INDIANAPOLIS -- Hoosier farmers and local food advocates Tuesday shared with lawmakers ideas and barriers to advance the state’s local food movement.
The program called Indiana Grown, launched in July, markets agricultural products grown and processed in the state to retailers, restaurants and consumers. While its success can’t yet be measured, early response – including significant growth in membership – is encouraging. But Purdue Extension Local Foods Coordinator Jodee Ellett, who served on the Indiana Grown Commission, says the state can do more by providing financial incentives.
“Perhaps it is tax rebates for restaurants who purchase from the 100 percent Indiana Grown label or the establishment of a public-private loan or grant fund,” Ellett said.
But while Ellett and Indiana Grown explore ways to advance the movement, producers say a major barrier for consumers interested in local products is food safety. And farmers say that barrier is compounded by confusion over food safety regulations – in Indiana, food safety rules are monitored and enforced by two different agencies: the State Health Department and the Board of Animal Health.