Massachusetts Food System Collaborative
Massachusetts Food System Collaborative

July 9, 2024

Call to action: Contact senators to support food system amendments!

This week the Massachusetts Senate is considering S.2856, an economic development bond bill. Please call your state senator by THURSDAY (7/11/24) and urge them to support three amendments that would provide needed support for the Commonwealth’s local food system. Find your state senator’s contact information here.

  • Amendment 32: filed by Senator Comerford – will changes the timeline for special permits allowing nonagricultural activities on land in the Agricultural Preservation Restriction program, from a maximum of 5 years to a minimum of 1 year, so that farmers have more agency in conducting nonagricultural activities such as agritourism on their land (language from H.4745). This amendment also allows MDAR to purchase and sell farmland (language from S.2570). This is especially important as the Commonwealth lost 27,000 acres fo farmland from 2017 – 2022, or 5.5% of our remaining farmland. That is more than double the rate of loss of the US overall, with only four states losing farmland at a greater rate. Lastly, this amendment clarifies the primary and direct uses under which land is considered to be in horticultural use, specifying that land used to create products from horticultural crops should still be assessed and taxed as horticultural land, providing direct and deserved tax relief to farmers who are innovating through value-added products (language from S.2570).
  • Amendment 33: filed by Senator Comerford – will strengthen the local food system by appointing a Food System Coordinator to the statewide Food Policy Council under the MA Department of Agricultural Resources (language from S.2570). This amendment also codifies the successful Massachusetts Farm to School Grant Program in statute (language from S.243). Lastly, this amendment enables farms and businesses who donate food to non-profit food distribution organizations, such as food banks, to receive a tax credit (of no more than $5,000 in a taxable year) in an amount equal to the fair market value of the donated food (language from S.920). 
  • Amendment 53: filed by Senator Comerford– will further equity in the agricultural sector. According to the most recent USDA Census of Agriculture, 96.82% of farmers in MA are white. This amendment creates a special legislative commission to study and develop recommendations for promoting equity in agriculture for socially disadvantaged groups in the commonwealth, focusing on opportunities in rural, suburban, and urban agricultural settings (language from S.41). This amendment also creates a new fund, the Next Generation Farmers Fund, for an agricultural workforce development grant program. The fund shall award grants to higher education institutions, vocational technical schools, or community-based organizations to provide workforce development training to first time farmers with priority consideration to programs that serve populations which have previously not had equitable access to the agricultural industry (language from S.2570). 
  • Amendment 296: filed by Senator Edward Kennedy – would clarify the definition of agritourism and place requirements on agritourism for land that is not zoned as agricultural land. This allows farms and communities to profit from agritourism while limiting local zoning disputes.

Contact [email protected] with any questions.


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Massachusetts Food System Collaborative