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!)

A female bald eagle found dead in her nest on the Charles River in March suffered a fatal hemorrhage after consuming smaller animals who had themselves consumed rat poison, as confirmed recently 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.

NOFA/Mass is partnering with several other nature-defending organizations to cosponsor late-file legislation, sponsored by Representative Jim Hawkins, to decrease the use of rat poisons in the state, promote integrated pest management (IPM) and modernize pesticide use tracking.

Please learn more and contact your legislators to cosponsor HD.4206, “An Act relative to pesticides.” —> Click here to contact legislators within seconds.

Now is the time: we need all NOFA/Mass members and supporters to contact their state legislators to ask them to cosponsor our legislative priorities for the 2021-22 legislative session.

Under new rules, legislators can cosponsor a bill until it is reported by its first committee (a process which will run through late 2021). In theory, legislators take their cues 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. The more cosponsors a bill receives, the more momentum it is perceived to have, the more likely chance it has of making it through the labyrinth!

*We realize 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 and make it a political liability for decision-makers to do their bidding!

You’ll find the full listing of our current legislative priorities elsewhere on this page.

You have one state representative and one state senator. You should call both of their offices and ask them to endorse whichever bills on our priority list interest you.

It’s simple! You’ll likely be leaving a voicemail or might talk to staffer with the office. Be sure to include your name, home town and personal reasons for supporting whichever bills you’re calling about. Be sure to make the “ask,” – “Please cosponsor these bills.”

See the above “FAQ” for info on how to contact legislators.

Phone calls can be quick and easy and have a 100X greater impact than emails, especially form emails (more like 1000X). But, if can’t/don’t want to pick up the phone, you can also send a quick message through this “click and send” page, within seconds.

We need your help to garner endorsements from various organizations for Massachusetts Schoolchildren Pesticide Protection Act, H.926.
Please ask any organization/s you are affiliated with to endorse the bill. Support from sSchool Committees, Parent-Teacher Organizations, Parents Groups, school employee unions and boards of health, local and statewide medical groups, in addition to other advocacy organizations is especially critical. This is a BIG way to boost the campaign. Feel free to copy the below text in a letter to organizational leaders, and please “cc” our Policy Director (marty@nofamass.org) to keep him in the loop. Thank you!
Subject: Will [org name] endorse the Mass. Schoolchildren Pesticide Protection Act?
[It’s always nice to have a personal introduction, indicating your membership/relationship with the organization… “I am passing along this endorsement request from NOFA/Mass in hopes that you will support this important piece of legislation.”]

Dear _______________________,

I live in (city or town)__________________ and I’m writing to request that the _____________________ endorse an important bill, the Massachusetts Schoolchildren Pesticide Protection Act,  H.926, which will go a long way in safeguarding the health of Massachusetts schoolchildren and adults who work in school settings.

As you may know, current Massachusetts law permits schools and childcare centers to use toxic pesticides, including glyphosate and 2,4-D, on playgrounds and playing fields. This bill will protect children by restricting outdoor use of toxic pesticides near schools and childcare centers, allowing only pesticides the EPA considers “minimum risk” or those certified for organic land-care. 

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.

Organizations can endorse the bill by filling out this endorsement form,  HERE. Individuals may support the bill by signing HERE to send a message to legislators, where you will also find more information about pesticides and the bill.

We believe this legislation can pass with a broad coalition of city and town officials, parents, school employees, and concerned groups and citizens behind it. Thank you for your help. Please feel free to respond to myself and the NOFA/Mass Policy Director, Marty Dagoberto, with any questions. His email is marty@nofamass.org.

Thank you,

(Your name, address, contact information, and organizational affiliation if any)

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:

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. 

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/.

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.

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 May 28, 2021): Referred to the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture

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 over 3 dozen advocacy groups and school-related organizations, including: 

