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Rep. Hurlburt Wants More Connecticut-Grown Food

By Larry Perosino, Connecticut General Assembly (03-18-10)

  MARCH 22, 2010 --

State Representative Bryan Hurlburt, who represents Ashford, Tolland and Willington in the General Assembly, has introduced legislation to encourage the production of more Connecticut-grown food.

Hurlburt's bill (HB5419) would allow farmers to sell "acidified" food products they produce such as pickles and salsa directly from their farms or at farmers' markets. In addition, current limits on poultry farmers for the number turkeys and chickens they can produce yearly would increase to 5,000 and 20,000 respectively.

"Too often we forget that farming in Connecticut isn't just a hobby, it's a multi-billion dollar industry that sustains thousands of jobs throughout the state," said Hurlburt, who serves as vice-chair of the Environment Committee. "Unfortunately, we continue to witness a decline in our agricultural heritage and it is compromising our ability to produce locally grown food."

The legislation also establishes a Farm Training Jobs Program through the Department of Agriculture. Some of the instruction topics would include fresh food processing and packaging, as well as retailing and the use of renewable energy systems.

A final provision redirects federally collected milk fees to the Connecticut Milk Promotion Board for the purpose of promoting dairy farms and milk consumption. Hurlburt noted that the federal government sets milk prices and Connecticut farmers are now losing as much as a dollar a gallon based on fast rising production costs leaving them at a severe disadvantage to out of state agribusinesses.

There are about 150 dairy farms in the state, down from 210 in 2007 and 500 in 1990. According to a University of Connecticut report, the dairy industry supports about 4,200 jobs and generates over $1 billion in annual sales.

Hurlburt's proposal is currently being considered by the Legislature's Environment Committee.



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