BOSTON — State Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr of Gloucester, who has a record of backing legislation that supports food systems, lobstering and commercial fisheries, has been tapped to co-chair the Massachusetts Food System Caucus.
The Republican lawmaker has put forth a number of food system legislative initiatives, including a measure that backs lobstering closure mitigation, an act that creates the commercial fisheries offshore mitigation fund and another that establishes the Executive Office of Food Resources and Security.
Tarr hopes to capitalize on his experience with different aspects of Massachusetts’ fishing industry to encourage production of “even more localized food.”
“I’ve tried every step of the way to make sure the economies of the fishing industry are in every discussion about food security in state government,” he said. “We just need to help them.”
The Food System Caucus, founded in 2019, is a bipartisan group of 157 state lawmakers.
“Sustainable access to locally grown, harvested and produced food is important for our health, our economy and our quality of life,” Tarr said. “Over the last several years, we have been successful in creating more opportunities for our farms and the commercial fishing industry to survive, innovate and grow.
“I am confident that we can continue to build on those successes and that the Food Systems Caucus will play a leadership role in those efforts,” he said continued.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Tarr was appointed by the state Senate president to chair the Senate Committee on Supply Chain Issues, which has worked to increase the availability of locally sourced food.
The committee worked to create the facilitation of the Massachusetts Seafood Collaborative, which challenged food processors to deliver new seafood products to consumers in the state and to expand access to meat and poultry processing facilities for local farmers in Massachusetts.
The Food System Caucus focuses on food access and food insecurity, farmlands and economic development. The group strives to advocate policy, practices and collaboration related to food waste and hunger issues. Also, the caucus works to support farming and agriculture initiatives and economic development.
“I am thrilled to have Sen. Tarr join the Food System Caucus as a Senate co-chair,” said Sen. Jo Comerford, D-Northampton. “As the caucus pushes to advance its priority legislation, Sen. Tarr’s expertise in food security, fisheries and agriculture policies and his leadership in the Senate will be a valuable asset to our work.”
Part of Tarr’s work as caucus co-chair will include identifying matters related to food security and working in partnership with key stakeholders and organizations to address the challenges facing the state’s food system.
“I want to congratulate my colleague and good friend, Sen. Bruce Tarr, on his well-deserved appointment to the Food System Caucus,” said Sen. Sal DiDomenico, Food System Caucus co-chair and assistant majority leader of the Senate. “I know that Sen. Tarr is a big believer in the work that we are doing to improve food systems throughout the Commonwealth. He has worked throughout his career to fight food insecurity and its causes.”
Stephen Hagan may be contacted at 978-675-2708, or [email protected].