Sen. Eric P. Lesser voted with the Senate today to pass a bill aimed at promoting locally grown food and agriculture in Massachusetts.
“Western Mass is home to hundreds of family farms producing healthy, local food,” Sen. Lesser said. “This bill will do a lot to help farms produce and sell local foods while also promoting sustainable agriculture.”
There are 7,755 farms in Massachusetts that together produce $492 million in agricultural products. Massachusetts farms provide employment to nearly 28,000 workers in the Commonwealth. 80% of Massachusetts farms are family owned.
Providing a boost to Massachusetts Dairies, the bill allows licensed farmers to distribute raw milk off their premises, including through Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) agreements. Massachusetts will join sixteen other states to allow raw milk distribution including Connecticut, Vermont, Maine and New Hampshire. When produced from organic, grass-fed cows, raw milk can contain enhanced levels of nutrients and digestive enzymes in comparison to pasteurized milk.
In addition, the legislation creates a seasonal program to allow farmers’ markets to operate on state-owned land. It also allows farmer brewers and distillers to sell their goods at agricultural events and farmers markets.
The bill passed the Senate will now head to the House for consideration.