The House Agricultural Affairs Committee introduced a resolution Wednesday that, if passed, would recognize farmer's markets as a way of building the local economy, preserving traditions, and promoting self-reliance among citizens of the state. The measure would also encourage Idahoans to produce their own food, a skill which, according to Janie Burns of the Treasure Valley Food Coalition, must not be lost.
In her testimony before the panel, Burns said that the state is losing its independence due to reliance on outside food producers. She added that many factors have led to the shrinking of the state’s food-producing sector, including market price fluctuations on certain grains, changes in buying procedures for corporate entities, and even the perception that farming is “old fashioned.” Burns noted that even school principals would participate in the food business in the early part of 20th century when they would shop locally for the food the school purchased for school lunches.
The state is also losing out on millions of dollars due to the shrinking food economy in the state. Burns said that the average Idahoan spends $50 a week on food and the state spends more than $4 billion a year on food products, much of which is going outside the state. She added that states like Iowa and California are benefiting from Idaho’s money, as are the countries of China, Chile, and Brazil.
Rep. Tom Trail, R-Moscow, said the economy of his city benefits from its local farmer's market, which, he said, provides a weekly $50,000 boost to the market. Rep. Mack Shirley, R-Rexburg, said he liked the bill because his city started its first farmer's market this last summer.
The bill was introduced on a unanimous vote and will receive another hearing sometime next week.
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