MFBF New Office Headquarters Address
For your records MFBF has moved to our new location. The new address is:
249 Lakeside Ave
Marlborough, MA 01752
Phone: 508.481.4766 508.481.4766| Fax: 508.481.4768
**Click here for a full color pdf newsletter**
Massachusetts Agriculture “White Paper”
The Ag Day White Paper is intended to educate lawmakers on what the legislative priorities are for the coming year. Farm Bureau coordinated the White Paper, but it represents the consensus of all the organizations who sign onto it. Last year more than 35 organizations were signatory to the White Paper. **Please note that the following is a draft and is subject to minor changes prior to April 7.
Massachusetts Agriculture has been experiencing a Renaissance during the last few years. Consumers are increasingly buying local. This is good news not only for local farmers but for the Commonwealth as a whole. There has been more than a 25% increase in the number of farms in Massachusetts since 2002. This means more open space is being preserved, more dollars are circulating in the local economy, and more jobs have been created.
Massachusetts Agriculture wants to keep growing! To do so, we need to have laws that will strengthen Off-farm Infrastructure - government accountability, agriculturally related businesses, tax structure, and consumer rights – all of which are critical to the continued growth of agriculture in the Commonwealth.
HB 1141 - An Act to promote farm viability - Massachusetts agriculture has diversified considerably in the last few years with more farmers markets, on-farm processing, CSAs, etc. Local BOHs, which have considerable authority, have appropriately become interested in these activities. Resulting regulations have unfortunately come into conflict with necessary agricultural practices and standards. This has occurred because BOHs often lack expertise in agriculture. This bill would create a review panel of Public Health and Agriculture experts to review all BOH regulations impacting agriculture, and work with BOHs to develop sound regulations. This bill does not prevent BOHs from protecting public health. It simply provides technical assistance and ensures good governance.
HD 1184 – An Act to strengthen the Massachusetts agricultural infrastructure relative to meat and poultry production and processing - There is huge demand for local meat and there is sufficient production capacity on MA farms to meet this demand. One of the biggest barriers to creating a local market for meat is the lack of slaughter and processing facilities in MA. There are currently only two USDA inspected meat slaughter facilities in MA, and no USDA poultry slaughter facilities. To address this need, this bill would move state oversight of slaughter from DPH to DAR, and also allow DPH to enter into an agreement with USDA to take on federal inspections (USDA would pay for half the costs). This bill would create a single agency to oversee meat processing; one that has a dual focus of consumer protection and economic development. Maine and several other states have taken a similar approach and seen a sharp increase in the number of slaughter and processing facilities.
HD 02321 - An act to promote economic stimulus in natural
resource based small businesses – MA law currently provides a 3% tax credit for incorporated agriculture and fishing operations for the purchase and lease of goods with more than 4 years “shelf life”. Unfortunately, most farms and many fishing operations are not incorporated. This bill would extend the credit to non-incorporated operations, and stimulate the economy - particularly in rural areas that have suffered the most with the recent economic downturn. Further, farmers who take advantage of this tax credit will never move their farms oversees! This is a sound and solid investment in the state economy, and local agriculture.
SB 335 - An Act to promote the care and well-being of livestock - As anyone who has toured Plimoth Plantation can tell you, farmers have been raising livestock in Massachusetts longer than any other state in the country. We know what we are doing. Recently, outside special interest groups have come into Massachusetts to tell us how to raise livestock. We find this insulting. We understand and share concerns about the humane treatment of animals and have worked with humane agencies in Massachusetts for decades. We also know that this is an increasingly important issue for consumers – we know because many of us sell directly to consumers. To address consumer concern, and outside influence, this bill would create a Livestock Care and Standards Board which consists of farmers, humane groups, veterinarians and other interested parties - all from within the Commonwealth. The group would have the ability to promulgate regulations on any aspect relating to the humane treatment of livestock.
HB 1995 - An act relative to the distribution of raw milk - Massachusetts agriculture faces some of the highest land, labor and regulatory costs in the country. Many Massachusetts farmers have survived, and thrived, by selling directly to the consumer. Opportunities for direct sale of dairy are limited. However, there is a growing consumer demand for raw milk which has been a boon to many dairy farmers. Currently, raw milk may be sold only from the farm. This bill would allow farmers to deliver raw milk to customers, many of whom have difficulty in visiting the farm on a regular basis – a particular problem where there are declining numbers of dairy farms. The bill would also charge DAR with ensuring deliveries occurred in a manner ensuring the safety of the milk.
Legislation of Concern
SB 160 – An act relative to agricultural zoning - This bill would repeal a law passed less than a year ago which extends protection from unreasonable zoning to farms of 2 acres or more. Previously such protection was afforded only to farms of 5 acres or more. We are unaware of any problems arising from the new law. It‘s very perplexing to see a proposed bill that is trying to remove a privilege that has not even been in place for a single growing season. Small farms are small businesses. Small farms are the backbone of Massachusetts agriculture, and small businesses are the backbone of the Massachusetts economy. This bill undermines the success of both.
Farm Family Introduces farmfamily.com Mobile
Now people can use their smart phone to access farmfamily.com anytime, anywhere! We’ve optimized Farm Family’s website for mobile viewing to help clients quickly and efficiently find the information they need. The site automatically detects when Web users are using a mobile browser, so you they use the most popular features of farmfamily.com with a few simple taps of the screen: Make a payment, Review policy information, Find an agent, and more.
