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.
Two bills that modify chapter 61A that would provide short term tax relief to farmers when repairing or constructing a broad array of structures and buildings on farmland are being considered by the Joint Committee on Revenue.
As a follow up to the Collaborative’s March gathering to discuss how to support farmers in climate change mitigation and remediation, we asked meeting attendees to rank the importance of the 30 land and farming recommendation summaries from the MA Local Food Action Plan related to helping farmers and fishermen cope with climate change. These recommendations ranged from better government support, to increased monitoring of conditions, to expanded sales support for fisheries.
The Campaign for HIP Funding has started off the 2019 budget cycle in full force, with tremendous support from legislators, a great lobby day, and the development of some new tools for advocates. The campaign steering committee has developed a $8.5 million ask for HIP in FY20. This will be enough funding to operate the program year-round, allow for moderate continued growth, and allow a few new farms to become vendors in underserved areas.
More than 200 advocates and practitioners from all sectors of the food system attended the 2nd annual Massachusetts Food System Forum on December 12 in Leominster. The day was spent highlighting food system stakeholders’ work over the past year, and planning for collaborative action to come.