The University of Massachusetts Amherst

UMass Donahue Institute

2024 Publication Archive

Massachusetts Farmland Action Plan, 2023-2050

Massachusetts’ more than 7,000 farms steward nearly 500,000 acres of farmland (about 10% of the state’s land) and are an economic engine for the Commonwealth, generating $10 billion in economic activity annually. Available farmland is core to the success of farms, and three main issues impact the availability of farmland in Massachusetts:

Protection: Only 15% of existing farmland is protected, and the state lost nearly 60,000 acres of farmland to other uses between 1997 and 2017 alone. The average age of farmers is 60, and many have no plans for how their land will be used after they exit the sector.

Access: Farmland in Massachusetts is among the most expensive in the US. The price per acre increased 21% between 2020 and 2021 alone and now averages $13,700 per acre. This makes it unaffordable to many who wish to farm.

Viability: The best way to protect farmland is through successful farms, but with land, energy, labor, and other input costs higher in Massachusetts than elsewhere, farms struggle to remain financially sustainable.

The Massachusetts Farmland Action Plan is centered on addressing these three challenges through a long-range strategic initiative intended to address the farmland needs and goals of the Commonwealth. It makes policy and fiscal recommendations, enumerates the steps private sector stakeholders can take to support these goals, and builds upon numerous existing frameworks to integrate farmland and farming issues with other key sector and administration priorities. A healthy agricultural sector is essential to food security, climate resiliency, environmental justice, and preserving and expanding the economic and environmental viability of the Commonwealth.

The report's lead was the Organizational and Community Solutions group at the UMass Donahue Institute. 

Read the report


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University of Massachusetts Amherst

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