(Click on goals to see detailed recommendations and action items.)
Farmland is the foundational infrastructure for the State’s agricultural industry. It is a natural resource critical to the State’s air and water quality, and vital to our community character and heritage. For most farm families, it is the source of their income and their primary retirement asset.
Massachusetts is home to some of the best farmland in the world. In addition to fertile bottomland soils like the unparalleled farmland along the Connecticut River, agricultural lands range from hilly and rocky fields, ideal for grazing, to land that supports orchards, cranberries, and sugar maple. Since the 1940’s, however, farmland has been steadily converted to other uses, lost to development, the return of New England forests, invasive species colonization, and other factors. The most productive farmland is often the most sought-after by developers as it is typically flat and well-drained. Growing the Commonwealth’s food production capacity will require reversing the trend of farmland loss and bringing more land – much of it former farmland – into production. It will also require innovation, resources, and zoning changes to reclaim urban spaces to meet growing interest in urban commercial and community agriculture.
The goals, recommendations, and actions for the Land section aim to protect more farmland, increase the number of acres in active agriculture, and address the affordability of farmland for established and entering farmers alike. In addition, the recommendations seek to help farmers responsibly steward the lands they farm and to ensure that land use regulations are reasonable and effective and do not unduly erode the equity that is represented in the thousands of acres of Commonwealth farmland.