When the supply chain weakens, Alaskans will know - Must Read Alaska
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Saturday, June 6, 2020
HomeAnchorage Daily PlanetWhen the supply chain weakens, Alaskans will know

When the supply chain weakens, Alaskans will know

THE ANCHORAGE DAILY PLANET

When the chairman of Tyson Food tells America “the food supply chain in breaking” after multiple meat processing plants across the country are shuttered because of the coronavirus pandemic, it is time to pay attention.

Alaskans should be paying even more attention than most during the ongoing crisis. We find ourselves at the end of a very, very long supply chain.

At one point, some time ago, food security in Alaska was a big deal. Former Gov. Sean Parnell in 2013 set up the Alaska Food Resource Working Group, composed of eight state agency commissioners. It was to recommend policies to increase the purchase and consumption of local wild seafood and farm products and encourage collaboration among fisheries, consumers, Alaska farmers, state and tribal entities, and consumers.

Parnell’s goal was to make Alaska more self-reliant when it comes to food, and more prepared for a major earthquake or other disaster. He wanted to build warehouses to hold enough emergency food in Anchorage and Fairbanks to feed 40,000 people for up to a week after an earthquake or other disaster.

There was a statewide assessment – “Building Food Security in Alaska” – town halls and much talk in some circles. All that has gotten less attention in the years since, and, worse, Alaska has become even less self-reliant. Over the years it has lost its state-run dairy, its meat packing plant and much of its agricultural base. We are ever more dependent on that very long supply chain for our food.

Nowadays, the Alaska Food Policy Council is working toward a “more secure, more self-reliant” food system in the state. State government, despite its economic woes, should step up, too, and make the food system a top priority.

Agriculture should be encouraged with the end goal of having Alaska able to stand on its own for crucial food supplies.

In the Parnell administration, the governor’s Food Resource Working Group was nearly a Cabinet-level effort, giving it the visibility and clout needed to accomplish something.

The effort in the administration of Gov. Mike Dunleavy should be at least that important – especially now. A hungry Alaskan, after all, is a grumpy Alaskan.

Just sayin’.

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Suzanne Downing had careers in business and journalism before serving as the Director of Faith and Community-based Initiatives for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and returning to Alaska to serve as speechwriter for Gov. Sean Parnell. Born on the Oregon coast, she moved to Alaska in 1969.

Latest comments

  • The effort to make Alaska self-sufficient in food supply should be a priority that takes precedence over every state and local effort that involves “non-critical” gov’t programs. We have the ability, land and knowledge to be self sufficient (don’t forget immense fish stocks). We have been furnished with federal ‘Wuhan v’ emergency funds. How better could Alaska spend those funds than to ensure we can feed ourselves if the ‘balloon’ does go up and our supply lines are disrupted. That would benefit every single Alaskan. One crisis at any west coast port could spell disaster for our grocery deliveries. It should be a no brainer. Most of those non-essential and state give-away programs that are proposed and in force now are definitely not “essential” or in most Alaskans’ interest. If Alaska doesn’t wake up to the problems associated with leftist policy and downward spiral of the economy, there won’t be much of an Alaska or America left. And it won’t be long. Being hungry and depending on some one else or the gov’t is not a good plan. I’m not saying conspiracy theory or anything else except having something to eat when Alaskans may be isolated and grocery deliveries from lower 48 cease, for whatever reason. Foolish for Alaska to not look after the citizens first. I have an idea. How about asking those receiving almost $1,000 per week in “unemployment”, to help with farming and/or food production of any kind and maybe learn something about self reliance in the process? Give them something to do except lay around. That ‘boosted’ unemployment will run out this fall. Just when it will be needed most. What then?

  • And then what is “essential” finally dawns in the people of Alaska’s minds.

    .

    Next, everyone tries to be a subsistence hunter.

    • ………or, they will rob you of yours which is why the Canucks ordered everyone have 200# of provisions before they went on the Klondike.

      • I’ve got 200# of ammo. At least.

        .

        Good luck, and good shooting.

  • The meat packing plant is still running. It’s privately owned now by Mike’s Meat from Eagle River. Got a bunch of pork from them from one of my girlfriend’s friend’s farm.

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