Boston- The Massachusetts Senate on Monday advanced legislation providing dairy farm tax credits to the Governor’s desk. Based on recommendations made by the Dairy Farm Revitalization Task Force, a collaboration between the executive and legislative branches, this bill raises the profile of local dairy farms by boosting marketing practices of Massachusetts dairy products.
“This bill provides the marketing practices and technical assistance necessary for dairy farms to remain a vibrant agricultural industry in western Massachusetts and across the Commonwealth,” said Benjamin B. Downing (D-Pittsfield). “This bill represents a collective effort in igniting an economic boon for farmers in Massachusetts.”
The legislation establishes a program to provide low interest loans to dairy farmers seeking to expand current operations or to explore alternative production and marketing practices. Farmers will be able to apply for low interest loans of up to $500,000 through the Department of Agricultural Resources (DAR).
With the intent of increasing the consumption of Massachusetts dairy products, this bill also creates the Massachusetts Dairy Promotion Board. This nine-member board has been authorized to enlist in promotional practices including paid advertising, sales promotion, and publicity to advance the images, sales and demand for Massachusetts dairy products. The board may also conduct research in the effectiveness of market development and promotion efforts as well as research relating to nutritional value of milk and dairy products.
Since 1980, the number of dairy farms in Massachusetts has dropped from more than 800 to fewer than 200. The bill will help preserve existing dairy farms and promote the industry as a legitimate career choice for future farmers.
This legislation also establishes a commission to study and recommend options for updating agricultural technology and to find ways to promote energy conservation, sustainable practices, and industry growth.
The bill is now with the Governor for his final approval; he has 10 days to review and act on the legislation.