Protecting Agricultural Lands
Massachusetts Food Systems Plan
The Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR), the Massachusetts Food Policy Council, and the Metropolitan Area Planning Council, in collaboration with the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission, Franklin Regional Council of Governments, and Massachusetts Workforce Alliance, are currently working with constituents across the state to develop the plan.
The plan will identify goals and strategies to:
- Increase production, sales and consumption of Massachusetts-grown foods;
- Create jobs and economic opportunity in food and farming, and improve the wages and skills of food system workers;
- Protect the land and water needed to produce food, maximize the environmental benefits from agriculture and fishing, and ensure food safety; and
- Reduce hunger and food insecurity, increase the availability of fresh, healthy food to all residents, and reduce food waste.
Minuteman Advisory Group on Interlocal Coordination (MAGIC) Comprehensive Agricultural Planning Program
- MAPC and the Agricultural Planning Working Group members prepared the final draft of the Program Report in January 2014. The Report provides an overview of the project, issues and obstacles relating to agricultral viability that were investigated, and recommendations for strategies to overcome these challenges.
New Entry Sustainable Farming Project - Community Farmland Connections through a Targeted GIS Identification and Outreach Approach
- New Entry is piloting a project using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) in various towns to identify existing and potential farmland. New Entry works with the town and their agricultural commission to strategize about how to best reach out to the owners of the potential farmland and encourage them to rent their land to a farmer. This project is also an opportunity to develop or refine an agricultural inventory and map of a town.
Food Security /Farmland Access Studies
- Conway School, Franklin County Study - A study done by the Conway School to determine whether Franklin County, Massachusetts has the land resources needed to achieve complete food self-sufficiency—to sustainably produce all of the food needed to feed its population. The study suggests that most prime farmland soils not in cultivation are currently forested. Conservationists can help by thinking more creatively in determining future uses of a piece of land. Although it may be forested, might it be better suited to agriculture?
- Pioneer Valley Planning Commission Food Security Plan - Compiled a list of action items for food security in Pioneer Valley, Massachusetts. One action item that conservationists could fulfill is “Preserve farmland and work to convert available land that may not currently be used as farmland, to agricultural purposes.
Farm Support Organizations and Agencies
- Land for Good
- New Entry Sustainable Farming Project
- American Farmland Trust
- New England Small Farm Institute
- Farm Based Education Association
- NOFA Mass
- MA Department of Agricultural Resources
- USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service
- MA Farm Bureau