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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CURRENT ACTION ALERTS 

Take Action to Save Organic - Certification Cost-Share Program - ACTION ALERT

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 could 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 through March 1, 2018 



 

Subject – take action on organic animal welfare: comment deadline is January 17, 2018!

In January of 2017, the Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices rule was finalized. 

But now, after repeated delays, the Administration is planning to kill the new rules before they go into effect! 

These new standards are essential for the integrity of organic.

Consumers who choose organic eggs, poultry, and meat expect organic farmers to raise their animals in the healthiest conditions possible with real outdoor access. And farmers and ranchers who choose to follow organic standards expect a level playing field. 

We need your help! We need to flood USDA with comments to let them know that we oppose this action to withdraw the Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices final rule!

Submit a comment to USDA now.

Be sure to include Docket # AMS-NOP-15-0012; NOP-15-06 in your comment.

The comment deadline is January 17.

Use these talking points:

  1. State clearly that as an organic producer, handler, or consumer you oppose USDA’s action to withdraw the Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices final rule.
  2. Say who you are, where you are from, and share some details about your farm, ranch, or business.
  3. These standards are critical to preserving trust in the organic label. If consumers see that the standards for poultry and livestock products are not consistent across operations, consumer confidence in the organic label overall will be negatively impacted.
  4. The Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices final rule has widespread support from the industry and a full spectrum of stakeholders. It is the result of more than a decade of work on the part of the National Organic Standards Board and organic community. \
  5. The USDA has received thousands of comments in support of letting the rule move forward without further delays. During the last comment period, 99 percent of commenters asked the USDA to let the rule go into effect as written without further delays.
    1. This attempt to withdraw the animal care standards was done without consultation form the National Organic Standards Board- the very group of farmers, processors, scientists, and public representatives, designated by Congress to advise USDA on organic standards.
    2. The majority of organic livestock farmers already comply with these rules. Farmers who already adhere to high standards are being undercut because of loopholes that allow a small number of producers to deny meaningful outdoor access to animals. 

Unique comments are far better than form letters, but if you don’t have five minutes to craft a unique comment to USDA, then please take just one minute to submit a form letter created by the Organic Trade Association.

The Organic Trade Association has also compiled a toolkit to help you take action and engage your networks.

NOFA/Mass urges everyone to submit a unique comment to express your strong support for the organic animal welfare regulations before the deadline on January 17, 2018.


Protect Pollinators From Neonicotinoids

If the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe, man would have only four years to live.

- Albert Einstein

Massachusetts stands poised to become a leader in protecting bees, butterflies, birds and other pollinators from a known set of systemic toxic pesticides, neonicotinoids (neonics). With your help, we can and must persuade our representatives that these widely used pesticides must be regulated carefully.

On October 3rd at 1 PM, there will be a hearing at the State House to discuss H.2113, An Act to protect Massachusetts pollinators. This bill, if passed, would require that:

  • neonicotinoids be applied only by licensed or certified applicators

  • pesticide applicators to give the property owner a notice of risks associated with neonicotinoids to pollinators, and alternative products which could be used

  • seeds, plants, or other materials treated with neonicotinoids be labeled at point of sale

We urge everyone to submit testimony either by writing a letter or attending the hearing. To submit a letter, please send an email to Chairman Anne Gobi- anne.gobi@masenate.gov  and Chairman Smitty Pignatelli- rep.smitty@mahouse.gov .

Here are few points you can make in your letter:

  • Numerous studies confirm that neonicotinoid pesticides (aka “neonics”) contribute to bee mortality, as well as to declines in native pollinators including birds and butterflies.

  • In addition to killing bees outright, research shows that even low levels of these toxic pesticides cause serious harm by confusing the foraging ability of bees and disrupting their reproductive cycles.

  • Consumers lack information about the harmful effects of neonics, but Massachusetts residents are very concerned about the dangers of pesticides on their health. We have the right to know what is in the plants we buy and what our landscapers use.

For more information please visit the Massachusetts Pollinator Coalition or contact  Jack Zietman  NOFA/Mass Interm policy contact at jzietman@gmail.com

 


 

Support Legislation To Regenerate Soils and Sequester Carbon

Earlier this year, we filed a bill that aims to support soil restoration by creating a Healthy Soils Program within the MA Dept. of Agriculture (MDAR). This bill will receive its one and only public hearing on Tuesday, September 12th at the State House. We need to show up, write letters, and make calls to ensure that this bill is put on a fast track to implementation. Our climate, water, and food quality depend on it. 

 

Show your support for this essential resouce  submitting written testimony to the chairs of the Environment and Ag committeee in support of this bill.  

Email your written statement to:

Chairman Anne Gobi- anne.gobi@masenate.gov

Chairman Smitty Pignatelli- rep.smitty@mahouse.gov

Here's a few talking points you could include in your oral or written testimony:

  • 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?

For help in writing or delivering testimony, please contact Jack Zietman  NOFA/Mass Interm policy contact at jzietman@gmail.com

 


  

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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