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 organic standards, food system transparency, and regulations that support sustainable farms.

Current Policy Action Alerts

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

With the new legislative session starting in January 2021, we have several opportunities to move our Commonwealth away from reliance on systemic and toxic biocides (life-killing chemicals) like glyphosate and toward organic, life-honoring solutions for landcare and agriculture.

Please use this form now to send a message to legislators within seconds, asking them to cosponsor the NOFA/Mass priority pesticide bills by April 1, 2021. Continue reading below for more background.

Though unfortunately the 2019-20 legislative session ended without significant action on pesticides, awareness and support among legislators has grown significantly and new science continues to emerge which validates our movement supporting swift action to protect the health and integrity of our communities, human and non-human alike.

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 will now pick up where we left off with renewed momentum this session.

Several bills which would have a dramatic impact on the reducing the use of toxic pesticides in Massachusetts are being filed/refiled by our legislative champions in January.

Under new rules, legislators can cosponsor a bill until it is reported on by its first committee (a process which starts in April). Legislators take their cues (in theory*) from their constituents. The more they hear about a specific bill/issue, the more likely they are to add their name in support of legislation.

*We recognize that the chemical corporations and their surrogates have inordinate influence over the legislative and regulatory bodies governing them. This is why we must speak loudly, often and together in order to make it a political liability for decision-makers to do their bidding!

Please use this form to contact your state legislators asking them to cosponsor the below pesticide-related bills before April 1, 2021.

Share with them your personal concerns about glyphosate and other pesticides, reiterate how we need legislators to fulfill their duty to protect our Commonwealth, and ask them to cosponsor and support swift passage the the below pesticide-related bills.

You can learn more about the dangers of glyphosate on the NOFA/Mass website. (Suggested talking points are also provided in this form.)

NOFA/Mass Priority Pesticide-related Bills

  • Glyphosate Consumer Ban – “An Act governing the use of pesticides containing the herbicide substance Glyphosate in the commonwealth,” by Rep. Carmine Gentile and Sen Jason Lewis (HD478/SD471)

  • This bill takes all glyphosate-containing herbicides (including Monsanto’s Roundup) off hardware store shelves and ends consumer use of this toxic biocide statewide!
  • Schoolchildren protection – “An Act relative to improving pesticide protections for Massachusetts schoolchildren,” by Rep. Carmine Gentile (HD458)

  • Under this law, only pesticides defined as minimum risk by the EPA or those approved for organic agriculture could be used on the outdoor grounds of schools, child care centers and school-age child care programs. This would eliminate on school grounds the use of many synthetic pesticides that are harmful to children, including glyphosate and 2,4-D.

  • Glyphosate ban on public land – “An Act relative to the use of glyphosate on public lands,” by Sen. Jason Lewis (SD455)

  • This bill would end the application of any glyphosate-based herbicide on any public lands owned or maintained by the Commonwealth without a special permit
  • Protection against Chemical Trespass – “An Act Providing for Protections from Pesticide Chemical Trespass in the Commonwealth,” by Senator Adam Hinds and Rep. Lindsay Sabadosa (SD1201/HD1918)

  • This bill will help protect Massachusetts residents from harmful pesticide drift from agricultural pesticide use, increasing buffer zones around residences.

  • Local Control over Pesticides – “An Act empowering towns and cities to protect residents and the environment from harmful pesticides,” by Rep. Dylan Fernandes (HD3682)
  • This critical bill would restore the power of municipal governments to restrict the use, application or disposal of pesticides on private land within that town or city. It would enable municipalities to create and enforce local pesticide by-laws that are stricter than the State’s existing laws.
  • Ecological Mosquito Control – “An Act Providing for the Public Health by Establishing an Ecologically Based Mosquito Management Program in the Commonwealth,” by Senator Adam Hinds and Rep. Tami Gouveia (SD1202/HD2383)
  • Replaces the Commonwealth’s outdated and expensive mosquito management system with one that is more effective, affordable, transparent, ecologically responsible, and scientifically based.

All of these bills face serious opposition from the well-heeled chemical industry lobbyists and their surrogates. However, as awareness of the dangers of glyphosate and other toxins grows, we have an increasing number of allies in the state legislature.  Please let your legislators know that you support their bold leadership on pesticides. Encourage them to stand up to the chemical industry lobbyists and take action to protect our communities.

