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


The Organic Certification Cost-Share Program is at Risk! 

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 is working on the Farm Bill, and we have learned that the Organic certification cost-share programs will be cut if we do not take action. Call Your Senators and Representative TODAY!

Call the Capitol Switchboard:  202-224-3121   or  Find your Representative:  www.govtrack.us/congress/members

Ask to Speak with the staffer who works on agriculture  – Leave a message if they aren’t available. 

Use your own words and experience, along with any of these talking points:

I am calling to urge Senator Warren/Markey/Congress member XXX to voice strong support for two organic certification cost-share programs in the next Farm Bill.

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.

Farmers: Organic certification cost-share is critical to my farming operation and to organic farms and processors in this state. Going through the annual certification process is challenging for many reasons and the cost of annual certification is not insignificant for me. Tell Your Story!

Farmers: The certification cost-share program really makes a difference – it provides me with a reimbursement for some of these annual certification costs. By getting certified each year, I demonstrate that I am in compliance with the beneficial conservation practices required by the organic regulations.

Consumers: When I purchase organic food, I want to help support local farms and businesses. I want to support the beneficial conservation practices that certified organic farms follow. Healthy food for local communities.

Organic Certification Cost Share Program Background Information:

What is Organic Certification Cost-Share?

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.

Why is Organic Certification Cost-Share Important?

The growing costs of annual organic certification can be prohibitive for some organic operations, especially those of small to medium scale. Yet third-party organic certification is critical to maintaining consistency in the application of organic standards, meeting consumer expectations, and ensuring the integrity of the trusted USDA certified organic brand. modest certification cost share assistance provided to partially offset these costs has been instrumental in the decision by many farmers and handlers to seek initial organic certification and to remain certified as organic – in spite of the annual costs of doing so. has helped to foster diversity in the scale of operations certified as organic, and also helps to maintain jobs here in the U.S.

What are the two programs that provide organic certification cost-share reimbursements?

The Agricultural Management Assistance (AMA), enacted as part of the Federal Crop Insurance Act, provides certification cost share assistance for organic farmers (but not handlers) in 16 states (including NY). The AMA program also provides risk management and conservation grants to producers in those states as well.

The National Organic Certification Cost Share Program (NOCCSP), enacted as Section 10606 of the 2002 Farm Bill and reauthorized through the 2008 and 2014 Farm Bills, provides organic certification cost share for organic farmers in states not covered by the above-mentioned AMA program, and for organic handlers in all States. program has operated through State Departments of Agriculture and is now also available through the Farm Services Agency (FSA). The one-year Farm Bill extension legislation passed by Congress on January 1, 2013 did not provide any funding for the NOCCSP, so the program was dormant for 2013, which caused a great deal of confusion and disruption.

Have Questions?  For More Information: LauraDavis@nofamass.org   508-596-165

This Action Alert is Active NOW until further notice of farm bill being finalized!

 


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 April 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, it won't ever "get to the floor" for a vote!

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.

Show your support for this essential resource by contacting your state legislators and making sure they know about H.3713 "An Act to Promote Healthy Soils"

Ask them to push for a vote on the Healthy Soils Bill (H.3713) this session.

 

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?


 


  

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 let us know by filling out this form.

 

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