On Tuesday, the House of Representatives once again reaffirmed its commitment to local agriculture by passing legislation that continues to support “Buy Local” efforts throughout the Commonwealth.

State Representative Christopher M. Markey’s (D-Dartmouth) proposed “Buy Local” amendment was adopted as part of a consolidated Energy and Environmental Affairs amendment to the Fiscal Year 2018 budget.

The language added to the House of Representatives’ Fiscal Year 2018 budget will continue to promote locally-grown agricultural efforts throughout Massachusetts. The consolidated amendment calls for funding of no less than $300,000 to be expended to enhance the “Buy Local” effort in southeastern, central, and northeastern Massachusetts, amending and increasing the House Ways and Means Department of Agriculture line item.

“This amendment enables numerous farms and local food producers to get their products directly to consumers within their communities,” stated Markey. “It really puts an emphasis on buying and eating fresh, locally sourced foods.”

Markey cited the amendment as a key reason for the growth of the “Buy Local” community in recent years.

“As support for 'Buy Local' initiatives has grown, specifically through this budget amendment, there has been a steady increase of Buy Local programs throughout the Commonwealth," he said. "With this continued support we hope to keep this momentum going for years to come.”

Representative Markey, who also represents parts of New Bedford, cited continued efforts to educate his colleagues in the Legislature on the importance of the “Buy Local” program as the primary reason for the amendment being adopted for the seventh year in a row. During Agriculture Day at the State House earlier this month, legislators were provided updates on “Buy Local” initiatives funded by past year’s budgets, and Representative Markey pointed to this communication and accountability as a reason for the amendment’s overwhelming support.

“The legislators in attendance got to know, above the anecdotal, that 'Buy Local' funding is making a substantial, measurable impact throughout the Commonwealth," he said.

Representative Markey emphasized the impact that the “Buy Local” initiative has on the local economies throughout the Commonwealth.

“A vast majority of the farms in Massachusetts are family-owned. They are mostly small businesses, and small businesses continue to be an important economic engine in the Commonwealth,” Markey said. “The Legislature has once again recognized this fact, and continued to support this important and historically significant industry.”

The “Buy Local” amendment garnered nearly 50 cosponsors from both parties and representing all regions of the State, including members of the South Coast delegation such as State Representatives Antonio Cabral and Robert Koczera of New Bedford, Carole Fiola of Fall River, Susan Gifford of Wareham, and William Straus of Mattapoisett.

“Through the funding for 'Buy Local' the Legislature has signified that it cares about the hardworking men and women of the South Coast community, and I’m proud to be involved in that effort,” concluded Markey.

Along with the popular “Buy Local” amendment, Markey was able to carry a new amendment through the house budget focusing on organ donation. The amendment will enable the Registry of Motor Vehicles to provide the option to register as an organ donor on license renewal forms, as well as provide the ability to make a small donation to the New England Donor Bank as part of all online transactions. The amendment garnered bipartisan support from nearly twenty Representatives.

“This is really a common sense amendment,” Markey said. "It enables people to give the greatest gift of all—life. Previously, the option to register was only provided on the initial license application, this amendment gives applicants the option to sign up on subsequent applications."

"It is never too late to sign up to be a donor, many people believe once they hit a certain age, it no longer makes sense to be a donor, but that is not the case,” urged Markey.

The Donor Bank will look to use the monies created through the online donation portal to replenish funds they have used to push forward an advertising campaign emphasizing that nobody is ever too old to become an organ donor.

A final amendment brought forth by Representative Markey that was included in the consolidated Public Safety amendment was one that secures $150,000 for the Dartmouth Police Department to purchase a Mobile Command Center.

“This will increase the Dartmouth Police Department’s ability to effectively keep the community safe, especially in a time of transition for the Department’s station,” Markey said.

--Rep. Markey's Office

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