Policy Work

NOFA/Mass advocates for sustainable agricultural policies that strengthen the resilience of our local communities. Our policy team works on issues as diverse as food, agricultural and climate justice, toxins reduction, ecological health and regulations which support organic and regenerative farms.

March 2021 – successfully pressured the Mass. Pesticide Board Subcommittee to pass a motion to protect pollinators by restricting the use of neonicotinoid pesticides (“neonics”), effectively removing these pesticides from store shelves by July 2022. NOFA/Mass had been organizing with a coalition of beekeepers and environmentalists since 2015 to pass similar legislation and to hold state regulators accountable.

January 2021 – Governor Baker signed into law the Massachusetts Healthy Soils Bill as part of an Economic Development bill. This legislation was originally co-authored by NOFA/Mass Policy Director and is supported by a coalition of healthy soils advocates organized by NOFA/Mass. The bill creates a Healthy Soils Program within the MA State Commission for Conservation of Soil, Water & Related Resources. NOFA/Mass is now working with legislative allies to allocate supplemental funding for the program.

In 2018 the Secretary of the Executive Office of Energy an Environmental Affairs, after having heard a presentation on soil carbon restoration by former NOFA/Mass Policy Director Jack Kittredge, proposed a $100,000 budget appropriation to fund the creation of a Massachusetts Healthy Soils Action Plan. The contract was awarded to Regenerative Design Group, which invited to the project team two NOFA/Mass staff members, Caro Roszell and Marty Dagoberto. The results of the 18 month stakeholder engagement process are expected to be published spring 2021 and will provide a state-approved roadmap for policy makers and land managers.

August 2020 – we were successful in securing direct representation for organic agriculture on the “21st Century Mosquito Disease Management Task Force.” Working with a coalition of advocacy groups, we achieved significant redrafts of the Governor’s arbovirus management bill, limiting powers granted and providing for much greater transparency. We continue to advocate for an ecological approach to mosquito disease management.

Current Policy Action Alerts

Call your legislators!

Participate in the democratic process: Speak for the soils and an organic future!

FAQs for advocates (from our friends a The MA Food System Collaborativethanks, Winton!)

May 4, 2022 – Now that the House is done with the budget (see the 4/28 update from MA Food System Collaborative, here), we should remind them that they still have some work to do on pesticides, climate action and food justice before the session is over! Please take a look at our active priority bills below on this page and contact your State Representative to ask them to weigh in with the appropriate committee chair to push the bill(s) to the floor for a vote before the session ends on July 31st. 

Summer brings the return of mosquitoes, and too often the pesticides that are used to kill them. Make sure to opt-out your home from toxic pesticide spraying this summer on the state’s website.  Even if you opted-out in prior years, you must resubmit each year. If/when you do, please alert your municipal officials and let them know why you don’t want toxics sprayed on your property. The more residents they hear from, the more likely they are to pursue a pesticide-free strategy to manage mosquito-borne diseases. For community-wide opting out, applications will require approval by the Selectboard or City/Town Council and are due to the state by May 27, 2022. Find more details at the MASSQuito Coalition page

2021-2022 Legislative Priorities

Beacon Hill

Click here to see our legislative “White Paper” (ready to print!) outlining our legislative priorities for this session. Please share this link with your legislators.

We are tracking about 30 bills of which we are in support. (Please contact our Policy Director – marty@nofamass.org –  with any other suggested additions.)

We have them broken up into 3 categories (top priorities are indicated):

Pesticides Reduction

“An Act Relative to improving pesticide protections for Massachusetts schoolchildren”

H.926: Rep. Carmine Gentile 

Bill Status (as of 5/4/2022): FAVORABLE report by the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture! On 3/27 it was referred to House Steering, Policy and Scheduling. We now have until the end of the legislative session (July 31, 2022) to push the bill to the floor for a full vote.

Action: Ask your representative to contact the chair of House Steering, Policy and Scheduling to ask them to “advance the bill ASAP!”

Many Massachusetts schools and child care centers permit the use of an arsenal of toxic pesticides on outdoor grounds, including glyphosate and 2,4-D, potentially endangering children’s health.  

Children are especially vulnerable to toxic pesticides.

  • Children absorb more pesticides relative to their body weight than adults.
  • Children’s organ systems are still developing and are less able to detoxify harmful chemicals.
  • In 2012 the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) called for governments to reduce children’s exposure to pesticides writing that scientific evidence “demonstrates associations between early life exposure to pesticides and pediatric cancers, decreased cognitive function, and behavioral problems.”

Learn more about children and pesticides HERE

What The Massachusetts Schoolchildren Pesticide Protection Act would do:

Under this proposed law, only pesticides considered minimum risk by the U.S. EPA and those permitted for organic use will be allowed near schools and child care centers in Massachusetts, except in the case of a health emergency when school officials could apply for a waiver. In 2010 NY passed a similar law as did CT in 2015.

This legislation was previously approved by the Joint Committee on the Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture during the 2019-20 session. We are now asking them to report this bill out favorably again in 2021 in hopes that it can make it to the floor for a full vote. 

If you are a parent, grandparent, teacher, school committee member, city or town official, or just a concerned citizen — we need you!

ACTION: Here is an action page to send a quick message to legislators in support of this bill.

