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Policy update, November 2019 Public Hearing on pesticides November 12; CBD Ban Hurts Farmers

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

By Marty Dagoberto, NOFA/Mass Policy Director

Show your support for a more organic Massachusetts

Upcoming Public Hearing on multiple pesticide bills

November 12th, 2019 at 1PM ~ 4PM

Massachusetts State House, Room A-2

24 Beacon St., Boston, Mass.

“Register” here to receive more details (“maybe’s” are okay!), connect with carpools, etc: http://bit.ly/Nov12register

Victory against glyphosate in Newburyport, upcoming statewide hearing Nov. 12th!

Your NOFA/Mass Policy Committee is hard at work preparing for the upcoming public hearing on multiple pesticides bills at the State House on November 12th and we are happy to celebrate an encouraging local victory in the lead up to the hearing: the city of Newburyport has just adopted a local ordinance which bans applications of herbicides containing glyphosate from all city properties! This ban includes parks, roadsides, schools, playgrounds and other municipal properties. 

“How did this come about?” Walt Thompson is a local leader in Newburyport and part of the Community Pesticides Reduction (CPR) network co-facilitated by Toxics Action Center and NOFA/Mass. With the educational support of our allies at Regeneration Mass., Walt successfully organized other community members to move the levers of their local government. 

As Walt explains it; they attended six months of meetings of the Newburyport Parks Commission and Board of Health and raised the issue of ending glyphosate use at each meeting. They built support across the community using social media. They won an interim victory earlier in the year with the Board of Health declaring April as “Alternative to Pesticides Month.” They educated and convinced City Council members to introduce the City Ordinance, attended several meetings to convince the council, and it passed! (Yes, Walt almost makes it sound easy. Having a statewide network to support your work can make it that much easier. If you want to make something like this in your community, please get in touch!)

This victory in Newburyport is a victory for all of us. As more and more municipalities across the state take action to reduce pesticide use (now 15 and counting), it becomes easier to convince other municipalities and we build a critical mass of momentum for action at the state level. This victory comes with  perfect timing as we head into the public hearing on November 12th. 

One of the bills being discussed on November 12th (S.447/H.776 - “An Act empowering towns and cities to protect residents and the environment from harmful pesticides”) would return full power to local municipalities to protect their families, food and water from pesticide exposure within their city/town limits. While local governments once had the ability to restrict the use of pesticides on all land within their jurisdictions, pressure from the chemical industry led many states (including Massachusetts) to pass legislation that prohibits municipalities from adopting local pesticide ordinances affecting the use of pesticides on private property that are more restrictive than state policy. This bill would restore local democracy and control over pesticides. 

We know that state pesticide regulators rely too heavily on the federal regulatory process, and it is evident from recent news that EPA is not doing its job to protect public health or the environment. More and more local communities want to take a more precautionary approach to pesticides than the state or federal government based on emerging evidence of harm caused by toxic systemic pesticides like glyphosate. 

Please join us in calling for passage of S.447/H.776 - “An Act empowering towns and cities to protect residents and the environment from harmful pesticides.” We need to generate phone calls to really bring attention to this issue. So please look up your state legislators and let them know: “I support local control over pesticides. Please pass S.447/H.776 this session!” 

If you really want to make your voice heard on this bill and other related pesticide bills, please join us at the State House in Boston on November 12th. You can find full details on our website, here: nofamass.org/policy#hearings 

News Clipping, Boston Globe, 10/25/19: Massachusetts hemp farmers say they face ruin thanks to state ban on most CBD products

Editor’s note: NOFA/Mass Policy Director Marty Dagoberto joined with our allies  the Northeast Sustainable Hemp Association and the Mass. Hemp Coalition to present testimony in support of H.4001 at the public hearing on October 22 in Leicester, and is quoted in this  feature-length story from the Globe. Please contact your legislators to “Lift the Ban on CBD flowers and edibles!http://bit.ly/MAhemp2019

Excerpt from the Boston Globe: LEICESTER - It was June and the seeds were already in the ground when the bad news came: State agricultural officials had, without warning, banned Massachusetts hemp farmers and processors from making or selling practically any edible product infused with hemp-derived cannabidiol, or CBD.

The edict was deemed a “policy statement” outlining the state’s interpretation of existing law. But to the owners of the state’s 104 licensed hemp farms, this was no mere clarification—it was a cataclysmic change that completely choked off the most lucrative market for their crops and upended their careful financial calculations for the 2019 growing season.

Now, farmers say, the disaster they warned of all summer is here: Tens of thousands of pounds of hemp harvested last week and currently drying in barns across Massachusetts have nowhere to go, with edibles-makers sidelined and other buyers offering extremely low prices to use the crop as biomass for fuel or feed.

Lacking a financial incentive to process the plants into CBD and with state rules also banning exports and the sale of smokable hemp flower, growers are bracing for ruin.

“Everybody is finishing the harvest, and none of us know what to do,” said Linda Noel, a longtime farmer in Franklin who said she was offered $100 per pound for her artisanal hemp crop instead of the $500 she expected, or the $900-plus that premium, well-trimmed hemp might fetch in nearby Vermont, which has more liberal regulations. “The state keeps changing the rules halfway through the game. It’s insulting.”

Read the full article at BostonGlobe.com and take action to “Lift the Ban on CBD flowers and edibles!” here:  http://bit.ly/MAhemp2019

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