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.
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.