Even Farm Family’s Claims Services has been customized for smart phones. With a few simple steps, clients can report a claim, check the status of an existing claim or contact roadside or emergency assistance. If clients prefer not to report their claim via the mobile phone site, they can still report it on the full version of farmfamily.com.
When a loss occurs, clients want quick answers and peace of mind. The new mobile version of farmfamily.com helps provide clients with the personalized service they’ve come to expect from their agent – even when their agent isn’t at the office. It’s our way of taking a personal interest in helping clients conveniently protect what they value most.
This article was provided by Farm Family Casualty Insurance Company for informational purposes only.
The Farm Family group of insurance companies, headquartered in Glenmont NY, operates in 13 states in the northeast and is a subsidiary of American National Family of Companies. Farmers face unique issues. Talk to an insurance agent who understands agriculture insurance. To find an agent near you call 1-800-THE-FARM begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 1-800-THE-FARM end_of_the_skype_highlighting or visit www.FarmFamily.com.
Spring Membership Drive!
Your county Farm Bureau is hard at work building an organization that represents you and protects the business environment where you operate. Farm Bureau’s agricultural and rural advocacy is one of the most important reasons to be a member. Our mission is implemented every day at the county, state, and national level. Farm Bureau is the steady, organized presence with a plan, and has been taking action as directed by its members since 1921. We are the steady noise level that’s been representing the local voice of the agricultural majority for 90 years. We have the infrastructure to take care of business while maintaining the dignity and respect of all involved. It’s just the right way to do things.
As a Farm Bureau member, you get $20 every time someone you referred signs up. So think about who you do business with and if Farm Bureau programs and services could be of benefit to them and then, just ASK them to join.
I’m glad you are a member and hope you are too!
Forest Viability Application Information
Applications to the Forest Viability and Enhancement Program are currently available and are due on Friday, May 13, 2011.
Forest landowners may apply to the Forest Viability and Enhancement Program under any one or a combination of the three business categories below:
- Traditional Forest Products: Development of a Forest Viability Enhancement Plan to achieve greater economic return though the marketing, processing, and sale of traditional forest products such as saw logs, cordwood, and pulp.
- Non-Traditional Forest Products: Development of a Forest Viability Enhancement Plan to grow, produce, or make non-traditional forest products including: medicinal and nutraceutical plants (ginseng, witch-hazel, and slippery elm bark) food products (maple syrup, mushrooms, and nuts) decorative and handicraft products (wreaths, greens, landscaping plants, basket splints, birch bark or other wood/vine products) or rustic furniture.
- Recreation and Wildlife: Development of a Forest Viability Enhancement Plan to achieve economic return based on recreational and wildlife activities including: cross-country ski/hiking trails, wildlife viewing, and environmental education.
Groups of landowners may jointly apply for a Forest Viability and Enhancement Plan in order to achieve higher scores for more acres, but in turn they must all agree to sign a letter of intent with DCR to maintain their forest on their respective properties for a 7-year period. Further, they must all agree to sign a 20-year covenant on their properties if they accept funding for Plan implementation. The forest landowner(s) must also agree to sign a contract with DCR to implement the approved Forest Viability and Enhancement Plan
Landowners that are not currently engaged in a forest-based business may be eligible if they can demonstrate a proficient knowledge and experience of their proposed forest-based business.
Applications are available on the Farm Bureau website or by mail. Requests for mailed applications should be sent to Kent Lage, 249 Lakeside Avenue, Marlboro, MA 01752 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org .
MFBF Young Farmer Leaders Attend NY Farm Bureau NLC
On March 10th, Drew Locke and I jumped in the truck to head to Syracuse, New York for their YF&R Annual Meeting. The trip out there took almost five hours but the drive was not all that bad. While we were driving down the highway we passed a lot of dairy farms; several that sat dormant but many that were thriving.
We thought it would be a great opportunity to travel to New York to see how they pulled together young producers from around their State to run a meeting; something that we hope we can do here in Massachusetts in the near future.
Meetings ran from March 11th-12th covering topics including Family Business Communications, Congressional Insight, Crop Insurance, Making Profit and Social Media. The Conferences were filled with folks from American Farm Bureau, Farm Credit, New York Farm Bureau, New Hampshire Farm Bureau and YF&R members from around the State of New York.
We had the opportunity to meet many young dairy farmers, organic growers, grain salesmen, Farm Credit employees, horse owners, soil specialists, and more. It was really interesting to see folks from all different areas of agriculture come together for such a great event. The event was not just meetings; we had the opportunity to attend a wine tasting from a local winery and also attend a social event on Friday night. It was a great chance to meet producers from different areas of agriculture. Some of us had different-sized operations, produced different crops or livestock, and had different views on organic versus conventional farming. We are able to carry out conversations, learn from each other, and become friends because there was one thing we all had in common; a passion for what we do!
We really anticipate pulling something together like this in Massachusetts this year. We feel that it would be a great opportunity for young producers from around the state to come together. Massachusetts agriculture is extremely diversified; no matter what you are farming, the acres that you farm, or your beliefs in production practices; Massachusetts Farmers need to work together.
