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

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Want to contact your state or federal legislators? Click here to find out who they are and how you can get in touch 

For more info on any of our action campaigns, please contact our Policy Director, Marty Dagoberto, marty@nofamass.org

CURRENT ACTION ALERTS

(click action title to jump to relevent section of page)

1. Call your senators to save organics in the Farm Bill

2. Support the Massachusetts Pollinator Protection Act

3. Support the Massachusetts Healthy Soils Act

 



 




Organic farms are under attack: call Senators Warren & Markey

Save Organic: Call your senators today!

Under intense pressure from agrichemical lobbyists, the Senate Agriculture Committee is planning to weaken the organic standards. Under the leadership of Chairman Pat Roberts, the Senate Farm Bill would gut the authority of the National Organic Standards Board and put corporate interests above the needs of family farmers.

This could end organic as we know it!

We are deeply alarmed by this threat. The National Organic Standards Board is an independent advisory body that determines which materials can be used in organic farming. It is the heart of the transparent, democratic process that upholds the integrity of organic seal. Gutting the authority of the board could end organic as we know it.

 

Keep the organic standards strong!

Consumer trust in the organic seal and the future of American organic family farms is at stake. Do not let the Senate Agriculture Committee open up the organic standards to the dictates of special interests and the addition of toxic pesticides and GMOs. We need more support for organic in the Farm Bill, not a sneak attack aimed at taking this healthy, sustainable option away!


TAKE ACTION NOW - PLEASE CALL YOUR SENATORS: We need their help!


Massachusetts Senators:

Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s DC office: (202) 224-4543  Boston office: (617) 565-3170

Sen.Ed Markey’s DC office: (202)-224-2742 Boston office: (617)-565-8519


Not in Mass? Call the Capitol Switchboard: 202-224-3121

*Enter your zip code to connect with your Senators.


Ask to speak with the staffer who works on agriculture or leave a message with whoever answers the phone. Use these talking points:

  • I am calling as a constituent and an organic farmer/consumer.    

  • I urge Senator Warren/Markey to fully support organic in the Farm Bill. First and foremost, I urge Senator Warren/Markey to oppose any changes to the National Organic Standards Board.


If you have time, additional asks to support organic in the Farm Bill include:

  • Create a level playing field for U.S. organic family farms and stop organic import fraud by increasing funding the National Organic Program and import data tracking and enforcement.

  • Fully fund organic certification cost-share.

  • Increase funding for the Organic Research & Extension Initiative to $50 million.

  • Fully fund conservation agriculture programs.

  • Support a provision to devote $50 million to public plant breeding to improve     organic farmers’ access to seeds.


Please find the time to make a personal phone call to the offices of both of your senators on this. Form emails and petitions are not enough. Senators need to hear the voices of their constituents on this.


Background:

Led by Senator Roberts, the Senate Agriculture Committee is considering Farm Bill legislation that would change the structure and authority of the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) and make it easier for industrial operations to cash in on organic at the expense of family farmers. The NOSB is at the heart of the transparent, democratic process that upholds the integrity of the organic seal. Changes that weaken the NOSB could be the end of organic as we know it.

The National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) is made up of 15 dedicated public volunteers from across the organic community. The Board advises the Secretary of Agriculture on a wide variety of topics related to organic standards, including what materials should be allowed in organic farming. The Board currently has statutory authority to keep toxic substances out of organic production.

The organic standards must remain strong to ensure trust in the label and to create a level playing field for the vast majority of organic farms and businesses that are playing by the rules.

The science is clear that organic food and farming protects eaters, farmers, farmworkers, and rural communities from exposure to toxic pesticides. It conserves water and soil resources. And it’s a climate change solution - it emits fewer greenhouse gases than industrial agriculture and builds healthy soil that traps carbon in the ground, where it belongs. Organic farming also improves farmers’ incomes and boosts rural economies.

 

The Organic Certification Cost-Share Program is also at Risk! 

Organic farmers must go through rigorous annual organic certification process and pay fees each year. Two federal programs, the National Organic Certification Cost Share Program and the Agricultural Management Assistance Act (AMA), provide organic farmers with modest reimbursement of up to $750 (per scope) to cover a portion of their annual certification fees.

Unfortunately, the only drafts of the farm bill which have been made public COMPLETELY ELIMINATE THIS PROGRAM.

Why is Organic Certification Cost-Share Important?

The organic certification cost-share program helps organic farms stay in business and is especially important for small and mid-size farms. We need to support local, organic farms and our regional economies. Without adequate support, we will become increasingly reliant on imports for organic food.

