July 26, 2018
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:
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.