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RMFU spearheads state policy council

By Marilyn Bay Wentz

Rocky Mountain Farmers Union representatives were the primary organizers of the first statewide meeting of the Colorado Food and Agriculture Policy Council (CFAPC).

“I am constantly hearing from members about how county, state, and/or federal regulations do not take into account small, specialty crop producers who are trying to deal with regulations set up for large, commodity crop producers. This council could help these folks address the inappropriate, or sometimes outdated regulations to enable small producers to better serve their customers,” said Ashley Krest, RMFU Western Slope field representative.

The meeting, which attracted more than 60 government officials, cooperative extension staff, educators, anti-hunger advocates, public school dieticians and producers was held Aug. 11, in Brighton, Colo. The purpose of the meeting was to share information, network, and discuss formation of a statewide council. Five regional councils have been meeting for a year or more.

“I see the next few years being truly formative years for a Colorado Food and Agricultural Policy Council to get off the ground and gain recognition,” said Krest. “The working group is currently concentrating on broadening its regional, agricultural focus to include representation from economic development, environment, food security and government sectors.”

The purpose of the CFAPC is to recommend and advocate policies that bring about positive improvements to the current food system from the perspectives of four major sectors: agriculture, economic development, environment, and food security/hunger/nutrition. Projects and policy initiatives vary from one area council to the next. Some groups are working with school food service departments to get locally-grown food served in local schools. Others are finding ways to link farmers and farmers markets with excess food linked to food banks. The groups are called policy councils because much of the work to fulfill the mission requires changes in local, state or national policy. For more information, log on to www.oakhavenpc.org/FoodAgPolicy or e-mail Krest at ashley.krest@rmfu.org.