Plan Overview

Topic Area: Land

1.1 Reduce the municipal tax burden on farms.
1.2 Ensure that Chapter 61A valuations are based on use value.
1.3 Encourage communities to enact zoning bylaws that permit ancillary commercial enterprises in areas zoned for agriculture.
1.4 Provide sufficient funding through the Farm Viability Enhancement Program (FVEP) to enable farmers to access business planning assistance and capital for business improvements in exchange for farmland protection covenants.
1.5 Ensure that farmers who are farming permanently protected land are able to access capital for infrastructure improvements.
1.6 Ensure that the Agricultural Preservation Restriction (APR) Program adequately considers farm viability and the infrastructure needs of current and future farmers
1.7 Help farmers to more effectively mitigate damage to their farmland caused by man-made or natural events and disasters.
Land Access; Agriculture & Food Production; Farm & Producer Business Support; Training & Education, Agriculture; Financing/Affordability, Land; Farmland zoning and regulations;
2.1 Develop a formal state Farmland Action Plan to (1) determine the resources needed to improve state data collection around farmland trends; (2) establish a statewide baseline of land in active agricultural production, or the process for doing so with improved data collection, and a system for tracking acres of farmland in production over time; (3) set measurable goals and benchmarks related to farmland protection, retention and access; and (4) recommend state program spending levels to meet those goals and benchmarks.
2.2 Increase the use of Transfer of Development Rights (TDR) as a farmland protection tool.
2.3 Increase the pace of farmland protection through the APR Program, including small, productive farmland parcels, especially in eastern MA and those on the edges of population centers.
2.4 Evaluate and consider the elimination of state capital gains tax on the sale of Agricultural Preservation Restrictions.
2.5 Improve dialogue and information sharing among and between farm and conservation organizations, the Agricultural Land Preservation Committee (ALPC), and state and federal agencies about farmland protection issues and challenges.
Land Access;
Preserving Farmland; Farmland zoning and regulations; Conservation & Land Management;
3.1 Develop a formal state Farmland Action Plan to (1) determine the resources needed to improve state data collection around farmland trends; (2) establish a statewide baseline of land in active agricultural production, or the process for doing so with improved data collection, and a system for tracking acres of farmland in production over time; (3) set measurable goals and benchmarks related to farmland protection, retention, and access; and (4) recommend state program spending levels to meet those goals and benchmarks. See Recommendation 2.1 and Action 2.1.1.
3.2 Encourage use of suitable publically-owned land for farming.
3.3 Encourage and enable communities to take actions to retain farmland and promote infill and compact development without adversely impacting farmers’ equity in their land.
3.4 Build on existing models to create preferential zoning and ordinances to support urban agriculture, with guidance from key sector experts such as beekeepers, poultry farmers, and others familiar with the particular challenges of urban farming.
3.5 Review state policies and incentives around renewable alternative energy (e.g. solar) development, to better harmonize state goals around renewable energy development and natural resource protection, including farmland.
3.6 Keep conserved farmland in active agricultural use.
3.7 Improve understanding among the agriculture and conservation communities of state and federal wetlands laws and regulations and their impact on farmland.
3.8 Help and incentivize farmers and farmland owners to keep their land in farming as it transfers out of their ownership.
3.9 Help farmers and farmland owners restore productive farmland without negative environmental impacts.
3.10 Reduce Chapter 61A minimum requirement to encourage farming on smaller parcels in all communities – urban, suburban, and rural.
3.11 Encourage more land trusts and municipalities to lease land that they own to farmers.
3.12 Determine how to support the ability of farmers to live within reasonable proximity to their farm, helping to make their farm tenure more secure.
3.13 Provide improved and streamlined farm linking systems and matching services, so that farmland owners who want to sell or lease land to a farmer are easily able to do so, and farm seekers have a way to easily identify potential land for sale or lease.
3.14 Ensure that commercial agriculture is viable on land protected with state-approved Conservation Restrictions, and allow more landowners to donate Agricultural Preservation Restrictions.
3.15 Focus the development of urban agriculture on vacant and underutilized land in Gateway Cities and other cities.
3.16 Develop community land trusts in Gateway Cities and other municipalities as a means to provide greater access to and long-term community control of land and to provide farmers the opportunity to gain equity in their farms. See the Greater Boston Community Land Trust Network or Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative for examples.
3.17 Provide more education and incentives for developers and municipalities to incorporate food production opportunities into new and redeveloped urban properties.
3.18 Encourage the creation and maintenance of local community gardens within walking distance of low-income neighborhoods.
Land Access; Agriculture & Food Production;
Preserving Farmland; Financing/Affordability, Land;
Farmland zoning and regulations; Community Food Growing;
Urban Garden Zoning & Regulations; Conservation & Land Management; Good/Local Food Economies;
4.1 Enable farmers and farmland owners to make full use of state and federal conservation programs.
4.2 Expand private and public markets for carbon credits and water quality credits to provide additional revenue sources for farmers while protecting the environment.
4.3 Research the relative greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture and from commercial or residential development, to make the case that protecting farmland is a viable strategy for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Land & Resource Use; Agriculture & Food Production; Sustainable Agriculture; Climate Mitigation; Conservation & Land Management;

