In 2006, Williamstown, MA residents identified preserving the town’s rural character as a top priority by forming the Agricultural Commission and enacting the Right to Farm Bylaw (Chapter 43, Williamstown Bylaws) at their annual town meeting.

Preserving rural space comes by design and commitment, not by chance.  Being a Right-to-Farm community is not a unique designation; the right to farm is already given to all citizens of Massachusetts through the state constitution, Article 97.  The Bylaw and Ag Commission strengthen it through support, education, and advocacy.

Twenty-eight local farm families grow and sell fruit and vegetables, flowers, annual and perennial plants, corn, hay, and straw. They raise horses, pigs, beef and dairy cattle, sheep, goats, alpacas, chickens.  They produce maple syrup, cheese, butter, lumber, firewood, and more.

Farmers work long hours of hard physical labor, educate themselves about best practices and government regulations, and operate to take advantage of weather, markets, and land use.  Our agricultural businesses must remain economically viable.  According to the American Farmland Trust, there are six reasons to save farmland:

  1. The United States has been losing more than one acre of farmland every minute.
  2. Along with water and air, farmland is critical to sustaining life.
  3. Farming employs nearly 16 million people, more than 9% of the labor force.
  4. Well managed farmland provides clean water, air, and wildlife habitat.
  5. Farm and ranch land is open space, providing beautiful iconic vistas.
  6. Farmland generates more in revenue than it costs in services, unlike highly developed lands.
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