Boston- State Senator Benjamin B. Downing (D-Pittsfield) voted to preserve Massachusetts dairy farms through recommendations made by the Dairy Farm Revitalization Task Force during the Senate’s formal session last Thursday, June 12th. The bill establishes the Massachusetts Dairy Promotion Board to boost the profile and operations of local dairy farms.
“This proposal will go a long way to sustain and expand the Massachusetts dairy industry,” said Downing. “Dairy farming and agriculture is prevalent in western Massachusetts and I am proud to see the Legislature recognize the importance of supporting this industry here and across the Commonwealth.”
The Dairy Farm Revitalization Task Force, a joint effort of the executive and legislative branches, completed its work last fall. Building upon the work of the Task Force, the proposed legislation will enable the Department of Agricultural Resources to offer technical assistance and funds to farmers, making them eligible for loans for up to $500,000.
The bill makes good on the promise that President Murray made in her March 2007 inaugural address to maintain the Commonwealth’s agriculture industry and decrease the pressures of unfair regulations on farmers.
Since 1980, the number of dairy farmers in Massachusetts has plummeted from more than 800 to fewer than 200. The bill will help preserve existing dairy farms and promote the industry as a legitimate and essential career choice for future farmers.
The legislation will also establish a commission to analyze and recommend options for improvement of new farming technologies.
This bill will now go the House of Representatives.