State Sen. Sue Errington has proposed a measure that would encourage expansion of Indiana’s local and organic food production. Senate Bill 194 was heard in the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Small Business Committee today, but the committee’s chair did not permit a vote on the bill.
Listen to Senator Errington discuss Senate Bill 194:
Errington originally proposed the creation of a new state task force to work with local farmers and grocers to expand local and organic food production and distribution. Today she suggested that she would instead draw from a similar program already being implemented by the Office of Community and Rural Affairs (OCRA), eliminated the cost of an additional state body. Under the new plan, a comprehensive report of the existing program’s impact and findings would be sent to the legislature to inform policy makers technology and logistics necessary to expand and modernize Indiana’s local and organic food network. Errington said this is important right now so Indiana can move forward in this industry during better economic times.
The report would focus on ten program goals:
- Establish training and development
- Make local and organic foods more accessible
- Build connections
- Build local food infrastructure
- Develop new food and agriculture businesses
- Develop farmers markets and create year-round markets
- Research development
- Educate public and producers
- Identify legal impediments
- Identify stakeholders
“This would help us as policy makers have the information we need to make the best possible decisions to advance the state’s local and organic food industries,” said Errington.
Listen to Sen. Errington’s comments to the committee:
Dave Ring, a farmer and owner of an organic grocery store in Muncie, testified in support of Errington’s measure. Ring explained that Indiana is far behind many states in the Midwest in terms of organic production.
“Organic acreage has grown by 111 percent in the U.S. from 2002 to 2005,” said Ring. “This modest step forward will help us to identify some key staples and some steps toward developing local and organic agriculture.”
Listen to David Ring’s committee testimony:
This is the final week for Senate committee action on Senate bills, so unless the measure is revived as an amendment to another bill, it is effectively dead for 2010.
“This is an opportunity to promote development in a progressive sector of Indiana’s agricultural industry,” said Errington. “I hope we can accomplish this now, but if not, I will continue working to promote the local and organic food farmers, retailers and consumers who see the potential that these products offer.”