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

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 likely starts in May). 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.”

As of April 7, 2021, the House is working on the state budget. Please also ask your state representative to support our budget priorities:

Rep. Schmid’s Healthy Soils Program Budget Amendment (Line item 2000-0101)

“Rep. Gentile’s Glyphosate Study (2511-0100)”

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.

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.

We need your help to garner endorsements from various organizations for Massachusetts Schoolchildren Pesticide Protection Act, HD. 458.
Please ask any organization/s you are affiliated with to endorse the bill. Support from school committees, parent groups, teachers’ unions and other advocacy groups 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?
[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.”]
Are you aware that current Massachusetts law permits schools and childcare centers to use toxic pesticides, including glyphosate and 2,4-D, on playgrounds and playing fields?
Support the Massachusetts Schoolchildren Pesticide Protection Act, HD. 458.

The Northeast Organic Farming Association (NOFA), Massachusetts Chapter, is seeking organizational endorsements, particularly from parent, teacher, school committee and community groups, for this important state legislation which 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.  This bill had broad support in the last legislative session, and if we all pitch in, we believe it can pass this time! Similar legislation passed in NY in 2010 and CT in 2015.

Children are especially vulnerable to toxic pesticides

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

Organizational leaders, please endorse this bill by signing on HERE by July 1, 2021.

Individuals can also support HD. 458 in these important ways:

·     Contact your LEGISLATORS asking them to co-sponsor the bill.

·     Ask your organization to endorse the bill by signing on HERE by July 1, 2021.

Complete background, details, and talking points on the bill can be found HERE.

By late summer 2021, we are hoping to be able to demonstrate a broad coalition of support for this bill. Please get in touch with any questions, suggestions or offers to help by emailing the NOFA/Mass Policy Director at marty@nofamass.org.

Current organizational endorsers include (as of 3/30/21): Berkshire Environmental Action Team, Berkshire Grown, Beyond Pesticides, Bionutrient Food Association, Boston Organics, Community Action Works, 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, Island Grown Initiative, Marion Institute, Massachusetts Sierra Club, MASSPIRG, POCCA Cape Cod, Plainfield Agricultural Commission, Regeneration Massachusetts, Savvy Women’s Alliance, Sustainable Shrewsbury Citizens Network

2021-2022 Legislative Priorities

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):

Relative to establishing a food justice frontline (PRIORITY)

SD.2354/HD.3806: Sen. Patricia Jehlen, Rep. Christina Minicucci

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 (PRIORITY)

SD.1581/HD.3246: Sen. Joseph A. Boncore, Rep. Adrian C. Madaro

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.

Supporting the Commonwealth’s Farmers (PRIORITY)

SD.1852/HD.2944: Sen. Jo Comerford and Rep. Natalie Blais

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.

Other bills in this category:

Fairness for Ag. Workers (S.1205)

See coalition fact sheet, here. 

• Provides seasonal farmworkers with pay at a time-and-a-half for all hours over 55 worked in a
• Provides farmworkers employed year-round in agriculture with pay at a time-and-a-half for all hours over 40 worked in a week.

• Allows farmworkers to choose a day of rest each week and to earn time-and-a-half for hours worked on the seventh workday of the week, if they choose to work.

Promote Equity in agriculture (SD.1036/HD.1661)

Cottage foods (HD.2547)

Raw milk access (SD.1175)

Relative to improving pesticide protections for Massachusetts schoolchildren (PRIORITY)

HD.458: Rep. Carmine Gentile 

This bill updates the outdated list of pesticide products eligible for use on the outdoor grounds of schools, child care centers and school age child care programs within the state of Massachusetts (See Chapter 132B, Section 6G of General Laws). It would allow only pesticides considered minimum risk by the EPA, or those approved for organic landcare.

Governing the use of pesticides containing the herbicide substance Glyphosate in the commonwealth (PRIORITY)

SD.471/HD.478: Sen. Jason Lewis and Rep. Carmine Gentile

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

Other bills in this category:

Provide Protections from Pesticide Chemical Trespass (SD.1201/HD.1918) – CLICK FOR MORE INFO

Restrict glyphosate on public lands (SD.455)

Return Local Control over pesticides (H.910)

Return power to local government 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.

Ban neonicotinoids (SD.207)

Ban chlorpyrifos (SD.1767/HD.1886)

Provide for Mosquito Spray Opt-out (SD.2156)

Protect groundwater from pesticides (SD.1279)

Restrict pesticides use around children (SD.647)

Restrict pesticides use on golf courses (HD.3970)

Providing for the Public Health by Establishing an Ecologically Based Mosquito Management Program (PRIORITY)

SD.1202/HD.2383: Sen. Adam Hinds and Rep. Tami Gouveia

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

Other bills in this category:

Allow Organic Farming Tools for Cannabis (HD.3037)

Stormwater management and climate adaptation (HD.3383)

Study PFAS substances in commercial products (SD.1354/HD.2254)

Increase protection of wildlife management areas (HD.3197)

Eliminate subsidies for biomass burning for energy production (HD.2217)

Establish a commission on extended producer responsibility (HD.3040)

Establish a commission on pollinator health and habitat (HD.3006)

Establish a commission to study the effects of rat poison on wildlife (HD.2408)

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:

The 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!

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!


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. 

The 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.

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

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

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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