The Harvard Food Law and Policy Clinic (FLPC) is pleased to release a report examining local food procurement efforts by Massachusetts state agencies in light of Massachusetts’ local food preference law. The report, Increasing Local Food Procurement by Massachusetts State Agencies, can be downloaded here; the executive summary can be downloaded here.
In recent years, there has been an increasing interest in local food purchasing, and many states have enacted legislation to promote the use of food grown within the state, often with the goals of promoting local economic development and increasing access to fresh, healthy foods. In 2010, Massachusetts amended Chapter 7, Section 23B of its General Laws to require state agencies, as well as state colleges and universities, to prefer foods grown or produced within the state over foods grown or produced outside of the state in their procurement processes. The law requires state agencies to prefer foods grown or produced within Massachusetts so long as they are less than 10% more expensive than comparable out-of-state foods (state colleges and universities are not required to meet this standard; instead, they must make “reasonable efforts” to prefer in-state foods).
In 2012, at the request of the Massachusetts Food Policy Alliance (MFPA) and Massachusetts Farm to School (a member organization of MFPA), the FLPC conducted research on Section 23B’s impact on state colleges and universities. Increasing Local Food Procurement by Massachusetts State Colleges and Universities was published in the fall of 2012. As a follow-up to that report, Massachusetts Farm to School requested that the FLPC do similar research and analysis on Massachusetts state agencies’ local food procurement efforts.
To complete this project, the FLPC reviewed the Massachusetts law on local food procurement and its history, conducted interviews with diverse stakeholders involved in state agency food procurement in Massachusetts, and researched other states’ local procurement laws. This report details the FLPC’s findings: it describes Massachusetts’ local food preference law and state procurement procedures, identifies challenges and barriers to local food procurement by Massachusetts state agencies, and provides recommendations for how Massachusetts state agencies can increase their local food purchases. The report also provides brief overviews of the nine primary agencies that serve food to their clients, and provides recommendations for each specific agency.
Our report finds that while Massachusetts state agencies are required to prefer locally grown and produced food if it is less than 10% more expensive than out of state food, very little local food is being purchased. The recommendations focus on how advocates can increase local food procurement both by working within the existing legal framework and by encouraging future legislative action. Section 23B has the potential to significantly increase local food procurement by state agencies, but its success depends upon the participation of farmers, local food advocates, and agency personnel who are passionate about instituting that change.
Download the full report: Increasing Local Food Procurement by Massachusetts State Agencies
Download the executive summary: Increasing Local Food Procurement by Massachusetts State Agencies – Executive Summary