and staffers want to hear your individual story and how the issue impacts you on a personal level.
  • Note your expertise. If you have professional experience with the issue you are calling about, be sure to mention it (e.g. farmer, rancher, member of an agriculture organization, etc.) This will establish your credibility on the issue and may even prompt the aide to ask you for some guidance on the issue.
  • Be brief. Representatives and their offices receive a high volume of phone calls every day, so keep your call short and to the point.

Learn More about Farm to School at this Year’s Montana Farm to School Summit

Farm to School is most successful when diverse community members and stakeholders take part in implementation. If you are interested in “Digging Deeper” and learning more about Farm to School, consider attending the Montana Farm to School Summit in August. Learn and share how Montana schools and programs are cultivating success through the core elements of farm to school–serving local foods, school gardens, and nutrition, agriculture, and food education. Workshops, field trips, and networking opportunities will provide inspiration and skill building. The conference will feature national and Montana farm to school champions who will share their stories and experiences. The summit will feature Montana Harvest of the Month successes and resources. The target audience includes all stakeholders involved and interested in farm to school. This includes school and summer food service personnel, teachers, school administration, childcare providers, parents, students, food producers and vendors, farm to school practitioners including FoodCorps service members, groups that support farm to school efforts, and more. More information is available on this 2021 Summit Flyer: https://www.montana.edu/mtfarmtoschool/documents/Summit21_flyer.pdf