The Massachusetts chapter of the Northeast Organic Farming Association. NOFA/Mass welcomes everyone who cares about food, where it comes from and how it’s grown

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Policy

NOFA/Mass advocates for policies that bring us closer to our vision of healthy landscapes that feed our communities and restore our environment. Working with our statewide network of ecological farmers and gardeners, we organize for progress at the local, state and federal level. Our policy committee is working on a variety of issues, yet we need more active participation from our organic movement (that’s you)! To get involved, please contact marty@nofamass.org 

As the state legislature comes back from summer and the harvest season begins, our advocacy work to promote organic landscapes and healthy communities really picks up. We are grateful to have people across the state educating and organizing their communities to reduce pesticides and we have several state policy efforts that need your help.

 

Learn About & Give Input to Statewide Climate Resilience

This year, NOFA Summer Conference attendees and any interested members of the public will have an opportunity to give input during the Fair to a Massachusetts statewide plan for enhancing soil health, soil carbon, and soil resilience across multiple land uses. We will be gathering from 4:30-5:30pm on the lawn near the conference registration tent to share information and ideas about planning for soil health across the state.

ABOUT THE HEALTHY SOILS ACTION PLAN

The Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EOEEA) and the Massachusetts Commission for Conservation of Soil, Water, & Related Resources have embarked on a broad public planning process to research and write a plan for how Massachusetts can best support land uses including farming, forestry and urban development for climate change resilience and mitigation. 

Senator Jo Comerford

Farms and farmers are at the heart of what makes Massachusetts vibrant and utterly unique in the Commonwealth. They’re the bedrock of healthy, environmentally conscience communities. A backbone of our regional economy. And much more.

That’s why, when I was sworn into the legislature on January 2 and had only 16 days to file legislation, I quickly prioritized the well-being of farms and farmers in our region.

Throughout my campaign to represent the Hampshire, Franklin, Worcester district, I met with many farmers about the lack of land for farming and their razor thin profit margins. One of the things I heard about consistently was the high property taxes that farmers in my district were paying on sections of farmland that are fewer than five acres. That’s what I filed S.1613: An Act supporting farming on non-contiguous land.

Advocates with the Mass. Hemp Coalition at the State House on June 24th, 2019

Advocates with the Mass. Hemp Coalition at the State House on June 24th, 2019

On June 12th, 2019, the Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR) issued a policy on the sale of hemp derived products which effectively outlawed the sale of food products containing hemp-derived CBD, products containing CBD marketed with therapeutic claims, hemp as a dietary supplement and any animal feed containing hemp products. The policy does not include definitions, so it is still unclear whether CBD-derived tinctures or capsules are prohibited.

The news sent shockwaves through the state’s nascent hemp economy, and comes at the worst possible time for farmers who have just invested tens of thousands of dollars in the new crop which is now growing for its first major season since prohibition was lifted in 2016. 

Happy Hemp

Hemp History Week (June 3-9) celebrates agricultural hemp with nationwide education, advocacy and grassroots events. This year, NOFA/Mass is celebrating this especially exciting 10th annual Hemp History Week.

This year is special because the 2018 Farm Bill, passed in December, included the legislation S. 2667, The Hemp Farming Act. With its passage, hemp production was officially legalized in the United States. So this year’s Hemp History Week is the first in this new landscape of federally-legal agricultural hemp! The Act defined hemp as cannabis sativa containing no more than 0.3% teatrahydrocannabinol (THC) by dry weight and redefined hemp from a Controlled Substance to an agricultural commodity, removing it from the jurisdiction of the Drug Enforcement Administration.

no glyphosate

There’s been so much good/bad news about glyphosate recently (good for Life, bad for biocide backers), it’s been hard to keep up. (This news stream updated almost daily.) We have some recent major developments to share with you, the Mass. organic movement, in hopes that you will share these updates with your state elected officials and call for action on glyphosate!

Short on time? Use this form to send a message about glyphosate to legislators within seconds.

  HEADLINES:

ifoam logo

NOFA is honored to be hosting this year’s Organic Farming Innovation Award (OFIA) Summit on Saturday August 10  at the 2019 Summer Conference!  Founded in 1972 and with around 800 members in over 127 countries, IFOAM - Organics International represents the global organic movement. Its main activities include facilitating capacity development for sustainable production; raising awareness and acting as a resource center for organic communications; advocating for and supporting the creation of a policy environment conducive to positive change.

We are looking forward to hosting IFOAM - Organics International community members and are excited to learn from their organizers. IFOAM - Organics International will be leading activities during several workshop slots at the Conference on Saturday, which all conference attendees are welcome to attend (no special registration pass is needed).

Monsanto/Bayer get hit again

It was another bad month for Monsanto/Bayer, as yet another high profile study dropped about the carcinogenicity of glyphosate, the active ingredient in their flagship product, Roundup. The new research, published in the major peer-reviewed journal Scientific Reports, is the first of its kind, looking at the transgenerational effects of the world’s most commonly used herbicide. Increased prostate, kidney and ovarian diseases, as well as heightened obesity and birth abnormalities were found in second and third generation offspring of lab rats exposed to glyphosate.

For more frequent news updates related to pesticides and GMOs, the Regeneration Massachusetts facebook page is a fantastic resource. NOFA/Mass is also curating a glyphosate stories news stream, here  

 

Policy Update

Glyphosate causes cancer, court finds; Newburyport moves to ban the biocide

On March 20th in a surprise victory for safe and sustainable agriculture and landscaping advocates, a federal court found that Monsanto’s Roundup was a “substantial factor” in causing a man’s cancer. The German company Bayer bought Monsanto last year in a controversial mega-merger, and along with it the liability of its flagship product; the company’s stocks plummeted 12% on the day of the verdict. Bayer now faces more than 11,200 lawsuits over the popular weed killer, as city parks departments and other entities across the country discontinue its use, as a precaution.

The City of Newburyport, Massachusetts is the most recent local municipality to begin phasing out use of the biocide, glyphosate (the active ingredient in Roundup). Thanks to the ongoing efforts of Newburyport resident Walt Thompson, the City Parks Department decided in February 2019 to stop using glyphosate in city parks. Then on March 21st, the Newburyport Board of Health issued a proclamation recognizing the risks of synthetic pesticides and establishing April 2019 as “Alternative to Pesticides Month!” The City Council will now take up a resolution to ban the use of glyphosate on all city property. "The driving force for me trying to have this banned has been for the sake of bees and butterflies, but there appears to be long-term effects on kids and workers who are exposed to this stuff," Walt stated. In reflecting upon the momentum in Newburyport, he remarked: “We’re on the North Shore, but we’re still making waves.”

HIP

On March 21, 2019 NOFA/Mass will be supporting the coalition efforts of the MA Food System Collaborative by participating in a “Lobby Day” at the Mass State House, “as we come together as farmers, SNAP recipients, and advocates to talk to legislators and staffers about the HIP program, and urge them to include $8.5 million for the program in the Fiscal Year 2020 budget.”

 

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