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65 Action Items Found
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.
Expand and strengthen Executive Order 193 and the Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act (MEPA). Convene a working group to develop recommendations for doing so, including how to address renewable alternative energy (e.g. solar) development on agricultural land.
Analyze impact of EEA’s 2013 policy changes related to solar incentives, and develop recommendations (in conjunction with recommendations developed under Action 3.4.2) to further incentivize commercial solar development on existing infrastructure or on lands with marginal natural resource value.
Develop guidance for farmers and municipal officials around solar development and the types of arrays and installation techniques that minimize the long-term impact on agricultural resources.
Add carbon sequestration by agriculture to the Massachusetts Annual and Three-Year Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventories.
Research opportunities for Massachusetts farmers and farmland owners to access public and private carbon markets and establish a regional carbon market for farmers.
Promote and leverage the MassDEP technical assistance service, RecyclingWorks, to help food waste generators comply with the waste ban.
Provide technical assistance to municipalities to introduce their own voluntary programs for residential food waste disposal or food waste from institutions disposal below the one ton/week level.
Explore expanding the statewide Commerical Food Waste Disposal Ban to phase in smaller food waste generators and residential food waste over time.
Maximize opportunities for anaerobic digestion at municipal wastewater treatment facilities that are designed to handle food waste materials.
Expand the variety of composting site locations, capabilities (including technologies to separate packaging as well as livestock carcasses), and scales able to handle the range of compost materials.
Provide technical assistance to increase the prevalence of community scale composting operations, creating high-quality and affordable compost, particularly near farms.
Expand nutrient management planning and implementation technical assistance, especially in light of the new regulatory requirements. The NRCS, UMass Extension, Massachusetts’ Conservation Districts, and other technical assistance providers should provide increased resources and expertise.
Continue to collect data on carbon levels in soil to identify areas that need interventions and to track progress. Carbon data is currently being collected by the nonprofit organization Soil Carbon Coalition.
Provide additional financial support beyond what NRCS now provides and expand markets for cover crops. UMass Extension is researching cover crops and can help identify new markets such as using grain for the craft beer industry.
Research the feasibility of offering incentives, such as property tax reductions, to farmers and landscapers for maintaining soil organic matter.
Explore carbon credits as an additional tool for implementation of the Massachusetts Global Warming Solutions Act, a framework for reducing heat-trapping emissions to mitigate the impacts of climate change.
Expand public/private markets for Massachusetts-produced compost.
Develop a baseline for how much water is currently being used by the agricultural sector, research likely future needs given projections related to climate change, and target policies based on research findings.