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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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.”

 

There is still time to show your support

There is still time to show your support

Thanks to an outpouring of calls from organic advocates across the state, several of our priority proposed state laws have started the session with great momentum. The results of the January cosponsor drive surprised even the most optimistic advocates and bode well for the possibility of real change toward a regenerative and pollinator-friendly Commonwealth!

We’re seeing the most impressive numbers on our top 3 priority areas (not a coincidence):

Seed Sovereignty Month

If you had a chance to read the early January Civil Eats article about the updated seed monopoly chart (“The Sobering Details Behind the Latest Seed Monopoly Chart”) then you may be newly concerned about the fact that 60% of our global seed sales are controlled by what was previously 6—and is now 4—large chemical companies.

Those companies include Bayer, ChemChina, BASF and Corteva. If you haven’t yet heard of Corteva, that’s the name of the new agritech company created after Dow and DuPont merged (conveniently allowing DuPont to shed negative associations and bad press after poisoning the water in dozens of communities with PFOS, PFOA, and other fluorinated chemicals used to make nonstick Teflon cookware).

Seeds

For the backyard gardener, a seed catalog can be an exciting resource full of opportunities that cast visions of gorgeous rare plants thriving in your garden and previously undiscovered vegetables that astound your taste buds. But where did these unique seeds come from and why does it matter?

There are different terminologies that are thrown around and each one carries with it an understanding of how plants reproduce and ultimately the way that they are controlled.

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.

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