The Collaborative’s network of farmers and agricultural support organizations has consistently reflected that climate change is a critical issue for agriculture, impacting COVID recovery planning as well as long term disruption to our food system. From its impact on water management and soil erosion to invasive species, to frost damage, and worker health and safety, its impacts will test farmers' capacity to be sustainable and will require investment in research, education, and funding for improved infrastructure and equipment. A report we published late last year concludes in part that climate change requires systemic thought and planning now, not later.
My name is Norris Guscott and I’m the new Equity Policy Network Manager at the MA Food System Collaborative! In this role, I am working to build, engage, and empower a network of BIPOC farmers, food equity leaders, and the organizations that represent and support them so we are able to effectively advocate together for public policy that supports equitable access to land, jobs, education, and other resources needed for BIPOC farmers to be sustainable in their businesses and for the food system to be truly equitable for everyone.
We’re mid legislative-session and the August legislative recess is on deck, but hearings will resume in September. Testimony can be submitted at any time but should be sent before a hearing is concluded. So now is a good time for farmers and the organizations that advocate for them to submit testimony to state committees and to talk with legislators, especially if your legislator is on one of the committees assigned to a bill.
Massachusetts lawmakers are beginning to debate how to best invest billions of dollars from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). They need to hear from YOU about the importance of supporting a resilient local food system.
Municipal agricultural commissions have a new role to play, thanks to an amendment to the law that gives local boards of health their authority, which was enacted earlier this year. Local boards of health must now submit any new regulation that impacts agriculture to the agricultural commission, should it exist, for review before it can be enacted, except in emergency situations. This new law is the result of years of conversations and advocacy by farming organizations, public health organizations, and state agencies. The goal is to foster collaboration that helps keep our food supply safe and farmers in business.
Funds from the most recent federal coronavirus relief package, the American Rescue Plan (ARP), will soon be available to municipalities. The program’s preliminary guidance cites food insecurity as one of the reasons these resources are being distributed, and states that funds may be spent “To respond to the public health emergency or its negative economic impacts, including assistance to households, small businesses, and nonprofits, or aid to impacted industries such as tourism, travel, and hospitality,” giving cities and towns an opportunity to make investments in the food supply chain to help ensure food security and better access to healthy food.
Last week’s budget draft from the Senate Committee on Ways and Means reflects how effective all of your advocacy has been! The proposal included funding at the requested levels for priorities like the Healthy Incentives Program, Buy Local Organizations, MEFAP, the MA Food Trust, and others.
Last week’s budget proposal from the House Committee on Ways and Means budget draft reflects how effective all of your advocacy has been! The proposal included funding at the requested levels for priorities like the Healthy Incentives Program, Buy Local Organizations, MEFAP, the MA Food Trust, and others.