If you would like to be added to the YF&R mailing list to stay up to date on meetings, seminars, trips, etc; please contact Jamie (email@example.com) or Drew (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Welcome New Mass Farm Bureau Members
Welcome to the Massachusetts Farm Bureau Federation! Your membership is very important to us and we are here to serve you.
We are looking forward to an exciting year and are glad that you have joined with more than 6300 family members who have united to serve as the Voice of Agriculture® locally, on Beacon Hill and in Washington DC. Whether it is the Farm Family Insurance affinity program, our significant lobbying results, agricultural information resources, legislative alerts, our MFBF.net website, or other services and affinity programs you may utilize, we are sure that you will feel that your dues are a good investment in your business.
David and Karen Anderson, Faith Anderson, Patricia Avallone & Tracie Grover, David Babine, Michael and Sydney Bachman, Judith Ballantine & Kevin Luey, Debra Barrett, Jeffrey and Kerry Bean, Geneiveve Beauregard, Mary Beebee, Jeffrey and Lyndsey Bennett, Rhonda Bernier, George Berry, Claire Bezdek, Samantha and Christopher Bilodeau, Donald Bolton, John Borden, Peter Bravmann, Alice and Steve Brown, Todd Brown, Leslie Burrell, Vern and Julie Butler, Patsy Camuso, Maximilian Carbone, Claudia Carpinone, Victor Cendrowski, Richard Cernak, Melanie Cerny, Christina Ciprio, William Clark, Michael Clery, Suzanne Cobb, Robert Crandall, Dicken Crane, Martha Curran, Lawrence Davis, Charles Denault, David Denison, Jane and Richard Desantis, Janice Drake, Mike Drei, Frank Dudley, Michael and Kate Duffield, Michael Dunn, Cherie Ertha, William and Laurel Facey, Paula Faria, Edward Fernald, Brandon Fisher, Darryl Fisk, Ronald Foster, William and Annemarie Fredericks, Nathan Frigard & Jennifer Smith, Peter Gerry, Christopher Govoni, Bernadette Guidetti, Caroline and Michael Gulbankian, Roland and Gail Hamel, George Hayes, James Hayes, Suzanne Higham, Phil Hines, Mark Howe, Dawn Jayko, Timothy Johnson, Maureen and Carl Johnson, Archibald and Tamara Johnston, Amanda Korman, George and Rita Lacey, Clint Lacivita, Elizabeth Ladner, Patricia Lambert, Cynthia Latta, Madeline Leone, Peter Levasseur, Jason and Isabelle Levisee, Andrew Locke, David Lussier, Peter Macaro, Steven Macleay, Bruce and Suzanne Maksy, Heather Maloney, Larry McGoldrick, Brittany McKechnie, Michael Medeiros and Susan Correia, Ann and Anthony Megma, Sara Minsk, Brendaliz Miranda, Andrew Morey, Bob Moroney, John Murray, Jennifer Musheno & John, Sandra and David Nichols, Inge and Bob Osborne, Robert Para, James Pasiecnik, Sean and Sheri Peterson, Janice Petkauskos, William and Christina Pike, Winton Pitcuff, Heather Porder, Ronald Potter, Pamela Premo, Isaac and Aaron Proctor, John Putnam, William Pybas, Paul Quigley, Jessica Regan, Ray Reid, Joseph and Anne Reilly, Melissa Ricker, Joann Robichaud, David Rogers-Thieriot, Eric Rosenberger, Karen Seo, Martin Sholomith, David Soares, Bruce Spencer, Darcy Spring, Elizabeth and Mark St. Laurent, Andrea Stella, Ashley Sutherby, Karen and Arthur Taylor, Adam Tedeschi, Michael Tomascak, Lisa Valone, Sabrina Venuti, Deanna Walters, Jennifer and Daniel Ward, Martin West, Jared and Elizabeth Wikman, Scott and Susan Winslow, Pearl Wolfson, Albert Wood
The PVGrows Loan Fund
The Working Group was formed and funded as a pilot in late 2009, to develop economic opportunities in the agricultural sector and food system in the Pioneer Valley region of Massachusetts.
Small and mid-sized enterprises, particularly food-based businesses, face unique challenges in identifying suitable sources of capital. The Working Group is developing multiple financing tools, currently in varying stages of development:
PVGrows Loan Fund offers low-interest loans to businesses that fill key gaps in the infrastructure of the Pioneer Valley local food system.
PVGrows has developed a $1 million loan pool targeted at the specific needs of food systems enterprises who may not find a match with conventional bank loans. The pool is funded and administered in partnership with the Western Massachusetts Enterprise Fund, the Cooperative Fund of New England, Equity Trust, and the Franklin County Community Development Corporation. Favorable loan terms are supported in part by commitments from the Lydia B. Stokes Foundation, the Frances Fund, and other philanthropic partners who share an interest in bringing capital to the local food system. Loans are between $35,000 - $250,000, and terms are up to 5 years, with interest rates between 5.70% and 7.55%.
The PVGrows Loan Fund is now accepting new applications. Find out more.
PVGrows Pre-Development Loan Fund
Through WMEF, PVGrows offers a pre-development loan fund - up to $50,000 per project - to provide selected businesses with the capital they need to move from feasibility into operations. Recipients pay interest only as the project moves through development, and the loans are rolled into a final financing package for enterprises that proceed to launch. Interest rates are currently 8%, but are subject to change based on Prime.
