The purpose of NOFA-NY’s policy work is to advocate for a sustainable, local, organic food and farm system within New York State. Our advocacy efforts are grounded in the principles of organic agriculture, established by the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM), which emphasize health, ecology, fairness, and care.
New York Organic Action Plan
After four decades of spreading organic food, farming, and gardening, NOFA-NY continues to pursue the vision of healthy communities, where everyone has access to fresh, locally grown food and the resources to produce. That goal led to the creation of the New York Organic Action Plan (NYOAP), using the National Organic Action Plan as a model. Volunteer members of the NOFA-NY Policy Committee set out in 2010 to coordinate a state version. To learn how you can support organic, check out the New York Organic Action Plan here.
Each year at our January annual meeting, our members vote on policy resolutions that direct the advocacy work of our organization.
Proposed policy resolutions are drafted and formally approved by both the Policy Committee and the Board of Directors in the fall. The approved resolutions are then sent to our membership and posted on our website before a vote of the membership occurs at the annual meeting. A 2/3 majority vote is necessary to pass a resolution. Current members are encouraged to submit proposals for policy resolutions to be considered by the Policy Committee and Board of Directors. View all policy resolutions from years past here (PDF).
NOFA-NY’s 2021 policy resolutions are listed below.
Whereas greenhouse gas emissions, including carbon dioxide, are a major cause of climate change, a grave threat to the future of our communities and farms; and
Whereas one of the critical ecosystem services that healthy soils provides is increased carbon sequestration, thus mitigating the impact of greenhouse gas emission into the atmosphere; and
Whereas organic farming practices build organic matter and sequester carbon in the soil, and our farmers, by virtue of their organic certification, have already implemented these practices to build soil health and store carbon; and
Whereas there are market based proposals under consideration designed to limit carbon emissions and reward carbon sequestration, including Cap & Trade programs; and
Whereas carbon markets, and cap & trade in particular, have proven to benefit financial intermediaries, while allowing big corporations license to continue adding to the greenhouse gases poisoning our atmosphere; and
Whereas these same market proposals, while offering the allure of payments to farmers, have been a disappointment to farmers wherever they have been tried. The paperwork, time, and expense required of farmers to participate in these schemes have not been offset by the payments, which have been highly variable, unreliable, and have ultimately collapsed; and
Whereas more research is needed into measuring soil carbon. Current research suggests that there is no agreement yet among scientists on how or what carbon to measure; and
Whereas programs that focus on whole-farm, agro-ecological systems and practices, and their known ability to sequester carbon, would acknowledge the contribution by our members’ on-going, but decades old, commitment to sustainable food systems and a healthy planet;
Be it therefore Resolved by the members of NOFA-NY that:
- We oppose the expansion of cap and trade programs in New York that only benefit polluters and intermediaries at the expense of our environment, our soils, our farms and our futures;
- We oppose measuring soil carbon as a condition to receive benefit or assistance, until such time as the tools exist to accurately measure long term storage, as well as year to year changes in storage;
- We encourage the state to pass Healthy Soils legislation that takes a whole-farm systems approach and that would provide payments and/or financial assistance to farmers who implement or continue to maintain practices that build healthy soils and sequester carbon.
- If cap & trade becomes a reality, all certified organic farmers should be given permits to sell in the market in recognition of their organic practices.