ACTION #2: Here is an organizational endorsement page – SEEKING ENDORSEMENTS from School Committees, Parent-Teacher Organizations, Parents Groups, school employee unions and boards of health, local and statewide medical groups, in addition to other advocacy organizations. Please help us demonstrate support from school/parent/health communities by soliciting endorsements from such organizations. Organizational representatives may use this form to endorse the legislation. Having a broad coalition of support is instrumental to our advocacy work.

This bill has been endorsed by DOZENS of advocacy groups and school-related organizations. See our updated list, here. 

Related bill: “An Act to restrict the use of pesticides around children” 

S.498: Sen. Bill Brownsberger

Bill Status (as of May 5, 2022):FAVORABLE report by the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture!On 3/7 it was referred to Senate Ways and Means. We now have until the end of the legislative session (July 31, 2022) to push the bill to the floor for a full vote.

Action: Ask your legislators to contact Senate Ways and Means in support of this bill and ask them to advance it to the floor for a full vote.

This bill clarifies the definitions of areas where youth are to be protected from pesticides regardless of whether the application-hiring entity is public or private.

“An Act relative to pesticides.

H.4600 (formerly H.3991): Rep. James Hawkins

Bill Status (May 4, 2022): On March 28th the original “rodenticide” bill was redrafted to focus solely on modernizing pesticide reporting and reported FAVORABLY by the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture. The bill is now before the House Ways and Means Committee (one step before a full vote!). We now have until the end of the legislative session (July 31, 2022) to push the bill to the floor for a full vote.

Action: Ask your Representative to weigh in with the Chair of House Ways and Means to push the bill to the floor for a full vote. Click HERE to take action within seconds.

A female bald eagle found dead in her nest on the Charles River in March 2021 suffered a fatal hemorrhage after consuming smaller animals who had themselves consumed rat poison, as confirmed by MassWildlife officials. This is the first confirmed case of such poisoning in Massachusetts and evokes a clarion call to reign in pesticides use in our Commonwealth.

According to information presented by Raptors Are the Solution (RATS):

  • Of the 161 dead raptors submitted to and tested at Tufts Wildlife Clinic in a study between 2006 and 2010, 86% had poison residues in their liver tissues.
  • For an additional 94 Massachusetts raptors necropsied from 2012 through 2017 at Tufts, 96% had detectable poisons
  • 9 Snowy Owls died from lethal levels of rodenticides while they were in Massachusetts over the winter of 2017/18 (from Mass Audubon)

The Charles River eagle was the victim of second-generation anticoagulant rodenticide (SGAR) poisoning. As explained by MassAudubon:

“Second-generation anticoagulants don’t kill rodents immediately. While these rodenticides can kill rats with a single dose (which is why many consumers prefer them), poisoned rats can still live for a few days and continue eating poisoned bait. This delay means that rats can ingest enough poison to kill a much larger animal by the time they finally succumb. While any rodenticide can kill a raptor, second-generation anticoagulants are the most dangerous.”

While personal use of these second-generation anticoagulants (SGARS) is already banned in MA, licensed pest companies can still use it when hired to deal with rodent problems.

Proposed legislation, H4600 “An Act relative to pesticides,” would do more than protect raptors like bald eagles. It could go a long way to helping us reduce pesticides use across the Commonwealth. 

This bill would:

  • require the use of integrated pest management plans on the lands of public institution of higher education (it’s already required for K-12), and
  • require MDAR (Dept. of Agricultural Resources) to use an online database for pesticide use reporting records

The original legislation was cosponsored by Animal Legal Defense Fund, The Humane Society of the United States – Massachusetts, Mass Audubon, MSPCA, New England Wildlife Center, NOFA/Mass and Raptors Are The Solution (RATS) and endorsed by The Center for Biological Diversity, MASSPIRG and the Massachusetts Sierra Club.

The bill was redrafted on March 28, 2022, to focus solely on modernizing pesticide reporting (which currently relies on paper reports, which sit in a box in an office!). This update would go a long way to helping advocates promote reductions in pesticides use. First we need to know how much of what is being used where and why!…

“Integrated Pest Management” (IPM) is an “ecosystem-based strategy” which focuses on long-term prevention of pests through such techniques as biological control, habitat manipulation and modification of cultural practices. (To be clear, IPM may still include toxic pesticides as a “last resort…”)

“An Act providing for protections from pesticide chemical trespass in the Commonwealth”

S.555, H.1001: Senator Adam Hinds, Rep. Lindsay Sabadosa

Bill Status (as of May 4, 2022): FAVORABLE report by the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture! On March 7th it was referred to the Senate Ways and Means Committee. We now have until the end of the legislative session (July 31, 2022) to push the bill to the floor for a full vote.

Action: Ask your legislators to contact Senate Ways and Means in support of this important bill!

Purpose of the bill: To protect Massachusetts residents from harmful pesticide drift from agricultural pesticide use. 

Summary of the bill:

   1. Prohibits applying pesticides for agricultural use within buffer zones around designated protected areas.

  1. Establishes “protected areas,” including:

        ◦ Residential, commercial, and municipal buildings;

        ◦ Hospitals, nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and other medical facilities;

        ◦ Schools and child care centers; 

        ◦ Any other building where people live or gather; 

        ◦ Developed recreation areas, such as parks and playgrounds; and

        ◦ Other areas designated by the Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR). 

  1. Establishes “buffer zones” where agricultural pesticide application is not allowed, including:

        ◦ 1 mile around protected areas; 

        ◦ 250 feet around surface waters, except irrigation ditches and farm ponds; and

        ◦ Additional buffer zones established by MDAR. 

