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New law boosts local foods

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High Five
Thursday, August 13, 2009

A new House bill that takes effect in January allows public agencies to buy locally produced foods and keep money in Oregon's economy. The previous policy required agencies to accept the lowest bids, which often ruled out pricier local goods.

Last year, Kat West, sustainability manager for Multnomah County, discovered that public agencies in Oregon had not made a great effort to buy local goods, primarily because they were not supposed to. What they were supposed to do was find and accept the lowest responsive bid. If the prison system can get apples cheaper from New Zealand than from Hood River, those were the apples prison purchasing staff were supposed to buy.

What wasn’t calculated in those bids, West says, are the environmental costs – such as carbon emissions – of transporting New Zealand apples to Portland. In addition, West says, public agencies buying local goods keep those dollars in the local economy. And food purchases made from local farmers helps keep local farms viable.

Read the full story at the Portland Tribune.

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