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688 Action Items Found
Develop a revolving loan fund for farm and food business renewable energy projects to provide funds up front to design and build renewable energy projects, removing a significant barrier to expansion.
Support the dual use of land for agriculture and renewable energy systems where compatible for lands with an agricultural preservation restriction or enrolled in Chapter 61A. For example, solar panels located high off the ground and spread apart can be compatible with farming operations, including animal grazing.
Explore an exemption for community energy projects that provide energy to multiple users. Lands under Agricultural Preservation Restrictions (APRs), Chapter 61A, and those that qualify for the agricultural zoning exemption under MGL chapter 40A3 could support additional, larger renewable energy projects so long as the project is sited off of prime farm soils and doesn’t negatively impact future farm productivity.
Ensure a consistent and predictable approach to siting energy facilities on farmland by state agencies. State and quasi-state agencies that regulate and support the energy and farm sectors (Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DOER), MDAR, DEP, and Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC) should hold technical sessions that include a wide array of stakeholders, including farmers, municipalities, and developers to reconcile conflicting approaches.
Support implementation of a smart grid to improve the efficient allocation of electricity and to provide more resilience to blackouts and other disruptions to electricity service.
Provide agriculture-specific recommendations to DOER and MassCEC on including renewable thermal technology, including biofuels, in EOEEA’s Alternative Energy Portfolio Standard Programs
Use solar thermal as a low-cost greenhouse heating option or as supplemental heat source. MassCEC provides incentives for this and they will soon be included in the Alternative Energy Portfolio Standard Programs being developed by EOEEA.
DOER should consider offering year-round funding for rural electrification projects, rather than through bid solicitations.
Explore the feasibility of allowing farmers to pool resources to fund energy projects to share interconnection and upgrade costs.
Explore options for expanding three-phase power to rural communities to spur energy development.
Improve the efficiency of food transportation routes by mapping existing local food distribution and recommending optimized distribution routes. Regional planning agencies and metropolitan planning organizations could provide this research and guidance.
Develop Extension advisory committees of stakeholder representatives to address topical issues, such as livestock, crops, nutrition, energy, pollinators, farm business planning, farm economics, and waste management. These committees would provide guidance on programming and budgets to help ensure that Extension is responsive to the needs of community it serves.
Identify, examine, and pursue a wide spectrum of potential and current revenue sources for UMass Extension that match the current and future needs of the food system in Massachusetts. Ensure that funds raised by UMass Extension from these sources does not result in a reduction in overall support from the University.
Fully fund the 2014 bond authorization that would support the UMass Center for Urban Sustainability in Waltham. Support the Center’s development as an Extension research and education resource for farmers of all types, as well as for homestead gardening and animal husbandry.
Develop a plan to fully staff a revitalized UMass Extension service with community-based educational specialists, campus-based faculty, training specialists in specific topics, economic development practitioners, and research and laboratory services.
Provide on-farm technical assistance from UMass Extension agents.
Develop UMass Extension’s capacity to help farmers understand and respond to demands of new or revised regulations in a timely manner.
Provide education on topics that are relevant to Massachusetts farmers, with a focus on learning to use new technologies and management practices, and meeting food safety requirements.
Develop educational materials about science that is relevant to a range of topical farm management and operations practices, such as organic certification, genetically modified organisms (GMOs), alternative fuels, and others. These materials should address impacts on the environment, public health, and the economy. Assist farmers, retailers, and retail food chain workers in using these materials to educate consumers about these topics.
Encourage UMass Extension collaborations with complementary programs in New England, Massachusetts, and subregions of the state.