  1. Requires posted notice when pesticides are applied next to a buffer zone. 
  1. Directs MDAR to create a process for residents to file complaints about violations of the buffer zone protections or other pesticide laws. Requires MDAR to keep a public docket of complaints received, investigations performed, and enforcement actions taken. 
  1. Establishes penalties for applying pesticides in buffer zones, including suspension of pesticide applicator licenses and certifications.
  1. Empowers municipalities to designate additional protected areas and expand buffer zones to further protect the health and safety of residents, within certain limits.

“An Act relative to the use of glyphosate on public lands”

S.574: Senator Jason  Lewis

Bill Status (as of May 4, 2022): Reporting deadline extended to May 12, 2022 by the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture. To encourage positive motion on this bill, please contact your own legislators and ask them to weigh in with the committee.

Action: Ask your Rep. to weigh in with the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture about advancing this bill before the May 12th deadline.

This bill would end the application of glyphosate on any public lands owned or maintained by the Commonwealth without a special permit (and only when the a situation “poses an immediate threat to human health and the environment” and “there is no viable alternative to the use of the proposed glyphosate herbicide.” It would also outlaw the use of “any pesticide in a manner inconsistent with its label.”

“An Act Governing the use of pesticides containing the herbicide substance Glyphosate in the commonwealth”

S.575, H.929: Sen. Jason Lewis and Rep. Carmine Gentile

Bill Status (as of May 4, 2022): Reporting deadline extended to May 12, 2022 by the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture. To encourage positive motion on this bill, please contact your own legislators and ask them to weigh in with the committee.

Action: Ask your Rep. to weigh in with the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture about advancing this bill before the May 12th deadline.

This “probable human carcinogen” (as determined by the World Health Organization), is the world’s most commonly used herbicide. Recent studies have found glyphosate residues in lakes, rivers, rainwater, soil and in human urine. 

As the latest scientifically-validated proverbial nail in the coffin (hopefully) for glyphosate, a draft biological evaluation released on Nov. 25th, 2020, by the  US Environmental Protection Agency (really!) concludes that glyphosate is likely to adversely affect 93% of threatened and endangered species.

Fortunately, proposed state legislation which would ban consumer use of glyphosate was approved by the Joint Committee on the Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture during the 2019-20 session. We are now asking them to report this bill out favorably again in 2021 in hopes that it can make it to the floor for a full vote. 

What would this bill do?

This bill, quite simply, would restrict the purchase and use of glyphosate-containing herbicides to licensed pesticide applicators and remove such products from retail stores. 

Find our resource page on the human health risks associated with glyphosate

ACTION: Here is an action page to send a quick message to legislators in support of this and other glyphosate related bills

“An Act relative to the pesticide board”

S.510: Sen. Julian Cyr

Bill Status (as of May 4, 2022): FAVORABLE report by the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture! Referred to Senate Rules Committee on 3/7/22. We now have until the end of the legislative session (July 31, 2022) to push the bill to the floor for a full vote.

Action: Ask your legislator to weigh in with Senate Rules Committee in support of this bill and ask them to advance it to the floor for a vote.

This bill would require commissioner of food and agriculture to “consult and concur with the commissioner of environmental protection and commissioner of public health when rendering a decision… relative to the protection of groundwater sources of drinking water from pesticide contamination.”

Read about Pesticides in groundwater, from the USGS

“An Act empowering towns and cities to protect residents and the environment from harmful pesticides”

H.910: Rep. Dylan Fernandes

SD.2545 Sen. Susan Moran

Bill Status (as of February 10, 2022): Unfortunately this bill was “sent to study” by the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture, meaning that it will not receive further consideration this legislative session.

Prior to the passage of the Massachusetts Pesticide Control Act, M.G.L. 132B in 1978, Massachusetts municipalities had the right to restrict pesticides on all public and private land within their jurisdictions.

With pressure from the pesticide industry in the late 1970s, states across the country, including Massachusetts, passed legislation prohibiting cities and towns from adopting local pesticide ordinances more restrictive than state regulations. The Massachusetts Pesticide Board of the Department of Agricultural Resources currently decides which toxic pesticides are approved for use in Massachusetts (sold in local stores, used on lawns, gardens,playing fields, farms, etc.) and they rarely see a pesticide they don’t like.

Cities and towns have no say in which chemicals are used in their communities. 

Current legislation, “An Act empowering towns and cities to protect residents and the environment from harmful pesticides” would give local communities the power to make these important decisions once again. 

This bill would return power to communities to protect their families, food and water from harmful pesticide exposure. With the approval of a municipality’s Board of Health, a city or town government would be able to “restrict or prohibit the use and application or disposal of pesticides within the city or town that are more stringent than the standards and restrictions [adopted by the state].”

Fact sheet on state preemption of pesticides regulation, from Beyond Pesticides.

“An Act relative to the pesticide board”

H.4601 (formerly H.4143): Rep. Mindy Domb and now Rep. Garballey

Bill Status (as of May 4, 2022): On March 28th the bill was redrafted and by the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture in a way that completely changed the bill, effectively gutting and replacing it. The new bill is currently before the House Ways and Means Committee.

Action: We would encourage our members to focus their advocacy on our priority bills at this time, not this one.

As originally drafted, this legislation would have caused a systemic improvement in the pesticide regulatory framework of the Commonwealth by shifting the administration of the Pesticide Board and Subcommittee from the Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR) to the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).

