BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - March 27, 2018 - More than 200 farmers and students descended on Beacon Hill today to showcase locally-grown food and farm products and to hold meetings with their local legislators about the issues that matter most to them. This annual event, known as Agricultural Day at the State House, is a collaborative effort between the Massachusetts Farm Bureau Federation (MFBF) and more than 35 agricultural organizations.

During the event, MFBF President and Concord Farm Manager Mark Amato, spoke to attendees about the state of the Massachusetts agriculture industry and the future of the industry. Currently, there is legislation that could assist young farmers.

"Currently, when the next generation inherits the family farm, they are often hit with an expensive estate tax that arises when farm land is taxed based on its highest and best use, typically real estate development," Amato said. "Many times, the next generation of farmers have had to sell significant pieces of or, in some cases, the entire family farm to cover this death tax. The estate tax continuously contributes to the dwindling supply of farm land in our state and has increased our dependence on food imported from other states and other countries.

He said that HB 3915, which is sponsored by Representative Kate Hogan and supported by Representative Jay Kaufman, would establish an agricultural value for family farms that are being inherited. This type of legislation would help to ensure the next generation can inherit the farm, if they choose.

Amato also spoke about the low prices that the dairy and cranberry industries are experiencing and urged the legislator to consider bills that would assist these industries. Those bills included:

HB 3908- An act relative to the dairy farm tax credit, which would expand the tax credit dairy farmers received when the cost of production exceeds the price of milk;
HB 4067 - an act relative to cranberry bog renovation tax credit, which would provide a tax credit to cranberry growers who invest in bog renovations; and
HB 2152 - an act relative to a cranberry wetland mitigation bank, which would allow cranberry producers to offer their bogs as wetland mitigation areas to developers who impact wetland elsewhere.

The speaking program was wrapped up with MFBF presenting awards to long-time friends of Massachusetts agriculture. Honorees included:

UMass Deputy Chancellor Steve Goodwin;
Energy & Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew Beaton; and
Representative John Scibak

In addition, MFBF Executive Director Doug Gillespie awarded the Kent Lage Memorial Award posthumously to Henry Gillet. His widow, Susan, was present to accept the award on Gillet's behalf.

After the speaking program, locally-grown food and farm products were distributed to attendees during a Taste of Massachusetts reception. All food was prepared and served by Assabet Valley Regional Technical High School students under the guidance of Chef Margot Wilson. Farms that donated to this reception, included:

-Apex Orchards, Shelburne Falls
-Azuluna, North Grafton
-Barstow's Longview Farm, Hadley
-Bashista Orchards, Southampton
-Blossoming Acres, Southwick
-Boyden Brothers Maple, Conway
-C A Dowse & Sons, Inc., Sherborn
-Cabot Creamery
-Cabot's Candy, Cambridge
-Cape Cod Cranberry Growers Association, Carver
-Clark Brothers Orchard, Ashfield
-Cooper's Hilltop Farm, Rochdale
-The Country Hen, Hubbardston
-Coutts Specialty Foods Inc., Shirley
-Diemand Farm, Millers Falls
-Dufresne's Sugar House, Williamsburg
-Earle M. Parsons & Sons, Inc., Hadley
-East Mountain Farm, Williamstown
-Effie's Homemade Products, Hyde Park
-Five Way Foods, Dorchester
-Four Star Farms, Inc., Northfield
-Foxbard Farm, Shelburne Falls
-Foxboro Cheese Co., Foxborough
-Franklin County Community Development Corporation, Greenfield
-Grant Family Farm, Essex
-Great Hill Dairy, Marion
-Greenwood Hill Farm, Hubbardston
-Hager's Farm Market, Shelburne Falls
-Hilltown Pork Inc., Granville
-Holiday Brook Farm, Dalton
-Ioka Valley Farm, Hancock
-Jekanowski Farms, Hadley
-Jordan Dairy Farm, Rutland
-Kinne Brook Farm, Worthington
-Kitchen Garden Farm, Sunderland
-Lilac Hedge Farm, Jefferson
-Lightning Ridge Farm, Shelborn
-Manheim Farm, South Deerfield
-Maple Corner Farm, Blandford
-Massachusetts Fishermen's Partnership, Gloucester
-Massachusetts Lobstermen's Association, Scituate
-Mayval Farm, Westhampton
-Merrimack Valley Apiary, Billerica
-Mozzarella House, Peabody
-New England Apiaries & Billy C's Raw Honey, Westfield
-Northeast Harvest, Topsfield
-OutPost Farm, Holliston
-Paul's Sugar House, Williamsburg
-Plainville Farm, Hadley
Riverland Farm, Sunderland
-Robinson Farm, Hardwick
-Sky View Farm, Sheffield
-Smith's Country Cheese, Winchendon
-Stonegate Farm, Conway
-Stony Farm, Holden
-Trustees of Reservations
-Twin Brook Farm, Weston
-Verrill Farm, Concord
-Wheel-View Farm, Shelburne Falls

For a complete list of the issues MFBF members focused on during their visit to Beacon Hill, please visit: http://www.farmbureau.co/legislative-priority/.

(press release and post photo sent to WSBS from the Massachusetts Farm Bureau for online and on-air use)