A number of climate change measures under consideration in the legislature could have significant impact on agriculture and other food businesses. Recently passed by the Senate, An Act Setting Next Generation Climate Policy (S.2477) is a very complex bill that deserves attention from food system stakeholders as it moves through the legislative process.
Farmers and fishermen rely on state and federal grant programs to help them adapt to climate change and other pressures, and to take advantage of new opportunities and concepts to remain viable. The Collaborative has investigated the spending of many of the grant programs administered by the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR) to help determine if resources are adequately targeting where need is greatest.
On September 27 the Joint Committee on Public Health held a “Food Is Public Health Oversight Hearing” in Greenfield. Speakers included advocates and practitioners from across the Commonwealth, all speaking to the need for programs and investments in healthy eating as critical to protecting public health. A written summary and video of the full hearing is available here.
The Collaborative joined many other stakeholder groups in providing recommendations for the Rural and Working Lands and Climate Change and Resiliency groups that led to the recently released Rural Policy Plan (RPP). There are many important parallels with the Massachusetts Local Food Action Plan (MLFAP), and a number of specific recommendations that are similar or nearly identical.
There are at least 120 bills in the current state legislative session that address farm and fishing issues raised in the Massachusetts Local Food Action Plan. The Collaborative has been working with our Agricultural network seeking stakeholder groups’ perspectives on these bills and engaging them in advocacy on bills supported by the Plan. We have submitted, and have worked with other organizations to submit, written testimony on a number of bills and will continue to reach out to the network and provide testimony, as appropriate, as bills move through the legislative process. You can see our full testimony at the bottom of this page.
A report on the first year of operation for the Healthy Incentives Program (HIP) has been published, laying out patterns of initial use, and identifying issues to address for the long-term health of the program.
The Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR) has proposed composting regulations that, if adopted as written, would be detrimental to the sustainability of farms that rely on their composting operations for revenue or soil building/fertility as well as adaptation to climate change. Details about the proposed changes are here.