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Calling all proponents of a more organic Massachusetts! Policy Update, October 2019

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

By Marty Dagoberto, NOFA/Mass Policy Director

In this issue:

Hearing scheduled for multiple pesticide bills - November 12th

Concerned about the aerial spraying for mosquitoes? Let’s organize for solutions.

Seeking input on farmer access to HIP program

Hemp flower ban got you down? Seeking comments from farmers and advocates

Activists across the world participated in the 2019 Global Climate Strike in September
Activists across the world participated in the 2019
Global Climate Strike in September

To all those participating in the ongoing #ClimateStrike, we thank you!

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 

Hearing scheduled for multiple pesticide bills - November 12th

Calling all proponents of a more organic Massachusetts! At a time of insect population collapse, declining bird populations and rising rates of pesticide-related chronic illness, we know that we must address the pervasive use of systemic and toxic pesticides in our school yards, our farm fields and our communities. November 12th, 2019 could be a big day for the movement to reduce pesticide use in Massachusetts. Will you help make it so? 

We’ve received early confirmation that several pieces of pesticide-related legislation on NOFA/Mass’s priorities list will receive a public hearing on the same day at the Mass. State House (Boston). This hearing provides a rare opportunity to educate lawmakers and to demonstrate the depth of statewide support for action on pesticides. Creating a high volume of activity - testimony, hearing attendance and general buzz - increases the perceived importance of a given bill/issue, and thus its likelihood of passing!

Here are the bills we have learned are being "heard" on November 12th:


On November 12th, 2019 there will be a public hearing
at the statehouse in Boston to demonstrate the
depth of statewide support for action on pesticides

H.763 - "An Act to protect Massachusetts pollinators" (Rep. Dykema)

S.447/H.776 - “An Act empowering towns and cities to protect residents and the environment from harmful pesticides” (Sen. Cyr, Rep. Fernandes)

H.791 - “An Act relative to improving pesticide protections for Massachusetts schoolchildren” (Rep. Gentile)

H.792 - "An Act relative to the prohibition of the transfer or use of glyphosate in the Commonwealth" (Rep. Gentile)

S.499, “An Act relative to the use of glyphosate on public lands.” (Sen. Lewis)

(You can learn more about these and other NOFA/Mass priority bills, here: https://www.nofamass.org/content/legislative-priorities)

How you can help make this a big day for action on pesticides:

1. Save the date and plan on joining us in Boston on November 12th - we want as many people there as possible to fill the hearing room - no need to speak (but we’ll work with you on your testimony if you want) - Stay tuned or get in touch for more details.

2. Share the Facebook event for the hearing: https://www.facebook.com/events/754135575031981/

3. Take action on a top priority bill and share the below action page so that we can increase buzz in the statehouse and expand our network to mobilize for November 12th: 

***TAKE ACTION NOW to “Ban Glyphosate (and other toxic pesticides) from Playgrounds and Schools in Massachusetts”***   

 http://bit.ly/childrencides

If you want help preparing to speak in front of the committee, if you have suggestions for experts we should bring to the State House or other ideas, please get in touch: marty@nofamass.org

Stay tuned for more details on how to submit testimony electronically and other ways to support a successful day of action and education for pesticide reduction on November 12th!

Concerned about the aerial spraying for mosquitoes? Let’s organize for solutions.

We’ve heard some concern among members, so the NOFA/Mass Policy Committee is seeking NOFA/Mass members who want to join a working group concerning the aerial spraying of synthetic pyrethroids across Massachusetts. How can we protect our farms and ecosystems from extensive aerial spraying of pesticides while supporting critical efforts to limit the spread of mosquito-borne diseases? How can we best advocate for longer term proactive solutions, so we don’t need to rely on spraying? This is an issue that will only increase in prevalence as climate destabilization continues and requires long-term creative solutions and advocacy. Join the NOFA/Mass Policy Committee to get involved. 

HIP
Caption

Seeking input on farmer access to HIP program

The Healthy Incentives Program has not allowed new farm vendors to become authorized to accept HIP since late 2017, since the demand was so much higher than originally anticipated. Farmers were accepted on a first come, first serve basis for the necessary paperwork, which has led to some claims of not centering equity and inclusion.

Organizers with the Mass. Food System Collaborative are looking to connect with farmers of color and marginalized farmers who may have become discouraged by the HIP registration program and not joined the waitlist. Farmers might not have been aware of the technical assistance that was originally available for the application. We want farmers to be able to sell to communities not currently served well by HIP, and there may be opportunities to increase the number of farmers allowed to participate.

If you are a farmer who was discouraged by the HIP registration process or to find out more about getting involved with the program, please contact Rebecca Miller at rebecca@mafoodsystem.org

Hemp flower ban got you down? Seeking comments from farmers and advocates

Attention all hemp supporters!

In June (mid-season), Governor Baker’s administration banned the sale of foods and other “consumables” containing “CBD” as well as the sale of whole flower. These are both desirable and high-valued artisanal products. Without an artisanal market, Massachusetts’ small farmers will struggle to compete long-term against large scale agricultural states.

Please use this action page to send a message to legislators in support of a legislative solution to Baker’s CBD/flower ban. We will notify all signers of this action page when we receive details about an expected October hearing for H.4001 “An Act relative to hemp and hemp products in the commonwealth.”

Attention hemp farmers! 

We are working with the Northeast Sustainable Hemp Association to gather data for our legislative allies on the impacts of the Governor’s hemp flower ban. Did you invest in your hemp crop while planning on a flower harvest? Will you be harmed if you are not allowed to sell your hemp flower at 'top shelf/hand trimmed/artisanal' prices?

Current market price (farmers markets in the Northeast) is about $60/oz. for fine hemp flower. What will happen to your farm if you must sell your hemp as biomass for $40-50/lb (or less when the other states start harvesting)? Please send your comments to contactnosha@gmail.com

We will be taking these testimonials to Beacon Hill. 

Everyone, please take action now to “Lift the Ban on CBD Food and Flower” - bit.ly/MAhemp2019

Finally, to all those participating in the ongoing #ClimateStrike, we thank you!

We are so encouraged and inspired to see so many NOFA/Mass members taking part in the ongoing demonstrations to demand meaningful government action on climate change. Please keep it up! 

If we are going to achieve anything near the audacious and very necessary greenhouse gas reductions prescribed by climate scientists and demanded by emerging youth leaders like Greta Thunberg and Extinction Rebellion, we must drastically overhaul our nation’s agricultural practices. 

Agriculture is the only sector of our economy which has the potential of transforming from a net producer to a net reducer of greenhouse gases, which is why we at NOFA/Mass have long supported healthy soils practices in Massachusetts as a climate solution. Please join us by supporting passage of the Mass. Healthy Soils Act to create a Healthy Soils Program in our state! - http://bit.ly/MASoils

And remember- healthy soil stewards like our organic farmers are real climate heroes. 

Organic farming is direct action on climate change!

Related: Why 10,000 farmers have gotten behind the Green New Deal

That’s it for this month’s policy newsletter!... Did we miss something you think should be listed? Want to get more involved? Please email our Policy Director, Marty Dagoberto at marty@nofamass.org 

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