|Posted by Jason Grimm on June 28, 2011 at 9:52 AM|
Johnson County may become Iowa’s third county to establish an official group to promote local foods.
The so-called Johnson County Food Policy Council would review and recommend policies to the Johnson County Board of Supervisors or the Johnson County Department of Public Health on a variety of topics, such as requiring a portion of foods used by public agencies be local or forbidding Styrofoam use in food establishments.
“It’s primarily to discuss opportunities and barriers related to our local food system and a place for the community to bring issues and opportunities to the public’s notice,” said Jason Grimm, a food system planner.
One of the goals is to use and make it easier to use more local foods and thus financially support local farmers and sustainable living practices.
Grimm has been working with the board of supervisors to draft a resolution establishing the council, including its structure, budget and how it would be managed. In previous meetings, supervisors have spoken favorably about establishing the council, and Grimm said he expects a final plan ready for approval in July.
“I think it’s not a bad thing if it promotes local foods. In general, if we can promote local growth and keep prices low, maybe start using it in jails and the local markets, it can promote rural agriculture and smaller producers. It can be helpful,” Supervisor Pat Harney said.
Grimm estimates the council would be made up of 10 to 12 appointed members, with oversight by county staff. The budget could be $5,000 to $30,000 or $40,000 a year depending on if a staff member is hired.
Pottawattamie and Cass counties have established food councils. Former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack signed the Iowa Food Policy Council into law in 2000, but the council ceased operation when the administration changed and grants expired. A new group emerged in 2008 and decided to carry on as the Iowa Food Systems Council with many of the same goals.