Amherst Board of Health
Cambridge School Committee
Mothers Out Front Massachusetts
Northampton Association of School Employees
Northampton Board of Health
Northampton School Committee
Wellesley Natural Resources Commission

and

Belmont A.M.E Zion Church
Berkshire Environmental Action Team (BEAT, Great Barrington)
Berkshire Grown
Beyond Pesticides
Bionutrient Food Association
Bridgewater Green Committee
Boston Organics
Center for Biological Diversity
Community Action Works Campaigns
Climate Action Now Western Mass
Concerned Citizens of Franklin County
Conservation Law Foundation
Earthjustice
Extinction Rebellion Western Mass.
Gardening the Community (Springfield)
Global Environmental Options
Great Barrington Agricultural Commission
GreenCAPE
Green Newton
Island Grown Initiative
LEAD for Pollinators, Inc.
Local Harmony
Marion Institute
Massachusetts Forest Watch
Massachusetts Sierra Club
MASSPIRG
Plainfield Agricultural Commission
POCCA Cape Cod
Regeneration Massachusetts
Savvy Women’s Alliance
Sustainable Business Network of MA
Sustainable Shrewsbury Citizens Network
Town of Pelham Community Garden
Upswing Farm
Wendell State Forest Alliance
Wellesley Natural Resources Commission

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

S.498: Sen. Bill Brownsberger

Bill Status (as of May 28, 2021): Referred to the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture

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.

HD.4206: Rep. James Hawkins

Bill Status (as of August 19, 2021): Referred to the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture. Because this was a “late file” bill, it’s likely that it will receive a hearing AFTER all of the other pesticide bills. The first hearing is expected for late September. This bill will receive a hearing after that.

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, HD.4206, “An Act relative to pesticides,” would do more than protect raptors like bald eagles. It could go a long way to reducing pesticides use across the Commonwealth. 

This bill would:

  • require the use of integrated pest management plans on public lands and publicly-owned property;
  • require MDAR (Dept. of Agricultural Resources) to use an online database for pesticide use reporting records;
  • require pest control companies to discuss IPM with consumers when they are providing services;
  • require MDAR to create some educational programs regarding IPM.

This legislation is 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.

“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…”)

Related bill: Establish a commission to study the effects of rat poison on wildlife (H.922, Rep. Garballey)

ACTION: Please use this form to contact your legislators today to ask them to cosponsor HD.4206, “An Act relative to pesticides.” 

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

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

Bill Status (as of May 28, 2021): Referred to the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture

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 28, 2021): Referred to the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture

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 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 June 4, 2021): While the House bill was referred to the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture, the Senate version was curiously referred to the Joint Committee on Rules. It may receive a hearing in both committees or be discharged from one to the other. We will update this site when we determine what will happen. For now, we will assume that it will be a part of the July 13th pesticides hearing of the ENRA committee.

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 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 28, 2021): Referred to the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture

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 protecting pollinators by eliminating harmful products” 

S.528: Sen. Jamie Eldridge

Bill Status (as of May 28, 2021): Referred to the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture

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 May 28, 2021): Referred to the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture

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 May 28, 2021): Referred to the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture

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 pesticide board”

S.510: Sen. Julian Cyr

Bill Status (as of May 28, 2021): Referred to the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture

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 relative to the prohibition of chemical pesticides on golf courses”

H.975: (filed by request)

Bill Status (as of May 28, 2021): Referred to the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture

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 28, 2021): Referred to the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture

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 28, 2021): Referred to the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture

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 28, 2021): While S.1822 was referred to the Joint Committee on Revenue, H.861 was referred to the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture

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 28, 2021): Referred to the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture

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 20, 2021): Referred to the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture

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 May 20, 2021): Referred to the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture

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 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 May 28, 2021): Referred to the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture

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

S.1387: Senator Jo Comerford

Bill Status (as of May 28, 2021): Referred to the Joint Committee on Public Health

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 20, 2021): Referred to the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture

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 organic farming tools”

H.168: Rep. Paul Mark

Bill Status (as of May 20, 2021): Referred to Joint Committee on Cannabis Policy

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 relative to stormwater management and climate change adaptation incentives”

H.2908: Rep. Sean Garballey

Bill Status (as of May 28, 2021): Referred to Joint Committee on Revenue

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 relative to increased protection of wildlife management areas”

H.1002: Rep. Lindsay Sabadosa

Bill Status (as of May 28, 2021): Referred to the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture

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.

“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 May 28, 2021): Referred to the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture

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. 

“An Act to protect pollinator habitat”

S.573, H.956: Rep. Mary Keefe

Bill Status (as of May 28, 2021): Referred to the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture

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.

HD.1635 An Act relative to maintaining adequate water supplies through effective drought management

Sponsored by Senator Jamie Eldridge and Representative Carolyn Dykema

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

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

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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