The Massachusetts chapter of the Northeast Organic Farming Association. NOFA/Mass welcomes everyone who cares about food, where it comes from and how it’s grown

Growing Organically Since 1982

Legislative Priorities

2017-2018 State Legislative Priorities

Promoting Regenerative Agriculture

“Regenerative Agriculture” describes farming and grazing practices that, among other benefits, reverse climate change by rebuilding soil organic matter and restoring degraded soil biodiversity – resulting in both carbon drawdown and improving the water cycle." - Regeneration International

 

We believe that regenerative organic farming offers numerous social and ecological services. As a society, we should promote and incentivize farmers to take care of their soils and watersheds through healthy soil practices like holistic planned grazing, cover crops, and compost/manure. 

That's why we support H.3717, An Act to Promote Healthy Soils (sponsored by Representative Paul Schmid). This bill would: 

1) Create a Healthy Soils Program within MDAR that would " enhance the education, training, employment, income, productivity and retention of those working or aspiring to work in the field of regenerative agriculture"
 
2) Add an expert on regenerative ag to our state's food policy council
 

Regulating For Food Sovereignty

The red tape of burdensome regulations is the bane of many farmers' existence. Small-scale producers, in particular, are disproportionately impacted by unnecessary food safety regulations and agencies that do not understand the nature of agriculture. We strongly believe that customers should be allowed to buy any wholesome product they choose. We are fighting for:

Raw Milk Delivery

raw milkNOFA/Mass believes that raw milk, when handled correctly, is a safe and highly nutritious food. Currently, raw milk is only allowed to be sold from a certified raw milk producer’s property. We support the provision within our state’s agriculture omnibus bill (S.442, An Act Promoting Agriculture in the Commonwealth) that would allow for the delivery of raw milk directly to customers as long as the milk has been sold prior to delivery.

Agricultural Plumbing Code

There is currently no plumbing code specific to agriculture. For many dairy and cheese producers that has meant egregiously expensive plumbing systems without any food safety benefits. That's why we support H.181, An Act relative to updating the plumbing code in order to accommodate agricultural uses.

Reducing On-Farm Food Waste

As much as 40% of all food waste happens at the farm. We need to do a better job of incentivizing our farmers to donate their surplus food, whether it's still in the field, after market, or in their cooler. NOFA/Mass supports a bill that would create a state tax credit that will provide a financial incentive for any produce donated to a food pantry, shelter, or other suitable establishment. 

Pollinator Protection

Policnator ProtectionHoneybees and native pollinator populations have been under increasing threat from toxic pesticides, climate change, parasites, and destruction of native nectary plants. Although certain elements of pollinator decline are complex and challenging from a policy perspective, the science is clear about the role of certain classes of pesticides, including neonicotinoids. We believe that the pollinator protection plan recently released by the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR) does not go far enough in protecting pollinators from these known toxic pesticides. In fact, the plan puts the impetus on the beekeepers to communicate “with land managers, farmers, pesticide applicators, and the public to mitigate pesticide risk and enhance forage”.

NOFA/Mass believes that farmers, land managers, chemical applicators and beekeepers are all responsible for the health and well-being of pollinator populations. We support bill H.2113 “An Act To Protect Massachusetts Pollinators” as a step forward in that direction. This bill:

  • Requires that neonicotinoids be applied only by licensed or certified applicators
  • Limits application during the blooming season to agricultural and horticultural uses only
  • Requires applicators to give adjacent property owners notice of risks associated with neonicotinoids to pollinators, and alternative products which could be used
  • Requires that seeds, plants, or other materials treated with neonicotinoids be labeled at point of sale
  • Neonicotinoid training will be integrated into the existing pesticide applicator licensing process
  • Establishes a special commission to investigate pollinator health, comprised of farmers, beekeepers, environmental advocates, and scientists

Want to know more about how this bill would affect you? Read our FAQ about the bill.

Fair Farm Taxes

Organic and ecological farmers face a diversity of challenges in our current political and economic landscape; unfair taxes shouldn’t be an additional burden. We believe that by advocating for tax reforms, we’ll be able to keep more farmers on the land and prevent farmland from being unnecessarily developed. Here are the tax reforms that NOFA/Mass is currently advocating for in Massachusetts:

Including Non-Contiguous Parcels under Chapter 61a

To receive the benefit of being taxed at the lower agricultural tax rate under MGL Ch. 61a, parcels must be a minimum of 5 acres in size. This bill would make small plot farming more financially viable, by allowing owners of non-contiguous parcels to pay the ag tax rate on land they farm, so long as in total the parcels add up to at least 5 acres and no parcel used to meet the minimum is more than ½ mile from another parcel under the same use and ownership.

Estate Tax Reform

Our current estate tax laws (levied on any inheritance valued at $1 million or more) often force farmland into development, because land is assessed at its “highest and best use”--usually the land’s development value, not its value as agricultural land.  This leads to inheritors selling all or a portion of the land to pay the estate tax. 

 

 

Related Resources:

Learn more about our top state-level policy priorities here

Attachments

 

Become a Member

Donate to NOFA/Mass

Subcribe to the Newsletter