Topic Area: Inputs

1.1 Effectively support the Massachusetts Commerical Food Waste Disposal Ban.
1.2 Prioritize reducing food waste and ensure that all stakeholders have the resources and technical assistance needed to affordably reduce food waste.
1.3 Increase food donations and support stakeholders addressing food insecurity.
1.4 Maximize anaerobic digestion and industrial uses for food waste after higher steps in the EPA’s food recovery hierarchy are exhausted.
1.5 Maximize the composting of food waste after the steps in the EPA’s food recovery hierarchy are exhausted.
Food Waste; Commercial Food Waste;
Household Food Waste; Climate Mitigation; Food Security;
2.1 Monitor and manage soil for optimal health, and ensure the optimal application and management of nutrients.
2.2 Provide tax benefits or other financial incentives to increase voluntary farmer utilization of certain best practices to support soil fertility.
2.3 Ensure optimal application of fertilizers and soil amendments to soil.
Climate Mitigation; Sustainable Agriculture; Land & Resource Use; Conservation & Land Management; Agriculture & Food Production;
3.1 Develop a baseline for how much water is currently being used by the agricultural sector, research likely future needs given projections related to climate change, and target policies based on research findings.
3.2 Provide increased incentives and technical assistance to farmers and other food system businesses for adopting water conservation practices.
3.3 Reduce water pollution from the food system, especially through incentives and increased technical assistance.
Land & Resource Use; Climate Mitigation; Water use; Agriculture & Food Production;
4.1 Ensure optimal application of pesticides to reduce harm to humans and the environment.
4.2 Make recycling and disposal of plastics, tires, and other potentially hazardous chemicals easy and affordable for farms.
4.3 Protect the habitat and health of pollinators critical to the food system.
Climate Mitigation; Worker Safety; Food Safety; Agriculture & Food Production;
5.1 Reduce the complexity of navigating energy options for all areas of the food sector.
5.2 Increase energy efficiency throughout the food system and make it easier for the end users/adopters to participate and finance energy efficiency upgrades.
5.3 Increase the ease of installation and amount of renewable generation in all sectors of the food system to provide economic and environmental benefits.
Land & Resource Use; Energy; Climate Mitigation;

Topic Area: Farming

1.1 Rebuild UMass Extension’s capacity to provide needed agricultural education and technical assistance.
1.2 Focus UMass Extension’s agricultural resources on meeting the most immediate informational and technical assistance needs of farmers and the public.
1.3 Develop and coordinate other educational, research and technical assistance supports.
Agriculture & Food Production; Farm & Producer Business Support; Training & Education, Agriculture; Workforce Development;
2.1 Create a regulatory system that does not outpace the capacity of the agricultural community to comply.
2.2 Review and revise state regulations hindering farms’ viability.
2.3 Minimize municipal regulations that hinder farm viability.
2.4 Address outdated and confusing regulations concerning agricultural labor to better meet the needs of Massachusetts farm businesses while protecting the well-being and security of agricultural workers.
2.5 Revise regulatory requirements for livestock processing to facilitate development of increased infrastructure.
Agriculture & Food Production; Farm & Producer Business Support; Good/Local Food Economies; Business regulations; Good Food Governance; Livestock & Dairy
3.1 Strengthen governmental support systems for agriculture.
3.2 Support the development of private sector financial and business support for farms.
Agriculture & Food Production; Farm & Producer Business Support;

