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688 Action Items Found
Solicit public and stakeholder input to assist Extension in developing plans for management of crops and animals that may be necessary to adapt to the effects of climate change.
Offer Extension trainings and technical assistance to urban farmers on relevant topics.
Support Extension research and development for crops including grapes, hops, grain, fruits (cider apples, for example), and other ingredients for distilled beverage products and other high growth food categories.
Develop Extension resources and assistance for home gardening, food seasonality, selection, preparation, and preserving.
Encourage and coordinate collaboration among other state Extension services to reduce overlap, fill gaps in demand, and improve interstate cooperation.
Create a network of education and technical service providers that includes government agencies, nonprofits, the UMass system and Extension, the Massachusetts Association of Conservation Districts, technical high schools, other private and public educational institutions, regulators, and others, to ensure that the work of these groups is relevant to the needs of the farming sector, and to reduce redundancies and improve communication across sectors.
Facilitate coordination among nonprofit service providers so that education and technical assistance offered is relevant to the contemporary challenges farmers face, and presented in ways that are accessible to a broad range of farmers, including next generation farmers and New American farmers.
Improve programs offered by MDAR and UMass Extension to aid farmers in understanding and addressing the demands of the federal Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), other federal food safety regulations, and third party audit systems, particularly as they relate to farmers’ ability to sell at farmers markets and access other retail and wholesale outlets.
Promote and leverage UDSA, NRCS, and other federal grant and technical assistance programs to meet goals relating to increasing market share and production, and provide technical assistance for grant applications and compliance with program requirements.
Increase funding and support for vocational and agricultural high school farmer training programs, as well as community college hands-on agricultural programs.
Establish and support regional and local crop breeding programs and seed libraries to facilitate geographically strategic genetic preservation and to address the impacts of climate change.
As new regulations or revisions to existing ones are considered, regulators should work directly with stakeholders, including providers of technical, educational, and financial assistance, to produce a consensus draft of new regulations prior to their release for review by the general public. Regulators and stakeholders should work together to craft regulations that are based on farming practices that are currently achievable; identify how these practices can be improved over time; and develop processes for making such improvements, such as allowing for extended phase-in periods, and providing education and technical assistance.
Ensure that regulatory processes are transparent; that they operate in a timely and predictable fashion; and that they are appropriate to the size of the farm being regulated.
Train and manage regulators to enforce regulations consistently, and to offer technical assistance to farmers so that compliance concerns can be remedied quickly. Ensure that regulators who conduct on-site farm inspections are well-versed in farming issues and are able to understand and address specific concerns found on one farm in a broader context.
Establish a circuit rider program at MDAR with staff who can visit farms in a non-enforcement capacity to explain regulations and programs available through the department that may aid with compliance.
Review regulations at least every 10 years to ensure that the standards they set match the reality of current agricultural practices and needs and other concerns.
Facilitate improved communication among agencies and stakeholders with a focus on balancing regulations and farm viability.
Review all state programs, regulations, and laws relevant to farming that include a definition of farming or agriculture and, where possible, establish common definitions as the basis for a consistent and understandable set of rules for farmers to follow.
Engage farmers and other relevant stakeholders in a review of nutrient management regulations; update as needed.
Establish a state livestock care and standards board to ensure that livestock is treated humanely, and that state requirements are based on the standards of practice and the values of Massachusetts farmers, consumers, and residents.