PVGrows plans to offer a highly competitive equity fund for interested businesses with investments ranging from $10,000 to $150,000.
PVGrows is exploring options to raise a community funds for the purposes of investment in food system ventures with social and environmental missions. This model draws from national models being developed by Slow Money, RSF Social Finance and others. The goal is to provide interested community members with a means for directing some of their investment dollars into the local food system.
Farmers Market Coupon Training
Trainings are required for all growers and market managers new to the program this season. Coupons cannot be accepted or redeemed prior to training and signing an agreement. If you are unable to attend any of these sessions and would like to begin accepting coupons at your farmers’ market please contact Lisa Damon at (617) 626-1731 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting (617) 626-1731 end_of_the_skype_highlighting to make other arrangements.
***Growers and market managers returning to the coupon program do not need to attend a training session. Recertification for returning growers and managers is conducted through the mail.
Upcoming trainings for new growers and market managers will be held from 4 – 5pm:
Thursday, March 31
Mass. Department of Agricultural Resources
101 University Drive, Suite C4
Amherst, MA 01002
Tuesday, April 5
10 Bird Street, Bluemer Room
Foxborough, MA 02035
RSVP required. To sign up and attend one of these trainings please contact Lisa Damon at MA Dept. of Agricultural Resources (617) 626-1731 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting (617) 626-1731 end_of_the_skype_highlighting or
Farm Bureau Benefits to the Equine Community
“Rise and Shovel”
For anyone who owns livestock, this is the winter you’ll compare against all others. In our home, “rise and shovel”, replaced “rise and shine” – shovel the layers of crusty snow, shovel the doors open, shovel the stalls out, shovel the shavings in, and shovel the roof!
Now is a time to tackle a few more chores before the lawn needs mowing:
- Post an Equine Liability sign on the barn – (available from Farm Bureau for $21, or $28.50 (non-member)
- Sign up for a Horse Farm of Distinction inspection. For just $25 members use this program to have bragging rights in their marketing materials as well as to get useful information from our experienced judges. ($15 for renewing stables).
- Get listed, get known for $29 in our Farm Bureau Horse Directory. This directory travels the state with our four Farm Bureau displays and is actively distributed throughout the year by Fabulous Farm Bureau Volunteers. It travels further when picked up at the Massachusetts Equine Affaire each November.
- Remember that you get a 10% discount for services at Tufts Large Animal Hospital if you are a member in good standing. Don’t wait for a colic surgery to remember to renew on time (June 30)!
- Sign up for legislative alerts. This is how the equine liability law and sign were created. This is how MFBF gained specific changes and broader definitions of agriculture and farming in agriculture law that includes equine activities. This is how exemptions from personal property taxes and animal and farm equipment excise tax opt out options became available. This is how we created low interest loans for agriculture, farm energy discount programs, and improved valuations and lower penalties for land in Chapter 61A. The process works: we listen, we take action, but we can’t do it without you and your friends! Every now and again, you’re going to have to email or call your state and federal representatives to let them know how you feel on a bill we support. Don’t worry, we’ll help you figure out who represents you and how to get the conversation started.
- Get involved. Have a good idea or a concern? MFBF has an Equine Committee that makes recommendations to the MFBF Board of Directors. This is how MFBF Policy is developed and how the activities of the state staff are directed. Each of the eleven county Farm Bureaus appoint one committee member and one alternate. Together this committee represents all breeds, disciplines and equine activities that go on in this state. Contact our office to find out who your representative is and let them know what’s on your mind.
- Get an insurance review. Make sure those “out buildings” have enough coverage and that you are insured for all the activities that are unique to equines on and off your property.
- Learn more about Chapter 61 laws, costs, and restrictions and if they are right for you and protecting important natural resources in your community. The 2006 Chapter 61 changes allow for horseback riding and horse boarding on a minimum of five acres in a substantially natural, wild, open, pastured, managed forest or landscaped condition, or used for an approved recreational purpose. Chapter 61B property taxes are based on the property’s use for open space or recreation, around 75% of what the Chapter 59 tax assessment would be, based on the fair market value of the property.
- Support Farm Bureau. Refer a member and receive $20 at your County Annual Meeting if they join. Sign up three “Regular” ($180) members and receive a Farm Bureau Coat at your County Annual Meeting.
Century Farm Books For Sale
Mass. Farm Bureau is pleased to announce that we have donated 250 copies of the Century Farms 2010 book to school and public libraries across the Commonwealth. More than 500 Massachusetts libraries were sent a notice offering a free copy of the book. Since not all of the libraries took advantage of this offer, we still have copies available for purchase.
The book chronicles the stories behind farms that have been family-owned and operated for at least 100 years. Did you know that there are thirteen farms in Massachusetts that have been continuously farmed for over 300 years?! Or, that the largest Air Force Reserve base in the United States was once part of a Massachusetts Century Farm? From stories of brushes with famous people, to everyday details of life on the farm, Massachusetts Century Farms 2010 offers an in-depth look at how these farms were operated through the years.
To order your personal copy, please send a check for ten dollars (includes tax and shipping) made payable to Massachusetts Farm Bureau (or MFBF). Send to: 249 Lakeside Ave., Marlborough, MA 01752.
