As the COVID 19 pandemic expanded, local boards of health and other municipal bodies, along with market managers, vendors, and shoppers, understandably became concerned about how to operate farmers markets safely. Most winter markets were cancelled and some summer market openings were put on hold.
As we work to respond to and recover from the public health crisis, the Collaborative is launching a process to help develop recommendations for the local food system and shape our priorities for the future.
The COVID-19 pandemic and the impact of the actions taken to protect public health highlights the fragility and interconnectedness of many complex systems. The food system is no exception. Disrupted logistics, including all inputs and outputs, labor, distribution, and all associated activity is the principal cause of the current challenges faced by the food system, as highlighted by The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
New solar siting regulations support the Massachusetts Local Food Action Plan’s recommendations to protect farmland from conversion to solar use, but threaten to reduce sustainability for farms by limiting the amount of land that farmers may use to generate revenue from solar projects.
In response to the spread of COVID-19 and the measures being taken to address it, the Collaborative has compiled this list of readings and resources to keep the MA food system community informed and aware of relevant actions and activities.
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.
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.