Massachusetts Agricultural Commissions

Starting An AgCom: Getting Started

Is your town interested in starting an agricultural commission but has questions on where to begin?  This page is designed to provide your town and you with the information and tools necessary to create a successful agricultural commission.

  1. Identify leaders and organizers
  2. Assess interest.  Talk to farmers, residents, boards and committees, and community decision makers.
  3. Gather the support of farmers and town leadership.
  4. Organize a public informational meeting.
  5. Invite farmers through written letters of invitation, residents and the public through press releases and newspapers articles.
  6. Request that members of established agricultural commissions speak about why they organized, what they do, and the benefits to agriculture.
  7. Answer the questions: Is an agricultural commission important for our town?  Do you think we should organize an agricultural commission in town?
  8. Gain commitment from participants to serve on an agricultural commission steering committee.
  9. Publicize newly established steering committee meetings.
  10. Draft an agricultural commission by-law and town meeting warrant article with input from town boards and town counsel.
  11. Research advocates and opposition.
  12. Present articles at Town Meeting for discussion and vote.  Presentation is provided by well informed and prepared advocates.

What happens after passage of the agricultural commission by-law?

  1. Steering committee and town leadership work together to solicit applicants for agricultural commission members.
  2. Steering committee reviews applications and makes recommendations to the Select Board.
  3. Select Board appoints members, assigns terms of service, and establishes date for convening first meeting.
  4. First meeting business:
  • Identify facilitator and recorder.
  • Review by-law, focus on mission, membership, terms of service, and vote in officers.
  • Chair convenes first meeting:
    • Note Roberts Rules of Order.
    • Identify Needs, Priorities.
    • Establish goals.
    • Begin development of work plan.
    • Implement Work Plan.
    • Guiding principle:  Identify and work on achieving one or two measurable goals at a time…build success!
  1. Seek Involvement from community through a Circle of Friends
    Circle of Friends or Friends of Farmers
    Agricultural Commission membership can leverage their resources by asking for help from others.  Friends are people in the community (or connected to the community) that have skills and abilities that the Agricultural Commission needs to achieve their goals.  A “friend” will be honored to assist if they are asked to volunteer time on a task that is focused, short term and achievable.  Time volunteered by “friends” should be highly valued and respected.

Learn more by reading the Toolkit for Organizing an Agricultural Commission

For more information, contact:

Pete Westover, 413-665-4077,

Thanks for your consideration.

Terms of Use  |  Site Map Last update 20160109