MARLBOROUGH, Mass. — There is one thing that almost all farmers – new, established, urban, rural, organic, non-organic, etc. – have in common: they need affordable farmland. Right now, the shortage of which is impacting all farmers in Massachusetts.
One of the most successful programs the Commonwealth offers to farmers is “Chapter 61A” – a law which creates a lower tax valuation for land in agriculture. Participation in 61a allows farmers to be profitable where commercial or residential valuations would be cost prohibitive. It also creates an incentive for non-farming landowners to lease their land to farmer.
Unfortunately, Chapter 61a requires a minimum of 5 acres of land to qualify. The 5-acre threshold has several limitations that are negatively impacting agriculture:
- Large parcels of farmland are increasingly rare. Both established and new farmers are looking to smaller plots – but often the property taxes put them out-of-reach or limit the financial viability.
- In urban areas, even small parcels can command tremendous property taxes, which greatly limits the potential growth of farmers and their production.
The Massachusetts Farm Bureau Federation (MFBF) and other organizations previously filed legislation to reduce the acreage threshold of 61a. Unfortunately, there are differing opinions on whether the State Constitution allows this, and it’s become clear that such legislation will not pass.
The only path forward in making this important change is to attempt to amend article 99 the State Constitution. At MFBF’s request, Representative Paul Schmid filed legislation to do just that.
Join us on April 7 at 7:30 to learn more about HB91 Act amending Article 99 of the Massachusetts Constitution, what it does and how to support it. We will have Representative Paul Schmid join us on the webinar as a special guest.
Please register to attend by clicking below. Within 1 business day of registering, you will receive a link to attend this webinar.
We look forward to seeing you on April 7!
–Massachusetts Farm Bureau Federation
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