As it was redrafted on March 28th, the bill would simply establish a “pesticide control modernization and environmental protection task force.”

“An Act protecting pollinators by eliminating harmful products” 

S.528: Sen. Jamie Eldridge

Bill Status (as of February 10, 2022): Unfortunately this bill was “sent to study” by the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture, meaning that it will not receive further consideration this legislative session.

A 2019 Scientific Literature Review performed by the Mass. Dept. of Agricultural Resources found that the broad majority of impact-based studies reviewed (42 of 43) cited neonicotinoid insecticides (“neonics”) as a contributor to pollinator declines. In response, the department subsequently decided to end consumer use of neonic products. However, the agricultural sectors use significantly higher volumes of these pollinator-killing pesticides. A recent study found that U.S. Agriculture is 48 times more toxic to insect life than it was in the early 1990s; neonicotinoids account for more than 90% of that increase.

This bill would protect pollinators by making it illegal for any neonic product to be “sprayed, released, deposited or applied on any property within the commonwealth.” However, the bill does exempt neonic-treated nursery plants from the prohibition.

“An Act relative to banning Chlorpyrifos in the Commonwealth”

S.522, H.936: Rep. Kenneth Gordon (senate bill filed “by request”)

Bill Status (as of February 10, 2022): Unfortunately this bill was “sent to study” by the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture, meaning that it will not receive further consideration this legislative session.

For half a century, staple food crops in the United States — such as corn, wheat, apples and citrus — have been sprayed with chlorpyrifos, an organophosphate pesticide that can permanently damage the developing brains of children, causing reduced IQ, loss of working memory, and attention deficit disorders. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s own scientific analysis (2016)showed that the amount of chlorpyrifos ingested by young children through sprayed fruits and vegetables could exceed safety levels by 140 times.

This bill would prohibit the use of “chlorpyrifos or any products containing chlorpyrifos for use on agricultural land or crops within the Commonwealth of Massachusetts without (i) license issued by the State or any agency of the federal government to conduct chlorpyrifos research; or (ii) a permit issued by the State to apply chlorpyrifos because there is no viable alternative to the use.” It would also establish a “task force to study the impact of using chlorpyrifos in non-agricultural settings in Massachusetts.”

More on chlorpyrifos, from EarthJustice

“An Act relative to pesticide applications”
S.618: Sen. Bruce Tarr

Bill Status (as of February 10, 2022): Unfortunately this bill was “sent to study” by the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture, meaning that it will not receive further consideration this legislative session.

The current process for individuals to “opt out” of mosquito spraying is cumbersome and confusing. Private residents who wish to avoid being sprayed must submit an opt out request annually and to post signs saying “no spray” along their property border. 

This bill seeks to create simple, alternative exclusion processes for residents from wide area pesticide applications by the state (such as by the Mosquito Control Board). Alternatives might include allowing residents to opt-out through their annual town or city census form.

Read more about mosquito spraying, opting out, and the need for reform, here

“An Act relative to the prohibition of chemical pesticides on golf courses”

H.975: (filed by request)

Bill Status (as of February 10, 2022): Unfortunately this bill was “sent to study” by the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture, meaning that it will not receive further consideration this legislative session.

A survey (“Toxic Fairways”, 1995) calculated that golf courses applied about 50,000 pounds of pesticides in one year, which can be anywhere from four to seven times more than the average amount utilized in agriculture on a pound/acre basis. Golf course superintendents are subject to higher mortality rates from specific cancers. Concerns about pesticide drift affecting nearby residents, particularly children whose developing brains and bodies are extremely susceptible to chemical toxicity, has inspired environmental and health advocacy groups to push for limited pesticide use on courses.

This bill specifies the prohibition of the use of pesticides on golf courses in order to prevent additional risks to public health in a time of pandemic as well as curb the environmental impacts of chemical use on large swathes of land.

Report: Toxic Fairways: Risking Groundwater Contamination From Pesticides on Long Island Golf Courses 

Beyond Pesticides resource on Golf, Pesticides, and Organic Practices

Food Justice, Sovereignty and Equity

“An Act relative to establishing a food justice frontline”

S.564, H.973: Sen. Patricia Jehlen, Rep. Christina Minicucci

Bill Status (as of May 4, 2022): FAVORABLE report by the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture! Referred to Senate Ways and Means on 3/7/22. We now have until the end of the legislative session (July 31, 2022) to push the bill to the floor for a full vote.

Action: Ask your legislators to urge the chair of Senate Ways and Means to advance the bill to the floor for a vote. Unfortunately, they will be occupied with the budget until about mid-June 2022 (details on that process, here)

This bill provides funding to nonprofit organizations to hire individuals living in frontline, marginalized, and low-income communities for well-compensated food security jobs, offering efficient, effective solutions to meet local food security needs.

Relative to food justice with jobs 

“An Act relative to food justice with jobs”

S.495, H.967: Sen. Joseph A. Boncore, Rep. Adrian C. Madaro

Bill Status (as of May 4, 2022): Reporting deadline extended to May 12, 2022 by the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture. The Senate Chair of ENRA is currently working on a larger food and agriculture bill, which may include provisions of this bill.

Action: Ask your legislators to encourage the Senate chair of ENRA to “include the food justice with jobs bill in the consolidated food and agriculture bill.”

This bill creates Community Land Trusts in food insecure communities in order to grow more food and create food security jobs. This measure includes soil health in Community Agriculture Standards.

