Agriculture & Food
Agriculture and Food at IORC
The Idaho Organization of Resource Councils is dedicated to supporting our local farmers and ranchers. Who we choose to buy our food from matters. Food connects us all and when our money is spent at a local store, directly from our farmers or ranchers, or the farmers market, we are creating a stronger local economy. Being close enough to the source to know who is growing, harvesting, and packaging our food goes a long way toward strengthening our ties to ourselves, our communities, and our environment.
The Agriculture and Food Team was born out of this commitment to local, sustainable, and ethical sourcing of our food. We work on a plethora of issues impacting local production and are passionate about finding new ways to connect our communities with local farmers, ranchers, and producers. We believe in the collective power of committed individuals to create a nutritious, sustainable, and joy-filled future for ourselves and generations to come.
Our Organizational Pledge to Buying Local
It is the policy of the Idaho Organization of Resource Councils to use our purchasing power, when possible, to encourage the production and consumption of food that is healthy, affordable, fair, culturally appropriate, and sustainable. By adopting a food procurement policy, the Idaho Organization of Resource Councils seeks positive reform of the food system to create opportunities for farmers and ranchers, provide just compensation and fair treatment for workers, support sustainable farming practices and environmental stewardship , and increase access to fresh and healthy foods.
We Pledge to leverage our purchasing power to support the following values:
- Grow Local Economies: support independent and cooperatively or family owned agricultural operations and other businesses within 150 miles of the event and/or from the Northwest if possible.
- Promote Environmental Sustainability: source from producers that employ sustainable production systems that reduce or eliminate synthetic pesticides and fertilizers; avoid the use of hormones, sub-therapeutic antibiotics, and genetically modified products; conserve soil and water; protect and enhance wildlife habitat and biodiversity; and reduce on-farm energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.
- Value Labor: provide safe and healthy working conditions and fair compensation to all food chain workers, from production to consumption. This includes not asking for donations of food for meals from farms or other businesses we support at any event we host.
- Enhance Animal Welfare: provide healthy and humane care for livestock.
- Commit to Nutrition: accommodate individual dietary needs. Promote health and wellbeing by offering fresh vegetables and fruits, whole grains and lean meats; reducing salt, added sugars, trans-fats and partially hydrogenated oils; and by eliminating artificial additives.
- Celebrate Community through Food: recognize the importance of food traditions and the power of food to build community.
The Idaho Organization of Resource Councils pledges to acquire locally-grown and sustainably raised, seasonal, organic, healthy and nutritious food, whenever possible for any and all events and meetings hosted by the Organization of Resource Councils.
What We’re Working on Now
Pesticide Rule Making: In May 2019, a team of workers in Parma, Idaho were working in a hop field when an aerial pesticide applicator sprayed pesticide on a nearby field. The airborne pesticide caught in the wind and landed on the workers, sickening many and sending them to the hospital. No actions were taken against the aerial applicator or those responsible for creating a safe work environment for the workers. Instead of working to prevent future poisonings, a network of pesticide applicators lobbied Idaho lawmakers to reduce the regulations governing the industry during the 2020 Legislative Session. Our team fought back. The result was to continue the conversation into the summer with a negotiated rule making process with the Idaho State Department of Agriculture. The Agriculture and Food Team is actively participating in this process and organizing community members to submit public comments against the proposed harmful changes. You can find a complete overview and get updates here on the IORC blog.
Supporting Farm Workers: The Agriculture and Food Team was already acutely aware of the conditions farm workers endure to bring us our food. When COVID-19 reached Idaho, we knew that immediate action must be taken in order to support the hard working individuals who grow, harvest, and package the food we enjoy. We partnered with other local organizations to form the Idaho Immigrant Resource Alliance. The Alliance meets weekly and has distributed over 5,000 masks, called on state leaders to promptly translate COVID-19 information to multiple languages, gathered food to distribute to immigrant families, created an informational video about COVID-19 in Spanish, and founded a mutual aid fund to distribute financial resources to families struggling in this crisis. We are working to distribute more masks, bottles of hand sanitizer, resource packets, and create additional informational videos for the community.
Farmers Markets: The Weiser River Resource Council (WRRC) started the Weiser Farmers Market in 2012. The market is a seasonal celebration of local foods. Held every Thursday evening at the Weiser Train Depot during the season, the market supports local producers and vendors.
Legislative- Grocery Tax:
Local Food Resource Guide: The Local Food Resource Guide can be used by consumers and producers to source local food during the COVID-19 outbreak and to continue to support our local food production. Every spring we look forward to attending the farmers markets around the state and offering resources to support. With the arrival of COVID-19 to Idaho the opening day for farmers markets around the state have been postponed. Now more than ever we can use our purchasing power to support our local food infrastructure replacing food imports with fresh, locally grown and processed food supplies. Many local businesses around the state are moving online, having pop-ups, pick-ups, and delivery options available.
Our Past Campaigns and Projects
Unchain the Cupcakes – The Cottage Food Campaign: To promote homegrown prosperity and to grow Idaho’s local food movement IORC launched a statewide grassroots Cottage Food campaign to legalize and regulate Cottage Foods in 2015. The campaign was successful thanks to our members and the Cottage Food Law was passed in Idaho making it legal to sell homemade food directly to consumers.
News from Ag and Food
The second session of the 66th Idaho Legislature wrapped up on March 31. The theme of this session was more of the same old story…
Food access is a cornerstone social justice issue of our lifetime. In 2020 IORC organizers Irene Ruiz and Samantha Guerrero helped create The Idaho Immigrant…
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is initiating rulemaking to protect outdoor and indoor workers from hazardous heat exposure. We ask that you voice…