Monday, July 16, 2018
My office shared this press release today-
Local Food Production Gets Backing In Environment Bond Bill
Boston - The Massachusetts Senate has taken a major step to support fishing and farming by adopting an amendment offered by Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R – Gloucester) and co-sponsored by a bipartisan condition of Senators. The amendment was added to Senate Bill 2591, “An Act Promoting Climate Change Adaptation, Environmental And Natural Resource Protection, And Investment In Recreational Assets And Opportunity” which was passed unanimously by the Senate on Thursday, July 12th.
Drawing on funding from two separate accounts in the bonding bill, the fishing and farming amendment creates a Fishing Innovation Fund and a Farming Innovation fund, with each fund guided by a board of 13 members comprised of stakeholder and officials from the state agencies relevant to each sector, including the Division of Marine Fisheries and the Department of Agricultural Resources.
“These traditional industries are as important to our state’s future as they have been to its past,” said Tarr. He added that “they continue to provide good jobs and economic opportunities while responding to renewed interest in locally harvested and produced food.”
“I want to thank Senator Tarr and my colleagues in the Senate for their hard work on this important issue,” said Senator Vinny deMacedo (R-Plymouth). “I represent many coastal communities who rely not only on our fishing industry as an economic engine but are also the home of many cranberry growers who have provided food and stability for our Commonwealth over many generations. I look forward to continuing to work with them to support and encourage the growth and prosperity of their industry.”
“Hardworking fishermen and farmers have played a pivotal role in our economy for generations,” said Rules Chairman Mark Montigny (D-New Bedford). “I am pleased to join Senator Tarr on this bipartisan effort to better support our local fishing and agricultural industries so that they may continue to strengthen our economy in the face of increasing pressure and burdensome regulations.”
“For centuries, our economy has relied upon productive use of agriculture and the harvesting of food from the ocean,” said Senator Michael Rodrigues (D-Westport). “The men and women who engage in these occupations work hard and what they do makes a difference to all of us who want the freshest and best food available. Now we can support their efforts by helping keep their equipment and processes safe, efficient and productive.”
Categories of eligible funding from the Fishing Innovation Fund include:
• The design, construction and modification of commercial fishing vessels,
• Research, development and construction of innovative fishing vessels with attributes including - increased fuel efficiency, reduced carbon emissions, improved stability,
• The capability of supporting sustainable fishing practices through harvesting and on-board storage and processing methods, research, development, acquisition and deployment of advanced and/or innovative technologies including but not limited to sonar, radar, radio communications, satellite and global position and other locating and tracking devices,
• The research and development, acquisition and deployment of safety equipment,
• Landing or processing fish, and/or maintaining permits or licenses to do so without preference to any particular geographic location or region of the state.
The Farming Innovation Fund would support such things as:
• An outreach program to identify and foster new, innovative ideas and approaches to adding value to the commonwealth’s agricultural and cranberry economy,
• Soliciting requests from the agricultural and cranberry industry for funding and technical assistance in reclamation and revitalization of cranberry bogs,
• Training, marketing, distribution, applied research, agri-tourism, aquaculture, forestry, processing, fiber and agricultural resource management research, development, poultry and red meat processing and construction of energy efficient agricultural buildings and structures,
• Researching, developing and constructing of energy efficient agricultural equipment.
“Both of these sectors are surviving because of the hard work, sacrifice, and risk by the people in our state that believes in them,” said Tarr, “and now we need to send a clear signal through legislative action that we believe in those who farm the land and fish the ocean, contributing to our economy and our environmental stewardship.”
The bond bill will now likely go to a House and Senate conference committee to resolve differences in the two versions adopted.