This week the Massachusetts Senate Committee on Ways & Means released its FY17 budget proposal. Unfortunately, the Ways and Means budget did not include the important Farmland Protection and Viability Advisory Commission that was approved by the House. The budget also includes noteworthy cuts to both the Department of Agricultural Resources (11%), Department of Environmental Protection (13%) and the Department of Conservation and Recreation (9%) as compared to the FY16 budget.
Call to Action
Now is the time to take action! As an advocate for farmland protection in Massachusetts, we urge you to call or email your Senator by Friday 5/20 and ask him/her to co-sponsor the Farmland Protection and Viability Advisory Commission along with the priority Green Budget amendments. (Click here to read the Green Budget Coalition letter that went to Senators this week.) We've drafted the message for you. All you need to do is personalize it and communicate it. Find out who your State Senator is and how to contact them.
Sample Email Message to send to your Senator
(Please cc email@example.com on the email so we can keep track)
As one of your constituents and a supporter of American Farmland Trust, I am writing to ask you to co-sponsor the top priority Green Budget amendments. For far too long, Massachusetts has cut agricultural and environmental agency funding, and this is having negative impacts on our farms, natural resources, recreational opportunities, and public health, to name a few. Half a penny of every dollar of the state budget going to environmental agencies is woefully inadequate. Please co-sponsor these amendments to help take a step in the right direction:
- Farmland Protection and Viability Advisory Commission (Senator Anne Gobi)
Despite Massachusetts' long history of leadership in farmland protection, the Commonwealth lacks relevant goals and benchmarks against which to measure progress. The Farmland Protection Advisory Commission would implement a key recommendation of the Massachusetts Food Plan by creating a farmland action plan to develop an inventory of farmland and review existing programs for farmland protection and farm viability, as well as establish measurable statewide goals and benchmarks related to farmland conversion, farmland protection, and farmland access.
- DAR Administration (Line-Item 2511-0100) (Senator Anne Gobi)
Massachusetts has a well-established agricultural sector with over 7,700 farms, 524,000 acres of farmland, and 61,000 jobs. With more than 30 programs and services, the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources helps consumers find local food and farm products and expands access to healthy, local food in communities where nutritious food options are limited. The Senate Ways & Means budget reduces this line-item by $645,000 (11%) compared to FY16.
- Additional Priorities
In addition to these priority agricultural items, please support the other important Green Budget amendments programs and agencies. Click here to read the Green Budget Coalition letter that went to Senators this week.
Sample Message for Phone Call
As one of your constituents and a supporter of American Farmland Trust, I am calling to ask you to co-sponsor the Green Budget amendments and especially the Farmland Protection and Viability Advisory Commission Amendment and DAR Administration (Line-Item 2511-0100) Amendment, both being filed by Senator Anne Gobi.
Thank you for your consideration! (Provide your name/contact info if requested.)