House Bill 235 requests appropriation of $200,000 to support the statewide nutrition incentive program, Double SNAP Dollars, at farmers markets, community supported agriculture sites and grocery stores throughout Montana. Double SNAP Dollars is a nutrition incentive program that helps food-insecure Montanans afford more local fruits and vegetables, while directly supporting Montana farmers Currently offered at 23 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 Double SNAP Dollars, since 2015. To learn more about HB 235 check out the fact sheet: https://mfbn.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/DSD-Advocacy-Fact-Sheet-2021.pdf
The Soil Health Subcommittee Bill draft, sponsored by Sentor Pat Flowers (SD32), is available for review on the session’s website here. Find your representatives here and contact them about supporting the soil health bill, and consider asking your agricultural organization to actively support legislation for soil health. You can also find the bill fact sheet on our website at https://growmt.org/policy/.
The Country-of-Origin Labeling Bill, or also known as the COOL Bill, will allow consumers to know where their beef and pork was born, raised and harvested. There is a federal effort underway to address provisions within the federal “Product of USA” bill to address definitions for beef and pork that are born, raised and harvested in the United States. Grow Montana supports the COOL bill because consumers have the right to know where their meat comes from and ranchers deserve a fair market price for their products.
The COOL Bill is sponsored by Rep. Frank Smith of HD31 and you can find the draft of the bill on the session’s website here. To keep up to date with any news on the COOL Bill, please sign up for our legislative updates and action alerts at https://growmt.org/action-alerts/.
Grow Montana is committed to supporting initiatives that focus on local food procurement that encourages consumption of healthy Montana-grown food. That is why Grow Montana is sponsoring the Farm to School Bill in the 67th Legislative Session. Farm to School has many benefits for students, local producers and their communities, and school food service programs. And farm to school isn’t just in Montana – it is a national initiative with an expanding network of partners that provide insight into best practices and national impact. To learn more about the national impact of Farm to School, read the Benefits Fact Sheet: http://www.farmtoschool.org/Resources/BenefitsFactSheet.pdf
Farm to School implementation differs from school to school because it functions by community driven approaches. Currently, there is no state funding to support farm to school. The Farm to School Bill, sponsored by Grow Montana, would help secure state funding that would assist schools in beginning or expanding farm to school activities. Farm to school not only connects kids with locally grown food and food and nutrition education, it also helps foster more resilient food systems. COVID-19 has highlighted the need for farm to school as a way to solve food supply issues. Promoting locally grown and raised foods is one way to promote availability of fresh, healthy foods. Would you like to learn more about the impact of Farm to School practices in Montana? The 2019-2020 Montana Farm to School Annual Report is available at this link: https://www.montana.edu/mtfarmtoschool/documents/F2S19_AnnualReport.pdf
One of Grow Montana’s legislative priorities is providing funding for Farm to School activities. The Farm to School Bill would establish a grant program for schools to provide funding to begin or expand farm to school activities. Farm to School focuses on three main components: Procurement, Education, and School Gardens. To learn more about Montana Farm to School and how it benefits students and communities, visit Montana State University’s Farm to School website https://www.montana.edu/mtfarmtoschool/
Since 2005, Grow Montana has advocated for changes in state policies that would strengthen Montana’s food and agriculture economies. The coalition has since led projects on food systems research, producing education materials, and stewarded policy change to support Montana’s food producers.