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688 Action Items Found
Where needed, develop model contracts and leases that municipalities can use to lease city-owned land for farming. Train municipal land use managers and planners on these tools.
Ensure that statewide zoning reform reflects the concerns of the agricultural community over potential loss of value and equity.
Educate municipal Planning Boards and Agricultural Commissions about the use of Conservation Subdivision/Natural Resources Protection Zoning and accessory apartment bylaws as tools to promote compact development, and provide technical support to communities seeking to adopt and use these zoning tools.
Consider state legislation to enable communities to further reduce property taxes on farmland in exchange for term easements.
Encourage and support Agricultural Commissions and, in communities where there are no Agricultural Commissions, other municipal boards, land trusts, and farm organizations, in: educating landowners about Chapter 61/61A/61B, farmland protection and conservation programs, and land listing, linking and matching services; inventorying current and potential farmland in town; and identifying opportunities for restoring active farming on land that has been abandoned.
Provide technical assistance and model zoning bylaws and ordinances to encourage municipalities to support the use of land, rooftops, and unused infrastructure for urban agriculture.
Encourage more cities to adopt Right to Farm bylaws and ordinances.
Provide more public education on urban food production techniques in community gardens and home gardens, such as growing vegetables, composting, keeping bees, chickens, and other animals.
Provide more public education on best management practices for urban gardening in locations with known or suspected soil contamination. Provide funding for soil testing.
Enact pending legislation to ensure no net loss of land protected under Article 97 of the state constitution.
Expand and strengthen Executive Order 193 and the Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act (MEPA). Convene a working group to develop recommendations for doing so, including how to address renewable alternative energy (e.g. solar) development on agricultural land.
Analyze impact of EEA’s 2013 policy changes related to solar incentives, and develop recommendations (in conjunction with recommendations developed under Action 3.4.2) to further incentivize commercial solar development on existing infrastructure or on lands with marginal natural resource value.
Develop guidance for farmers and municipal officials around solar development and the types of arrays and installation techniques that minimize the long-term impact on agricultural resources.
Provide adequate funding for APR Program stewardship. Consider a dedicated fund for this purpose, as was proposed in the 2014 Environmental Bond. Include outreach to landowners around farm transfer and succession strategies as part of APR Program stewardship.
Encourage State agencies that manage state-owned land that is currently or was formerly farmed to work with MDAR to develop management plans that allow continued farming of the land, consistent with the purpose for which the land was protected.
Explore the need, cost, and interest among APR landowners in selling Options to Purchase at Agricultural Value (OPAVs) on existing APRs that do not have them.
Re-establish the state Wetlands Protection Act oversight/advisory committee. Task the Committee with analyzing how farmland across the Commonwealth has been impacted by state and federal wetlands laws and regulations, and the potential impacts of restoring prior farmland to active agricultural use. Task the Committee with developing recommendations related to restoration of prior farmlands to active agricultural use and the need and advisability of statutory or regulatory changes related to the Act’s agricultural provisions, including the 5-year production window to qualify for the agricultural exemption.
Update the state Farming in Wetlands guide (last updated in 1996), and include new examples of situations involving the Wetlands Protection Act agricultural exemption. Provide training to farmers and Agriculture Commissions on the guide and the agricultural exemption. Require Conservation Commission members to take a training course on the agriculture exemption.
Pursue a program that would allow towns to obtain better insurance rates if Conservation Commission members attend trainings, similar to local Planning Board training discounts.
Encourage greater communication and joint training, workshop presentations, and fact sheet development between MA Association of Agricultural Commissions and MA Association of Conservation Commissions.