Massachusetts Food Policy Alliance (MFPA), formed in 2007, is a statewide networking and information sharing entity that tracks policy, fosters advocacy, and plays a leadership role in Massachusetts’ food system planning efforts. Massachusetts Food Policy Alliance is also engaged with efforts in neighboring states to develop a New England network to advance interstate food systems collaboration and planning.
MA Farm Bureau Federation Raises Concerns About APR Program
The State’s Agricultural Preservation Restriction (APR) Program was launched in 1979 as the nation’s first statewide program that incentivizes farmers to keep land in agricultural use by purchasing deed restrictions that prevent farmland from being divided or otherwise developed. But the MA Department of Agricultural Resource (MDAR) is over-reaching the original intent of the program of preventing commercial development and protecting soil resources, says the Massachusetts Farm Bureau Federation (MFBF), and “denying [APR-protected] farms the ability to do both non-agricultural and agricultural activities on their farms, which are commonplace and allowable on non-APR farms.”
Proposed Nutrient Management Rules Coming Soon
Last year, the Massachusetts Legislature directed the Massachusetts Department of Agriculture (MDAR) to “promulgate regulations that specify when plant nutrients may be applied and locations in which plant nutrients shall not be applied.” The draft regulations have not been released for a public comment period yet but should be coming soon, since they scheduled to take effect on January 1, 2014.
Waste Not: Commercial Food Waste Ban Coming to MA
Beginning on July 1, 2014, any Massachusetts entity that disposes of at least one ton of organic waste per week will be required to donate or re-purpose the useable food. Any remaining food waste would be required to be shipped to an anaerobic digestion facility that converts food waste into renewable energy, a composting operation or an animal-feed operation. Residential food waste is not included in the ban.
Greenfield Publishes Food Plan
Greenfield Community College and Central Connecticut River Valley Institute collaborated to publish “The Greenfield Food Study,” which sets goals and examines opportunities for the town’s food system around issues of cultivation, processing, distribution, waste and more. “Greenfield has food processing and storage resources unique to the Pioneer Valley … (and) can capitalize on these resources and become a food processing, storage and distribution hub for the Franklin County and the Pioneer Valley.”
Food and Jobs in the Pioneer Valley
The Massachusetts Workforce Alliance published “Local Food, Local Jobs: Job Growth and Creation in the Pioneer Valley Food System,” describing current work in the Pioneer Valley food system, with an emphasis on jobs that are within reach of lower-skill workers, identifying promising segments of the food system that are currently generating these jobs, and looking at ways job creation and growth in this system can be fostered. “This research showed that the Pioneer Valley food system is already creating jobs. Job growth is evident on farms; business growth and development is evident in food manufacturing; innovation and business development is happening in food distribution; and, food waste management is poised to change in ways that hold possibility for business expansion and job creation.”
Public Investment in Land Conversation Yields Measurable Benefits
“The Trust for Public Land conducted an economic analysis of the return on the Commonwealth’s investment in land conservation through a variety of state funding programs and found that every $1 invested in land conservation returned $4 in natural goods and services such as water quality protection, air pollution removal, and stormwater management to the Massachusetts economy.”
Eat for a Cure
Community Servings’ recent report Food as Medicine reveals that medically tailored, home-delivered meals can improve health outcomes for people with critical and chronic disease. Community Servings and Harvard Law School’s Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation and Food Law and Policy Clinic will co-host a symposium on the role of food in health care initiatives on October 30 from 6-8 p.m. at Harvard Law School, Room 1015 Wasserstein Hall, Caspersen Student Center (WCC 1015). Contact Jean Terranova for more information.
Honoring a Champion of Direct to Consumer Farm Sales
Former MA Ag Commissioner Gus Schumacher is being honored by the James Beard Society for “his lifelong efforts to improve access to fresh local food in underserved communities.”
After numerous extensions, lots of wading through thousands of pages of proposed regulations, and many hearings and listening sessions and workshops, the comment period for the proposed regulations for the federal Food Safety Modernization Act is slated to come to an end on November 15. The proposed regulations include many items of concern for Massachusetts farmers – regulations which, if implemented, could have significant negative economic and operational impacts on small farms.