The above two bills are priorities of the Mass Renews Alliance, of which NOFA/Mass is a part. Mass Renews Alliance is a coalition of labor, youth, traditional environmentalist, and social and environmental justice organizations renewing Massachusetts’ commitment to racial, climate & economic justice.

The Food Justice bills will bring more fresh local food to families in need and will create food-security jobs for people throughout Massachusetts, empowering communities to tailor solutions to their local needs.

Read more about the Mass Renews Alliance Policy Framework, here

“An Act supporting the commonwealth’s farmers”

S.1822, H.861: Senator Jo Comerford, Rep. Natalie Blais

Bill Status (as of May 4,  2022): FAVORABLE report by the Revenue Committee and referred to Senate Ways and Means on 3/10/22. We now have until the end of the legislative session (July 31, 2022) to push the bill to the floor for a full vote.

Action: Ask your legislators to urge the chair of Senate Ways and Means to advance the bill to the floor for a vote. Unfortunately, they will be occupied with the budget until about mid-June 2022 (details on that process, here)

This bill creates a “circuit rider” program at MDAR to coordinate support, establish a $3 million Next Generation Farmers Fund to provide education grants, direct MEMA to incorporate food production capacity into disaster planning, and make changes to land protection programs and laws to help make farms more sustainable.

“An Act promoting equity in agriculture”

S.502, H.860: Senator Jo Comerford, Rep. Natalie Blais

Bill Status (as of May 4, 2022): Reporting deadline extended to May 12, 2022 by the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture. To encourage positive motion on this bill, please contact your own legislators and ask them to weigh in with the committee.

This bill establishes a commission to develop recommendations for supporting racially equitable investments, policies, and practices to promote equity in agriculture. The mandate includes a timeline for the implementation of a plan based on the recommendations.

“An Act regulating cottage foods”

H.465: Rep. Erika Uyterhoeven

Bill Status (as of May 4, 2022): Reporting deadline extended to May 12, 2022 by the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture. To encourage positive motion on this bill, please contact your own legislators and ask them to weigh in with the committee.

This bill would enable all home cooks throughout Massachusetts to sell their low-risk homemade food products without a health department permit, including foods from a variety of cultures, such as jams, nut mixes, breads, tortillas, fruit empanadas, cookies, churros, coffee beans and pickled vegetables.

See coalition fact sheet, here

“An Act regarding raw milk”

S.540: Sen. Anne Gobi

Bill Status (as of Feb 10, 2022): FAVORABLE report by the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture! On March 7th it was referred to the Senate Ways and Means Committee. We now have until the end of the legislative session (July 31, 2022) to push the bill to the floor for a full vote.

Action: Ask your legislators to urge the chair of Senate Ways and Means to advance the bill to the floor for a vote. Unfortunately, they will be occupied with the budget until about mid-June 2022 (details on that process, here)

NOFA/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 bill S.540, filed by Sen. Anne Gobi, which would allow for the delivery of raw milk directly to customers as long as the milk has been sold prior to delivery.

Right now, there are very few raw milk dairies in the densely-populated eastern part of the state. Customers who want raw milk from this area often have to drive for an hour or more to a raw milk dairy. By opening up the market through delivery, the raw milk market would serve more customers and increase the economic vitality of small dairies.

Under this bill, raw milk farmers would be allowed to deliver milk, including by third party delivery, directly to a contracted consumer off-site from the farm, through a CSA, at a farm stand, to a residence, or to an established, non-retail receiving site. If delivered to a retail establishment, it would be accessible only to the directly contracted customers.

Read more about raw milk and find your nearest dairy at the Mass. Raw Milk Network, a project of NOFA/Mass

Ecological Integrity

“An Act to protect pollinator habitat”

H.4603 (formerly S.573, H.956): Rep. Mary Keefe

Bill Status (as of Feb 10, 2022): Received a FAVORABLE report by the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture and referred the House Ways and Means Committee- one step before a final vote by the House! We now have until the end of the legislative session (July 31, 2022) to push the bill to the floor for a full vote.

ACTION: Contact your legislators and ask them to urge the chair of House Ways and Means to advance the bill to the House floor for a full vote!

This bill would create a commission to study statewide opportunities for improving pollinator health by increasing and enhancing native pollinator habitat in both developed and natural areas. It would coordinate public education programs outlining steps individuals and businesses can take to help address the loss of pollinator habitat.

“An Act restricting toxic PFAS chemicals in consumer products to protect our health”

S.1387: Senator Jo Comerford

Bill Status (as of May 5, 2022): Received a FAVORABLE report by Joint Committee on Public Health and referred to  Senate Ways and Means on 2/28. We’ll have until the end of July to push it to the floor for a full vote.

Action: Contact your legislators in support! Ask them to urge the chair of  Senate Ways and Means to advance the bill to the floor for a full vote before the session ends in July!

Polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a group of toxic chemicals used to make products stain proof, water resistant and stick proof. But research links PFAS exposure in humans to cancer, immune system deficiencies, low fertility, and developmental issues in children and infants. The health impacts of PFAS are magnified because they accumulate in the food chain and persist in the environment indefinitely.

Senator Comerford’s bill is an outright ban on PFAS in cookware, child safety seats, cosmetics, carpets, furniture and more. Several other bills have been filed regarding PFAS.

Read about the issue and bills filed to address PFAS on this coalition fact sheet. 

