Legislature(2005 - 2006)CAPITOL 106


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05:18:29 PM Start
05:18:39 PM HCR34
05:29:36 PM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Moved Out of Committee
HCR 34-ALASKA AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTS FOR TOURISTS                                                                              
5:18:39 PM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR NEUMAN announced  that the only order  of business would                                                               
be  HOUSE CONCURRENT  RESOLUTION  NO. 34,  relating to  promoting                                                               
Alaska grown  produce and food  products to the  visitor industry                                                               
through the Arctic Fresh program.                                                                                               
5:19:09 PM                                                                                                                    
JANE PIERSON,  Staff to Representative  Jay Ramras,  Alaska State                                                               
Legislature,  explained  that  the  intent of  the  Arctic  Fresh                                                               
program  is  to bring  together  the  [Division] of  Agriculture,                                                               
farmers,   related   farm   associations,   processors,   seafood                                                               
processors, distributors, the  visitor industry, restaurants, and                                                               
related culinary support associations  to provide the visitors to                                                               
Alaska with wholesome, quality Alaska  produce and products.  She                                                               
opined that this  program should provide a  win-win situation for                                                               
everyone  involved.   She added  that the  establishment of  this                                                               
program  is  designed to  shift  the  buying preferences  of  the                                                               
visitor  industry,  thereby  creating an  additional  market  for                                                               
Alaska  farmers and  producers to  sell  their goods  as well  as                                                               
providing  visitors  throughout  the   state  with  fresh  Alaska                                                               
produce  and products.   She  further  added that  it's also  the                                                               
intent of  the program  to work  hand-in-hand with  other already                                                               
established programs,  such as the  Alaska Grown program  and the                                                               
Alaska Seafood  Marketing Institute (ASMI)'s Wild  Alaska Seafood                                                               
campaign, thereby  creating brand  recognition for  Alaska's fine                                                               
5:20:23 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE KERTTULA  requested that  Ms. Pierson  discuss how                                                               
[the  Arctic Fresh  program] is  going to  differ and/or  overlap                                                               
with the Alaska Grown program.                                                                                                  
MS.  PIERSON reiterated  that the  plan  is to  have [the  Arctic                                                               
Fresh program]  work hand-in-hand with the  Alaska Grown program.                                                               
She informed the committee that  last year there were carrots and                                                               
potatoes  that  were  warehoused   and  didn't  get  distributed.                                                               
Therefore, the  hope is  that a  market can  be created  with the                                                               
visitor  industry  so  that  there  will  be  another  place  for                                                               
[farmers and producers] to sell their products.                                                                                 
5:21:15 PM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR RAMRAS  remarked that [the]  Alaska Grown  [program] has                                                               
been  highly  successful  at selling  Alaska  grown  carrots  and                                                               
potatoes in Fred  Meyer and Safeway grocery stores.   However, he                                                               
noted that at  the restaurant level, for  on premise consumption,                                                               
there's  no  buying preference  expressed  by  chefs and  kitchen                                                               
managers.   He relayed that [the  committee] wanted to set  up an                                                               
alternate  program, under  the same  umbrella, which  requires no                                                               
funding and no fiscal note.  He  further noted that at the end of                                                               
the year/tourist season, it would  be a scoring mechanism for the                                                               
Alaska  Hotel and  Lodging Association  (AkH&LA)  and the  Alaska                                                               
Travel  Industry  Association  (ATIA),  who  by  switching  their                                                               
buying preference, would be able  to buy, acquire, and use Alaska                                                               
grown  products.    The legislation  provides  an  incentive  for                                                               
[farmers  and producers],  statistically, to  keep score  under a                                                               
separate  record   keeping,  rather   than  to   just  contribute                                                               
incrementally  to  the  20-year   success  of  the  Alaska  Grown                                                               
5:23:15 PM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR NEUMAN referred to a  meeting in Fairbanks which allowed                                                               
for   the   opportunity   to    speak   with   tourism   industry                                                               
representatives,  some   of  who   are  already   selling  Alaska                                                               
products.  He  opined that [HCR 34 and the  Arctic Fresh program]                                                               
would help  identify those in  the [tourism] industry as  well as                                                               
the  restaurant  [business]  who  want  to  ensure  that  they're                                                               
selling the mystique of Alaska.                                                                                                 
5:24:11 PM                                                                                                                    
LARRY   DeVILBISS,   Director,   Central  Office,   Division   of                                                               
Agriculture, Department  of Natural Resources, relayed  that [the                                                               
Division of  Agriculture] is  very happy to  see the  step toward                                                               
wider distribution of Alaska grown  products.  He further relayed                                                               
that the  division already received  a phone call from  the Delta                                                               
Meat  and Sausage  Co.  in Delta  Junction,  inquiring about  the                                                               
Arctic  Fresh [program]  because  it had  already received  phone                                                               
calls from hotels  wanting to know whether they  could buy Alaska                                                               
meat.  He opined that this  is just the beginning of what's going                                                               
to happen before the program is even publicized.                                                                                
CO-CHAIR  RAMRAS inquired  as to  the [large  amount] of  carrots                                                               
and/or potatoes  that were thrown away  at the end of  the season                                                               
last year because [farmers and  producers] weren't able to find a                                                               
market.  He asked, "Do you have any kind of statistic on that?"                                                                 
MR.  DeVILBISS  acknowledged  that   last  August,  the  division                                                               
documented 1,500  tons of  potatoes that had  to be  thrown away.                                                               
He noted that the product was  good, but the market didn't absorb                                                               
it.  He further noted that  this year, the division is looking at                                                               
an inventory of carrots which  are in good condition.  Therefore,                                                               
by May, the  industry is going to  be in a good  position to kick                                                               
off [the season] with at least carrots and potatoes.                                                                            
5:27:00 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  LYNN inquired  as  to  whether homeless  shelters                                                               
would be  able to utilize  these potatoes that were  thrown away.                                                               
He  opined that  it  seems  almost sinful  to  discard that  many                                                               
potatoes when there are people out there who are hungry.                                                                        
MR.  DeVILBISS  explained  that   [the  potatoes]  are  owned  by                                                               
individual farmers  and the expense  of getting them  to homeless                                                               
shelters or food  banks would be almost as great  as getting them                                                               
to the marketplace.   He surmised that those  locations would not                                                               
be able  to absorb  large quantities of  [potatoes].   He further                                                               
surmised that  the farmers  would be willing  to work  with those                                                               
agencies willing to pick up the potatoes.                                                                                       
REPRESENTATIVE LYNN inquired as to  whether there was any attempt                                                               
to communicate  with the homeless shelters  regarding the surplus                                                               
MR. DeVILBISS  responded that  there wasn't  [communication] from                                                               
his office.                                                                                                                     
CO-CHAIR  NEUMAN,  in  regard  to  getting  product  to  homeless                                                               
shelters, remarked  that it would  be in direct  competition with                                                               
[farmers and producers'] own sales.                                                                                             
REPRESENTATIVE  LYNN  commented  that these  are  products  which                                                               
[farmers and producers]  couldn't dispose of anyway  - the market                                                               
had absorbed  all it was  going to  and [the potatoes]  were just                                                               
5:29:13 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE DAHLSTROM moved to report  HCR 34 out of committee                                                               
with  individual  recommendations  and  the  accompanying  fiscal                                                               
notes.  There being no objection,  HCR 34 was reported out of the                                                               
House  Special Committee  on Economic  Development, International                                                               
Trade and Tourism.                                                                                                              

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