Leading A Critical Effort To Preserve Farmland
To preserve the resilience of our agricultural economy and food system in a changing climate, there is a pressing need to expand the number of farms and farmland acres that are protected throughout the Commonwealth, not only through the state programs but also by municipalities, non-profits and federal agencies. It is also critically important to ensure that farm businesses operating on protected farmland are viable and are provided with the greatest chance of success at producing food both in difficult economic times and in the face of climate change.
To this end, our Nonprofit Funding & Fiscal Solutions group (NFFS) has been asked by the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR) to develop the first-ever Massachusetts Farmland Action Plan. NFFS will conduct research to inform the planning process, facilitate extensive public and stakeholder input and to develop the plan.
Protecting Farmland is critical to the future of the Commonwealth not only in reducing food insecurity and reducing our dependence on food produced outside of the state, but farmland will continue to play a critical role in help our communities to be more resilient in the face of climate change,” said Sonia Bouvier. This is particularly critical for reducing the impacts of climate change, such as flooding, reduce heat island effects, and carbon sequestration.
“The Baker-Polito Administration is thrilled to be working with the Donahue Institute on the development of the state Farmland Action Plan.” said Commissioner John Lebeaux of the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources. “Massachusetts is a national leader in farmland conservation through the Agricultural Preservation Restriction (APR) program and the work of local organizations such as land trusts. While we have made great strides in farmland protection over the past few decades, challenges such as the loss of agricultural land, barriers to access for new farmers and concerns about food security remain and new challenges, particularly climate change have emerged. The expectation for this collaboration is that the Farmland Action Plan will create a pathway forward for farmland protection for the state through 2050."
NFFS is partnering with the Massachusetts Food System Collaborative and American Farmland Trust New England Team in this effort. All three will conduct research and engage stakeholders across the state to develop the Plan.
“The best way to ensure equitable and sustainable farmland protection and access is through thoughtful, comprehensive public policy. The Collaborative looks forward to working with the Donahue Institute, AFT, and other partners from around Massachusetts to ensure that this plan’s recommendations reflect the needs of all food system stakeholders.” Winton Pitcoff, Director, MA Food System Collaborative
This month, the project kicks off and the project’s expert advisory group convenes for the first time. Advisory group members represent and/or have expertise or experience as active farmers, BIPOC farmers and non-profits, forestry, land conservation and/or land trusts, non-profit agricultural organizations and those knowledgeable about state and federal policy relative to farmland. Together with the MDAR, the partners have identified advisory group members with this combination of expertise/experience.
The completed plan will outline key goals and recommendations, and provide a roadmap to overcome challenges and increase farmland conservation, farmland access, food security and the long-term economic and environmental viability of farms across all regions of the state.
For questions or additional information, please contact Sonia Bouvier, Project Manager with UMDI at firstname.lastname@example.org.
December 08, 2021