NOFA Advocacy Update
There are a number of topics in local, state, and national legislature that we're involved in right now, including the GMO labeling bill (which needs your support right now!), the Addison County Natural Gas Pipeline project, the national Food Safety Modernization Act, and working to add compost to the list of agricultural products that are exempt from the state sales tax. Keep reading to learn more! GMO Labeling Bill – The Time Is Now On Friday of last week, we sent a special action alert on the GMO labeling bill (H.112). If you missed it, please take a look in your Inbox. This is a critical moment to make sure that your representatives hear your support for the bill. Click here to send them an email now! NOFA & VOF Weigh in on Natural Gas Pipeline Project We understand that one or more proposed routes for a new Addison County natural gas pipeline would take the pipeline through, or rather under, several Certified Organic farms. VOF has informed Vermont Gas Systems, Inc and other parties that any pipeline installations on organic farms could harm soil and biological systems and, therefore, may place a farm’s organic certification status at risk. In the weeks ahead we will be participating in discussions and Vermont Public Service Board proceedings to make sure that these concerns are fully addressed in the siting and installation of the pipeline. [Read the VOF Pipeline Statement.] Food Safety Modernization Act – Stay Tuned On April 18th the FDA finally yielded to repeated requests from farmers, food processors, industry groups and public interest organizations around the country to extend the public comment period on over 1100 pages of proposed regulations to implement the Food Safety Modernization Act. The proposed regulations would affect a wide range of farm and food facility practices that can affect the safety of foods. The proposed regulations would have significant economic and management consequences, particularly on family-scale farms and food businesses. More time was needed to fully analyze these effects and to develop reliable and useful information that stakeholders can use to submit comments to the FDA. The new comment deadline is September 16th. At the moment, several national and state-level Food Safety Task Forces are working to develop these materials and when they become available later in the summer, NOFA Vermont will review them and reach out to our farmer and food processor members to assist them, as needed, in developing and submitting comments about the proposed regulations and their possible impact on their businesses. NOFA advocates for repeal of sales tax on compost The State of Vermont exempts many farm inputs from the 6% state sales tax. Chemical fertilizers, pesticides, baling twine and many other products are exempt. But not compost! Not only is this unfair to many farmers, particularly organic farmers who use a great deal of compost, but it is also counterproductive in helping to divert communities’ organic wastes from landfills and boosting compost production and sales. NOFA has joined with the Compost Association of Vermont and other parties to support legislation in the House Agriculture and Forest Products Committee that repeals state sales taxes for all compost and soil-improving amendments. This work will continue through the summer and into the next year’s legislative session. If you have questions about NOFA's advocacy work, please get in touch with Dave Rogers, our policy advisor.