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162 Action Items Found
Expand “best practices” in Baker Administration’s Community Compact initiative to include zoning that allows ancillary commercial activities on farm properties, including accessory apartments.
Increase the APR program’s current per-acre cap.
Task the ALPC with reviewing current APR program policies related to housing, farm infrastructure, the 5% impervious surface limit, and limits on renewable energy production if sited away from productive agricultural lands, and recommending changes as appropriate.
Work with USDA-NRCS to include in the state Farmland Action Plan any elements needed to enable the Plan to be used as an alternative pathway for ALE program eligibility. See Recommendation 2.1.
Allow pre-acquisitions of farmland through the ALE and APR program.
Eliminate the requirement that land be in active agricultural use for 2 years to be eligible for the APR program.
Support revisions to the Community Preservation Act that will provide additional funding to the Trust. Encourage communities to adopt the CPA, which provides funding streams for open space protection (including agricultural land) and affordable housing, as well as recreation and historic preservation.
Increase the state conservation tax credit, currently at $2 million annually, to $5 million annually, and improve its use with the APR Program.
Task MDAR and the ALPC with convening an annual forum to evaluate progress through the APR Program and to invite stakeholder input on APR program policies.
Change state law or policy to enable state agencies to use leases longer than the current 5-year maximum licenses on state-owned land.
Change state law to allow state agencies to retain and reinvest the revenues they receive from leasing farmland to farmers. Develop guidelines around lease fees.
Ensure that statewide zoning reform reflects the concerns of the agricultural community over potential loss of value and equity.
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.
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.
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.
Enact legislation to modify state estate tax to allow farmland to be valued according to its current use.
Consider eliminating state capital gains tax on farmland that is sold to a farmer. The sale should be subject to a look-back provision, to ensure the land stays in active agriculture for a period of years.