Issue #22 | September 2021

Supporting collective action
toward an equitable, sustainable, resilient, and connected local
food system in Massachusetts.

Things you can do right now to
support systemic policy change.
ARPA Funding Actions

Billions of dollars have been allocated to the Commonwealth and to individual municipalities from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). Food system stakeholders need to weigh in about the importance of investment in the local food system.

  • Testimony on state priorities should be submitted to and SenateCommittee.Ways&
  • Information about the City of Boston’s process is available here.
  • The City of Worcester is conducting a survey here.
  • The Metropolitan Area Planning Council is offering two webinars for cities and towns to learn about how federal funds can be spent. September 9 (EDA Funding), and September 15 (ARPA).
  • The Collaborative developed this resource to help advocates consider how municipal funds could support local food system needs.

An Act Promoting Equity in Agriculture

Call your legislators and ask them to cosponsor An Act promoting equity in agriculture! See details in our call to action.
Highlights of the
Collaborative's work.
Collaborative’s Agriculture Work to Focus on Climate Change

The Collaborative’s network of farmers and agricultural support organizations has consistently reflected that climate change is a critical issue for agriculture, impacting recovery planning as well as long term disruption to our food system. From its impact on water management and soil erosion to invasive species, to frost damage, and worker health and safety, climate change will test farmers' capacity to be sustainable and will require investment in research, education, and funding for improved infrastructure and equipment. A report we published late last year concludes in part that climate change requires systemic thought and planning now, not later. 

As a result, Collaborative Ag Network Coordinator Jeff Cole’s work will focus on climate change over the next year. His work will focus on both policy advocacy, as well as on developing resources to support farmers.

Read more about our work on climate change here.

The 2021 Massachusetts Food System Forum: Reconnecting and Rebuilding 

Online, December 2021

The 2021 Forum will be held online, making the exciting lineup of workshops and discussions more accessible to food system stakeholders around the Commonwealth. The program is still being developed, but sessions will be held via Zoom throughout December and will be offered at no cost.

Special thanks to our sponsors:

  • Mass Food Trust
  • Local Enterprise Assistance Fund (LEAF)
  • Franklin County Community Development Corporation - Western MA Food Processing Center
  • American Farmland Trust
  • Farm Credit East
  • Bay State Milling
  • edibleBoston
  • United State Department of Agriculture - Natural Resources Conservation Service
  • BlueWave Solar
  • Real Pickles
Inspiring work being done by some
of our friends in Massachusetts.
NOFA/Mass supports soil health and sustainable agriculture

The Massachusetts Chapter of the Northeast Organic Farming Association (NOFA/Mass) advocates for sustainable agricultural policies that strengthen the resilience of our local communities. The organization co-authored and led the campaign to pass the Commonwealth’s healthy soils bill. Signed into law by the Governor on January 14, 2021, the legislation creates a program to provide education, technical assistance, and financial incentives to farmers and land managers to utilize healthy soil practices, and a fund to support farmers in implementing these practices. The program, which is managed by the state’s EOEEA Commission for Conservation of Soil, Water & Related Resources, coupled with the state’s Healthy Soils Action Plan, which is still under development, support increasing soil organic and carbon content which are key components of successfully addressing climate change for farmers and governments alike.

Two of NOFA/Mass’s many programs are the Soil Carbon Program and Soil & Grower Technical Assistance Program which support farmers with educational and technical assistance in no- and reduced-till farming and develops a learning community that encourages further innovation, development, and education around these techniques to the wider farming community. This work supports farmers in making the changes necessary to adapt to climate change in ways that benefit not only their own businesses but also their local and regional communities. NOFA/Mass also organizes the Monthly Mini-Till Farmers Round Table where farmers and farm advisors talk about tillage reduction and soil health. 

NOFA/Mass envisions a commonwealth of people working together to create healthy landscapes that feed communities and restore the environment. Visit the NOFA/Mass website to learn more about the organization and their many programs and projects.
Thoughtful insights about
food system issues.
Revealed: The true extent of America’s food monopolies, and who pays the price, The Guardian

A joint investigation by the Guardian and Food and Water Watch found that few powerful transnational companies, including Kraft Heinz, General Mills, Conagra, Unilever and Delmonte, dominate every part of the food supply chain - from seeds and fertilizers, to slaughterhouses and supermarkets. Because of their size and power, these companies are able to set the prices of food paid to many farmers and by most consumers, and even to decide what foods are grown and sold. This consolidation has led to often poor working conditions and low wages for workers on large farms, in meat processing plants, and at many retailers, as well as negative environmental impacts by many large food producers.

While most of Massachusetts’ local food system is not part of this consolidation, producers are still forced to compete in a marketplace dominated by these practices. The Collaborative and many other stakeholder organizations advocate for public policies and investments that support local and regional food systems, including small-scale regenerative farmers, regional food hubs and grocery coops, all of which are key elements toward making the food system more sustainable and equitable.

The Massachusetts Food System Collaborative envisions a local food system where everyone has access to healthy food, to land to grow food, to good jobs, and to the systems where policy decisions are made. Read more about our vision and our work.