Pass the Mass. Hemp Bills - Support Hemp Farmers

Hemp_enecta

Hemp is now legal nationwide, and a new wave of the green rush is on.  Unfortunately the current hemp program in Massachusetts puts our farmers at a severe competitive disadvantage compared to neighboring states like Vermont. For many struggling family and small farms in Massachusetts, this could be an important opportunity to help make our farms financially sustainable. But we need your help.

NOFA/Mass is working with a coalition of sustainable hemp advocates to urge state legislators to help Massachusetts farmers grow hemp in 2019.

Please use this form (and/or contact your state legislators directly) to urge them to be a leader for hemp farmers in Massachusetts.

However, there are several challenges for hemp farmers which will be addressed by four proposed pieces of legislation, explained below

Please contact your state legislators and ask them to support these proposed changes. If you are a farmer, please also consider submitting testimony directly to the Marijuana Policy committee (details below).

Note: Generally speaking, personal phone calls and personalized emails are worth 100X more than form emails. We strongly encourage supporters to call their legislators directly about these bills in addition to sending a personalized email (you can personalize using this form). You can look up their names and phone numbers, here: openstates.org

"As your constituent, I urge you to support passage of four bills to help Massachusetts farmers grow hemp: S.1129, H.3519, H.3532, H.3545. Please stand up for Mass. hemp farmers!"

First and foremost, a major challenge for would-be hemp farmers is that hemp cultivation is currently not eligible for the agricultural tax rate. Because of this:

  • Hemp farmers would have to pay the far higher taxes on the land than they would for any other crops

  • If their land is already in "chapter 61A" (decreased taxes for agricultural use), they could have to take it out of that status, which gives local towns the right to purchase the land if the town wants it.

  • Because hemp is not covered by 61A it also can not be grown on APR (agricultural preservation restriction) land. APR uses the chapter 61A definitions of agriculture/horticulture. Hemp farmers have even been told that they can not transport their hemp crop over APR land!

The Joint Committee on Cannabis Policy is currently considering a bill which would fix this major problem, and also has three other important related bills, explained below. Please contact your legislators and ask them to push for these bills (especially the APR bill) to move ASAP.

Note: If you are a farmer impacted by the APR restriction, please also submit your story to the Committee and urge swift passage of S.1129. You can email the committee staffers at Kira.Arnott@mahouse.gov and Ernesto.ReyesHernandez@masenate.gov (Please do so by 5/16/19, if possible.)


Allow hemp on 61A (agricultural) land! (""An Act relative to the growth of hemp")

S.1129 - Senator Adam Hinds

The Massachusetts Department of Revenue has recently determined that the eligibility of land used to grow commercial hemp for classification under Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 61A, Section 2 requires clarification by the legislature. This bill would update Chapter 61A to include hemp in the definition of horticulture, giving hemp farmers the benefits afforded by Chapter 61A.

More details on the bill, here.

Cannabis farming is farming! ("An Act clarifying the definition of agriculture")

H.3519 - Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier
While the 2017 law to legalize adult-use of cannabis includes a provision "to promote and encourage full participation in the regulated marijuana industry by farmers," there has been an unfortunate trend of local zoning boards excluding farmers from this opportunity under the false assumption that cannabis cultivation is not considered agriculture. A simple legislative fix would clarify the definition of agriculture to include "hemp and marihuana."

More details on the bill, here.

Allow organic pest control on Cannabis ("An Act Relative to Organic Farming Tools")
H.3532 - Rep. Paul Mark

This organic pest control provision is written to bring Massachusetts regulators into line with practices in earlier legalization states that have allowed a short list of biological and botanical control strategies to be used on cannabis (hemp and marijuana). Colorado, California and Oregon allow application of organic pest control products when they have broad EPA label instructions, are permissible on food and tobacco, and have no federal (food) tolerance level requirements.

More details on the bill, here.

Hemp Cross-Pollination Prevention Research ("An Act Establishment of a Cannabis and Hemp Cultivation Research Center at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst")
H.3545 - Rep. Susannah M. Whipps

If mixed gender industrial hemp proliferates in the state, it could radically limit where marijuana crops can be grown outdoors. Most immediately, it could become a problem facing home growers of marijuana, whose plants will be seeded and essentially spoiled by nearby industrial hemp operations. This bill would establish at UMass Amherst a research center to address the cross-pollination issue and other technical issues facing farmers.

More details on the bill, here.


Please use this form to contact your legislators asking them to support these four bills, today!


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