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101 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.
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.
Encourage and support Agricultural Commissions and, in communities where there are no Agricultural Commissions, other municipal boards, land trusts, and farm organizations, in: educating landowners about Chapter 61/61A/61B, farmland protection and conservation programs, and land listing, linking and matching services; inventorying current and potential farmland in town; and identifying opportunities for restoring active farming on land that has been abandoned.
Provide technical assistance to Agriculture Commissions and, where no Agricultural Commissions exist, municipal land managers and relevant town committees to inventory municipally-owned land and assess its suitability for agriculture.
Research production methods for rooftop crops, including minimizing environmental contamination.
Research opportunities for Massachusetts farmers and farmland owners to access public and private carbon markets and establish a regional carbon market for farmers.
Explore expanding the statewide Commerical Food Waste Disposal Ban to phase in smaller food waste generators and residential food waste over time.
Clarify expiration/sell by dates, and reduce the number of foods that require a date label, using information from Harvard Law School’s Food Law and Policy Clinic.
Encourage and support the development of innovative technology to efficiently separate food from packaging so more food can be composted or turned into energy.
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 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.
Develop a market for solids and liquids produced during the anaerobic digestion process.
Support infrastructure development for handling and preparing food waste for anaerobic digestion, including packaged foods and industrial waste water.
Create a network of food scrap transfer stations to provide more efficient delivery of food waste to anaerobic digestion facilities.
Advance and incentivize smaller-scale anaerobic digestion technology installations for farms, schools, supermarkets and at other sites such as state prisons and colleges and universities.
Support the development of equipment and processes to separate packaging from food waste.
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.