“An Act establishing the commission on extended producer responsibility”

H.948: Rep. Brad Jones

Bill Status (as of May 5, 2022): Reporting deadline extended to May 12, 2022 by the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture. To encourage positive motion on this bill, please contact your own legislators and ask them to weigh in with the committee.

This bill creates a commission to develop recommendations toward implementing a statewide policy structure for extended producer responsibility having assessed the economic, environmental, and public health benefits and costs relating to the manufacture and post-consumer management of products.

“An Act relative to increased protection of wildlife management areas”

H.1002: Rep. Lindsay Sabadosa

Bill Status (as of May 5, 2022): Reporting deadline extended to May 12, 2022 by the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture. To encourage positive motion on this bill, please contact your own legislators and ask them to weigh in with the committee.

On or before January 1, 2030, a minimum of 30% of all Wildlife Management Area lands, representative of all eco-regions in the state, would be designated as permanent Wildlife Management Area Nature Reserves to be monitored and maintained as nearly as possible as intact ecosystems in a natural condition for the purposes of biodiversity maintenance, nutrient cycling and soil formation, long‐term carbon sequestration, protection of late-successional and old growth forest habitats, and opportunities for wilderness recreation.

H.898/S.530  An Act relative to maintaining adequate water supplies through effective drought management

Sponsored by Senator Jamie Eldridge and Representative Carolyn Dykema

Bill Status (as of May 5, 2022): FAVORABLE report by the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture and referred to Senate Ways and Means on 3/7/22. We now have until the end of the legislative session (July 31, 2022) to push the bill to the floor for a full vote.

Action: Have your legislator weigh in with Senate Ways and Means in support of this bill.

Summer 2016 and 2020: Many rivers throughout Massachusetts experienced record low flows, and portions of some major rivers, such as the Ipswich and Parker, went dry. Several municipal water sources became depleted, posing a challenge for water suppliers.

With climate change scientists predicting increases in both short-term floods and droughts in Massachusetts, we must be prepared for both extremes.

An important goal of drought resilience is to sustain streamflow, groundwater levels, and water supplies for as long as possible when precipitation is scarce. The most effective, immediate, and least costly way to achieve this is to conserve water during a drought.

THE PROBLEM

● Massachusetts lacks authority to require water conservation during a drought. Despite the severity of the drought of 2016, the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary could recommend outdoor watering restrictions but could not require them.

● Streams across the state dried up in 2020, like Stony Brook in Chelmsford, Buttonwood Brook in Dartmouth, Deer Brook in Northampton, Churchill Brook in Pittsfield, and Jacksaw Brook in Westborough.

● Massachusetts farmers sustained economic losses of $18M during the 2016 drought due to crop failures, including damage to our iconic cranberry bogs.

● Local boards of health reported private well failures from 220 private residences during the 2016 drought and there were six public water supply emergency declarations.

THE SOLUTION This bill would give the Commonwealth the authority to restrict non-essential outdoor watering during droughts, ensuring that our water supply can sustain public health and our environment.

● Nonessential outdoor water use restrictions would gradually escalate as drought levels worsen, as detailed in the State’s 2019 Drought Management Plan.

● These restrictions would apply to all water users within a drought region.

● Agricultural water users would be exempted.

Learn more at Mass. Rivers Alliance

“An Act relative to stormwater management and climate change adaptation incentives”

H.2908: Rep. Sean Garballey

Bill Status (as of February 10, 2022): Unfortunately this bill was “sent to study” by the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture, meaning that it will not receive further consideration this legislative session.

This bill proposes real estate tax reductions for parcels offering ecological services such as stormwater management, climate change adaptation, native-species habitat, vegetated permeable surfaces, vegetated water retention, water quality preservation, soil health enhancement, foliage and tree cover, and carbon sequestration.

“An Act Providing for the Public Health by Establishing an Ecologically Based Mosquito Management Program” 

S.556/H.937: Sen. Adam Hinds and Rep. Tami Gouveia

Bill Status (as of February 10, 2022): Unfortunately this bill was “sent to study” by the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture, meaning that it will not receive further consideration this legislative session. While we were disappointed to see this bill stall in the legislative process, it has very much fulfilled its primary purpose of influencing the draft recommendations of the Mosquito Control Task Force (MCTF), released on February 3rd, 2022, which actually contain many of the provisions outlined in the coalition bill. The MASSQuito Coalition is now organizing around the comment period for the Task Force (listening session on February 10th, written comments due February 14th, details here) and hopes that coalition-supported provisions for ecological mosquito disease management will be incorporated into the final plan.

This proposed legislation replaces the Commonwealth’s outdated and expensive mosquito management system with one that is more effective, affordable, transparent, ecologically responsible, and scientifically based.

NOFA/Mass supports a scientifically based mosquito-borne disease management program to protect public health while minimizing environmental and public health risks associated with some forms of mosquito control. The existing programs for mosquito control in Massachusetts are antiquated and fragmented, and reform is needed.

