Today, Governor Mike Dunleavy issued Administrative Order 331 establishing the Alaska Food Security and Independence Task Force. Alaska currently imports 95% of its food supplies at a cost of $2 billion a year. The global pandemic has triggered supply chain disruptions on the West Coast of the United States that continue to impact the regular delivery of food and other essential goods to Alaska. The 18-member task force will be tasked with making recommendations on how to increase all types of food production and harvesting in Alaska, and identify statutory or regulatory barriers preventing our state from achieving greater safety. food.
“For the past two years, Alaskans have walked into grocery stores and been greeted by row after row of empty shelves,” said Governor Dunleavy. “One of the lessons the pandemic has taught us is how vulnerable Alaska could be if regular food shipments from Seattle were to suddenly stop – even for a few days. The good news is that Alaska has tremendous potential to grow, harvest, and catch more nutritious foods for consumption in the state. The task force’s recommendations will lay out a roadmap for my administration, lawmakers, and Alaskan food producers to make Alaska more food safe the next time the supply chain is disrupted.
The working group will have ten main tasks and responsibilities:
- To provide recommendations that increase the sourcing and use of Alaskan foods within state and local agencies, institutions, and schools, including administrative and statutory changes that are necessary.
- Identify barriers that farmers, ranchers, fishers, mariculture professionals, and others engaged in growing, harvesting, or raising food face when starting a business or moving of their products to the Alaskan market. Provide recommendations on how the state can overcome these obstacles, including through administrative or statutory changes.
- Assess harvest levels of wild game and fish in Alaska. Suggest actions that would increase the abundance and harvest of game, fish, and food by Alaskans.
- Recommend a program to help communities and households affected by fishing shortages and disasters.
- Identify factors, including regulatory or statutory burdens, that could discourage or prevent the purchase of locally harvested and produced foods by federal, state, and local agencies, institutions, and schools.
- Identify research needed to support and encourage increased consumption and production of Alaskan foods in the state.
- Engage with the public to get additional feedback on ways to promote the goals listed above.
- Assess the need for food caches in the event of a disaster in the State; and how caches can be developed using Alaskan foods.
- Provide a report and summary of findings and recommendations, including any administrative and statutory changes that would be required to implement the task force’s recommendations.
- The task force chair will report regularly to the governor’s office on activities conducted and issues that arise under this order.
The working group will consist of 16 voting members. Twelve Alaskans representing a cross section of the state’s agriculture, mariculture, and seafood industries and four state commissioners (natural resources, fish and game, environmental conservation, military affairs, and veterans ) or their delegates will sit on the board. Two ex officio members of the Alaska House of Representatives and the Alaska State Senate shall be appointed by the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House.
The AO requests, but does not require, that both legislators be current members of the Alaska Grown Legislative Caucus.
The task force will publish a report of its findings and recommendations no later than September 1, 2022.