The Massachusetts Food Policy Alliance urges all Massachusetts organizations to learn about these proposed rules, spread the word to your membership, and consider submitting comments that support regulations promoting a safe food system that does not saddle small farms with unfairly burdensome oversight and regulations. You do not have to be an agricultural organization to comment on these rules. If enacted, these regulations will have an impact not just on our state’s farms, but on our economy as a whole, our environment, and our food security.
For details, see the following resources:
- The FDA’s page has the full text of the proposed rules, along with a link to a form where you can submit comments.
- New England Farmers Union has an excellent summary that will help you understand what the rules will mean for small farms.
- The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition also has a regularly updated page with information about the potential impact of the rules, and a great piece entitled “Top 10 Reasons for Farmers, Consumers, and Organizations to Weigh in on Proposed Food Safety Rules.”
- The Massachusetts Farm Bureau Federation lists some proposed comments that they feel are particularly relevant to Massachusetts farms.
- American Farmland Trust hosted a webinar entitled “Why and What You Need to Know About the Food Safety Modernization Act.”
- Southeastern Massachusetts Agricultural Partnership (SEMAP) also offers a recording of a listening session they held.
Comments Needed on SNAP Retail Store Eligibility Rules
The Food and Nutrition Service at USDA is accepting comments regarding the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Enhancing Retail Food Store Eligibility policy. The RFI requests information to enhance retailer definitions and requirements that will improve access to healthy food choices for SNAP clients, as well as program integrity. The comment period ends Monday, October 21, 2013.
Somewhat lost in the news of the federal government shutdown and the debt limit crisis, the Federal Farm Bill expired in early October. In early October the House appointed members for a conference committee to resolve differences between the two bodies’ bills. Key sticking points include The U.S. House of Representatives’ proposal to cut $40 billion over ten years from the nation’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and to separate the nutrition and agriculture portions of the bill, potential cuts to subsidies for commodity crops, proposed cuts to funding for conservation programs, and possible changes to the federal dairy support program. Additional details are available from American Farm Bureau, Food Research and Action Center, National Farmers Union, The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, and farmpolicy.com.
What the Federal Government Shutdown Means for Agriculture
The partial shutdown of the federal government has had a real impact on agriculture programs, such as NRCS, and nutrition programs, such as WIC. New England Farmers Union offers a run-down on what the shutdown means for farmers and consumers, and this article details what it means for the USDA.
McGovern Champions Federal Government’s Role in Addressing Hunger
Between February and September, Massachusetts Congressman Jim McGovern (D-2nd) made 23 ‘End Hunger Now’ speeches on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives.
Invitation to participate in a Leadership Group for MFPA
This group will serve for one year in an informal, volunteer advisory capacity to assist the MFPA managing consultants in identifying and implementing MFPA goals and objectives. These individuals will also help develop and establish a membership model to provide sustainable financial support for MFPA. Leadership Group members will participate through small group and one-on-one conversations and may be individuals as well as representatives of organizations and groups working at municipal, sub-regional, state and regional levels. This Leadership Group may choose to organize itself with a chair or elected executive committee and will assess its efficacy one year after formation. Contact us at email@example.com if you are interested in participating.
The MFPA listserv is open to anyone concerned about food systems in Massachusetts. It is an open forum for individuals and organizations to post events, queries and resources, and to connect with each other as we all pursue our work. To subscribe, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “subscribe mfpa Firstname Lastame” Then you can send items to MFPA@elist.tufts.edu to share them with the list.
As we develop this monthly newsletter we want to hear from you. Please email email@example.com to suggest news, resources or other items for inclusion. If your organization has an e-newsletter or press list, please consider adding us to the list. And please forward this newsletter widely and encourage your colleagues to subscribe!
We Can Help!
The Alliance is here for you. We can help you engage your members in policy advocacy by writing articles for your newsletter, working with your staff on developing policy outreach plans, speaking at your meetings, and more. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Massachusetts Food Policy Alliance (MFPA) formed in 2007 as a committed group of leaders working on food, public health, nutrition, agriculture, hunger, land preservation, and related policy issues in the Commonwealth. The MFPA worked closely with MA Representatives Stephen Kulik and Linda Forry to pass legislation establishing the Massachusetts Food Policy Council.
Christa Drew and Winton Pitcoff, co-lead consultants