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Task force established for food security and independence

Gov. Dunleavy announces task force to aid food security
Updated: Feb. 13, 2022 at 10:00 AM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Gov. Mike Dunleavy issued Administrative Order 331 on Wednesday, establishing a Food Security and Independence Task Force.

The task force will be comprised of 18 members, according to a press release from the governor’s office, which will include the commissioners of the state Department of Natural Resources, Department of Fish and Game, Department of Environmental Conservation and the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, as well as 12 Alaskans from the farming, mariculture, or seafood industries.

Additionally, two ex-officio, non-voting members from the Alaska Legislature will serve on the task force. The task force was announced in a press release issued on Jan. 9, which recommended that the two legislators chosen to serve should be current members of the Alaska Grown Legislative Caucus.

The release states that the task force will meet monthly and will not receive compensation from the state other than per diem travel and food expenses. The task force may create advisory only subcommittees, and are charged with 10 separate duties.

The administrative order states that “the goals of this order are to increase food security, strengthen local economies, and lessen Alaska’s dependence on external foods and supply chains.”

Among the 10 duties the task force is charged with are recommendations to increase use of Alaska-sourced foods in local agencies, institutions and schools, identifying barriers local producers are faced with when starting businesses or getting Alaskan products to market. The task force has also been asked to determine a need for disaster “food caches” and how they could be developed by using locally sourced foods.

Dunleavy hinted at the administrative order during his State of the State address last month. Dunleavy discussed the disruption to the supply chain and the impacts that have been felt in local grocery stores.

“One of the lessons the pandemic taught us is how vulnerable Alaska could be if the regularly scheduled shipments of food shipped up from Seattle were to suddenly stop — even a few days,” Dunleavy said in the release. “The good news is Alaska has tremendous potential to grow, harvest and catch more nutritious food for in-state consumption. The recommendations from the task force will draw a roadmap for my administration, legislators and Alaska’s food producers to make Alaska more food secure the next time the supply chain is disrupted.”

The task force is also charged with recommending programs to assist Alaskan communities that were negatively impacted by shortfalls of traditionally productive fisheries.

The task force is also charged determining the level of wild fish and game harvests in Alaska and suggesting measures that would “increase abundance,” engaging with the public, and reporting their findings to the governor’s office.

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