The town of Middleborough, Massachusetts and the Massachusetts Department of Food and Agriculture (DFA) commissioned American Farmland Trust to conduct a Cost of Community Services (COCS) study to gain a better understanding of the financial impact of existing land uses in the Town of Middleborough. The study is a snapshot in time of current revenues and expenditures on a land use basis. It analyzes the financial demands of public services (e.g. schools, fire and road maintenance) and shows how much it costs to provide these services to farmland, forest and open space, residential, and commercial and industrial land uses.
The study was initiated after a series of meetings in the Fall of 2000 by a group called the “Cranberry Initiative.” The group, comprised of state, local and nonprofit organizations, was concerned about the impact of falling prices on the cranberry industry in Massachusetts. As supply increased in the 1990s, prices per barrel fell from a record high of $65.90 in 1996 to $16.10 in 1999.1 The Cranberry Initiative recognized that farmland in Southeast Massachusetts, particularly cranberry bogs and associated upland, was increasingly susceptible to development pressures. The goal of this COCS study was to provide information to help town officials make informed planning decisions. The Town of Middleborough was selected as the study area because it contains a good mixture of land uses including cranberry bogs.