I, Mike Dunleavy, Governor of the State of Alaska, under the authority of Article III, Sections 1 and 24 of the Alaska Constitution, establish the Alaska Food Security and Independence Task Force (Task Force) to recommend policies and measures to enhance Alaska’s food security, increase the amount of locally grown and consumed food, wild seafood, and mariculture products, and ensure State agencies are leveraging all available resources to promote, purchase, and advance the growth of Alaska’s food system.
BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE
The goals of this Order are to increase food security, strengthen local economies, and lessen Alaska’s dependence on external foods and supply chains.
The State of Alaska has a vested interest in promoting the health, safety, and wellbeing of its citizens. Other than water, heat, and shelter, a reliable, affordable, and sufficient food supply is the highest need of a society. As an isolated State with limited infrastructure and tremendous dependency on imports, the State of Alaska has a duty to improve the local production, harvest, and growth of foods and increase access to a sufficient supply of nutritious and safe food.
Currently, approximately 95 percent of the food Alaskans purchase is imported, costing roughly two billion dollars annually. This is an enormous wealth transfer from Alaskans to outside entities. During the COVID-19 pandemic global supply chains have been stressed. Furthermore, Alaska is at the end of the supply chain for goods and food coming from the West Coast. At the height of the pandemic, the Port of Seattle was on the brink of closing, which would have drastically impacted the ability for shipping carriers to bring goods and food to Alaska. Most recently, the logistical shock has rippled into grocery stores and family homes across the State, with food and other essentials becoming difficult to obtain due to restrictions on overland trucking between Canada and the United States.
The Task Force will review and provide recommendations to the Governor of the State of Alaska regarding food security goals and policies, and guidelines for state initiatives which, to the maximum extent possible, increase local production, harvest, processing, storage, and use of food products. Once the report is received, there may be further clarification and deliverables identified that would require additional work by the Task Force.
All voting members are appointed by and serve at the pleasure of the Governor. The Governor shall select a Chair and Vice Chair from the members. The Task Force will consist of 16 voting members, and two ex-officio members as detailed below:
Four members who are State of Alaska officials:
• The Commissioner of the Department of Natural Resources or the Commissioner’s designee.
• The Commissioner of the Department of Fish and Game or the Commissioner’s designee.
• The Commissioner of the Department of Environmental Conservation or the Commissioner’s designee.
• The Commissioner of the Department of Military and Veteran’s Affairs or the Commissioner’s designee.
Twelve voting members, who are not state officials, who are appointed by, and serve at the pleasure of the Governor identified as follows:
• One member who represents a city, borough, or municipality in managing the community’s access to food.
• One member who represents an organization that is a representative of Alaska Natives in the State.
• Three members who are active farmers or stock growers in the State.
• One member who is an active commercial harvester of seafood in the State.
• One member who is an active commercial harvester of mariculture in the State.
• One member of the Alaska Farm Bureau or a similar organization that represents agricultural producers in the State.
• One member of the Alaska Food Policy Council or a similar organization that represents food security advocates in the State.
• One member of the General Public.
• Two members who represent an Alaska-based organization, one for-profit, one non-profit that provide Alaskans with food to either purchase or donate.
The Governor requests two ex-officio members, one who is a member of the Alaska State Senate appointed by the Senate President, and one who is a member of the Alaska House of Representatives, appointed by the Speaker of the House. Though not required, it is requested that the ex-officio members be part of the Alaska Grown Legislative Caucus.
The Task Force is jointly assigned to the Department of Fish and Game and Department of Natural Resources for administrative purposes.
DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES
The Task Force shall deliver a report to the Governor by September 1, 2022, as defined below:
• Provide recommendations that increase the procurement and use of Alaska-sourced foods within State and local agencies, institutions, and schools, including any administrative and statutory changes that are required.
• Identify barriers that farmers, stock growers, fishermen, mariculture professionals, and others engaged in the growing, harvesting, or raising of food face when starting a business or getting their products in to the Alaska market. Provide recommendations on how the State can address those obstacles, including through administrative or statutory changes.
• Assess the levels of wild game and fish harvests in Alaska. Suggest measures that would increase the abundance and harvest of wild game, fish, and food by Alaskans.
• Recommend a program to assist communities and households impacted by fishery shortfalls and disasters.
• Identify factors, including regulatory or statutory burdens, that might discourage or prevent locally harvested and produced food from being purchased by federal, state, and local agencies, institutions, and schools.
• Identify research needed to support and encourage increased consumption and production of Alaska sourced within the State.
• Engage with the public to seek additional input on ways to promote the above-listed goals.
• Assess the need for disaster food caches within the State; and how the caches can be developed utilizing Alaskan sourced foods.
• Provide a report and summary of findings and recommendations, including what administrative and statutory changes would be needed to accomplish the recommendations of the Task Force.
• The Chair of the Task Force shall report regularly to the Office of the Governor on activities conducted and issues that arise under this Order.
Task Force members receive no compensation or other remuneration from the State. Members of the Task Force who are not state or federal employees are entitled to per diem and travel expenses in the same manner permitted for members of state boards and commissions. Per diem and travel expenses for members of the Task Force who are a representative of a state or federal agency are the responsibility of that agency.
The Task Force may create advisory-only subcommittees.
The Task Force will meet monthly, at a minimum. Additional meetings may be called by the Chair. The Task Force and its subcommittees will use teleconferencing and other electronic means, to the extent practicable, in order to gain maximum public participation at minimum cost.
At times and locations to be determined by the Chair, the Task Force may convene public meetings to present information and receive comments.
Meeting of the Task Force shall be conducted in accordance with AS 44.62.310 -44.62.319 (Open Meetings Act).
Records of the Task Force are subject to inspection and copying as public records under AS 40.25.110-40.25.220.
This Order takes effect immediately.
DATED this 9th day of February 2022.
The Task Force will sunset on November 30, 2022.