UPDATE, 01/14/20 – The Healthy Soils Bill has been signed into law! However, this is just the first step to creating a Healthy Soils Program – now we need to make sure it gets funded this budget season. Please send a message to your legislators to THANK THEM for passing the bill and ask for their support for the Healthy Soils Program during the upcoming budget season.

The healthy soils legislation creates a fund and a program to provide education, technical assistance, and financial incentives to farmers and land managers to utilize healthy soil practices, thereby improving soil health throughout the Commonwealth while supporting farmers and promoting sustainability. Healthy soil practices include no-till or low-till farming, use of cover crops, reduction in synthetic fertilizer and more.

The timing is perfect, as the state is also about to finalize its first roadmap for healthy soils, the Healthy Soils Action Plan, another project which we at NOFA/Mass had the honor of helping to create. The next step will be to seek budget appropriations to fund the program during the upcoming budget season.

The full text of the original bill can be viewed here: https://malegislature.gov/Bills/191/S2404

A fact sheet on the original bill with more talking points, here: https://www.nofamass.org/sites/default/files/u9058/Healthy-Soils-Fact-Sheet-2020-02-20.pdf

Massachusetts should build on its long history of climate leadership and join with the six other states which have passed Healthy Soils and Soil Carbon Sequestration legislation. The State government must help us better adapt to the shocks of worsening climate destabilization as well as help mitigate further impacts, while improving crop quality and quantity and farmer bottom lines.

Endorsing organizations:

We are grateful to this growing coalition of climate activists, water protectors and agricultural advocates which continues to grow in support of the Healthy Soils Program: 350 Lowell nodeAmerican Farmland TrustBerkshire GrownBiodiversity for a Liveable ClimateBionutrient Food AssociationBoston Catholic Climate MovementCentral Mass GrownCommunity Involved in Sustaining Agriculture (CISA)Climate Action Business AssociationCooper Shop FarmConservation Law FoundationEarthjusticeElders Climate Action Massachusetts​, Endever Agriculture Group, LLC, ​Environmental League of Massachusetts, Find the Good and Braise It, Franklin County CDCGrow Food Northampton, HealthLink, Island Grown InitiativeLexington Community Farm CoalitionLong Life FarmMass Assoc. of Conservation DistrictsMass. AudubonMass. Food System CollaborativeMassachusetts Forest AllianceMassachusetts Rivers AllianceMetropolitan Area Planning CouncilMothers Out FrontMystic River Watershed AssociationNew England Farmers UnionNew England Small Farm InstituteOcean River Institute, Pioneer Valley Biochar Initiative (PVBI)Regeneration MassachusettsShared Harvest CSASierra Club MassachusettsSoil4Climate, South Meadow Farm & Research Center, Sustainable Business NetworkThe Trustees​, The Carrot Project, The Garden Artist, The Nature ConservancyWestern Mass. Climate Action NowWright-Locke Farm

Organizations may endorse the Healthy Soils Program by filling out this form. 

Click here to go to our “click and send” action page to email legislators within seconds.

The Pesticide Board Subcommittee, which held a well-attended hearing on neonic pesticides in December (ICYMI – read about it in last month’s newsletter), will be considering at their March 1st meeting to vote on a motion filed at the February 16th meeting. We had over 100 supporters at that meeting in February, and the pressure was felt! We encourage members of the public to again attend and hold them accountable: they must follow their own science! 

Can you join the virtual meeting and hold them accountable? Please plan to join the zoom meeting if you are able. 

Meeting ID: 978 5693 8691
Passcode: 000461

At the hearing last December, more than half of the legislature endorsed a statement demonstrating an increasingly held belief that they can’t leave it to the state’s Pesticide (rubberstamp approval) Board to reduce pesticides use: 

“Despite concerns about neonicotinoids being brought to the Department’s attention repeatedly by the Attorney General’s office, legislators and others since 2014, the [Pesticide Board] Subcommittee failed to initiate an independent review or take any consequential action until 2019, when legislatively required to do so. This inability or unwillingness to respond to concerns that clearly fall within its purview raises concerns about whether the Subcommittee is able to fulfill its charge under the law to regulate pesticides.” – Joint testimony presented by Rep. Carolyn Dykema at the December 10th hearing of the Pesticide Board Subcommittee (read more about that day, here

While we continue to push for meaningful pesticide reform through our legislative process, we are hoping that with the Pesticide Board’s neonic literature review complete, they will at least take the minimum reasonable step of ending consumer use of this pollinator-killing class of pesticides. 

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

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

Partnerships and Coalitions – Learn about ways that NOFA/Mass is part of national coalitions and networks

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

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