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688 Action Items Found
Enact legislation that provides a tax credit for agricultural buildings, exempting new or reconstructed agricultural buildings essential to a farm operation from local property taxes for a period of 10 years, provided the building remains in agricultural use.
Expand current law that allows towns to vote to waive excise tax on farm animals and equipment to include incorporated farming operations.
Enact legislation to exempt farmland eligible for Chapter 61A from municipal storm or floodwater fees.
To address concerns over potential loss of revenue to rural communities, explore ways to provide financial incentives to communities that enact farm-friendly zoning and tax policies, including through the Baker Administration’s Commonwealth Compact initiative.
Modify Chapter 61A to direct the Farmland Valuation Advisory Commission to guide and limit municipalities setting their own farmland values, to ensure that values are based on use value, not sales value. The University of Massachusetts’ Department of Resource Economics should provide increased resources and expertise to the Farmland Valuation Advisory Committee in evaluating and updating farmland values across the Commonwealth.
Develop 61A valuation for forestland where trees are tapped for maple products.
Task the Department of Revenue (DOR) with creating a guidance document on Chapter 61A for local assessors and appraisers.
Expand “best practices” in Baker Administration’s Community Compact initiative to include zoning that allows ancillary commercial activities on farm properties, including accessory apartments.
Fully expend all existing bond authorizations for farm viability by 2018, and increase funding for the FVEP in subsequent authorizations.
Fund the APR Improvement Program (AIP) at a level that meets program demand, and expand AIP eligibility to farmland protected with Conservation Restrictions.
Educate commercial lenders about current values of permanently protected land, to encourage lending for farm infrastructure on protected land.
Task the Agricultural Lands Preservation Committee with a review of APR regulations to consider whether regulatory or policy changes are needed to promote farm viability and allow for needed farm infrastructure.
Convene a working group to develop recommendations around housing on APRs.
Train Agriculture and Conservation Commissions on actions farmers may take under current law to manage on and off-farm beaver activity to avoid property damage. If needed, consider changes to state law to allow farmers recourse in the event of off-farm beaver activity that is damaging a farm’s crops or farmland.
Advocate for federal crop insurance products that would cover the loss of fruit trees and other perennial crops in the event of vandalism, flooding, wildlife, or other damage not covered by existing crop insurance policies.
Increase technical assistance to farmers around crop and livestock-specific climate change adaptation strategies. Include climate change adaptation strategies as eligible practices under USDA’s Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP).
Establish a legislatively-appointed task force to develop a state Farmland Action Plan, and provide necessary funding for its development. Members of the task force should include representatives of state agencies, farm and conservation organizations, University of Massachusetts, and other academic institutions with expertise in agricultural land data analysis, modeling, and mapping, regional planning agencies, and USDA-NRCS.
Create a statewide TDR credit bank and seek startup funding to get it established.
Clarify through statute that municipalities may develop regional Transfer of Development Rights (TDR) programs, as has been suggested in versions of state zoning reform legislation.
Update the TDR model in the EOEEA toolkit and provide interested communities with technical assistance on how to implement TDR in their town or municipality.