Humane Issues and Livestock-Part II
In the last issue of News & Views, I wrote about the Humane Society of the United States and their efforts to use Massachusetts farmers as pawns to push their national agenda. This month, I’m writing about our own legislative efforts related to humane treatment of livestock.
The vast majority of livestock farmers I know were raised with the ethic to treat their animals with respect. Even without this perspective, every farmer knows that a stressed animal does not produce as well as a contented animal. It’s not in the financial best interest of farmers to abuse their animals. Further, many Massachusetts farmers sell directly to the public through farm stands, farmers markets, and CSAs. It’s no secret that humane treatment of animals is a sensitive issue with the public, and any farmer who sells cheese, eggs, meat etc. directly to the consumer will tell you that they get lots of questions about how they raise their animals. It should not come as a surprise then that the membership of three MA Farm Bureau committees (Dairy, Equine, and Legislative) and the Executive Committee all voted unanimously to file legislation to create a Livestock Care and Standards Board.
SB 335, An Act to promote the care and well-being of livestock, was filed by Senator Brewer on behalf of MFBF. It establishes a Livestock Care and Standards Board at the Department of Agricultural Resources. The Board would consist of representatives of the MA Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, The Animal Rescue League, The MA Veterinary Medical Association, a large animal veterinarian, a representative of Farm Bureau, Department of Public Health, NOFA Mass, and representatives of family farms raising various species of livestock. It is a very balanced board, designed so that no particular interest or perspective can dominate a vote.
The Board can develop guidance as well as regulations. Any humane issue relative to livestock is on the table. In contrast, the HSUS bill limits action to three practices, none of which are common in Massachusetts, and one of which is non-existent. Part of the rationale for the Board is that they will be able to develop consensus on the issues most relevant in the Commonwealth, and what areas need to be addressed.
Another benefit of the Board is that it can move forward in a thoughtful manner, so as to minimize negative impacts of any requirements on local farms and the local food system. They would be able to meet with impacted farmers to understand the challenges they would face. As the Board is housed at DAR, they would be in a good position to link these farmers with grants and low-interest loans to help farmers transition their farms and practices to any new requirements. Technical and financial assistance would occur in concert with new requirements.
In contrast, the HSUS bills would prohibit certain practices as of January 1, 2015. This is a fixed date, with no flexibility and no assessment of the impact of the ban. As an example of the folly of this approach, there is one farm I know of which supplies 1000 dozen eggs to the UMASS dining facility. They have said that they will have to shut down production if the HSUS bill passes. Given the scarcity of large egg operations in the area, UMASS would likely have to source their eggs from out-of-state, more than likely from an operation whose practices would be banned in Massachusetts under the HSUS bill. Bad laws lead to bad situations.
While we would prefer to promote our bill on its own merits, the reality of the situation is that our bill is in competition with the HSUS bill. We have logic and common sense on our side. They have emotion and sound bites on theirs. Our bill will take some explaining. However we are confident that once legislators and the public hear the full story, we will prevail.
All Farm Bureau members need to help with this issue. Spread the word to your legislators, fellow farmers, customers and neighbors. Keep tuned to future issues of News & Views for more information, and don’t hesitate to contact me if you need help or have questions.
Please note that the Massachusetts Veterinary Medical Association and the Massachusetts Chapter of the Northeast Organic Farming Association both support SB 335.
Further, if you have the opportunity, please thank Senator Brewer for taking up this bill on behalf of MA Farm Bureau. Senators Tarr, Rodrigues, and Wolf, and Representatives Kulik, Hogan, and Howitt co-sponsored the bill and also deserve our thanks and support.
Director of Government Relations
At This writing, our greenhouses are about half full and I am longing to get on the tractor (a red one) and get some ground ready for lettuce transplants. I have been attending legislative breakfasts every week and I have been dealing with 2 new issues that have begun to make my blood boil…just a little bit.
The first issue is a Massachusetts one. It is being debated on the Cape but was just as heated out in the hill towns not long ago. This issue is not an agriculture one but has the potential to affect all of us if we do not get in front of it. There is a group on the Cape that would like to stop all rights-of-way spraying by power companies. They have enticed legislators to support their cause and they have convinced the public that their point of view is valid. For at least ten years now, I have served on the MDAR Rights of Way committee. This committee reviews vegetation management plans from power companies, railroads, and municipalities for control of unwanted weeds and other plants. Without question, power line vegetation management, which involves the use of Roundup every 3 to 5 years on a small % of the vegetation under a power line, is the most environmentally sustainable method of control I have ever been associated with. Under these lines, vegetation that is low growing is encouraged to shade out other vegetation that might grow taller and impact the power lines to cause outages. Occasionally, some vegetation gets too tall and it is usually cut and treated with Roundup to prevent regrowth. The debate that we are currently engaged in is exactly why preemption legislation was passed almost 20 years ago. Local and regional groups simply do not have the expertise to make decisions regarding these practices. The reality is that mowing under the power line every year is not as safe as the current practice of occasional spraying. There is good reason that DAR has jurisdiction in this area and DAR is where the jurisdiction should stay. If this changes, every city and town in the Commonwealth will want to regulate pesticide use and I guarantee their “want” will not stop with the power lines.