Topic Area: Fishing

1.1 Encourage sustainable fishing practices that protect fish and shellfish stock and habitat.
1.2 Support shellfish operations and management.
Agriculture & Food Production; Seafood & Fisheries; Land & Resource Use; Oceans and Waterways;
2.1 Improve livelihood viability and prospects for the seafood industry workforce, including fishermen, lobstermen, shellfish harvesters, aquaculturalists, seafood processors, and researchers.
2.2 Increase consumer education on local seafood.
2.3 Expand local seafood markets, product development, and seafood supply chain innovations.
2.4 Improve local seafood infrastructure and supply chain systems.
Agriculture & Food Production; Seafood & Fisheries; Labor/Food Workers; Good/Local Food Economies; Producer market access;
3.1 Make locally caught seafood accessible and affordable.Agriculture & Food Production; Seafood & Fisheries; Good/Local Food Economies; Food Availability (retailers);
4.1 Build collaborative networks and ensure fishing industry representation in government and policy arenas.Agriculture & Food Production; Seafood & Fisheries; Good Food Governance; Food System Coordination;
5.1 Conduct research to advance the fishing and aquaculture industries.Agriculture & Food Production; Seafood & Fisheries; Good Food Governance; Research & Innovation;

Topic Area: Processing

1.1 Reform food processing regulations.
1.2 Establish consistency in the enforcement of regulations.
1.3 Make navigation of the regulatory environment easier across agencies and levels of government, and improve dissemination of regulatory information.
1.4 Improve communication systems for regulators.
Good/Local Food Economies; Business regulations; Supply Chain Infrastructure;
Food Processing; Producer Market Access;
2.1 Maintain an updated food code in Massachusetts.
2.2 Expand training and support services for safe food handling and processing across state agencies and all levels of government.
2.3 Make food safety compliance resources available to food handlers and processors.
2.4 Develop best practices guides for food processing facility development.
2.5 Ensure consistent enforcement of food safety regulations.
Supply Chain Infrastructure;
Food Processing; Food Safety; Business regulations;
3.1 Ensure stable and safe employment in the food processing sector, with opportunities for advancement.
3.2 Support enterprise development and growth for food processing businesses.
3.3 Ensure that the food processing workforce is trained, skilled, and positioned to meet the changing needs of the state food system.
3.4 Grow scale-appropriate food processing equipment manufacturing in Massachusetts.
3.5 Develop opportunities for maximizing use of food processing facilities.

Supply Chain Infrastructure;
Food Processing; Workforce Development; Good/Local Food Economies; Small Business Support;
4.1 Invest in food processing and distribution infrastructure strategically to support current market conditions and future growth.
4.2 Encourage sustainable practices in food processing.
Supply Chain Infrastructure;
Food Processing; Good/Local Food Economies; Climate Mitigation;
5.1 Research food processing capacity and demand for food business incubators.
5.2 Invest in food processing infrastructure to support food business incubation models.
5.3 Develop financing and business support resources for food processing businesses working in incubators.
Supply Chain Infrastructure;
Food Processing; Workforce Development; Entrepreneurship; Small Business Support;

Topic Area: Distribution

1.1 Support public and private investment to capitalize and implement the Massachusetts Food Trust.
1.2 Support growth of traditional retail food establishments in communities with unmet needs.
1.3 Harness public demand for and commitment to local food and culturally appropriate and preferred crops to drive increased availability.
1.4 Define and expand the role that health advocates, health care agencies, insurers, and regulators play in increasing the demand for and consumption of healthy, local food in all communities.
Food Security; Food Availability (retailers); Good/Local Food Economies; Nutrition & Health; Food as Medicine;
2.1 Foster relationships between producers, distributors, wholesalers, and retailers that facilitate and prioritize sale and purchase of Massachusetts-grown and -produced products.
2.2 Strengthen coordination of distribution across producers, distributors, wholesalers, and retail operators.
2.3 Understand and map existing production and processing systems and the distribution patterns associated with them as a tool for greater efficiency.
2.4 Identify, review, and revise state policies that help or hinder the distribution of Massachusetts-produced and -processed foods.
Supply Chain Infrastructure; Food Aggregation & Food Hubs; Good/Local Food Economies; Good Food Governance; Food System Coordination;
3.1 Set up a State-funded economic development fund to support and spur innovation in local food aggregation, processing, and distribution.
3.2 Foster networks and relationships to support innovative food distribution models.
3.3 Use food preservation processes, including freezing, dehydration, and canning, to increase sales of Massachusetts products in locations where local and lightly-processed products are priorities, such as public schools, or in convenience stores where storage space may be limited, as well as other retail and wholesale outlets.

