[montanafood_ag] Forward

Stephanie Potts stephaniep at ncat.org
Thu Mar 28 13:34:45 MDT 2013


Dear friends of Farm to School, 



Our Farm to School bill (HB 471) has reached a significant setback: the House Appropriations Committee tabled it, and will likely let it die by not revisiting it for a vote before the transmittal deadline. In other words, by deciding not to act, House Appropriations has killed the Farm to School bill. 


We're frustrated and we're disappointed. The bill, which would have given schools money to buy more local food, had sailed through the House Agriculture Committee, as well as earning a super-majority bipartisan vote on the House floor (70-29). We don't fully understand why the appropriations committee acted as it did, but the essential arguments could be boiled down to committee members who did not believe that it was the role of government to support local farmers and ranchers, nor to help our children grow up healthy. 


We believe otherwise. 


Our strategy now, as the Grow Montana coalition and allies, is to build on all the support that HB 471 garnered, and start doing the research, communications, and coalition building for 2015. The fact is that t hanks to your efforts, the momentum behind Farm to School is stronger than ever. We've heard heartfelt testimony from farmers, ranchers, students, processors, school board members, and food service directors. Many legislators and officials, including Superintendent Denise Juneau, and a plethora of non-profit organizations such as AERO, Montana Farmers Union, Montana Wool Growers, Northern Plains Resource Council, Garden City Harvest, Gallatin Valley Farm to School, the Montana Dietetic Association, National Farm to School Network, and the Association of YWCA's raised their voices as well. 


Representative Greg Hertz (R), one of the bill's sponsor's, even brought local chicken out on the House floor, to help illustrate the point. 


Clearly, we've got an amazing foundation to build on. For all you've done so far, thank you. We know you'll keep doing what you do to support community-based food systems, and we'll keep working alongside you to help make sure that state policies align with your vision. 

In other (better!) news, Grow Montana's HB420 , which funds Montana's Food and Agriculture Development Centers , should be headed to the Senate next week! The Food and Ag. Centers are a vital resource for Montana's food and sustainable energy entrepreneurs, giving them the resources they need to succeed. The Centers are also involved with Farm to School efforts, with the Mission Mountain Food Enterprise Center in Ronan serving a crucial role as a processor specifically gearing products toward the special needs of the K-12 market. All of the Food and Agriculture Development Centers help producers figure out the safety, labeling, marketing, and processing that is necessary to sell to institutions and other customers. I'll be in touch soon about more ways you can get involved to support HB420, and Montana's Food and Agricultural Development Centers, as we navigate the Senate. 

Thank you again, for all your support of Farm to School and the work that each of you are doing across Montana. Feel free to contact me if you have other questions, ideas, or concerns. 

Onward, 

Stephanie 


-- 

Stephanie Laporte Potts 
Grow Montana Coordinator 
National Center for Appropriate Technology 
stephaniep at ncat.org 
734.476.7353 
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