Today at the Alaska State Fair, Governor Mike Dunleavy signed House Bill 298 (HB 298) establishing the Alaska Food Strategy Task Force and a forgivable loan program, and House Bill 347 (HB347) allowing confidentiality of certain records related to animals.
HB 298, sponsored by Representative Liz Snyder, creates the Alaska Food Strategy Task Force with the goal of improving food security for the long-term benefit of Alaska’s communities, economy, and environment. Additionally, the bill establishes forgivable loan programs for farm development and improvement and meat processing facilities. Loans may be forgiven if the recipient implements an approved business plan, such as clearing of land for agricultural purposes, the purchase or maintenance of buildings, equipment, livestock or feed, and bees or beekeeping.
“I am glad to sign these bills into law today to help support our agricultural and food producer community. House Bill 298 will provide Alaska’s farmers and producers with tools to maintain and grow operations and meet the need of our state. Like the Alaska Food Security Task Force I created earlier this year, the Alaska Food Strategy Task Force will help to support our agriculture industry and growing markets for locally grown and processed foods. Further, the Task Force will help to ensure food security across Alaska – a need that was emphasized by the pandemic,” said Governor Mike Dunleavy. “Thank you to Representative Snyder for looking toward our state’s future in food security.”
“It was an honor to work with the many stakeholders that helped draft House Bill 298, the Food Strategy Task Force bill,” said Rep. Liz Snyder. “I look forward to continuing collaboration with the farmers, food security organizations, restaurants, legislators, and retailers that had a role in its passage.”
HB 347, sponsored by Representative George Rauscher, addresses the need to protect Alaska’s farming community in the instance of testing for and containing a virus outbreak. The bill ensures results are accessible while respecting the privacy and safety of the owners by redacting names and locations.
“This legislation has been 5 years in the making, with the support of both hunting groups and farmers. This bill will help ensure vital testing information from domestic sheep and goats is available to the public without the owner’s personal information being disclosed as well,” said Rep. George Rauscher. “I am very grateful that HB 347 passed both bodies this past session with unanimous support from both the House and Senate as well. “
“Thank you, Representative Rauscher, for your commitment to our farming community. I, along with many in the industry, am happy to have this added protection in place that will keep the community safe and healthy,” said Governor Dunleavy.