Pass the Mass. Healthy Soils Bill!

  • Soil loss is a major contributor to climate change; this program would provide guidance on proven ways to mitigate or even reverse carbon loss from soils.

  • Degraded soils make farmers more vulnerable to drought and floods, while healthy soils make them more resilient!

  • Healthy soils require less pesticides and less fertilizer.

  • Healthy soils are less prone to leeching and runoff, preserving watershed health.

Please use this form to contact your state representative today to support the creation of a Mass. Healthy Soils Program

Farmers are on the frontline of climate change, and are the first to feel its impacts. Agricultural practices which promote healthy soils allow farmers to better withstand extreme weather events and can directly mitigate climate change by pulling carbon out of the atmosphere and putting it into the soil, where it directly benefits crop health. For the sake of our farmers and our climate, Massachusetts must invest in Healthy Soils Practices.

Along with several allied organizations, NOFA/Mass helped to draft a bill that would go a long way toward healthier soils and revitalized farms. Originally filed by Senator Jo Comerford and Rep. Paul Schmid III, the bill was passed from the Agriculture Committee on November 12th, 2019 and was redrafted with a new title and number: “An Act promoting healthy soils for reducing greenhouse gases and the effects of climate change in the Commonwealth” (S.2404, formerly S.438/H.873), filed by Senator Jo Comerford and Rep. Paul Schmid III).

Under the bill, the Healthy Soils Program will bolster the use of healthy soils practices by private and public land owners, including commercial farmers, and provide assistance such as grants, technical assistance or education on the benefits and implementation of health soils best practices.

The bill gives the program a three-fold purpose:

(1) improve soil quality on lands utilized for commercial farming; suburban and urban lawns, yards and gardens; public and private forests, parks and other open or green spaces; and non-paved outdoor areas of office complexes, mixed use facilities, businesses, industries, and colleges and other institutions;

(2) increase carbon sequestration or storage on such lands, to help reduce harmful atmospheric greenhouse gases and the effects of climate change;

(3) provide other benefits related to climate change, plant growth, erosion control and water absorption and quality.

The full text of the bill can be viewed here:

As of November 12, 2019, the bill is now before the Senate Ways and Means Committee.

The Healthy Soils Bill has the support of 75 legislative cosponsors (that’s more than 37% of the legislature).

DO you represent a farm or organization? Please add your farm or organization to the growing list of endorsers (click here).

Support for the Mass. Healthy Soils Bill is growing!

  • As of March 2019, the Healthy Soils Bill has the support of 75 legislative cosponsors (that’s more than 37% of the legislature)!

  • Demonstrating a broad and diverse coalition of support from organizations, farms and businesses across the Commonwealth will help legislators prioritize this bill for passage this session.

  • The bill was passed by the Joint Agriculture Committee on Nov. 12, 2019 and is now before the Senate Ways and Means Committee.

Thank you:

For taking action today on the Mass. Healthy Soils Bill,

And for passing this action alert on to your networks!

Background: What are the benefits of healthy, carbon-rich soils?

The benefits of healthy soils are not limited to removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

Healthy soils also:

Hold more water- Healthy soils essentially act as a sponge—they retain moisture better in times of low rainfall and can hold more when rainfall is high, reducing risk of flooding to nearby lowlands. An 1% increase in soil organic matter on just one acre enables the land to hold an additional 20,000 gallons of water.

Reduce run-off- That same sponge-like quality allows soils to naturally resist erosion. Also, healthy soils can both chemically and biologically hold more nutrients, meaning they retain more of the fertilizers applied. This reduces downstream pollution, which can impact watershed health in many ways including dangerous algae blooms, contaminated drinking water, and other biological disruptions.

Require less fertilizer- The abundant soil life in healthy soils provides much of the nutritional needs for crops. Fungi and bacteria have coevolved with plants to provide essential nutrients by extracting them from the organic and geological components of the soil in exchange for carbon (in the form of sugars).

Result in better, healthier crops- Healthy soils provide a steady drip of fertility and moisture, instead of the deluge and dirth cycles common in today’s agricultural systems. Healthy plants are able to photosynthesize more effectively, and are able to produce the necessary metabolites that defend them from disease and pests. In short, healthy soils grow healthier plants, which need less pesticides.

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