Ecological mosquito management prioritizes preventative measures, and includes:

  • Monitoring and surveillance
  • A strong focus on public education and personal protective measures
  • Emphasis on eliminating breeding sites
  • Consideration of local ecology
  • A tiered approach to management:
  • Non-toxic approaches, such as habitat manipulation must be attempted first
  • Larvaciding should be conducted based on monitoring for predefined thresholds
  • Adulticiding (spraying for adult mosquitoes) should be permitted only during public health emergencies, when there is significant threat of mosquito-borne disease based on predefined thresholds, and all other, less toxic methods have been attempted and found ineffective

In coordination with numerous advocacy organizations, NOFA/Mass is supporting as a priority 

S.556/H.937, filed by Sen. Adam Hinds and Rep. Tami Gouveia, which would: 

  • Protect health and the environment by prioritizing public education, mosquito monitoring, and habitat modification, and only using pesticides when scientifically defined levels of disease carrying mosquitoes have been found in the area.
  • Increase funding and capacity for mosquito monitoring, surveillance, and public education efforts.
  • Provide full transparency and accountability within any mosquito borne disease management program, including publicly available notification around larviciding and adulticiding applications, and honoring local opt out agreements.

See the coalition fact sheet on this bill, here.

Please see our coalition website for extensive resources on ecological mosquito control and more details on this proposed legislation: https://www.nofamass.org/massquito/

“An Act relative to organic farming tools”

H.168: Rep. Paul Mark

Bill Status (as of February 10, 2022): Unfortunately this bill was “sent to study” by the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture, meaning that it will not receive further consideration this legislative session.

This organic pest control provision is written to bring Massachusetts regulators into line with practices in earlier legalization states that have allowed a short list of biological and botanical control strategies to be used on cannabis (hemp and marijuana). Colorado, California and Oregon allow application of organic pest control products when they have broad EPA label instructions, are permissible on food and tobacco, and have no federal (food) tolerance level requirements.

“An Act to assure the attainment of greenhouse gas emissions goals in the alternative portfolio standard”

H.954: Rep. Patrick Kearney 

Bill Status (as of February 10, 2022): Unfortunately this bill was “sent to study” by the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture, meaning that it will not receive further consideration this legislative session.

Removes the use of waste-to-energy municipal solid waste plant technology and forest-derived biomass from the Commonwealth’s alternative energy portfolio, removing subsidies for this form of energy production. 

Read more about the problems with biomass-based energy production, here. 

Coalition support

NOFA/Mass is part of several national coalitions and networks. Learn about our national partnerships and coalitions, here: Partnerships and Coalitions

NOFA/Mass also endorses the Massachusetts legislative priorities of several in-state coalitions:

Act On Mass campaignThe Massachusetts State House is broken – in fact, it is one of the least transparent state houses in the country. Because our legislators are more accountable to the entrenched powers of House Leadership than their own constituents, we see bills with broad popular support get stuck in committees for years and ultimately die, session after session. Act on Mass, Sunrise Boston, Indivisible Mass and Mijente came together to launch The People’s House to build a movement to change that. In July, the House will be voting on its rulebook that governs the lawmaking process. We are demanding the House make the following three changes to the current rulebook: 1) make all committee votes public, 2) ensure bills public at least 72 hours before a vote, and 3) reinstate term limits for the Speaker of the House. Our strategy is to publicly whip votes for these three amendments by building and training District Teams of constituents in districts across the state to schedule meetings with their legislators in which they advocate for the three changes. Join your District Team by signing up at https://actonmass.org/the-campaign/.

Light pollution is one of the many ways we disrupt insect life to our own detriment. A new non-partisan bill being put forward in Massachusetts hopes to address how the state oversees outdoor lighting, and specifically blue light, in public spaces. The proposed changes, which include using fully shielded lighting fixtures for roadways and parking lots, could help reduce skyglow across the state.

NOFA/Mass strongly endorses S.2147/H.3306 – An Act to improve outdoor lighting, conserve energy, and increase dark-sky visibility (Sen. Cynthia Creem and Sean Garballey)

Our survival depends on climate resilient food systems which in turn rely on healthy ecosystems. Ensuring the integrity of the natural cycling of darkness and sunlight is an important aspect of natural and agroecosystem function. Artificial light at night (ALAN) is a pervasive global change that strongly impacts insects and other wildlife.

In support of insect biodiversity and natural cycles, NOFA/Mass and the Massachusetts Pollinator Network have endorsed proposed legislation “An Act to Improve Outdoor Lighting, Conserve Energy, and Increase Dark-Sky Visibility,” (S.2147/H.3306, filed by Sen. Cynthia Creem and Sean Garballey).

This bill would begin to address the problem of light pollution by ensuring that all publicly funded lighting going forward uses shielded lighting, lower brightness (lumens) and warmer colors (less harmful than blue lighting). The bill would also require the Mass. Dept. of Transportation to study alternatives to lighting roadways. Many countries in Europe already use reflectors on streets instead of lights, a change that dramatically reduces light pollution. 

Read more about this effort and sign the petition from the Mass. Chapter of the International Dark Sky Association. 

turn down the lights

The Work & Family Mobility Act

(H.3456/S.2289)

This bill would enable all qualified state residents to apply for a standard Massachusetts driver’s license or  identification card, regardless of immigrant status, while keeping our Commonwealth in full compliance with REAL ID requirements.  

“This bill would promote trust  between law enforcement and all  the communities we serve and  protect. In order for our state’s  police officers to best do their jobs and remain safe while doing so, they need to be able to identify  who’s behind the wheel.” 

-Chief Brian Kyes, President of the MA Major City Chiefs of  Police Association & Chelsea Police Chief 

Increases Public Health safety amidst Covid-19 pandemic. We need to protect the health and safety of immigrants who work in every corner of our Commonwealth by increasing access to COVID-19 testing, vaccines and food  distribution. Public transportation, ridesharing and school buses increase the risk of exposure due to the inability to  socially distance; personal vehicles provide the safest way to travel during a pandemic. 

