Massachusetts Food System Collaborative
Massachusetts Food System Collaborative

June 26, 2019

Climate Change and Agriculture

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. 

From the 20 responses to the survey, the recommendation that ranked most highly is Strengthening support systems for agriculture by increasing funding for government programs, making loans and grants more accessible, and through public-private investments in ag related infrastructure (Farming recommendation 3.1 and 3.2) followed by Help farmers to more effectively mitigate damage to their farmland caused by man-made or natural events and disasters through expanded crop insurance programs and technical assistance (Land recommendation 1.7). The list of relevant Food Plan recommendation summaries and ranking from our survey can be found here.

The overall takeaway from our meeting and continued work around climate change is that farmers and fishermen are ready to take on the challenges of making changes in their operations. However, to address climate change and remain in business farmers and fishermen need multiple levels of public and private investment, education, and technical assistance while they make the required changes to their practices, make use of new technologies, and manage new risks. 

To understand what programs exist to help farmers and fishermen adapt to and/or mitigate climate change, we are surveying nonprofits, and public sector program operators regarding their programs’ functional capacity to provide education and support to producers around extreme weather, drought, sea level rise, water contamination, and other climate-related issues. The survey can be found here.  

The Collaborative is tracking a significant amount of activity and legislation around climate change, including state efforts and funding supporting local planning and action, and statewide activity to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The Collaborative will work with our partners to ensure the concerns of agriculture and fisheries are included in the planning process and funding streams.

The Greater Boston Research Advisory Group has a major effort underway to characterize the anticipated impacts of climate change on the region. They seek input from fishermen, farmers, public health professionals, construction industry workers and representatives, and professionals and advocates advancing equity in Environmental Justice communities in the Greater Boston Area. The survey is here.

To help ensure that the recommendations of the Plan and the perspectives of the Collaborative’s allies are reflected in climate change work, the Collaborative is participating in the Northeast Soil Health Network, and the Climate Change and Resiliency Working Group and the Land Use and Working Lands discussions related to Massachusetts’ Rural Policy Planning process.


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Massachusetts Food System Collaborative