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

Legislative Priorities

2017-2018 State Legislative Priorities

Promoting Regenerative Agriculture

“Regenerative Agriculture” describes farming and grazing practices that, among other benefits, reverse climate change by rebuilding soil organic matter and restoring degraded soil biodiversity – resulting in both carbon drawdown and improving the water cycle." - Regeneration International

depiction of a healthy soil food web

We believe that regenerative organic farming offers numerous social and ecological services. As a society, we should promote and incentivize farmers to take care of their soils and watersheds through healthy soil practices like holistic planned grazing, cover crops, and compost/manure. 

That's why we support H.3717, An Act to Promote Healthy Soils (sponsored by Representative Paul Schmid). This bill would: 

1) Create a Healthy Soils Program within MDAR that would " enhance the education, training, employment, income, productivity and retention of those working or aspiring to work in the field of regenerative agriculture"
 
2) Add an expert on regenerative ag to our state's food policy council
 
Learn more about the bill and take action, here.

 

Pollinator Protection

Policnator Protection

Pollinators (which include honeybees and other pollinating insects and animals) are responsible for one in every three bites of food we eat. In Massachusetts, many of our most important crops require insect pollinators, including cranberries, blueberries, and apples. These and many other crops are threatened by the precipitous drop in pollinators, and an increasing number of studies point to a class of pesticides, known as neonicotinoids, as a primary culprit.

 

Proposed legislation (H.4041, a redraft of H.2113), introduced by Rep. Carolyn Dykema, would place commonsense restrictions on neonics and promote pollinator habitats in the state.

This bill (H.4041):

• Requires that neonicotinoids be applied only by licensed or certified applicators
• Limits application during the blooming season to agricultural and horticultural uses
• Requires pesticide applicators to give the property owner a notice of risks associated with neonicotinoids to pollinators, and alternative products which could be used

• Neonicotinoid training will be integrated into the existing pesticide applicator licensing process
• The Dept. of Transportation will be directed to identify opportunities for the introduction of pollinator habitats on department property (ie., along highways).

See a fact sheet explaining the bill, here. Or see the full text of the bill, here.

Learn more about the bill and take action, here: http://bit.ly/mapollenaction

 

Regulating For Food Sovereignty

The red tape of burdensome regulations is the bane of many farmers' existence. Small-scale producers, in particular, are disproportionately impacted by unnecessary food safety regulations and agencies that do not understand the nature of agriculture. We strongly believe that customers should be allowed to buy any wholesome product they choose. We are fighting for:

Raw Milk Delivery

raw milkNOFA/Mass believes that raw milk, when handled correctly, is a safe and highly nutritious food. Currently, raw milk is only allowed to be sold from a certified raw milk producer’s property. We support the provision within our state’s agriculture omnibus bill (S.442, An Act Promoting Agriculture in the Commonwealth) that would allow for the delivery of raw milk directly to customers as long as the milk has been sold prior to delivery.

Agricultural Plumbing Code

There is currently no plumbing code specific to agriculture. For many dairy and cheese producers that has meant egregiously expensive plumbing systems without any food safety benefits. That's why we support Section 29 of the state's ag. omnibus bill (S.442) which would establish a commission to create an agriculture section within the plumbing code.

Reducing On-Farm Food Waste

As much as 40% of all food waste happens at the farm. We need to do a better job of incentivizing our farmers to donate their surplus food, whether it's still in the field, after market, or in their cooler. NOFA/Mass supports H.3348 - "An Act to provide a tax deduction for charitable donations of food by farmers," a bill that would create a state tax credit that will provide a financial incentive for any produce donated to a food pantry, shelter, or other suitable establishment.

Fair Farm Taxes

Organic and ecological farmers face a diversity of challenges in our current political and economic landscape; unfair taxes shouldn’t be an additional burden. We believe that by advocating for tax reforms, we’ll be able to keep more farmers on the land and prevent farmland from being unnecessarily developed. Here are the tax reforms that NOFA/Mass is currently advocating for in Massachusetts:

Including Non-Contiguous Parcels under Chapter 61a

To receive the benefit of being taxed at the lower agricultural tax rate under MGL Ch. 61a, parcels must be a minimum of 5 acres in size. This bill would make small plot farming more financially viable, by allowing owners of non-contiguous parcels to pay the ag tax rate on land they farm, so long as in total the parcels add up to at least 5 acres and no parcel used to meet the minimum is more than ½ mile from another parcel under the same use and ownership. (This is included in Section 8 of the Ag. Omnibus Bill, S.442)

Estate Tax Reform

Our current estate tax laws (levied on any inheritance valued at $1 million or more) often force farmland into development, because land is assessed at its “highest and best use”--usually the land’s development value, not its value as agricultural land.  This leads to inheritors selling all or a portion of the land to pay the estate tax.  (This is included in Section 18 of the Ag. Omnibus Bill, S.442)

 

Related Resources:

Learn more about our top state-level policy priorities here

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