Tested and insured drivers make the roads safer for everyone. All drivers need to know the rules of the road, pass the same driver’s test, and be  properly registered and insured. 

More drivers will have a positive effect on our state’s economy. State revenue will increase as more residents pay for licenses and auto registrations. Fewer uninsured motorists and more drivers in the insurance pool could also lower everyone’s insurance rates.

Immigrants who are currently barred from driving are a vital part of Massachusetts’ social and economic fabric. An  estimated 185,000 immigrants without status lived in Massachusetts as of 2016 – roughly one-fifth of the immigrant  population. In 2016, undocumented immigrants contributed $8.8 billion to the Massachusetts economy, and they paid an estimated $184.6 million in state and local taxes. 

NOFA/Mass supports local agriculture,  which is often reliant on undocumented labor. Many farmers support this measure. “Undocumented immigrants need to drive to their jobs, where they pay taxes but will never see Social Security,” wrote Philip Korman and Claire Morenon of Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture (CISA) in a 2019 op-ed in support of the bill. 

You can read more about this bill on the website of the Massachusetts Jobs with Justice, where most of the above verbiage was borrowed from. 

Massachusetts Cottage Food Campaign

HD2547- Cottage Food Legislation (fact sheet)

HD2547 would enable all home cooks throughout Massachusetts to sell their low-risk homemade food products without a health department permit, including foods from a variety of cultures, such as jams, nut mixes, breads, tortillas, fruit empanadas, cookies, churros, coffee beans and pickled vegetables.

Mass. Food System CollaborativeThe Massachusetts Food System Collaborative (MFSC) was created following the completion of the Massachusetts Local Food Action Plan in December 2015. The goals of the Collaborative are to promote, monitor, and facilitate implementation of the Plan. The Collaborative’s work focuses on the four main goals of the Plan:

  • Increase production, sales and consumption of Massachusetts-grown foods.
  • Create jobs and economic opportunity in food, farming and fishing, and improve the wages and skills of food system workers.
  • Protect the land and water needed to produce food, maximize environmental benefits from agriculture and fishing, and ensure food safety.
  • Reduce hunger and food insecurity, increase the availability of healthy food to all residents, and reduce food waste.

Learn more about The Collaborative, here.

Review The Collaborative’s complete legislative agenda, here.

Special thanks to The Collaborative for including the Healthy Soils Budget amendment in their budget priorities!

Indigenous Legislative Agenda

The 2021-2022 Massachusetts Indigenous Legislative Agenda includes 5 priorities: Remove Racist Mascots, Honor Indigenous People’s Day, Celebrate and Teach Native American Culture & History, Protect Native American Heritage, and Support the Education and Futures of Native Youth.

Please urge your state legislators to co-sponsor these 5 important bills today!

CLICK HERE TO CONTACT YOUR LEGISLATORS IN SUPPORT OF THE MA INDIGENOUS LEGISLATIVE AGENDA

Massachusetts Renews

Mass Renews Alliance is a coalition of labor, youth, traditional environmentalist, and social and environmental justice organizations renewing Massachusetts’ commitment to racial, climate & economic justice.

“We’ve created and are fighting for a set of policies that will put thousands of Massachusetts residents to work running local farms and community gardens, and retrofitting 100,000 homes each year to improve their energy-efficiency and indoor air quality, improving health outcomes and slashing the carbon emissions that are causing the climate crisis.”

View the Massachusetts Renews Alliance policy framework, here. 

Want to get involved in policy work? Have a tip or suggestion? Marty Dagoberto, our Policy Director, can be reached at marty@nofamass.org

Other Policy Resources

Organic StandardsFind useful resources and educational materials about what organic really means and why it matters.

Glyphosate: A Closer Look At America’s Favorite Pesticide Glyphosate

Most Recent Newsletter Articles

Earth Day Reflection, Call to Action

May 2022 Policy & Advocacy update By Marty Dagoberto, NOFA/Mass Policy Director *Before you read our feature article below, “Earth Day Reflections, Call to Action,” here are a few brief updates Time to start [...]

A video greeting for first year legislators (April 6, 2021)

NOFA/Mass Policy Work

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What is the state legislative process?

In Massachusetts, legislative sessions begin on January 1 and last two years. An average of 6,000-10,000 bills are filed every session. However, less than 10% are passed and become state law.  Learn how bills are created and passed in the state legislature

Mass. Dept. of Agricultural Resources (MDAR) seeks to assess BIPOC food system workers

Since September 2020, the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs has organized a task force, representing all its agencies, to develop a strategic Environmental Justice Plan that addresses equity and equality, with regards to resources, language access and communication.

MDAR is committed to identifying how we can implement and promote environmental justice principles through policies, programs, hearings, funding decisions, communication, and language access.

MDAR is also committed to work on charting how the fair distribution of benefits and resources have been measured.

To effectively meet this mandate, we are working to update our database to have an accurate account of farmers and affiliates in food systems who identify as Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC). We are requesting contact information and input with regards to better serving all of our state’s farmers and food system members.

Please respond to: Rose Arruda, rose.arruda@mass.gov, at MDAR.

To access the EEA 2021 Environmental Justice Policy document, please visit: https://www.mass.gov/service-details/environmental-justice-policy. Thank you in advance for your support of this important pro