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 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.”


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).


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.


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