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

The Union of Concerned Scientists estimates that 70 percent of all antibiotics administered in the US are used as feed or water additives for pigs, poultry and cattle for the non-therapeutic purposes of growth promotion and general prevention of disease. Many doctors and medical associations have expressed concern that this widespread use of antibiotics in livestock production – not for promotion of health but simply to encourage faster growth – is a dangerous practice.

As you no doubt have heard, organic food is continuing to enjoy a spectacular growth in the American marketplace. It went up over 11% last year and now accounts for more than 5% of the US food market. Organic products have been called the “fastest-growing” consumer food trend in modern history.

Recently we have received calls and emails from people concerned that we are sponsoring an on-farm workshop on how to slaughter and butcher a pig. We would like to offer our thoughts on this topic and explain how such education events are appropriate and valuable.

Many NOFA/Mass members responded to our Action Alert last month and contacted their legislators to ask them to co-sponsor HD 369, the new GMO labeling bill (the number may change soon as it goes from a House Docket number to a House Bill number). You will be pleased to hear that your work, plus that of the other members of our coalition – MASSPIRG, MoveOn.org, and MassRight2KnowGMO, has resulted in a majority of members of the Massachusetts Legislature, both House and Senate, having cosponsored the bill!

While much of our policy agenda requires action at higher levels – carbon policy, National Organic Program standards and procedures, use of antibiotics in livestock production, etc. – much is also focused at the state level. With the federal changeover in party control of the U. S. Senate, many food and farming advocates are expecting little progress in Washington this year (if not some defensive battles to hold on to what we have) and are looking for state governments to be where positive action is possible.

In September 2014, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released several revised sections of proposed food safety regulations originally proposed in early January 2013:

NOFA/Mass, as you know, has been fighting an intense two-year battle to pass GMO food and seed labeling in Massachusetts. Last session our coalition came closer than we have ever done, and had a majority of legislators signed up in support of the bill. But House leadership kept the lid on tight and we could never get it out of the key committee to the floor for a full vote.

The Massachusetts Legislature has passed two important changes in the way small farms are treated under the Unemployment Insurance (UI) system.

One morning in early March of this year, I received a phone call from a man who seemed rather young and uncertain about what he had to say and how to say it. He started to tell me that there was a planned “natural” gas pipeline that would “hug” the corridor between the towns of Ashfield and Plainfield, a magnificent, hilly, and sparsely populated agricultural region in western Massachusetts. I own a 43-acre farm in Ashfield – a town with a population of about 1,100.

The FDA is rolling out a set of sweeping regulations that are changing the way food is cultivated and prepared. Participants will gain an understanding of 1) The Food Safety Modernization Act 2) civil liabilities arising from food safety issues on the farm 3) potential consequences of food borne illnesses caused by farm products and 4) risk mitigation.

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