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, September 2019

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This article comes from the NOFA/Massachusetts 2019 September Issue Newsletter

By Marty Dagoberto, NOFA/Mass Policy Director

NOFA/Mass advocates for policies that bring us closer to our vision of healthy landscapes that feed our communities and restore our environment. Working with our statewide network of ecological farmers and gardeners, we organize for progress at the local, state and federal level. Our policy committee is working on a variety of issues, yet we need more active participation from our organic movement (that’s you)! To get involved, please contact marty@nofamass.org 

As the state legislature comes back from summer and the harvest season begins, our advocacy work to promote organic landscapes and healthy communities really picks up. We are grateful to have people across the state educating and organizing their communities to reduce pesticides and we have several state policy efforts that need your help.

In this month’s newsletter:

  • Draft composting regulations threaten organic agriculture - Comments Due Sept. 3
  • HIP funding renewed in annual state budget!
  • State-funded product review of neonicotinoids!
  • Upcoming public hearings on NOFA/Mass priority state bills
  • “Food is Public Health” oversight hearing, Sept. 27th, Greenfield

Time sensitive: Comments due Sept. 3rd on proposed changes to composting regulations. 

If adopted as written, these regulations would be detrimental for farms that rely on their composting operations for revenue or soil building/fertility and hamper their ability to address climate change. Please review the details on the proposed regulations and take action, here: https://mafoodsystem.org/news/compost0819/

Advocacy Works! HIP Funding Increased

Great news via the Mass. Food System Collaborative: “Governor Baker signed the FY2020 budget at the end of July, which includes $6.5 million for the Healthy Incentives Program. This is a significant increase from previous years and indicates that the Legislature is committed to long-term support for the program. This victory is thanks to the 300+ members of the Campaign for HIP Funding’s advocacy work. Even with this increase, this may not be enough to keep the program operating year-round, and a supplemental budget request may be necessary later this year.”

State funds product review of neonicotinoids

Also included in the state budget is $100,000 in new funding for a study on the impacts of neonicotinoid insecticides, to be completed by the end of 2019. The process will involve public oversight, so stay tuned or get in touch for more details.  

capitol building

Upcoming public hearings on NOFA/Mass priority legislation - Join us!

We are expecting several proposed pieces of state legislation to receive a “public hearing” this fall. This is an important way to educate legislators on the issues and to convey public support. It sends a strong message to have robust public participation (in person and electronically). We are likely to only get a couple of days notice before the actual hearing (held at the State House in Boston), so stay tuned for a time-sensitive invitation! We will notify the full email list and provide directions on how to submit testimony and invite you to join us at the State House, on the chance that you can make it. 

If you are interested in preparing to speak in front of the committee on any of these proposed bills and/or if you want to help us plan for the hearings, please get in touch.

Support Small Farmers growing Hemp 

H.4001, lead sponsor: Rep. Mark Cusack 

Hemp is now legal nationwide, and over 100 Mass. farmers have licenses to grow it this season. However, in June Governor Baker’s administration banned the sale of foods and other “consumables” containing “CBD” (an extract of hemp) and the sale of whole flower form of the plant, two highly desirable and high-valued artisanal products which help small farms and businesses compete with a large and growing commodity market.Take action now and stay tuned for an announcement on a public hearing, expected in September or October. 

Protect Pollinators from Neonics 

H.763, Sponsors: Rep. Carolyn Dykema and Attorney General Maura Healey 

With over 75% of the legislature already signed on in support, this bill would simply limit the use of neonics to licensed applicators and remove neonics from store shelves. Unsurprisingly, this bill is strongly opposed by the chemical lobby, so we need to keep calling loudly for it (take action now)! Public hearing expected in September or October, stay tuned!

Protect School Children from Pesticides 

H.791, lead sponsor: Rep. Carmine Gentile

This bill updates the outdated list of pesticide products eligible for use on the outdoor grounds of schools and childcare centers in Massachusetts. The proposed update would allow only pesticides considered minimum risk by the EPA, or certified organic (prohibiting toxic pesticides like glyphosate and 2,4-D). Public hearing expected this fall. Take action now (bit.ly/childrencides) and stay tuned for a hearing announcement.

Restore Local Power over Pesticides 

S.447/H.776, Sponsors: Sen. Julian Cyr and Rep. Dylan Fernandes

Due to statewide preemption policies, local town or city governments don’t have the right to ban harmful pesticides. This bill would return power to communities to protect their families, food and water from pesticide exposure. Public hearing expected this fall. Take action now and stay tuned for a hearing announcement.

For more info on these and other pieces of legislation we are supporting please visit our policy page: https://www.nofamass.org/content/legislative-priorities

That’s it for this month. Thanks for reading, sharing and getting involved!

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