Grow Montana

Sep 28, 2022 | Grow & Tell - Stories

Grow Montana Works to Improve Our Citizens’ Access to Healthy Montana Foods In 1950, 70% of the food Montanans ate...

Grow Montana Works to Improve Our Citizens’ Access to Healthy Montana Foods

In 1950, 70% of the food Montanans ate was grown in Montana.

Today the percentage of local food that Montanans consume is just a fraction of what it once was (3%).

With shifts to large scale commodity cropping, the advent of mechanized farming, and changes in shipping and distribution access, it is understandable why there has been such a huge reduction in the local food that Montanans eat.

However, in such a large agricultural state, we know that demand for local foods is here! Just visit your local farmers market and you will see lines for Montana grown fruits and vegetables. There are ways to increase support for local foods and make changes that will impact all Montanans’ right to healthy, culturally appropriate, and nutrient dense food.

That’s where Grow Montana comes in.

Grow Montana is a state-wide food policy coalition that works to improve all of our citizens’ access to healthy Montana foods. They advocate for policies that support sustainable Montana-owned food production, processing, and distribution at the state legislature, and have been since 2005.

Grow Montana works to:

  • Improve all Montana residents’ access to safe, nutritious, and culturally appropriate foods.
  • Improve fair labor practices throughout the food and agriculture economy
  • Strengthen Montana’s interconnected regional and agriculture economies
  • Enhance stewardship and protection of Montana’s water, soil, and agricultural lands
  • Promote regenerative, sustainable agriculture as a means of resiliency by mitigating and adapting to changing climate and weather variabilities
  • Support family farms, both small and midscale, as a means of strengthening local food system

A few of Grow Montana’s successes:

  • Established Food Corps, a first-in-the-nation trained AmeriCorps VISTA team working in MT public schools to increase use of MT-grown foods
  • Authorized the Montana Department of Livestock to inspect mobile meat slaughter units
  • Created Montana’s Food and Agricultural Development Centers
  • Created more flexibility for public institutions to buy Montana-grown or processed food
  • Established cottage food in Montana, and streamlined regulations for mobile and temporary food vendors.

During the 2021 MT Legislative Session, Grow Montana:

  • Led on the Farm to School Bill to increase funding for Montana schools to purchase more MT grown foods.
  • Led on the Soil Health Study Bill to improve the health of our soils, and the yield and profitability of our agricultural lands.
  • Supported the Double SNAP Dollars Bill to increase funding for this statewide nutrition incentive program.
  • Supported the Country of Origin Labeling Bill seeking a retail placard for beef and pork products, to let consumers know if the beef or pork in the store had been born, raised and processed in the US – or not.

Ways you can get involved:

Join Grow Montana’s email list to get action alerts during the legislative session. Action alerts include open calls for citizens to provide written or oral testimony during the MT Legislative Session or to provide feedback on developing policy.

Follow Grow Montana on Instagram and Facebook

Grow Montana’s steering committee includes:

Alternative Energy Resources Organization (AERO), Community Food & Agriculture Coalition (CFAC), Land to Hand Montana, Mission West Community Development Partners, Montana Cooperative Development Center (MCDC), Montana Farmers Union (MFU), National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT), Northern Plains Resource Council (NPRC)

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