The Massachusetts legislature is considering many bills in the 2021-22 session that relate to recommendations made in the 2015 Massachusetts Local Food Action Plan and the 2020 Perspectives on Resilience and Recovery report. This list includes bills that most closely align with goals and recommendations from the Plan. We encourage committees to consider these bills, and look forward to working with legislators to further shape these and other bills that move the Commonwealth toward a more sustainable and equitable food system. For a printable copy, including a list of 84 other organizations that have signed on in support of these bills, click here.
FAQs for advocates
Massachusetts has many policies and programs to protect farmland, but no unified plan or set of comprehensive goals that they all work to support. This bill will develop a statewide Farmland Action Plan using land use data to guide state investment, policy, and regulation. Development and enactment of the Plan’s recommendations will ensure more sustainable and equitable farmland protection, access, and use in order to more effectively meet the Commonwealth’s food security, public health, energy, and climate change goals and needs.
The Healthy Incentives Program leverages federal SNAP funds by incentivizing SNAP recipients’ purchases of fresh fruits and vegetables directly from farmers, improving health outcomes for vulnerable communities and increasing sales for local farms. This bill will establish the framework for the program’s long-term sustainability.
According to the 2017 USDA Census of Agriculture, BIPOC farmers are represented on only 2.3% of the Commonwealth’s farms, farms that steward just .3% of the land in farming and sell just .4% of the market value of agricultural goods in the Massachusetts, despite people of color making up 29% of the state’s population. This bill will establish a commission charged with developing recommendations for MDAR to equitably serve socially disadvantaged farmers to address these disparities.
An act supporting the Commonwealth’s food system
H.884: Rep. Dan Donahue
Many state agencies play roles in supporting and regulating the food system, but because of limited communication between them some of these efforts are duplicative, inefficient, or even contradictory. The launch of the Food Security Task Force as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated the need for such coordination, but that need is not limited to times of crisis. This bill will establish a state food system coordinator position to serve in an advisory capacity to all agencies to coordinate and inventory food programs, and develop and track metrics related to food system goals.
Farmers in Massachusetts struggle to remain sustainable, on average earning just 96 cents for every dollar they spend producing food. They must compete in the global marketplace while facing higher input costs, more restrictive regulations, and fewer support resources than farmers in other states. This bill will create a “circuit rider” program at MDAR to coordinate support, establish a $3 million Next Generation Farmers Fund to provide education grants, direct MEMA to incorporate food production capacity into disaster planning, and make changes to land protection programs and laws to help make farms more sustainable.
Thousands of tons of edible food is sent to landfills each year because of donors’ concerns about liability, and because diverting it to those who need it can be costly. This bill will provide civil liability protection for persons who donate food directly to consumers, as well as for food establishments that donate food, and a tax credit to Massachusetts farmers in the amount of the fair market value of the donated food, with a $2,000 annual cap per farmer.
Demand for local meat is increasing, but Massachusetts livestock farmers have severely limited options for processing animals. This bill will establish a state meat inspection program to support the development of more flexible, local infrastructure.
Other important legislative campaigns being led by some of the Collaborative’s allies
Project Bread: Universal Free School Meals
Massachusetts Law Reform Institute: Close the SNAP Gap
Food Bank of Western Massachusetts: Cliff Effect and Hunger-Free Campus
Massachusetts Farm to School: Farm to School Grant Program
Food Is Medicine Massachusetts: Food and Health Pilot Program
The Collaborative has submitted testimony on the following items this session:
1/29/21: S9 An Act creating a next-generation roadmap for Massachusetts climate policy
3/3/21: Capital Budget: UMass Soil Lab
3/9/21: Capital Budget: Agricultural grant programs
3/17/21: Renewal of FSIG program
3/19/21: FY22 budget
3/21: Capital Budget: Farmland Action Plan
5/3/21: H2277 An Act to promote local agriculture and student nutrition
5/6/21: H2329 An Act relative to accelerating improvements to the local and regional public health system to address disparities in the delivery of public health services
5/10/21: H91 Proposal for a legislative amendment to the Constitution for a legislative amendment to the Constitution relative to agricultural and horticultural lands
5/12/21: H884 An Act supporting the Commonwealth’s food system
5/16/21: H1007 An Act relative to the use of Department of Conservation and Recreation property for farmers markets and community gardens
5/18/21: H974 An Act protecting the natural resources of the Commonwealth
5/20/21: S256 An Act to Promote Student Nutrition
5/28/21: S1332/H2158 An Act encouraging municipal recycling and composting
6/7/21: S108/H250 An Act relative to an agricultural healthy incentives program
7/6/21: H233 An Act relative to the healthy incentives program
7/6/21: S1441 An Act relative to in-state meat inspection programs/HD4085 An Act to support infrastructure needs for livestock farmers
7/6/21: H963/S499 An Act regarding agricultural composting programs
7/6/21: S539/H858 An Act regarding a farmland protection and viability action plan
7/9/21: H2810 An Act relative to non-contiguous farm land /H3059 An Act relative to expanding agricultural land
7/9/21: S1822/H861 An Act supporting the Commonwealth’s Farmers
9/10/21: H3231 An Act relative to the Massachusetts Food Policy Council
9/18/21: S314/H714 An Act relative to universal school meals
9/19/21: S.501/H.980 An Act promoting sustainable development and infrastructure, economic security,and fiscal responsibility with respect to climate risks
9/19/21: S.590 An Act encouraging the use of renewable energy on agricultural land
9/24/21: S571 A Resolve to diversify farmland opportunities to combat climate change
9/27/21: H1702/S954 An Act encouraging the donation of food to persons in need
9/29/21: Joint letter in support of ARPA funding for agriculture
10/6/21: S.502/H.860 An Act promoting equity in agriculture
11/15/2021: S2580 An Act relative to immediate COVID-19 recovery needs
12/22/21: Request for HIP funding for FY23