Supply Chain Infrastructure; Good/Local Food Economies; Food Processing;
Food Transport;
Food Aggregation & Food Hubs;
Food Storage; Public Procurement; Alternative Food Distribution Tactics;
4.1 Increase technical assistance for food distribution businesses (e.g., storage, transportation, and aggregation).Supply Chain Infrastructure; Food Processing;
Food Transport;
Food Aggregation & Food Hubs;
Food Storage; Workforce Development; Training & Education, General; Good/Local Food Economies;
5.1 Strengthen the Commonwealth Quality Program (CQP).
5.2 Ensure local regulation (particularly by boards of health) is consistent, achievable, and effective.
5.3 Improve communication among state agencies and local boards of health that are involved in food safety.
5.4 Ensure food safety protocols/regulations are in place and enforced through the entire supply chain, and that producers, processors, distributors, and retailers are supported in meeting these regulations.

Food Safety;
Business regulations; Supply Chain Infrastructure;
6.1 Improve the availability of, and outreach for, consumer food safety information.
6.2 Improve the availability of, and outreach for, food safety training, technical assistance, and information for food system workers.

Food Safety;
Business regulations; Workforce Development; Training & Education, General;
7.1 Reform and implement local food procurement policy for institutions.
7.2 Commit and leverage resources to increase for farm-to-sales.
7.3 Increase participation of food producers and buyers in farm-to-institution procurement.
Good/Local Food Economies;
Public Procurement;

Topic Area: Marketing

1.1 Develop and maintain market data and information and disseminate to producers.
1.2 Implement stronger Massachusetts and local branding in the food supply chain.
1.3 Provide education and connections throughout the food chain to promote the value of Massachusetts-raised ingredients and Massachusetts-processed foods.
1.4 Educate retail-level food system businesses and consumers about local foods.

Good/Local Food Economies; Local brand promotion;

Topic Area: Food Access, Security, and Health

1.1 Increase household buying power by helping families and individuals keep more of what they already earn.
1.2 Help low-wage workers earn more take-home pay.

Food Security; Purchasing Power (consumers); Wage Policy, General;
2.1 The Massachusetts Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA) should continue to restore SNAP benefits to households improperly terminated or denied due to the business process redesign during 2014 and early 2015.
2.2 Implement a common application portal for MassHealth, SNAP and other needs-based programs, that serves as an integrated, streamlined eligibility system for state – administered benefits.
2.3 Assist households in claiming all available income deductions to increase the amount of monthly SNAP benefits allotted.

Food Security; Food Access (consumer); Food & Income Assistance (SNAP, WIC, etc.);
3.1 Support statewide funding, implementation and evaluation of consumer incentives that support purchasing more fruits and vegetables.

Food Security; Food Access (consumer); Food & Income Assistance (SNAP, WIC, etc.); Nutrition & Health;
4.1 Increase nutrition education, curriculum, and trainings for children and adolescents.
4.2 Support Farm-to-Institution programs to increase procurement of locally produced, healthy food by schools.
4.3 Increase and maximize the use of available food assistance programs for children and adolescents, and engage parents in learning and advocacy to improve child nutrition.

Nutrition & Health; Food & Nutrition Literacy; Food in Public Institutions; Food in Schools;
5.1 Support actions by health care providers, hospitals and medical institutions that improve access to, and education about, healthy food, especially to people who are food insecure.
5.2 Encourage insurance providers to increase and scale up incentives and outreach that will encourage the purchase and consumption of more healthy food.
Food Security; Nutrition & Health; Food as Medicine; Food & Nutrition Literacy;
6.1 Increase purchase of locally produced food through the Massachusetts Emergency Food Assistance Program (MEFAP).
6.2 Foster more direct connections among hunger relief agencies and local farmers, fishermen, and food producers.

