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Policy

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.

check on government

Source: agriculture.com

Author’s note: Our monthly policy update was looking like it would be a total downer, but fortunately some good news broke late in the month, so let’s start with that!

solar for farm

Source: civileats.com

A new state program regulating incentives for solar photovoltaic (PV) arrays is expected to be up and running this summer. Under the 2018 Solar Massachusetts Renewable Target (SMART) Program, incentives are structured to promote a range of on-farm PV applications, including systems installed on farm buildings, canopy systems built over vehicle parking areas, and systems sized to meet on-farm demand. If you own land either in Chapter 61A or with Prime Farmland Soils (as defined by the Natural Resources Conservation Service, NRCS), financial compensation is also available for dual-use systems, in which ground-mounted solar PV panels producing electricity are interspersed with crops or livestock on agricultural land. Additional incentives are available for projects that incorporate energy storage, or that feed energy to certain types of consumers through net metering. These types of consumers include community-shared solar projects, low-income housing, and public buildings.

Marty Update

This is the first policy update from our new Policy Director, Marty Dagoberto. Marty has been the Outreach Coordinator since January 2017 and now also wears the Policy Director hat (and sometimes a suit). While he’s still getting oriented on the policy work for NOFA, Marty does have significant experience in the State House, having served as the Campaign Coordinator for MA Right to Know GMOs. Want to get involved in policy work? Have a tip or suggestion? Marty can be reached at marty@nofamass.org

By the time you read this, the annual “Ag Day” will have just happened at the State House (check our Facebook for pictures!), and the state legislature will soon be focused on the budget (and nothing else). Now is the time to contact your state legislators to push for active legislation. NOFA’s current top priorities are broken down for you, below.

Guy Steucek

Back in the era of the Salem witch trials most of the residents were farmers and farming was a primary use of the landscape. Today, the only farm in Salem feels almost as if it’s on trial, struggling to gain acceptance as a commercial agricultural operation. Maitland Mountain Farm has been producing agricultural products for about a decade without issue. Now they are in a pickle, navigating the future of small farm viability in Salem as they encounter roadblocks in their need to build a packing house on the property to comply with the Food Safety Modernization Act and grow their business.

Civil Eats

We’ve compiled this list of stories to help keep you up to date on issues impacting food and farming.

The integrity of the USDA Organic label has been taking some major hits lately. In November, prompted by farm-state Members of Congress and agrochemical/biotech corporations, Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced the withdrawal of the GMO labeling rule (as weak as it was) put in place under the Obama Administration. A little later in the month the Department of Agriculture also announced a decision to further delay the implementation of the final rule for the long-awaited standards on animal welfare for organic livestock operations.

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