Have Local Regulations Fallen Behind Modern Farming?

State officials reflect on this during a tour of Harvey's Farm.

Local agricultural regulations have fallen behind modern farming, some state officials said at Westborough's on Monday.

Agricultural commissions are one possibility toward addressing this issue, state Agriculture Commissioner Gregory Watson said.

"I think the ultimate goal is they would actually work a little bit like concoms (conservation commissions)," as "a vehicle for doing education," he said.

"There seems to be some interest. I'll follow up on that."

Watson spoke during a tour of four farms in the Eighth Middlesex District. State Rep. Carolyn Dykema (D-Holliston) led the tour, which also included stops in Holliston, Hopkinton and Southborough. State Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs Richard Sullivan, state Rep. Matthew Beaton (R-Shrewsbury), state Sen. Jamie Eldridge (D-Acton) and Town Manager Jim Malloy participated as well.

Dykema said communities need "model bylaws for the town that are truly sensitive to the issues."

"What ends up happening is there are outdated bylaws," she said.

"A situation arises. There's this great outcry. And there's no ownership or there's no consistency across the state about the basic understanding of what do we mean by the bylaw."

Watson said that "the technology, the methodology have out-stripped the policies."

"We need to catch up," he said.

The tour of Harvey's Farm included a stop in the state-of-the-art, open roof greenhouse built four years ago.

One person asked, "When did you open?"

"When did we ever close?" owner Jim Harvey replied.

Harvey recalled that "we had the first John Deere dealership."

"My father remembers -- I think he was about 10 or 12 -- when a railroad car came into Westborough with rubber tires for all the tractors," he said.

The property was "in the path of a tornado (in) 1953," he added.

"The only good part of that was, we lost all our buildings. So when they built, they could build with all of the latest technology," Harvey said.

"We were one of the first farms to have an automatic gutter cleaner. So, no more shoveling the stuff. We were the first farm in all of New England to have an automatic, stainless steel, pipeline milking system. Milk never was exposed to the air. It went right from the cow, into stainless steel piping, right into the refrigerated tank."


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