There are local farms and farmers in every city/town in the Hampshire, Franklin, Worcester district, with some of the richest growing soil in the nation.
Farming is in this region’s DNA. It’s intrinsic to who we are.
And yet—as much as our region values local produce, dairy, and meat—we know that our local farmers often struggle to make ends meet.
It’s nearly impossible to compete with big agribusiness which benefits from a larger scale, often lower work pay, and notoriously lower environmental standards. But yet, our farmers and farms prevail—season after season.
That’s why the state legislature must have their backs.
Here are four ways that can happen:
- A Dairy Tax Credit: There are only 135 dairy farms left in Massachusetts. That number has dropped 95% over the last 50 years and yet dairy farms still represent 18% of the farmland. The price of milk does not account for the true cost of producing milk in our district. That’s why the legislature can and should make up the difference.
- The Healthy Incentives Program (HIP): How can we help creative incentives for folks receiving SNAP benefits (or Food Stamps) to shop locally and purchase local produce? We add funds to their existing benefits. That’s the core function of this wildly successful, win-win program.
- Agriculture Preservation Restriction (APR): APR essentially lets farmers sell the development rights to their land. The sale of those rights often allows the farmers to make capital improvements to their farms or pay off debt while making sure the land remains theirs to farm, but is never developed.
- Supporting organizations like Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture (CISA): CISA helped spark the “buy local” movement in the Commonwealth. It receives critical state funding for it’s Senior Farm Share program, which it runs in partnership with local farms, as well as it’s “buy local” initiatives which keep us all focused on the value of investing in our local farmers and farm economy.
Here’s the thing: “No farms. No food.”
It’s as simple (and as profound) as that.