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688 Action Items Found
Fully expend existing bond authorizations provided for the APR Program in the 2008 and 2014 Environmental Bond by 2018, and establish an annual bond cap that allows maximum leveraging of federal farmland protection funds. Increase funding for the APR Program in the next Environmental Bond consistent with goals set in the Farmland Action Plan. See Recommendation 2.1.
Create dedicated APR funding specifically for projects not eligible for NRCS’ Agricultural Land Easement (ALE) program.
Increase the APR program’s current per-acre cap.
Task the ALPC with reviewing current APR program policies related to housing, farm infrastructure, the 5% impervious surface limit, and limits on renewable energy production if sited away from productive agricultural lands, and recommending changes as appropriate.
Work with USDA-NRCS to include in the state Farmland Action Plan any elements needed to enable the Plan to be used as an alternative pathway for ALE program eligibility. See Recommendation 2.1.
Allow pre-acquisitions of farmland through the ALE and APR program.
Eliminate the requirement that land be in active agricultural use for 2 years to be eligible for the APR program.
Support revisions to the Community Preservation Act that will provide additional funding to the Trust. Encourage communities to adopt the CPA, which provides funding streams for open space protection (including agricultural land) and affordable housing, as well as recreation and historic preservation.
Provide technical assistance to town Community Preservation Committees, Agricultural Commissions and land trusts about how CPA funds can be used to support farmland protection, as well as affordable housing associated with farmland.
Increase the state conservation tax credit, currently at $2 million annually, to $5 million annually, and improve its use with the APR Program.
Task MDAR and the ALPC with convening an annual forum to evaluate progress through the APR Program and to invite stakeholder input on APR program policies.
Establish a coalition of agriculture, conservation, forestry, and smart growth organizations to work together and with the ALPC and state and federal agencies to identify and take action on common issues and priorities around farmland protection.
Through the state Farmland Action Plan, task EEA with identifying land owned by the state and counties that is either in current agricultural production or suitable for agricultural production, with input from other state agencies and departments. Ensure that EEA, and other state agencies as needed, have adequate resources to undertake this assessment and to assist in Action 3.2. See Recommendation 2.1.
For land identified through the inventory as suitable for agricultural production and as appropriate per controlling agency mission, establish a process for negotiating potential agricultural use on parcels with the appropriate state agencies.
Create standard policies around farming state-owned land, allowing normal agricultural practices so long as they are not inconsistent with mission of the controlling agency and there is recognition of any restrictions on the parcel in question.
Open state-owned woodlands to maple syrup production.
Change state law or policy to enable state agencies to use leases longer than the current 5-year maximum licenses on state-owned land.
Change state law to allow state agencies to retain and reinvest the revenues they receive from leasing farmland to farmers. Develop guidelines around lease fees.
Change state law to give town Agricultural Commissions, at a town’s discretion, authority to manage and lease suitable town-owned land for agricultural use. Train Agricultural Commissions on how to work with town land managers to make suitable town-owned land available for leasing, and on where to find examples of model farm leases.
Provide technical assistance to municipalities to identify suitable municipally-owned land, including parks, schools, and open land, for food production. Encourage municipalities to partner with community garden and other non-profit urban growing groups to grow on underutilized public lands.