On a second note, Immigration and the U.S. State Department are meddling in the H-2a program. This program, the only legal way to bring farm workers in the U.S., is once again being threatened by those that would seem to prefer that we all just hire illegals. I understand that the H-2a program is expensive, requires housing, transportation, annual inspections, and a ton of paperwork. But, it is legal, has been operating in the US for about 50 years, and provides us with workers that will do the jobs that legal Americans just will not do. There were issues last year raised by U.S. Immigration and we thought they were resolved. Just recently we learned that problems still exist. Thanks to Senators Leahy (VT), Kerry (MA), and others, there seems to be a temporary resolution to the problem. The long term solution is still eluding us, however, and may be stuck in overall immigration reform. Immigration reform will not be easy. It is compounded by border issues and widespread drug trafficking. Last October, Mark Amato attended a labor meeting hosted by Arizona Farm Bureau. In his report back to the MFBF Board, we learned that conditions on the border are so bad that farmers cannot leave their properties unattended at any time due to vandalism and theft. True reform of H-2a is constantly immersed in the larger immigration reform debate and Massachusetts farmers are among the losers. We are making every effort to work with the New England Apple Council and our Federal Legislators to solve this problem.
I always appreciate your comments and concerns. I am especially interested in your ideas on how to increase our membership. Let me know what you think at email@example.com
Dr. Rich Bonanno, President
Speak Your Voice: Who’s a real ‘Farmer’
Farmers spend too much time arguing about who qualifies to speak for agriculture. This doesn’t help anybody.
What defines “A Real Farmer”?
Who decides which of us gets to claim this title, and why does it matter? Competition is usually a good thing, making us all more nimble. It’s a survival thing. But at what point does competition become counterproductive and divisive?
The agricultural community — farmers, including me — has devoted too much energy to dividing ourselves us into categories — and have done so to our own detriment. We’ve divided ourselves into separate, distinct, isolated categories in every way imaginable — the type of farming done, scale of farming done, where farming is done, on whose land the farming is done, with what methods the farming is done.
From these neat, narrow groupings, and with the help of outside groups standing on the sidelines promoting their own agendas, we lob stones at each other, taking out a tooth here, an eye there, and sometimes completely toppling “those people” over there.
And who wins with this? Certainly not farmers or farming.
I’ve seen it within my own state of Maine, where relatively large farms raising single commodities minimize the value of up-and-coming and small-scale farmers focused on local and niche markets Meanwhile, these new farmers rail against the methods of the established farmers.
And this “who’s a real farmer” conflict is magnified when I attend national conferences, where the in-state differences are minimized by the contempt we express — the lack of respect we show — for farmers from other regions of the country.
Am I a real farmer? Here’s how I look at it. I have assisted in a successful birthing of a calf, and I’ve lost a calf while trying to help it into this world.
I have arthritis in my shoulders from processing turkeys for the Thanksgiving market and I’ve wrecked my lower back by hoisting 50-pound bags of grain onto my shoulder and heading out to pasture.
I cracked a rib when I tripped in the pasture and landed on a five-gallon pail.
I have spent sleepless nights worrying about paying down farm debt. I have been creative and energetic in marketing our products to our neighbors and local markets. I have headed up a cooperative of farmers running a facility where we process poultry.
I’ve been zapped by electric fence more times than I can count, had my eyelashes and nose hairs freeze in the cold, I have taught my children basic animal care and spent afternoons building fences with them.
I’m a farmer.
The issues that divide farmers are real and do warrant attention. For example, ethanol is a growing new market, and therefore a boon for crop farmers. But this increased demand for corn has raised feed costs for livestock farmers.
In my corner of the world water becomes an issue when too much of it begins to impact when and where farmers can farm. Yet in other parts of the country, too little water means lawyers negotiate water rights among farmers and with growing cities. Natural, organic, conventional, industrial — we all have different farming practices and we all claim to be “sustainable.” What, exactly, are we doing?
For all that divides us, we farmers need to come together because we face common threats. Where do we draw the line between humane treatment of animals and animal rights? How do we stand up for best farming practices when neighbors in newly created subdivisions attempt to shut down well-established farms because the sights, smells, and sounds of agriculture offend them? Can we develop markets where we can earn a fair price for our products?
I have advocated for eight years in the legislature that farms are small businesses, and that if farmers don’t treat them that way, and if neighbors don’t see them that way, they are doomed to fail. It is a constant struggle and one that we don’t always win.
I think it’s time we dealt with our differences with respect and compassion, and combine our efforts in support of farming. We can struggle separately, or we can focus on our common threats and opportunities together, farmers all.
RFP for Mobile Processing Unit For Small Scale Processors
With this Request for Proposals, New England Small Farm Institute (NESFI) seeks to provide small-scale poultry producer-processors located in eastern Massachusetts with improved access to and professional management of on-farm poultry processing technology.
On-farm use of the Mobile Poultry Processing Unit (MPPU) will enable licensed producer-processors to direct market whole poultry within the Commonwealth to consumers through on-farm sales and farmers’ markets and to local food service institutions and restaurants.
Description of Unit.
The MPPU is a new (2011) non-motorized 26’ tandem axle enclosed trailer (GVW rating 14,000 lbs.) built by Brothers Body & Equipment LLC, Crestline, OH.
Custom fit to specifications approved by MA Departments of Public Health, Environmental Protection and Agricultural Resources, the Unit has been fully equipped to support the on-farm slaughter and processing of whole poultry by trained and licensed producer-processors, in accordance with state regulation and procedures more fully described in the “MPPU Food & Farm Safety Management Guide” prepared by NESFI and New Entry Sustainable Farming Project.
