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

Group gathered at 2016 Winter Conference

This year NOFA/Mass’s Winter Conference convened the first ever summit of grassroots activists and organizers to discuss Massachusetts’s pending GMO labeling bill (H3242). The gathering brought together a consortium of farmers, consumer advocates, and interested citizens who are concerned about the risks and lack of transparency associated with genetic engineering of our foods.

Greens grown in mid-January in unheated greenhouse at Clay Bottom Farm

Our new online workshop series, “Inspiring Ideas from Experts in the Field,” attempts to make quality education easily accessible to all. On the last Tuesday of every month anyone can call or go online to join a one-hour workshop focused on farm management issues. Remote learning will never surpass the value of on-farm, in-person workshops, but our online series removes the added burdens of travel time and cost, increasing the likelihood of participation from beginning and experienced farmers alike.

Operations inside a potato chip production facility.
Photograph by Meg Roussos — Bloomberg via Getty Images

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

If we pause for an instant to consider this historical moment in agriculture we come across the following findings: Based on the New England Food Vision, we have lost 63% of all American farms since 1900. In New England, we are currently left with roughly 30,000 farms, down from a high of 250,000 just 100 years ago. And even though, according to the Economic Research Service of the USDA, the average American farmer now husbands roughly 500 acres of land, 85%-95% of a farmer’s income derives from off-farm sources.

On December 18th congress ratified a $1.1 trillion government spending bill for the following fiscal year in a document that spanned 2,242 pages. This bill, also known as the Omnibus Appropriations bill, includes a collection of “riders”. These riders are unrelated laws that were tacked onto this gargantuan bill in an effort to circumvent the typical law-making process.

What happened with the salmon?

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA)’s approval of the genetically modified AquAdvantage salmon in November marks the first time a genetically engineered (GE) animal has been approved for human consumption as food. This Atlantic salmon has been engineered to reach market size more quickly than non-GE, farm-raised Atlantic salmon.

Holidays are all about food. For many of us, some of our fondest memories are of the smells and tastes of holiday fare, while gathered around the table with the family.

That is why the holidays are a natural time to think about food – who raises it, how it is raised, and what is in it.

Join us for a public hearing on an Act Protecting Massachusetts Pollinators on Tuesday, November 17.

Norwich organic Grower Jake Guest speaking at rally Monday,Oct-26

You may have heard about, or seen media reports on, the organic farmers protesting in Stowe, Vermont the last week in October. A few tractors roared about and 50 or so farmers dumped manure and rallied in a parking lot outside where the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) was meeting.

The issue? Despite a 2010 recommendation from the NOSB that hydroponic plants grown without soil should not be considered organic, the USDA’s National Organic Program (NOP) has allowed produce grown hydroponically, in water but not soil, to be certified organic.

Organic layers graze fresh pasture grasses, explore soil for beetles and other delectable morsels, and live safe from predators.

A number of NOFA/Mass members have called or emailed to say that proponents of the 2016 Massachusetts ballot initiative on Humane Farm Animal Treatment are soliciting them to sign the ballot initiative petition. They are interested in our organization’s position on this effort, and I thought this would be a good occasion to go into a little detail on the initiative, the history and politics of such measures, and the alternative approaches that have been offered to achieve the same goals.

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