Food Security; Emergency Response; Good/Local Food Economies;
7.1 Support municipal and regional transportation planning efforts to more fully understand and identify related access barriers and opportunities to make it easier for all residents to obtain healthy food regularly.
7.2 Support regional measures to enhance access to healthy food.
7.3 Support innovative retail outlet strategies that enhance access to healthy food for at-risk residents.
7.4 Review existing policies and planning criteria to improve accessibility for public transportation users, particularly the food accessibility needs of people with mobility limitations.

Food Security; Nutrition & Health; Food Access (consumer);
Public transport (infrastructure);
8.1 Improve the availability and effectiveness of public education about the direct diet-health connection.
8.2 Maintain and expand existing nutrition outreach programs.
8.3 Build more food system career pathways to advance knowledge about the direct effects of nutrition and the benefits of local food.
8.4 Use tax policy to encourage purchases of healthy, locally produced food.

Nutrition & Health; Food & Nutrition Literacy; Culture Shift (Good Food Movement);

Topic Area: Workforce

1.1 Capture, analyze, and disseminate labor market information about food system occupations, industries and businesses to workforce, education, training and economic development entities and professionals.
1.2 Collect, update, and disseminate information on education and training resources to employers and workers.
1.3 Support food system businesses of all kinds to work closely with workforce development entities to build a robust labor pool.
1.4 Provide appropriate education and training for food system workers through modification, adaptation of existing resources, or development of new ones.
1.5 Explore and foster the development of formal apprenticeship programming in food system businesses.
1.6 Develop career pathways and ensure workforce education and training initiatives are available and appropriate for all workers within the food system.
1.7 Market food system occupations and career pathways to diverse audiences. Make appropriate linkages between existing programming and resources and populations.
1.8 Support the development of strong food system businesses with full-time, year-round, and benefitted work opportunities.

Workforce Development; Good/Local Food Economies; Small Business Support; Labor/Food Workers; Training & Education, General;

Topic Area: Implementation

1.1 Partners in implementation of the Plan should commit to principles of operation and action related to equity.
1.2 Task a body of engaged stakeholders to promote and facilitate implementation of the Plan. This collaborative body should be grounded in, and build from the diverse group of stakeholders who have led and lent their expertise to the development of the Plan through the Executive Committee, Planning Team, and Project Advisors. Envisioned participants in this collaborative include: statewide farm, fishing, food, land conservation, environmental, anti-hunger and public health organizations; regional entities such as “buy local” organizations, food banks, land trusts, regional planning agencies, economic development agencies, Workforce Investment Boards, and workforce education and training organizations; municipal entities, including local food policy councils, agriculture commissions, healthy lifestyle organizations, and food pantries; food businesses and cooperatives; and others who have participated in the development of the Plan. The stakeholder collaborative should be a dynamic body whose structure and form would intentionally evolve over time. At the outset, the entity should be steered by the Plan’s current Executive Committee, with direction from the Plan’s current Project Advisors. In Year One (2016), the collaborative should focus on building policymaker and public support for the Plan’s goals and recommendations, making progress on specific Plan recommendations, and growing the statewide network of engaged and connected food system stakeholders. In Year Two (2017), the collaborative should continue to focus on Plan implementation, while addressing the issue of future form and function of the collaborative to maximize its collective impact.
1.3 Revitalize the Massachusetts Food Policy Council (FPC) as an engaged force toward coordinated regulations and supports for the food system, and a catalyst for changes recommended in the Plan.
1.4 Establish a food system plan caucus in the legislature.
1.5 Ensure that food system issues are integrated into all appropriate planning efforts.

