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Missoula County backs plans to study local food production, consumption and barriers

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Posted at 11:39 AM, May 04, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-04 13:39:27-04

MISSOULA — With locally sourced food growing in popularity and importance, Missoula County on Tuesday placed its support behind a countywide food assessment and pledged to provide any data to support the effort.

It also backed the Community Food and Agriculture Coalition’s pursuit of a competitive USDA grant to help fund the assessment.

“This money would cover a county-wide food assessment,” said Commissioner Josh Slotnick. “That’s looking at who’s producing food, who’s eating it, where, where are people buying it, and what obstacles they’re facing.”

Last year, the city and county teamed up to form the Joint Food Policy Board. The resolution creating the board suggested that issues related to food and agriculture are critical to the goals established in the city and county growth policies, along with the city’s climate action plan.

It also suggests that the county is losing many of its working farms and ranches due to low economic returns related to the global food system. Climate change also poses a threat, the resolution notes.

Slotnick said the proposed Community Food Assessment would play a significant role in the Food Policy Board’s ability to recommend policies to elected officials that strengthen the local food system.

“This would yield a bunch of data that would really inform any of our efforts going forward on how best to address these issues,” Slotnick said. “We’d really be able to make great use of the information.”