Whereas a tiny handful of companies control almost every link in the food chain, standing between two million farmers and 300 million consumers, exerting tremendous power over consumer food choices and prices, controlling the markets available to farmers and sucking money out of rural communities; and
Whereas it is clear that CAFOs have a much worse environmental footprint than smaller, integrated farms; and
Whereas consolidation in the meatpacking sector has enabled the largest players (that slaughter four out of five cattle, two out of three hogs and almost every chicken) to dominate the marketplace, push down the prices farmers receive, offer unwarranted deals to favored livestock suppliers, and force producers into unfair marketing arrangements; and
Whereas similar concentration has occurred in the farm inputs sector, limiting farmers’ choice of inputs, increasing manufacturer power over conditions for repair, maintenance and data generated, and reducing farmer access to preferred seed, as when the only source of non-gmo seed requires long distance, expensive shipping; and
Whereas many smaller independent organic companies have been bought by vertically-integrated corporations that now control large segments of the organic market;
Resolved, the members of NOFA-NY urge the state and federal governments to restore anti-trust actions using existing anti-trust law to break up consolidated mega-corporations; and in addition, urge the passage of new legislation that prevents anti-competitive mergers, bans construction of new and expanding factory farms, holds big meat and chemical companies responsible for the costs of pollution and other harm caused by industrialized monocrop agriculture and CAFOs, and provides funding to contract growers to transition to more sustainable production systems.
Whereas many farmers – especially poultry, hog and chicken, but also increasingly fruit, vegetable and dairy farmers – produce agricultural products under contract with processing, distribution and retail food companies that force farmers to accept unfair or abusive contract terms in order to secure any contract. Even though the terms of most fresh market produce sales are verbal, those are still contracts, though harder to defend legally if the buyer fails to uphold the terms; and
Whereas the distribution of natural and organic foods is controlled by fewer and fewer corporations reducing the markets available to farmers and the distributors available to food co-operatives; and
Whereas, private corporations with too much power raise prices for shoppers, depress payments to farmers and wages for workers;
Resolved, The members of NOFA-NY agree that fairness, real competition, small business viability, and equity must be restored to the food and farm sector through legislation and policies that ensure that all contracts between corporate buyers or input suppliers and farmers must contain basic protection standards including:
- requirement for plain language contracts and disclosure of risks;
- requirement for good faith in negotiations;
- the right to promptly review and withdraw from a contract, with clear deadline for cancellation;
- prohibition of confidentiality clauses;
- recapture of capital investments if buyer cancels a contract after farmer has made capital investments in order to meet the terms of the contract;
- fair procedures for inspecting fields and farm products;
- a ban on binding mandatory arbitration clauses, and maintaining individuals’ rights to a trial and any other rights to which they would normally be entitled;
- affirmation of farmer’s right to join with others in association, to speak out against unfair practices, and to engage in collective bargaining in order to have greater power free from industry retaliation.
Whereas bisphenols (BPA) and phthalates are a known hormone disrupter and can mimic or block hormones even in very low doses; and
Whereas young children and fetuses are especially vulnerable; and
Whereas, Bisphenol-A (commonly known as BPA) and phthalates are found in many plastic products, leaching from plastic into food, liquids, dust, and directly into children’s mouths while sucking on pacifiers or teethers. Exposure also takes place through ingesting and inhaling dust and through skin absorption; and
Whereas BPA is used to make polycarbonate plastic, a shatter-resistant and clear material used in products ranging from plastic bottles and eyeglasses to sports safety equipment, contamination in low doses over extending time is toxic. BPA is also found in baby bottles, sippy cups, teethers, water bottles, food storage containers, and the lining of many food and beverage cans; and
Whereas phthalates make plastic soft and flexible, and are often found in car interiors, shower curtains, deodorant, cosmetics, and medical devices, they are also found in children’s products such as toys, rattles, teethers, rubber ducks, bath books, baby shampoo, soap and lotion; and
Whereas bisphenols and phthalates contaminate the environment by leaching from products during the manufacturing process and recycling, and whereas these chemicals are found in marine and freshwater ecosystems, contaminating aquatic wildlife with the same low levels of exposure; and
Whereas bisphenols (BPA) and phthalates are detected in most people’s urine, this high frequency of detection indicates that our exposure is ever-present and continuous; and
Whereas Bisphenol (BPA) is linked to asthma and neurodevelopmental problems such as hyperactivity, anxiety, depression, and aggression when exposed early in life; obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, decreased fertility, and prostate cancer in adults; and
Whereas prenatal and early life exposure to phthalates is linked with asthma, allergies, and cognitive and behavioral problems, phthalates are also thought to affect reproductive development in boys, and reduced fertility in adult men; and
Whereas many products are labeled BPA free, but they are often replaced with Bisphenol S (BPS) and Bisphenol F (BPF), which are less studied but appear to have similar hormone-disrupting effects. The Consumer Product Safety Commission banned the use of six phthalates in toys and child care products, but they are still widely used in other products, such as food packaging, personal care products, and building materials. Like BPA, the phased-out phthalates are often replaced with other phthalates with similar properties and less health information.
