By Bob Katzen

The Senate approved and sent to the House a bill that would require a local board of health to provide the local agricultural commission with a copy of any of the board’s proposed regulations to farms and farmer’s markets. The commission would have 45 days to hold public hearings, review the proposed regulations and make recommendations to the board of health.

Supporters said the measure ensures collaboration between local agricultural commissions and boards of health on matters that are most critical to farmers and the agriculture industry. They noted that many aspects of farming and agriculture fall under the purview of a board of health to regulate, yet most boards of health are comprised of public health officials who don’t have experience with farming and agriculture.

“In Western Massachusetts and throughout our commonwealth local boards of health have made decisions pertaining to farming and agriculture often without farmers’ comments or insights on the matter,” said the bill’s sponsor Sen. Adam Hinds (D-Pittsfield). “It is important that the agriculture industry has the opportunity to comment on and influence matters that affect their livelihoods.”

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