Massachusetts Food System Collaborative
Massachusetts Food System Collaborative

Current legislative activity

The Massachusetts legislature is considering many bills in the 2023-24 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. 89 organizations have signed on in support of these bills – download our white paper to see the full list. (To see bills from the previous session, along with testimony we submitted, click here.)

FAQs for advocates

An Act to promote food literacy

S.310: Sen. Jason Lewis / H.601: Reps. Andres Vargas and Mindy Domb

To help Massachusetts children lead healthy, independent, thoughtful lives, all students in grades K-12 should have access to food system education in school. These bills will add food literacy to the list of topics that students should learn about in school, and provide the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) with opportunities and resources to support those lessons. For more information, see our fact sheet. Joint Committee on Education

An Act protecting our soil and farms from PFAS contamination

S.39: Sen. Jo Comerford / H.101: Rep. Paul Schmid

New regulations and laws related to PFAS should not jeopardize our food security, including Massachusetts farmers’ ability to produce food. These bills will provide financial and liability relief should farmers’ ability to grow crops be impacted by PFAS, as well as establish an account to support technical assistance and education to help farmers adapt to new practices that reduce the use and dispersion of PFAS. Joint Committee on Agriculture

An Act strengthening local food systems

S.42: Sen. Jo Comerford / H.88: Rep. Natalie Blais

Farmers in Massachusetts struggle to remain sustainable, on average earning just 94 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 supportive resources than farmers in other states. These bills will create a “circuit rider” program at MDAR to coordinate support for farmers, establish a $3 million Next Generation Farmers Fund to provide education grants, direct MEMA to incorporate food production capacity into disaster planning, give MDAR needed tools to help protect farmland, and establish a state food system coordinator position. Joint Committee on Agriculture

An Act promoting equity in agriculture

S.41: Sen. Jo Comerford / H.87: Rep. Natalie Blais

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. These bills will establish a commission charged with developing recommendations for MDAR to equitably serve socially disadvantaged farmers to address these disparities. Joint Committee on Agriculture

An Act relative to an agricultural healthy incentives program

S.85: Sen. Anne Gobi / H.150: Rep. Mindy Domb

The Healthy Incentives Program leverages federal SNAP funds by increasing SNAP recipients’ ability to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables directly from farmers, improving health outcomes for vulnerable communities and increasing sales for local farms. These bills will establish the framework for the program’s long-term sustainability. Joint Committee on Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities

An act supporting the Commonwealth’s food system

H.92: Reps. Dan Donahue and Pat Duffy

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. These bills 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. Joint Committee on Agriculture

An Act encouraging the donation of food to persons in need

S.920: Sen. Jo Comerford / H.1594: Rep. Hannah Kane

Thousands of tons of edible food are sent to landfills each year because of donors’ concerns about liability, and because diverting it to those who need it can be costly. These bills will provide civil liability protection for individuals and food establishments who donate food directly to consumers, and a tax credit to Massachusetts farmers in the amount of the fair market value of the donated food, with a $5,000 annual cap per farmer. Joint Committee on the Judiciary

Proposal for a legislative amendment to the constitution relative to agricultural and horticultural lands

S.13: Sen. Jo Comerford / H.41: Rep. Paul Schmid

Article 99 of the Massachusetts Constitution authorizes lower tax rates for agricultural land, but only on parcels greater than five acres. Changes in management practices have made farming on smaller parcels more sustainable, the subdividing of large tracts of land means many farmers farm on multiple smaller parcels, and rising land prices put larger parcels out of reach for many farmers, particularly beginning farmers and farmers of color. This proposed amendment will remove the acreage requirement, making farmland of any size eligible for tax relief. Joint Committee on Revenue

We also work with many partners who advocate for important food issues. Check out their policy priorities here!

Letters and testimony submitted by the Collaborative

1/8/23: Letter of introduction to EEA Secretary Rebecca Tepper

1/16/23: Budget request for food literacy to Governor Healey

1/16/23: Budget request for Healthy Incentives Program to Governor Healey

2/17/23: Comments in response to draft EEA environmental justice strategies

3/11/23: Local food system priorities for the FY24 budget to the House Committee on Ways and Means

3/24/23: Letter to Governor Healey re: FY24 Capital Plan recommendations for MDAR grant programs

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Massachusetts Food System Collaborative