The successful Lessee will be responsible for all aspects of Unit operation including vehicle registration, insurance, transport, maintenance and repair, and user recruitment, training and scheduling. Day-to-day management of the Unit is to be vested in an experienced individual whose qualifications and responsibilities will include but not be limited to Unit transport, scheduling oversight, set-up and takedown, bio-security, supplies inventory management, and user mentoring as necessary.
A lease is offered for an initial two-year period, commencing upon date of execution and ending 24 months from said date unless earlier terminated by either party. The initial two-year agreement is intended to provide NESFI and Lessee with an opportunity to define the economic viability of operating the Unit in eastern MA. NESFI and Lessee will use this information as a basis for negotiating a future, long-term amendment to this agreement, not to exceed an additional ten years and to include option for lease/purchase or outright purchase of the Unit by Lessee. It is understood that the terms of such amendment shall include payment for the full cost of the Unit, inclusive of payments made during the initial two-year term. NESFI and Lessee agree that the proceeds of this transaction will be invested in further development of small-scale poultry processing infrastructure.
Lessee seeks payment of $250/month for the first four months of the lease agreement, with subsequent payments of $550/month for the remainder of the initial two-year lease term.
Member Benefit Alerts
Thinking of purchasing a new car or truck?
The American Farm Bureau Federation has been hard at work negotiating a New Vehicle Incentive Program for our members across the nation. Until the contracts are signed, all indications are that the new vehicle incentive program will save you lots of money on a wide variety of new vehicles after you negotiate your best deal. Effective March 31, 2011, the RAM/Dodge affinity program is discontinued. The new vehicle incentive program will be announced shortly. Stay tuned!
Accidental Death and Dismemberment Insurance (AD&D) Benefit.
Every dollar we spend is a membership dollar, so we are diligent about only offering benefits to you that are of the greatest value. For the past four years we have participated in a blanket policy offering our members and their families AD&D insurance automatically with your membership and increasing in value every year you renewed on time. Thankfully, this was a benefit that didn’t get used much. You probably already have a similar benefit with your credit cards and bank accounts. This benefit is being discontinued effective June 30, 2011.
Want to look good sporting your logo or ours?
John Speck of PROMAC (targeted marketing services) is FBApparel. If you’ve admired those Farm Bureau staff polo shirts at the state annual meeting or the logo lapel pins that our Gold members and membership recruiters wear, please know that John Speck was the consultant that helped us create them. When you want to present the best image, FBApparel can get it done, in budget, on time and right the first time! www.fbapparel.com, 847-622-4892 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 847-622-4892 end_of_the_skype_highlighting.
Spring Cleaning, Moving or Decorating?
MFBF Discount Program Can Help...
Whether you’re looking to de-clutter your home or hire someone to do it for you, Access can help you save all your spring cleaning needs. For example, you can store your valuables (or clutter) for less with begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 1-800-Got-Junk end_of_the_skype_highlighting1-800-Got-Junk (up to $25 off) or PODS (special offers.) Or if you prefer, the professionals at Molly Maid will clean up for you—and give you $25 off. With Access, you can choose between many deals that help you clean your home without cleaning out your wallet.
Crafts & Home Decor
Once your home is cleaned, repaired and free of clutter, you can fill it again with pretty things. Express your unique personal style with home-made home décor—it is even more affordable when you get 15% off your entire purchase at Michael’s. Or for an even bigger change, Sears Commercial offers up to 25% off new appliances.
Visit mfbf.net, click on the membership card and your will be on your way to discounts at over 175,000
Horse Farm of Distinction Applications
The applicant must be a Regular (not Associate) member in good standing with the Massachusetts Farm Bureau Federation at the time of judging. There is a non-refundable fee of $25 for first-time applicants, and $15 for renewing applicants. Judging will take place during July and August and the winners will receive an award certificate and a Horse Farm of Distinction sign that can be mounted for public display. Applications and more information can be obtained by contacting MFBF at 508-481-4766 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 508-481-4766 end_of_the_skype_highlighting or visit www.mfbf.net.
Dairy Farm of Distinction Applications
Applicant farms will be scored on appearance from the roadside and must comply with the criteria guidelines. Judging will take place during July and August and winners will receive an award certificate and a Dairy Farm of Distinction sign that can be mounted for public display. Judging will automatically take place every year unless the dairyman withdraws the application. All active dairy farms in the state may participate in the program by contacting MFBF at 508-481-4766 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 508-481-4766 end_of_the_skype_highlighting or visit www.mfbf.net
Gregg Finn Applications
Applicant must be a child or legal dependant of a Regular member in good standing of MFBF, in at least their junior year of college majoring in communications, journalism, music or any agricultural-related field. Applications are due by August 31st of each year and must include a sealed college transcript, 250 word essay on why the applicant has chosen this particular field of study and projected career goals. This program is implemented by the Women’s Committee. For more information please contact MFBF at 508-481-4766 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 508-481-4766 end_of_the_skype_highlighting or visit www.mfbf.net.
