next generation dairy farmers

posted June 20, 2020

Food security starts here: The next generation of Berkshire dairy farmers

An article by Sarah Gardner published on The Berkshire Edge discusses how two next-generation farmers help guarantee food security in the Berkshires. Featured are Darrel Turner of Turner Farm, and Ian Allen of Balsam Hill Farm. Check it out!

Furthermore, the end of the article shares this information on state programs in Massachusetts, vital to dairy farms:

Massachusetts is supportive of its agriculture and realizes that sustaining farms and farmland is key to the state’s food security. Two state farmland protection programs are key to sustaining dairy farms like Turner Farm and Balsam Hill Farm.

The Agricultural Preservation Restriction (APR) Program makes land more affordable and available to farmers by paying farmland owners the difference between the market value and the agricultural value of the land. In exchange, the land is permanently restricted to agricultural use.

Chapter 61A  is a current use taxation program that assesses farmland for its agricultural value, thereby reducing property taxes for the landowner while supporting local agriculture. Farmers or non-farm landowners owners who lease their land to farms may enroll in Chapter 61A.

The Dairy Farmer Tax Credit Program is essential to dairy farms in Massachusetts, because it’s a safety net that kicks in each month that the milk price paid to farmers drops a set amount below the cost of production. That’s been the case almost every month for the past few years. The credit is based on the amount of milk the farm produces and can be applied to the income tax or corporate excise tax. Almost every dairy farmer benefits from this program and most will tell you they wouldn’t be in business without it.