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

Growing Organically Since 1982

Donate to NOFA/Mass

become member

NOFA/Mass Enews

Policy

Signing Document

Farm Bill Passes and it’s not terrible

On December 20th, the President signed the long-awaited 2018 Farm Bill. After the hyper-partisan House version was rejected, the final compromise was much closer to the bipartisan Senate version: a win for democracy and for the organic movement! As our partners at the National Organic Coalition explain, “The boost in funding for organic research and the provisions enhancing organic import enforcement are cause for celebration in the organic community. The bill also continues funding and authority for the organic certification cost-share program, a program that provides partial reimbursement for rising organic certification costs and is especially important for small and mid-size operations.

pesticide free zone

NOFA/Mass envisions a commonwealth of people working together to create healthy landscapes that feed our communities and restore our environment. The indiscriminate use of toxic and persistent chemicals on landscapes, be they schools, playgrounds, municipal properties, community gardens or farms, is not compatible with that vision. We call for an end to the use of glyphosate in our communities and in our food supply.

Glyphosate poses unacceptable risks to human health, as well as to the health of non-target soil microbiology, insects and pollinators. This broad-spectrum herbicide, the most commonly used in the United States, is not just an herbicide, it is a biocide (life-killing). Glyphosate has been determined by the World Health Organization to be a probable human carcinogen. Converging lines of evidence also associate glyphosate with endocrine disruption, liver disease, birth defects, reproductive problems, and disruption to gut microbiota, It has also been shown to impact populations of earthworms and microbes in soil and to damage the gut microbiota of honey bees.

field of hops

Coalition building for local organic action!

We are super-excited to announce a new partnership with Toxics Action Center on our “All  ‘cides” campaign to support local organizing to reduce the use of synthetic pesticides and herbicides (more generally termed “biocides” - “destructive of life”). Towns across the state are leading the charge on pesticide action through passing local resolutions, and we want to help. This partnership is all about equipping local activists with the tools they need to pass town resolutions to reduce or ban pesticides in their communities...just in time for 2019 spring town meeting season.

workshop in field

Farm Bill Action Needed: Lapse likely!

As of the time of writing (9/20/18) it is becoming increasingly likely a hyper-partisan Congress won’t come to an agreement on the 2018 Farm Bill before the 2014 Farm Bill expires on Sept. 30th. When the previous Farm Bill lapsed at the end of 2012 and a short-term extension was passed, it failed to fund key organic Farm Bill programs and caused a great deal of disruption for the organic sector in 2013. We have to do what we can to stop that from happening again.

U.S. Capitol Building

Action Needed on Federal Farm Bill

If readers only skim the first few lines of this, they will hopefully glean the fact that organic agriculture is under attack in the proposed 2018 Farm Bill, and that they should contact Congress right now and over the coming weeks. With a deadline of Sept. 30th (when the 2014 Farm Bill expires), the current House draft is a major threat to organic agriculture. Please read on, take action and help mobilize your networks (nationwide) to contact their members of Congress and save organic agriculture.

Anyone who has been following the Farm Bill at all will likely have heard of the major proposed cuts and changes that the House version makes to SNAP (food stamps) benefits. The House version of the bill, which was drafted in a hyper-partisan process, also threatens the future of organic agriculture. Most notably, it totally eliminates the organic certification cost-share program, which many small organic farms rely on to cover the cost of certification. It also eliminates and compromises key conservation programs which help farmers protect our soil and water.

Rep. McGovern tours fields at MHOF

Rep. McGovern tours fields at MHOF

Congressman Jim McGovern visited Many Hands Organic Farm on August 22 near the end of his eighth annual Massachusetts farm tour. There he spoke with farm owners Julie Rawson and Jack Kittredge about food security and the importance of producing nutritious food with ecologically sound practices.

The morning rains had cleared as McGovern and his entourage arrived to walk the grounds of the farm in Barre. Rawson and Kittredge, along with representatives from the surrounding community and Central Mass Grown, walked the fields and spoke about what practices they find important. Rawson shared that, for her, farming is a multifaceted passion. She navigates many governmental stumbling blocks, such as state and federal regulations around animal slaughter and food safety, to bring good nutritious food to consumers.

protect the bees

Farmer-member, Christy Raymond of White Barn Farm in Wrentham (pictured right)

Thank you to everyone who has continued to answer our calls to action: writing letters, making phone calls, sharing stories and “memes,” and to all of our yearly members who support our policy work and give us strength in numbers. If you’d like to receive more frequent policy updates as well as volunteer requests, feel free to contact marty@nofamass.org.

Please note: this policy update was written on June 15th, with some updates a few days later. Given the end of the state legislative session at the end of July, things will likely have changed by the time this is posted. You can always check our Facebook page for big announcements.

cannabis plant

Cannabis (Photo courtesy via Kirill Ignatyev Creative Commons License)

With all the publicity about the new law making the growing and distribution of adult-use cannabis possible in our state, who isn’t thinking about cannabis (formerly known by its Prohibition term, marijuana)? In December, NOFA/Mass held a very popular workshop at Hampshire College for folks who were interested in learning the legalities around growing this crop. It sold out and we promised to hold more of these events, bolstered by the Board’s spring 2017 decision that this was a topic we wanted to educate about.

gmo labels

It’s here: Public Comments needed on Federal “GMO labeling” scheme

It may feel like ancient history, but our members might remember July 2016 when Congress passed and then President Obama signed a federal “GMO labeling” law designed largely by Monsanto and friends to keep consumers in the DARK about what we’re eating and supporting with our food purchases.

Rows of crops

You have been hearing about the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) for years now. If you have been wondering how this might impact your farm, now is the time to find out. 2018 is a preparation year. The Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources wants to assist farms to prepare for FSMA now. In 2019 MDAR will begin enforcement.

Check out this chart to figure out where your operation lies in terms of coverage. Read more about how the requirements of FSMA and the National Organic Program intersect. If you are a certified organic farm this is useful information for co-compliance of both rules.

Pages

Subscribe to Policy

Donate to NOFA/Mass

Become a Member

Subcribe to the Newsletter

-A A +A