Congress should reauthorize, with adequate funding, both the National Organic Certification Cost Share Program (NOCCSP) and the Agricultural Management Assistance (AMA) program because these two programs help organic farmers stay in business and keep jobs here in our local economy.

 


 

 

Help pass the Mass. Pollinator Protection Act!

A bee visiting a flower

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.

What can we do in Massachusetts?

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.

The bill is currently (as of July 20, 2018) sitting in the House Committee on Ways & Means, which could be its last stop before a full vote of the House. The bill has a record number of cosponsors (135 out of 200 total legislators - see the list here), BUT unless legislators see this as a priority, the bill won't even be voted on before the session ends on July 31st...

That's where you come in...

Take action HERE within seconds

And share our action page: http://bit.ly/mapollenaction

Use this form to send a quick email to your state legislators asking them to push for a vote on Rep. Dykema's Pollinator Protection Act ASAP. The more people they hear from, the more likely they are to support the bill! If you haven't contacted them in a while, do it again.

Please note that personalized emails have a far greater impact than form emails, and phone calls are even better. A few suggested talking points are below. Please share our action page: http://bit.ly/mapollenaction

Suggested talking points:

  • As your constituent, I hope that you will push for a vote on the Pollinator Projection Act (H.4041), which has 135 cosponsors and is currently in the House Committee on Ways & Means.
  • An increasing amount of research indicates that neonicotinoid pesticides, also known as "neonics," are a major factor in pollinator decline, posing a serious threat to our food, public health, and environment. Massachusetts bees are dying at an alarming rate, and I'm writing/calling to encourage our state to take action.
  • 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.
  • "An Act to Protect Massachusetts Pollinators," would require that neonics be only applied by trained applicators. It would require applicators to inform landowners about the associated risks. The bill also encourages pollinator habitats along highways and other state land.
  • Please contact Chairman Jeffrey Sánchez and encourage a vote to protect pollinators and move H.4041. Thank you for your attention to this issue.

 

 


 



Support Legislation To Regenerate Soils and Sequester Carbon

depiction of a healthy soil food web

 

Last year we filed "An Act to Promote Healthy Soils" that aims to support soil restoration by creating a Healthy Soils Program within the MA Dept. of Agriculture (MDAR). This program would be tasked with supporting farmers through education, technical assistance, and incentives to promote regenerative practices that build healthy soil, sequester carbon, reduce agricultural runoff, and require less fertilizer. It would also add an expert on regenerative agriculture to the Mass. Food Policy Council.

In February 2018 the bill (H.3713) was "reported favorably" out of the Agriculture committee and sent to House Ways & Means committee. As of July 20, 2018 it was still stuck in that committee and faces a legislative deadline of July 31st.

Show your support for this essential resource by contacting your state legislators and ask them to push for a vote on H.3713 "An Act to Promote Healthy Soils."

 

Here's a few talking points you could include when you call or write to your legislators

  • Poor soil management is a major contributor to climate change; this program would provide guidance on proven ways to mitigate or even reverse carbon loss from soils.
  • Healthy soils hold more water- Healthy soils essentially act as a sponge, thus providing reserves in times when precipitation is low and a sink to soak up excess when it is high. An 1% increase in soil organic matter on just one acre enables the land to hold an additional 20,000 gallons of water.
  • Healthy soils reduce run-off- That same sponge-like quality allows healthy soils to retain most of the fertilizers applied. This reduces downstream pollution, which can lead to dangerous algae blooms, contaminated drinking water, and other biological disruptions.
  • Healthy soils require less fertilizer- The abundant soil life in healthy soils provides much of the nutritional needs for crops. Fungi and bacteria have coevolved with plants to provide essential nutrients in exchange for carbon (in the form of sugars).
  • Healthy soils result in better, healthier crops- Healthy soils provide a steady drip of fertility and moisture, instead of the deluge and dirth cycles common in today’s agricultural systems. Healthy plants are able to photosynthesize more effectively, and are able to produce the necessary metabolites that defend them from disease and pests. In short, healthy soils grow healthier plants, which need less pesticides.

Tell them why this matters to you! Are you concerned about climate change? Soil loss? Do you farm and/or care about local farming?

Look up your legislators here, and please give them a call or email.


 


  

Tell Us Your Policy Priorities

Our Policy team is here to represent you, the farmers, gardeners, and organic advocates of Massachusetts. If there is an issue that you want our policy team to investigate or advocate for, please contact our Policy Director, Marty Dagoberto, marty@nofamass.org

 

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