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- January 2020

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This article comes from the NOFA/Massachusetts 2020 January Issue Newsletter

By Marty Dagoberto, NOFA/Mass Policy Director

Have you talked to your state legislators about glyphosate?

2020 will be the year that Massachusetts legislators take action to reduce glyphosate use. Will you help us realize that vision? 

The state legislature is considering several proposed laws related to glyphosate (the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup). However, the deadline for these bills to be “reported out of committee” is February 5th, 2020 (otherwise they die). If you haven’t recently called your State Senator and Representative to let them know your thoughts and concerns about glyphosate and to ask them to take action to reduce its use (ok, even if you have), this month would be the month to do it!

Below are the glyphosate-related bills currently being considered. We filled up the hearing room on November 12th in support of action on pesticides. We hope that at least one of these bills makes it out of committee! As of this writing (12/20/19) the Agriculture Committee still still has all of these glyphosate-related bills before them:

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

Under this law, only pesticides defined as minimum risk by the EPA or those approved for organic agriculture could be used on the outdoor grounds of schools, child care centers and school-age child care programs. This would eliminate on school grounds the use of many synthetic pesticides that are harmful to children, including glyphosate and 2,4-D.

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

Prohibits the distribution, sale or use by anyone of any products containing the herbicide glyphosate, applying existing pesticide penalties.

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

Bans the application of glyphosate on any public lands owned or maintained by the Commonwealth without a special permit from the State. (This bill does not go as far as H.792 which applies to all land.)

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

Restores the power of municipal governments to restrict the use, application or disposal of pesticides on private land within that town or city. It would enable municipalities to create and enforce local pesticide by-laws that are stricter than the State’s existing laws.

          For more details on these and other priority bills, please visit our policy page

The World Health Organization considers glyphosate to be a “probable human carcinogen” and now more than 42,000 lawsuits are being brought by people who were exposed to it and who now suffer from Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma. Germany is the most recent major country to announce it is phasing out the use of glyphosate, by 2023. 

NOFA/Mass is working toward our vision of a Commonwealth that doesn’t rely on toxic systemic pesticides to feed our people and manage the land. We support agroecological approaches to cultivating biodiverse, productive living landscapes. While we work to phase out of the use of glyphosate and other toxic pesticides, we must also support a just transition for farmers who are currently stuck on the chemical treadmill.

When it comes to ending glyphosate use, we must prioritize the most vulnerable among us. At the very least, the Mass legislature should take action this session to prevent the use of glyphosate and other toxic pesticides near schools and childcare properties where children are learning and playing by passing H.791 this session.

Please start 2020 by taking action toward a less toxic Commonwealth. Please pick up the phone and call your two state legislators. (Phone calls are worth 1000x more than form emails, but you can also send a quick email through this form if that’s all you can manage right now.) 

You can look up your state senator and representative, here https://openstates.org/

When you call, you'll be talking with a staffer (or be referred to a voicemail) and it will be easy, we promise!

When they pick up the phone, ask to speak with someone in the office of [Representative/Senator Lastname]. You can then say something simple like:

Hi My name is [NAME] and I live in [TOWN]. I’m calling to urge [Representative/Senator Lastname] to support passage of the glyphosate pesticide bills currently before the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture.

At the very least, I hope that they will support H.791 to ban toxic pesticides from playgrounds and S.447/H.776 to restore power to local municipalities to restrict pesticides.  

Please contact the chairs of the Agriculture committee and ask them to move H.791 or take similar action on glyphosate before the committee deadline on February 5th.

Thank you!

[Note: if your legislators are Senator Anne Gobi or Rep. Smitty Pignatelli - luck  you. These two are the chairs of the committee. They decide which bills move from their committee, so be sure to (politely!) let them know why you want them to take action on glyphosate.] 

Are you a farmer concerned about the climate crisis? Please sign this letter

As sustainable and organic farmers we can do much to build the resilience of our farms to extreme weather events, store excess carbon in our soils and trees, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. But we cannot do it alone - and now is the time to join thousands of other producers across the nation to ask policymakers and federal administrators to help us meet the challenges of a changing climate and become part of the solution.

As a member group of the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, NOFA/Mass is gathering signatures on a Farmer Letter on Climate Change. Beginning in the spring of 2020, we will use this letter in meetings with members of Congress, USDA program leaders, and other key decision-makers to urge effective policy action to combat climate change, and especially to help farmers and ranchers weather the storm and lead the way towards a more sustainable future.  

Please view the letter at and add your signature: http://bit.ly/NSAC_NOFAMass  (Please note, this is for farmers, as defined by USDA as producers who sell at least $1,000 in farm products annually.  

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