NEWS: Rep. Geran Tarr Introduces Bill to Increase Alaska’s Agriculture Opportunities

Legislation Allows Increased Use of Alaska Grown Products and “Food Freedom” Inspired Consumer Choices

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 13, 2017

Juneau – Today, Rep. Geran Tarr (D-Anchorage) pre-filed legislation to support Alaska’s vitally important agriculture industry by expanding the use of Alaska grown products and supporting Alaska’s dairy producers.  Specifically, House Bill 46 will change the Alaska Product Preference statutes to allow more price flexibility by state agencies when purchasing Alaska grown products.

“When our state agencies purchase from Alaska growers, we are supporting small businesses all over the state.  This helps strengthen and diversify our economy, increase our food security, and provide a higher quality, healthier product to the consumer,” said Rep. Tarr.  “State agencies are already purchasing some food products grown in Alaska and this change will allow those dollars to be more effectively directed to Alaskan owned businesses.  It’s a win-win, and I am hopeful for support from my colleagues in the Alaska House and Senate.” 

Currently, state agencies are allowed to purchase products grown in Alaska if the cost is within 7 percent of the cost for a product sourced from the lower 48 states.  However, a 2016 state audit of the program found the current 7 percent difference was too low and resulted in very little produce grown in Alaska being purchased by state agencies.

HB 46 also expands options for the sale of raw milk in Alaska.  Currently, limitations in state law prevent raw milk sales, except in the form of cow shares that individuals must purchase, making it difficult for consumers to have access.  HB 46 would create more opportunities for the sale of raw milk.

“As we work to develop and strengthen our agriculture industry one missing component is a strong dairy sector.  The topic of raw milk sales can be controversial but I believe consumers should have the choice if they want and this bill creates opportunities for small scale direct purchases,” said Rep. Tarr.  “Food freedom consumer choice legislation and initiatives, like HB 46, are in direct response to consumers who are asking for locally grown and sourced products.  I support informed consumer choice through product availability and appropriate labeling.”

HB 46 will be formally introduced and receive committee assignments when the 30th Alaska State Legislature convenes on January 17.

For more information, please contact Rep. Geran Tarr’s office at (907) 465-3424.

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