A Wool Pool is being organized to provide local sheep producers with a way to market their wool. Those with small flocks of sheep who have no outlet to sell their wool (most buyers won’t purchase small quantities) can take advantage of this opportunity. It is scheduled to be held on July 2, 2011 at the Cummington Fairgrounds. Consignors are asked to bring their wool at pre-arranged delivery times to avoid chaos. Volunteers will also be needed for handling the wool. Interested parties should contact Aaron Loux at 413-230-8607 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 413-230-8607 end_of_the_skype_highlighting. Please call a month ahead for price estimates.
Bristol County $300 Academic Scholarship
The Student applying for this scholarship must be either currently enrolled or plan on continuing his/her education at the college of their choice. The following guidelines apply:
- The student must be currently enrolled or continuing their education in an agriculture area of study
- The student must successfully complete one semester of studies and the $300 scholarship will be awarded at the beginning of the next semester after submission of bill for that semester.
- Student must submit a written essay accompanied with application on why he/she should be awarded the scholarship.
- Student must be a resident of Bristol County at the time of application
- The high school the student is attending must be in Bristol County
The deadline is April 25, 2011 and completed applications are sent to:
Barbara Mello, 214 Hornbine Rd, Rehobth, Ma 02769
School Name & Address__________________________________________
FOR SALE: Hereford Calves (polled) for Sale: 8-9 months old, hand raised and tame, both steers and heifers, for your feed lot or pasture 617-840-2074 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 617-840-2074 end_of_the_skype_highlighting
FOR SALE: Tires. Great prices, all sizes, tire repairs, road service, calcium chloride service. Hoey Tire, Worcester. Call 508-755-6666 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 508-755-6666 end_of_the_skype_highlighting, www.hoeytire.com.
FOR SALE: Penns Creek one sided 25’ boom sprayer (also does corn) $3,200.00; Knverland 3 bottom plow $2,000.00; electric fence supplies, 3” aluminum irrigation pipe $25 each; 3pth cement mixer (new) $550.00; 3pth rotary seed spreader $350.00. Call 617-645-6444 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 617-645-6444 end_of_the_skype_highlighting.
FOR SALE: Hay, 1st and 2nd cut – no dust guaranteed. Wholesale and retail. We deliver and unload. Call our work cell at 774-259-6960 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 774-259-6960 end_of_the_skype_highlighting or our office # at 508-252-9029 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 508-252-9029 end_of_the_skype_highlighting. Thank you. Skip and Tish @ Homestead Farms.
APPRAISER/CONSULTANT for farm/forest property. Estate planning, buying/selling, APR/CR valuation my specialty. William King 508-867-2600 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 508-867-2600 end_of_the_skype_highlighting.
FARM MAINTENANCE: All types arena work, construction & renewal. Paddock areas built, fencing new & repairs, hydrant work, brush work, field fertilization & care. CRF Maintenance Services. www.cringfarm.com 508-234-9824 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 508-234-9824 end_of_the_skype_highlighting.
SERVING THE FARMERS IN MASS: Helping farmers keep what they make. Experienced in dairy, beef, fruit & vegetable farming; experienced with APR, retirement planning, estate planning & taxation, tax free exchanges. Donald E. Graves, CPA, LLC,Masters Degree in Taxation & Financial Planning, Bentley College, 377 Main Street, Suite 1, Greenfield, MA 01301-3332, 1-800-286-6036 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 1-800-286-6036 end_of_the_skype_highlighting, firstname.lastname@example.org
PASTURES: Let our expertise in pasture construction and design provide you with pastoral views, solutions for your equestrian needs and elimination of boarding fees. Reclaim your woodlands into pastures. Increase your property value. Call Woodridge Farm, Lincoln, MA 781-259-0251 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 781-259-0251 end_of_the_skype_highlighting
Member to Member Marketplace
Island Alpaca Company, www.islandalpaca.com, 10% discount to MA Farm Bureau Members off current retail prices for alpaca goods in the farm store (except spinning equipment). Martha’s Vineyard, 508-693-5554 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 508-693-5554 end_of_the_skype_highlighting.
Roberts Brothers Lumber, 1450 Spruce Corner Road, Ashfield MA 01330, 10% savings on current Lumber Price Sheet, excluding delivery, planning and any other services.
Dowse Orchards, 98 North Main Street, Sherborn, MA 01770, 10% savings on farm produce. 508-653-2639 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 508-653-2639 end_of_the_skype_highlighting, www.dowseorchards.com.
Twin City Eye Care, 867 Merriam Ave., Leominster, MA 01453, 978-537-6045 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 978-537-6045 end_of_the_skype_highlighting, www.twincityeyecare.com. 20% discount on lenses and frames..
Budget Truck Rentals – Moving household contents or moving product to that Farmers’ Market,
MFBF members get a 15% discount on Budget Truck Rentals by using MFBF account number 56000133689. Visit www.budgettruck.com/mafbf or call 1-800-566-8422 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 1-800-566-8422 end_of_the_skype_highlighting. (Insert Ad).
Prescription Rx – This benefit helps reduce prescription drug costs. MFBF members save an average of 30% (some as high as 75%) on prescriptions. The card is like a coupon that you use over and over again at over 75,000 national and regional pharmacies. The cards will be sent with your Farm Bureau membership renewal invoice or call the office to request one now. If your CVS pharmacist or clerk does not recognize the Rx card, have them enter COBRA CODE 25875 for the CVS pharmacy terminal system.
Grainger sales – 10% discount and free shipping on internet orders. wwwgrainger.com.