Massachusetts Food System Collaborative
Massachusetts Food System Collaborative

August 15, 2019

Climate Change, Farming and the GreenWorks Bill

The Collaborative continues to work with our Ag Network and other groups and organizations on climate change and its impact on farmers and fishermen. We were fortunate to be able to participate in the recent workgroup on climate change and resiliency organized to provide input and recommendations to the Rural Policy Advisory Commission’s draft Rural Policy Plan.

One core message we have heard in all our work around climate change is that farmers, foresters, and fishermen have land assets and other resources critical to effectively addressing climate change, both in terms of adaptation as well as mitigation. Adaptation is changing the way we do things due to changes in systems brought about by climate change, while mitigation is doing things that lessen or make up for the causes of climate change. They are not necessarily mutually exclusive and often an action or activity may address both.

Another core message from the Working Lands and Climate groups of the Rural Policy Advisory Commission is that public efforts cannot be effective if they are not part of a more comprehensive plan that addresses both “upstream” and “downstream” conditions. In other words, for effective working lands policy and climate change responses, large areas of land, owned by multiple private and public parties, affect and are effected by the actions of each other. Without cooperation and collaboration between all of the landowners in a system, individual efforts are not likely to be as effective, or potentially not effective at all.  Farmers can and do provide water flow management, water infiltration and aquifer recharge, wetland management and water filtration, remove carbon and lower greenhouse gasses, among other ecosystem services that are key to adaptation, resiliency, and mitigation.

With this in mind, the Collaborative has provided testimony on the GreenWorks $1 billion, H3997, that has passed the House and is now before the Senate Committee on Bonding, Capital Expenditures and State Assets. We noted that the Commonwealth’s agricultural system (including fishing) can and should play a significant role in meeting the legislation’s goals as expressed in the bill. We proposed additions to the bill to facilitate that participation and will continue to foster and support wide collaboration on this and other issues set forth in the MA Local Food Action Plan. You can see our testimony here


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Massachusetts Food System Collaborative