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

Policy Update, December 2018

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This article comes from the NOFA/Massachusetts 2018 December Issue Newsletter

By Marty Dagoberto, Policy Director

Coalition building for local organic action!

We are super-excited to announce a new partnership with Toxics Action Center on our “All  ‘cides” campaign to support local organizing to reduce the use of synthetic pesticides and herbicides (more generally termed “biocides” - “destructive of life”). Towns across the state are leading the charge on pesticide action through passing local resolutions, and we want to help. This partnership is all about equipping local activists with the tools they need to pass town resolutions to reduce or ban pesticides in their communities...just in time for 2019 spring town meeting season.

Local pesticide bans, pollinator habitats, organic land care policies… regardless of what’s (not) happening on Capitol Hill or Beacon Hill, there is SO much we can do (and so much that NOFA supporters are already doing) at the local level to promote an organic future.

For decades, NOFA has helped people understand the risks of these synthetic biocides and promoted practical solutions for organic land care, gardening and food production. As the convener of the organic movement in Massachusetts, we are excited to activate local leaders across the state who want to organize local organic solutions and bring in an organization with a proven track record of supporting local action.

Toxics Action Center has been working in parallel with NOFA/Mass for nearly the same length of time. Toxics Action Center’s mission is to work side-by-side with communities, empowering them with the skills and resources needed to prevent or clean up pollution at the local level. Since 1987, they have organized over 1,000 community groups and trained over 20,000 individuals across New England to put together plans and strategies to effectively solve the problems they face.

As we announced last month, we’re also partnered with the national group Beyond Pesticides on this campaign. They have supported and tracked the progress of local pesticide ordinances across the country for nearly 20 years and offer a wealth of information for our statewide campaign. They offer a valuable toolkit of resources to help us pass local pesticide ordinances. Check out this interactive map of victories we’ve already seen across the state and the country (achieved in several cases with the help of NOFA members like you). We have much good work to build upon with a new sense of momentum.

The work of our respective organizations has overlapped in the past and we are excited to now be joining forces at this critical moment of heightened awareness of the dangers presented by our society’s over-reliance and abuse of synthetic biocides like glyphosate. Just this past August (2018), a California Superior Court ruled that Monsanto had knowingly and deliberately suppressed research that found that glyphosate-based weed killers increase the risk of cancer. (See “The Monsanto Papers,” U.S. Right to Know). Something has shifted (thanks in no small part to our movement), and now it’s time to bring some victories home.

We have big plans for 2019! NOFA/Mass and Toxics Action Center are co-hosting our first monthly “local leaders” call on December 13th. This is a chance to share big ideas and current actions happening in your communities and to hear about the resources and support available to help you pursue the local solutions you want to see. Find out how NOFA/Mass and Toxics Action Center can work directly with you in your communities to help educate your neighbors and pass local policies to protect our children, our soil, our pollinators (and ourselves) from synthetic pesticides.

If you’re ready for some local organic action, you can RSVP for this first call (or sign up for future calls), here.

There is still some hope for the 2018 Massachusetts Healthy Soils Bill...

While the chances of any bill moving between Thanksgiving and the end of the calendar year are slim, a final outpouring of grassroots support for the Healthy Soils Bill could still move it and at the very least, will make sure it’s fresh on the minds of legislators when the new session starts in January.

This bill promotes Healthy Soils Practices which improve drought resilience, stormwater management and water quality, while improving long-term farm profits and drawing down atmospheric carbon. H.3713 "An Act to Promote Healthy Soils" would create a Healthy Soils Program within the Department of Agriculture Resources, tasked with supporting farmers through education, technical assistance, and incentives to work in the field of regenerative agriculture. By establishing a dedicated fund, it would pave the way for future grants, loans, appropriations and incentives for farmers using soil health practices. It would also add an expert on regenerative agriculture to the Mass. Food Policy Council.

Please call your state representative this week and ask them to contact the House Ways and Means Committee to “please push for a vote on H.3713, the Healthy Soils Act.“

You can always find more details on this and all of our active policy campaigns at http://nofamass.org/policy

News Clippings…

Scientists warned this weedkiller [dicamba] would destroy crops. EPA approved it anyway.” By Liza Gross, Nov. 13, 2018.

Bayer Hit by More Lawsuits Over Safety of Roundup Weedkiller: Lawsuits from 9,300 plaintiffs were pending at the end of October, up from 8,700 in August” By Ruth Bender (Wall Street Journal), Nov. 13, 2018.

The 2018 Midterms: Outcomes and Impacts on Sustainable Agriculture” National Sustainable Agriculture Blog, November 7, 2018.

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