We are the voice of agriculture
The Massachusetts Farm Bureau Federation is a non-profit organization representing more than 3,000 family members across the Commonwealth. MFBF is an advocate for farmers, run by farmer members who develop policies through its grassroots process.
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Its mission statement is to "Strengthen a diverse agricultural community by supporting and advocating for Massachusetts farm families." Its vision is to "Envision a world with plentiful high-quality agricultural products, productive open land, and a robust and prosperous farming community. We are committed to working with like-minded groups to achieve these goals."
For more than 100 years, Massachusetts Farm Bureau Federation has been an advocate for farmers in the Commonwealth and helped keep them farming. This could be seen during the COVID-19 pandemic, when MFBF worked on farmers behalf to:
- Co-host weekly calls for farmers. Every Monday, we co-hosted with MDAR calls from our farmer members, during which they could express concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on their business.
- Online resources. We developed an online toolkit of all the different guidance documents that were released by state officials related to agriculture.
- Provided input into guidance documents. MFBF staff and leadership were in constant communication with MDAR and other state officials to express concerns and unique situations that needed to be addressed in guidance documents from MDAR. We were the farmers’ voice to these officials, and we worked to ensure their concerns were heard and hopefully addressed.
- Provided links to financial assistance programs. As the situation with COVID-19 unfolded, we provided our farmer members links via our Weekly Update email and social media to financial assistance programs that were beneficial. While not every program was perfect for every situation, we worked to identify situations that work for agriculture.
- Acted as a ‘Call Center’ for agricultural questions. As guidance documents became available and created more questions, MFBF acted as a call center and took questions from members about those documents.
- Outreach to federal and state legislators. MFBF contacted legislators on several issues important to the farming community, including expanding SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans to farm, expediting processing of H2A workers, and more.
We also are an advocate for the equine industry and aquaculture.
- For example, MFBF supported a bill that would change the Massachusetts horse riding instructor licensing program to be more in step with surrounding states’ licensing process.
- Currently, the licensing process includes a written test with questions focused on animal health not on instructing riders. No other state has this test.
- The legislation that MFBF supported would require the licensing process be removed with CORI checks being made a requirement for all riding instructors.
Our organization also works on a local level to provide support to our farmer members.
- For example, faced with issues and difficulties of challenging individual Boards of Health (BOHs), Farm Bureau made the decision to produce a set of Model Livestock Regulations for municipal BOHs.
- The MFBF Livestock Committee did so in the hopes of both getting BOHs to question the need for regulations, and if they choose to implement regulations, ensure they are science-based and are workable.
- This local level support has helped numerous local boards across the Commonwealth.
Run By Volunteer Members
Massachusetts Farm Bureau Federation is an advocate for farmers, run by farmer members who develop policies through its grassroots process. The process starts when a county member brings a resolution forth at their county annual meeting, which is held every fall. The resolution is then voted upon at a county level and if passed is forwarded on to the resolutions committee who prepares and forwards the resolution to MFBF’s annual meeting.
During the statewide annual meeting, delegates vote on the resolutions that were passed by the counties. Any resolution that is adopted at the state’s annual meeting becomes one of MFBF’s policy priorities. Any resolution that has national applicability is then forwarded on to American Farm Bureau Federation for consideration.
Additionally, MFBF has a Board of Directors consisting of farmers from across the Commonwealth. These volunteers provide staff with guidance and make decisions on how to best complete previously passed resolutions. The statewide organization also has about a dozen volunteer committees who make decisions on everything from membership to policy and more. This bottom-up structure is unique to Farm Bureau.
Public Relations & Education
As the face of agriculture, Massachusetts Farm Bureau Federation also does public relations and educational outreach. Examples of this include:
- “Ag Day” at the State House, which is the premier event to showcase agriculture and our issues to the Massachusetts legislature. This event involves dozens of agricultural commodity groups and hundreds of farmers, agricultural officials, and state legislators. Two dozen Farm Bureau members serve as the steering committee for the event, which includes issues briefings, legislative visits, award presentations, a speaking program, and a “Taste of Massachusetts” luncheon.
- MFBF hosts an annual "Livestock on the Common" event to educate legislators and the general public about how livestock is raised. This event also dispels myths that are being spread by animal welfare groups who are seeking to push their own agendas.