An Act advancing food and agricultural equity in the commonwealth
This bill would create a number of provisions and programs related to agricultural equity. It would create a circuit rider position within the Department of Agricultural Resources to provide on-site guidance to businesses about state programs, regulations, and funding opportunities. It would create a special legislative commission on agricultural equity to develop recommendations for investments and policies to promote racial equity in agriculture, and a Massachusetts Farmer Equity Commission Fund to fund its expenses.
It would create a Next Generation Farmers Fund to establish an agricultural workforce development grant program with priority given to environmental justice populations, people with disabilities, and training in practices that mitigate climate change. It would create a Local Garden Agriculture Program to enable residents to establish small-scale food gardens and increase access to locally grown food. Recipients would be prohibited from using chemical pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizer and would have access to technical assistance experts.
The bill would also require the Department of Conservation and Recreation to establish a program to provide for the use of state-owned land for community gardens and farmers markets, and issue licenses to cities, towns, and non-profits to operate the gardens.