Pass the Mass. Healthy Soils Bill - For Healthy Communities and Environmental Justice!
Healthy Soils for Healthy Communities, Climate and Environmental Justice!
Healthy Soils for:
Food Justice - As we face the continued threat of the novel coronavirus, we are reminded that healthy soils are required in order to produce the truly healthy nutrient dense foods needed to support a robust human microbiome and strong immune system. This pandemic and other public health threats disproportionately impact communities of color. We must scale out healthy soils practices so that everyone has access to nutrient dense food.
Environmental Justice - The environmental benefits of healthy soils practices address challenges disproportionately impacting communities of color: greening urban spaces, reducing pesticide exposure to farmworkers, reducing water pollution, mitigating stormwater runoff and directly addressing the climate crisis.
Climate Justice - 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. We have a moral responsibility to implement these readily available strategies for addressing climate change.
UPDATE, 9/24/20 - The House is still working on the Economic Development bill, and not yet adopted the Healthy Soils Amendment. Please contact your State Rep. and ask them to “Contact the Economic Development Bill Conference Committee in Support the Senate's Healthy Soils Amendment!”
If your legislator is one of the members of the conference committee listed here, please reach out to their office personally, as a constituent, and make the ask! The members of the committee include: Senator Eric Lesser, Senator Michael Rodrigues, Senator Patrick O’Connor, Representative Ann-Margaret Ferrante, Representative Aaron Michlewitz, and Representative Donald Wong.
Our healthy soils legislative champions, Rep. Paul Schmid and Senator Jo Comerford, filed the text of the Healthy Soils Bill to a “must pass” piece of legislation for economic recovery from the pandemic. The Senate adopted the amendment but the House rejected it!
We need as many Representatives as possible to hear directly from as many constituents as possible about the need to create a Healthy Soils program!
Please pick up the phone and leave a voicemail for your representative (you can look them up here): https://malegislature.gov/Search/FindMyLegislator
In the message to your state rep, please tell them your name and your town and ask them to “Contact the Economic Development Bill Conference Committee in Support the Senate's Healthy Soils Amendment!”
Then give them one or two reasons that are most important to you explaining why they should create a Healthy Soils Program without delay (plenty of talking points on this page!).
After you leave a voicemail with your Representative's office, please use this form to contact your legislator to ask them to create a Mass. Healthy Soils Program by adopting the Senate's Healthy Soils Amendment to the Economic Development Bill.
This Healthy Soils Bill (S.2404) creates a Healthy Soils Program within the Commission for Conservation of Soil, Water and Related Resources, which will bolster the use of healthy soils practices by private and public land owners and land managers 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. The Healthy Soils Program would provide assistance such as grants, technical assistance or education on the benefts and implementation of healthy soils best practices. The bill also adds an expert on healthy soils practices to the Mass. Food Policy Council.
The full text of the original bill can be viewed here: https://malegislature.gov/Bills/191/S2404
A fact sheet on the original bill with more talking points, here: https://www.nofamass.org/sites/default/files/u9058/Healthy-Soils-Fact-Sheet-2020-02-20.pdf
Did you know?
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.
Thank you for taking action today on the Mass. Healthy Soils Bill and for passing this action alert on to your networks!
Extended 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- Science shows that the greater diversity of organisms in the soil, the greater nutrient profile of the soil. Well-nourished soil will grow plants with optimal nutrient profiles. If animals and people eat those plants, they will have greater micronutrient intake. Just like plants, animals, and humans, soils need to be fed in order to keep the vibrant and diverse community of organisms alive.
The full text of the bill can be viewed here: https://malegislature.gov/Bills/191/S2404
A fact sheet on the bill with more talking points, here: https://www.nofamass.org/sites/default/files/u9058/Healthy-Soils-Fact-Sheet-2020-02-20.pdf