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128 Action Items Found
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 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 more public education on urban food production techniques in community gardens and home gardens, such as growing vegetables, composting, keeping bees, chickens, and other animals.
Focus analysis on Gateway Cities to assess the potential for those cities to support both short- and long- term urban agriculture on vacant and underutilized land. Work with city planners to inventory these municipalities’ surplus land and prioritize based upon criteria developed in the action plan as called for in Recommendation 2.1. Consider using Health Impact Assessments to evaluate soil remediation on urban land.
Advocate for dedicated funding conduct soil testing, and import or remediate soil on prioritized land in Gateway Cities and other cities. Consider using the MEPA process to secure clean soil from development projects that could replace contaminated soils in urban locations.
Provide technical assistance to Gateway City municipal officials on creating mutually beneficial lease agreements with urban farmers, both commercial and not-for-profit.
Support state and municipal tax incentives to encourage short- and long- term use of urban land and buildings for food production, such as for the installation of green roofs that include food production and the transformation of vacant lots into community gardens.
Provide education and technical assistance to builders, developers, and municipal building authorities on green roof installation and maintenance, edible landscaping, and other alternative methods for growing food in an urban environment, including living walls, vertical greenhouses, hydroponics, and aquaponics.
Educate municipal officials and citizen advocates about the availability of state funds for this purpose, including Local Acquisitions for Natural Diversity (LAND), Parkland Acquisitions and Renovations Program (PARC), Community Forest Stewardship Implementation, and Urban Agriculture.
Ensure that the federal “regional equity” provision of the Farm Bill is being fully implemented, and track its implementation.
Increase outreach and education on food donation opportunities, including the Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act, which provides liability protections for donators.
Implement a state tax credit for farmers and others who donate surplus food. Currently, there is no state tax credit for food donation and only C-corporations are eligible for the federal enhanced tax credits and most Massachusetts farmers do not meet these criteria.
Explore and implement financial incentives and service fees to support food donation distributors, many of which rely exclusively on charitable donations to fund their work.
Increase refrigerated storage capacity at food pantries through public funding or connections with under-used, existing, nearby facilities to allow food pantries to accept more donations of fresh, perishable foods.
Increase participation in existing education and training around the handling of fresh food for those donating, distributing, and serving the food. Best management practices are being developed through a collaborative effort of the EPA, Massachusetts Department of Public Health(DPH), and Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP), with support from Harvard Law School’s Food Law and Policy Clinic and the Center for Ecological Technology.
Increase education and consistent implementation of public health regulations regarding food donation.