Massachusetts Farm Bureau Federation Action Center

Alert - Your Advocacy Voice Need on Beacon Hill

The Massachusetts House will soon begin debate on amendments to the House budget. Several amendments have been proposed which are important to the agricultural Community. Please contact your representative as soon as possible by filling out the form to the right, and let them know your thoughts on the proposed amendments.

Below is a list of amendments we have identified as important. Please use this background in your message to your representative. However, it’s  best to use your own words, and not copy and paste this information. 

Amendments Favored by MFBF

Meat Processing

Amendment # 195 - At MFBF’s request, Representative Pignatelli has filed this amendment to fund DAR to provide technical assistance to custom slaughter operation with the goal of helping them upgrade to USDA inspected facilities. Meat must come from an inspected facility to be sold commercially.

Massachusetts has only two inspected red meat facilities. It doesn’t have any inspected poultry facilities. The fastest means to address this critical shortcoming in the Commonwealth’s meat processing infrastructure, is to help custom slaughter facilities upgrade. Maine undertook a similar project several years ago and quickly doubled their number of inspected facilities. 

Food Donation Tax Credit

Amendment 777 - Representative Schmid offered this amendment at MFBF’s request. It would provide farmers with a tax deduction for food donated to charitable organizations. It closely mirrors provisions of the federal tax code which changed a few years ago to allow for such deductions.

As evidenced during COVID, many farmers generously donate their products to charity. A tax deduction will not only help to encourage more donations, but help farms remain financially viable as well.

Agricultural Fairs

Agricultural Fairs took a hard hit due to COVID restrictions. They were unable to open, or to lease fairground out for other events which is a critical source of revenue for most fairs. Even if fairs can operate at full capacity in the coming season, many have significant shortfalls in capital and will be operating at a diminished capacity. Should restrictions continue, several could go under completely – some of which have been in operation for more than a century.

Several amendments have been filed on this topic. MFBF supports the overarching concept of assistance to agricultural fairs. If the House is amenable to supporting agricultural fairs, they will likely condense them to a single action. Please voice your support for either the amendment you feel is most beneficial, or for simply providing support to help agricultural fairs.

Amendment 234 – Representative Hill filed amendment at MFBF’s request. It would provide $10 in financial assistance to agricultural fairs (including 4H Fairs). It also creates an advisory committee of the MA Agricultural Fairs Association, the 4H Foundation and the MA Office of Tourism  to advise on distribution.

Amendment 926 – Representative Blais has offered this amendment providing $500k for awards to be offered at Massachusetts agricultural fairs.

Amendment 929 – Representative Blais has offered this amendment providing $15 million for grants to agricultural fairs which have suffered losses related to COVI-19.

Amendments Opposed by MFBF

Amendment 721 – This amendment is designed to make it cheaper for out-of-state egg producers to enter the Massachusetts marketplace without meeting requirements put into place by voter in the 2016 Question 3 ballot initiative. Question 3 required, among other things, a minimum of 1.5 square feet per hen. This amendment would reduce the allowed area to 1 square feet per bird.  While the amendment is purported to have additional improvements for hen welfare, this is questionable. None of the supposed improvements are relevant to a single Massachusetts poultry operation.

Some humane organizations have agreed to support this amendment in exchange for out-of-state egg interest supporting a 1 square foot standard.  MFBF strongly opposes this sort of horse trading. While we opposed Question 3, we believe the will of the voters should be honored.  Thwarting the will of the voters will only serve to diminish consumer trust in the farming community.

Amendment 416 – This amendment would provide $100k for a special commission to study the herbicide glyphosate. MFBF opposes this amendment as it is unnecessary and creates unnecessary bureaucracy.

The Pesticide Board Subcommittee is charged under existing law with the review and registration of pesticides. At the request of MFBF and several other organizations, they have already agreed to conduct a review of glyphosate.  A recent review of neonicotinoid insecticides by the subcommittee resulted in significant restrictions on the use of these products, demonstrating the credibility of the subcommittee.

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