A Farmers’ Roundtable will be held Feb. 2, at the Farm Institute in Edgartown.
The 2:30 p.m. event, organized by the Massachusetts Farm Bureau Federation (MFBF), the Martha’s Vineyard Youth Leadership Initiative (MVYLI) and the Farm Institute, will bring together farmers from around New England to discuss farming issues.
The round table is scheduled to take advantage of the winter lull in farm work. “If we’re not farming, it’s probably because we’re talking about farming,” said Jon Previant, executive director of the Farm Institute. “This is a great opportunity to get together and learn about what’s going on across the water that impacts us.”
Brad Mitchell, director of government relations for the MFBF, will present an overview of the organization and the work it does on behalf of farmers in the state. Among the topics to be discussed are several pieces of legislation that could benefit Martha’s Vineyard farmers. Of special interest to local farmers is the MFBF bill that would move oversight of slaughter operations from the Department of Public Health to the Department of Agricultural Resources.
The idea of the Farmers’ Roundtable came as a result of a recent collaboration with the Farm Bureau and MVYLI. The MVYLI’s annual Job Shadow Day program gives young people the opportunity to spend a day with a mentor in their chosen field of business.
MVYLI youth leader, Emma HallBilsback, was matched with Mr. Mitchell in order to learn what it takes to be a small farm advocate. “The Farmer’s Roundtable is a great idea where MFBF, the Farm Institute and Island farmers can collaborate on how to work together,” Emma said. “Right now, the Island produces five per cent of our food. In MYVLI’s Sustainable Vineyard 2020 Report, we set a goal to increase our food supply to 10 percent by 2020. We hope the Farmers’ Roundtable helps us to move towards our collective goal.”
Mr. Mitchell agreed, saying that “Island and mainland farmers have many of the same issues and concerns. We have a stronger voice on Beacon Hill and elsewhere if that voice is unified.”
The event is open to the public. Interested parties should RSVP by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.