HB 217 Encourages the State and Municipalities to Buy More “Alaska Grown” Agricultural and Fisheries Products
Juneau – Today, the Alaska Legislature passed a bill to increase economic opportunities for Alaska farmers, fishermen and the farm-to-table economy. House Bill 217, sponsored by Representative Geran Tarr (D-Anchorage), encourages the State of Alaska, school districts, and municipalities to buy more “Alaska Grown” products. The bill also encourages the growing practice of farm touring and allows receipt authority for the Alaska Division of Agriculture to sell products with the Alaska Grown logo in support of Alaska farmers.
“Today is a great day for Alaska farmers,” said Rep. Tarr. “Alaskans love farmers markets and healthy, Alaska Grown foods, and this bill opens up additional opportunities and expanded markets.”
Alaskans spend $1.9 billion every year on food produced outside the state, making the state vulnerable to shortages and supply interruptions.
Last year, the Alaska Division of Agriculture and the Alaska Farm Bureau launched a statewide campaign encouraging all Alaskans to spend $5 a week on “Alaska Grown” products. If successful, this campaign could generate $188 million for Alaska’s economy. Another sign of a growing local agriculture industry in Alaska is the increase in the number of local farmer’s markets. In 2005 there were 13 local farmer’s markets in Alaska. That number has grown to over 41 with several more markets in the planning stage.
“Every dollar spent on Alaska Grown food supports Alaska entrepreneurs and businesses. Each of us has an opportunity to increase food security,” said Tarr.
House Bill 217 passed the Alaska State Senate today by a unanimous vote of 18-0. The bill passed the Alaska House of Representatives last month by a vote of 37-2. HB 217 will now be sent to Alaska Governor Bill Walker for his signature.
For more information, please contact Diana Rhoades in Rep. Tarr’s office at (907) 465-3424.