Good Food Governance; Food System Plan Implemenation; Leadership/Staffing;
Network/Bodies/Council (FPCs); Food System Coordination; Legislation;

Plan Information

CategoryDatabase entry
Plan RegionMassachusetts
Publication Date2015
Entry reviewed by original authorYes
PDF attachmentView Full Report
Plan TitleThe Massachusetts Local Food Action Plan
Author(s)Massachusetts Food Policy Council (housed under MA Dept. of Agricultural Resources). The plan was developed for MFPC by: Metropolitan Area Planning Council, Franklin Regional Council of Governments, Pioneer Valley Planning Commission, and Massachusetts Workforce Alliance
Author Type Food Policy Council; Government
Region Type State
Funding Sources State Government; Foundations
FundersCommonwealth of Massachusetts; Massachusetts District Local Technical Assistance Program; Henry P. Kendall Foundation; Boston Foundation; Eos Foundation; Island Foundation; John Merck Fund; Merck Family Fund
Total Project Budget$300,000
Plan GoalsOverarching goals for the creation of the plan:1. Increase production, sales, and consumption of Massachusetts-grown foods.2. Create jobs and economic opportunity in food and farming, and improve the wages and skills of food system workers.3. Protect the land and water needed to produce food, maximize environmental benefits from agriculture and fishing, and ensure food safety.4. Reduce hunger and food insecurity, increase the availability of healthy food to all residents, and reduce food waste.
Intended AudiencePolicymakers, larger food system community
Plan Recommendation Structure10 topic areas, each with multiple goals. Each goal has a series of recommendations, and each recommendation has actions.
The topic areas are:
Land InputsFarmingFishingProcessingDistributionMarketingFood Access, Security, and HealthWorkforceImplementation 
Catalyst for PlanThe Massachusetts Food Policy Council was formed in the late 2000s, following a number of earlier food systems planning and assessment efforts. They undertook this planning process as part of their larger mission and in order to create “a general framework for goals and objectives that will improve Massachusetts’ agricultural economy, enhance the resiliency of the Commonwealth’s food system, and improve the nutritional health of the State’s population” (p. 13). 
Creation ProcessA full description of the engagement process is included as an appendix (p. 321).
“Stakeholder engagement for the Massachusetts Local Food Action Plan was a broad, statewide process that directly involved more than 1,500 people in more than 80 meetings, presentations, and interviews in all regions of the Commonwealth. Another 1,000 or more people were indirectly engaged and received information about the planning process at public events and conferences” (p. 321).
Key activities include:- 8 public forums across the state (400+ participants)- 8 statewide issue-specific working groups, which met a total of 29 times (270 participants)- 16 events held by partner organizations with information booths (1000+ engagements)- 242 low-income/BIPOC residents engaged- 120 interviews with members of municipal food policy councils, government agencies, farm and food businesses, hunger relief agencies, and other stakeholder organizations.- 32 Project Advisors who met eight times to provide general oversight and guidance to the plan.- 7 project status reports to the Massachusetts Food Policy Council (MFPC) and its Advisory Committee.- 2 rounds of comment opportunities on preliminary drafts of the plan
Theoretical Framework(s) Employed  N/A
Theoretical Framework(s): Additional LiteratureUnspecified
Development TimelineApprox. 3 years. Statewide planning process began in 2013; plan adopted by the MFPC in December 2015.
Implementation StrategyThe 10th and final section of the plan’s recommendations focuses on implementation (p. 145-151). These recommendations focus on governance and oversight of the food system and the plan’s recommendations. 
Implementation TimelineUnspecified
Evaluation StrategyPages 152-156 offer a table of possible metrics corresponding to each of the 4 overarching plan goals and mapped onto the 10 corresponding topic areas. 
International Development Framework(s)None
Current Plan StatusActive
Government Adoption StatusAdopted
Government Adoption Status (Notes)The MLFSP published a public sector report (attached) outlining their progress since the plan’s adoption. See here, also:
Since then, a number of other updates were reported (via Winton Pitcoff, MA Food SYstems Collaborative): 
– First in the nation Food System Caucus established. Bicameral and bipartisan group of more than 2/3 of the legislature.- $59 million invested in SNAP incentive program to improve access and health outcomes for SNAP users and sales for local farms.- Threshold for compliance in Food Waste Ban lowered, diverting more excess food from waste stream.- New $61 million grant program for capital investments in food system enterprises.- Development of statewide Farmland Action Plan.- Governor established Food Security Task Force to address food needs during COVID.- First new investment of state resources in UMass Extension in many years for four new staff positions.- New state grant program for local food policy councils launched. 
Supplemental Documents View Supplemental Documents