July 26, 2018
2018 Budget Signed: Good news for HIP, other food system priorities
Governor Baker has signed the FY2019 budget.
The budget includes $4 million for the Healthy Incentives Program (HIP), which doubles SNAP households’ purchases of fresh produce when they buy it directly from farmers. This program launched in April 2017 and has already generated more than $5 million in sales for MA farmers and provided tens of thousands of families with fresh, healthy, local food that they would otherwise have been able to afford. Hundreds of farmers and organizations participated in the Campaign for HIP funding which led to this success.
Another victory for the local food system comes in the form of an allocation of $500,000 for Massachusetts’ nine Buy Local organizations. That item had been $300,000 for the past several years, and was increased in recognition of the valuable education, outreach, and technical assistance that the nine organizations provide to farmers and consumers across the state.
The budget also contains:
- $120,000 for the Massachusetts Farm to School Project;
- $100,000 for the Massachusetts Food Trust Program;
- $350,000 for Project Bread’s summer food service outreach program and school breakfast outreach program;
- $250,000 for Project Bread’s Chefs in Schools program;
- $50,000 for a pilot project operated by Grow Food Northampton to connect organic gardening, outdoor exercise, healthy food, food preparation and elementary school aged children in the greater Northampton area;
- $18,385,000 for the Massachusetts Emergency Food Program (MEFAP); and
- An increase in the Dairy Farm Tax Credit by $2 million to a total of $6 million.
Also included in the budget are changes to the law that governs the Agricultural Preservation Restriction (APR) program, beginning the long overdue process of rewriting APR regulations. The new language requires greater transparency in the process and makes some transfers simpler. The changes also give greater oversight authority to the Agricultural Lands Preservation Committee (ALPC), and requires more input from the Board of Agriculture and farmers.
The budget also contains language giving the Department of agricultural resources inspection and other authority to enforce the federal Food Safety Modernization Act.