Warnick legislation to improve state food supply clears Senate

The state Senate approved legislation from state Sen. Judy Warnick, R-Moses Lake that would formalize a public-private partnership to improve the state’s food-supply system. Senate Bill 6091 outlines goals of the Washington Food Policy forum, to include support for small farms, increasing the availability of food grown in the state, and reducing food insecurity.

“A system that ensures a secure, abundant supply of healthy food is vital to Washington’s economy,” said Warnick, R-Moses Lake. “Agricultural products are worth over $10 billion to the state’s economy, supporting over 150,000 jobs on nearly 36,000 mostly family-owned farms and billions of dollars in exports. This group will provide valuable insights into improving our state’s food supply and support our agricultural producers.”

The food policy forum will be overseen by the state Conservation Commission and Department of Agriculture and include a broad group of stakeholders including legislators, industry experts, community groups and academicians. Under Warnick’s legislation, members of the forum will provide a report to the Legislature and governor by October 2021 and in odd-numbered years thereafter.

“The food-supply system is complex, and we need to ensure we have a broad base of expertise at the table. The forum members will be looking at ways to improve the regulatory environment for our producers, best use of farmland and ways to coordinate our agricultural efforts in the best way for our citizens,” said Warnick.

The bill was approved unanimously and now heads to the House of Representatives for consideration.