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“We have traded our health, our food security, our local economy for highly processed foods, all in the name of food safety.” ~ Greg Hertz
By Pete Kennedy
Montana state Senator Greg Hertz joins the Solari Food Series for a special report on the passage into law of the Montana Local Food Choice Act, Senate Bill 199 (SB 199), which he sponsored and masterfully guided through the legislature. SB 199 allows the unregulated production and sale by local producers of most foods, including unpasteurized dairy products, directly to consumers. This development should provide a substantial boost for small farmers and food artisans in Montana.
One of the biggest obstacles for small-scale food producers is often the regulatory climate in which one-size-fits-all regulations tend to create barriers to entry. This is unfortunate as locally-produced food—whether regulated or not—is often superior in terms of health benefits, food safety and security, as well as contribution to the local economy compared to industrially-produced food.
The COVID crisis with its impact on the food supply has prompted numerous state legislatures to pass bills deregulating the sale of locally-produced food, giving local entrepreneurs a better chance to succeed.
Hertz, who currently owns and operates several grocery stores, explains why he sponsored the Local Food Choice Act even though the new law could cost him some business. He talks about opposition to the bill from the state Department of Livestock, the dairy industry and surprisingly—sustainable agriculture groups. He also discusses possible expansion of the Local Food Choice Act and what needs shoring up in local meat production.
Watch the entire session, which took place on March 17, 3:00 PM – House Human Services (Room 152).