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Small Is Beautiful: Help promote small-plot farming in MA



The State Legislature’s Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources, and Agriculture will soon make a decision on H715, the Small Plot Farming bill. Background information about the bill appears below. A hearing was held last June. Both the Mass Farm Bureau and the Mass Department of Agricultural Resources support the bill.

Please encourage all those interested in this legislation to call Committee members between now and Friday to ask them to release this bill from Committee with a favorable recommendation that the full legislature pass the bill. A list of Committee members and office phone numbers is attached. Rep. Straus and Sen. Petruccelli are the co-chairs.

— Steve D’Amico

H715: An Act to promote small plot farming in the Commonwealth.
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts
In the Year Two Thousand and Nine
_______________

An Act to promote small plot farming in the Commonwealth.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:

SECTION 1. Section 3 of chapter 40A of the general laws, as appearing in the 2006 official edition, is hereby amended by inserting after the word “more” in line 25 the following:- and to parcels one acre or more when at least $1,000 per acre of verifiable revenue can be shown.

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SUMMARY OF H715 by Rep. Steven D’Amico, Main Sponsor


Today, many farmers rent small parcels of land to supplement their main acreage. Unfortunately, they are often subject to restrictive zoning requirements.

As energy prices escalate over the next few years, the importance of growing food closer to where it is consumed will expand. In the future, densely populated states like Massachusetts will be forced to rely on small plots to meet much of our needs. Using intensive farming techniques, it is possible to gross $50,000 or more on small plots.

Under Massachusetts General Law, municipalities can’t prohibit, unreasonably regulate, or require special permits restricting agriculture. Currently, this applies to plots of 5 acres more. H715 would extend these protections to plots as small as 1 acre where it can be demonstrated that the land produces at least $1,000 in agricultural income.

Under the provisions of this bill, small plot farmers would become eligible for technical assistance and grants awarded by the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources and the US Department of Agriculture. An example would be The Farm Viability Enhancement Program, which provides technical assistance and implementation grants to help farmers increase productivity through the development of farm plans.

For more information, click here.

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2009-2010 Joint Environment, Natural Resources, and Agriculture Committee



Representatives


Representative William M. Straus 10th Bristol 473F State House Boston MA 02133 (617) 722-2210

Representative Denis E. Guyer 2nd Berkshire 473F State House Boston MA 02133 (617) 722-2210

Representative Demetrius J. Atsalis 2nd Barnstable 167 State House Boston MA 02133 (617) 722-2810

Representative Michael F. Rush 10th Suffolk 544 State House Boston MA 02133 (617) 722-2637

Representative Brian P. Wallace 4th Suffolk 472 State House Boston MA 02133 (617) 722-2013

Representative Sean Garballey 23rd Middlesex 134 State House Boston MA 02133 (617) 722-2400

Representative Carolyn Dykema 8th Middlesex 473F State House Boston MA 02133 (617) 722-2210

Representative Ann-Margaret Ferrante 5th Essex 26 State House Boston MA 02133 (617) 722-2080

Representative Timothy Madden Barnstable, Duke, & Nantucket 167 State House Boston MA 02133 (617) 722-2810

Representative Susan W. Gifford 2nd Plymouth 542 State House Boston MA 02133 (617) 722-2976

Representative Lewis G. Evangelidis 1st Worcester 473B State House Boston MA 02133 (617) 722-2263

Senators


Senator Anthony Petruccelli First Suffolk and Middlesex 413-B State House Boston MA 02133 (617) 722-1634

Senator James B. Eldridge Middlesex and Worcester 213-A State House Boston MA 02133 (617) 722-1120

Senator Jennifer L. Flanagan Worcester and Middlesex 520 State House Boston MA 02133 (617) 722-1230

Senator Robert A. O’Leary Cape and Islands 511-B State House Boston MA 02133 (617) 722-1570

Senator Michael O. Moore Second Worcester 518 State House Boston MA 02133 (617) 722-1485

Senator Bruce E. Tarr First Essex and Middlesex 313-A State House Boston MA 02133 (617) 722-1600


  

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