Resolved, that NOFA-NY supports a total ban of the use of bisphenols and phthalates in all products used in New York State.
Whereas, slaughter/processing capacity has been an obstacle for organic, sustainable, direct-market livestock/poultry producers for decades. As the meat/poultry industry has become more consolidated, small and mid-sized plants that served regional markets and smaller farmers have disappeared; and
Whereas, recent supply chain breakdowns caused by the pandemic have aggravated this long-standing problem and brought it to public attention as large plants shut down and there was no capacity in the system to get animals processed. It is now common in New York and around the country for small farmers to have to book dates a year or more in advance, and to travel several hours to have their animals processed; and
Whereas, this lack of processing capacity is holding back the growth of farms that would like to take advantage of consumer demand for grass-fed and locally raised meat, livestock, and livestock products;
Whereas, the siting of slaughter/processing plants has become extremely difficult due to concerns of water, wastewater, and food safety, as well as residential proximity;
Whereas, the significant lack of slaughter/processing plants over more than a generation has caused a lack of skilled labor to work at such plants; and
Whereas, the burden of onerous USDA meat/poultry inspection standards created for the largest processing plants and not scale-adaptable for small and mid-sized production, has contributed to the loss of the majority of small plants.
Whereas, multiple levels of efforts are needed to address this situation, including:
- Making food safety and other regulations at federal, state, and local levels feasible and scale-appropriate;
- Providing technical assistance for plants to upgrade their food safety plans and physical plant;
- Creating job training and workforce development programs;
- Evaluating and coordinating regional food systems needs in identifying locations for the siting of plants that is reasonable for the communities, and feasible for the producers; and
- Providing economic development assistance to facilitate new plants being sited and opened.
Resolved, that NOFA NY supports multi-pronged efforts to increase slaughter/processing capacity serving regional food systems and the small/mid-sized farm sector. These actions include policies, financial incentives, and other efforts at the local, state and federal level to ensure existing small and mid-sized plants continue to operate and to facilitate the opening of new plants.
Whereas, the right of New Yorkers to clean water, air and a healthy environment is not given any protection in the State of New York’s Constitution; and
Whereas, there are a multitude of issues threatening New York’s water, air, natural resources, such as climate change; loss of agricultural productivity; emerging contaminants in our drinking water supplies; poor to failing air quality; and
Whereas, these impacts disproportionately affect frontline communities, creating environmental injustices; and
“proposing an amendment to article 1 of the constitution, in relation to the right to clean air and water and a healthful environment”
Whereas, to enact a Green Amendment in the New York State Constitution the above-mentioned bill must be passed by the New York State Legislature in 2021 and then be voted on as part of a statewide referendum; and
Whereas, the Northeast Organic Farmers Association hereby supports the Green Amendment Bill (A.2064/S.2072) that passed the New York State Legislature in 2019 and its second passage in 2021; and further have
Resolved, that the members of the Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York support the Green Amendment to the Bill of Rights of the New York State Constitution which states: “Each person shall have a right to clean air and water, and a healthful environment.”
NOFA-NY maintains membership within several organizations that work to grow a robust organic food and farm system regionally, nationally, and internationally. You can learn more about our partners by visiting their websites below.
NOFA-NY is a member of:
NOFA-NY is also a member of the National Healthy Soils Policy Network.