Outside Section 192
Data Current as of: 8/9/2016
(a) There shall be a farmland protection and farm viability advisory commission. The commission shall consist of the following members or their designees: the commissioner of the department of agricultural resources, who shall serve as chair, the house and senate chairs of the joint committee on environment, natural resources and agriculture; 1 member appointed by the minority leader of the senate; 1 member appointed by the minority leader of the house of representatives; and 8 members appointed by the Governor, 1 of whom shall be a member of the board of food and agriculture, 1 of whom shall be a representative of the University of Massachusetts Agricultural Extension Program; 1 of whom shall be representative of the Massachusetts Farm Bureau Federation; 1 of whom shall be a representative of The Trustees of Reservations; 1 of whom shall be a representative of American Farmland Trust; 1 of whom shall be a farmer, 1 of whom shall be a representative of a urban agriculture organization, and 1 of whom shall be a representative of a farmland access organization.
(b) The secretary of energy and environmental affairs, in consultation with the farmland protection and farm viability advisory commission, shall develop a farmland action plan that sets forth the commonwealth's goals, priorities, and actions for farmland protection and access. The plan shall include: (i) an inventory of state-owned land in active agricultural production or potentially suitable for farming; (ii) a review of state agency policies related to the use or lease of land for farming and recommendations related to state policies around the use and lease of state-owned land for farming; (iii) recommended statutory, regulatory, or policy revisions to the Agricultural Preservation Restriction (APR) program to support the long-term economic viability of protected farms, address housing needs, and ensure the program is managed in a transparent and consistent manner and that its policies keep pace with changes in agriculture and associated markets; (iv) an analysis of recent trends and potential threats related to farmland loss and conversion; (v) an analysis of farmland enrolled in chapter 61A of the General Laws and recommendations for improving enrollment of farmland in the program; (vi) measurable statewide goals and benchmarks related to farmland conversion, farmland protection, and farmland access, and recommendations for state policy changes and program funding levels to meet these goals and benchmarks as well as recommendations to improve state data collection around farmland trends and to establish a system for tracking acres of farmland in production over time.
(c) The commission shall meet at least quarterly and shall advise and make recommendations to the secretary of energy and environmental affairs for the proper management and development of the plan. The executive office of energy and environmental affairs and the department of agricultural resources shall provide technical support to the commission. Upon completion, the farmland action plan shall be filed with the clerks of the house of representatives and senate.
I am vetoing this section because it proposes a commission that would be redundant of ongoing work already performed by the Food Policy Council. That Council has already prioritized, and is expected to approve on July 14, 2016, a recommendation to establish a state Farmland Action Plan.