The Environmental Bond Bill is a large piece of legislation which lays out potential environmental spending for the next 5 years in the Commonwealth. It also contains policy sections which establish laws. The bill has just come out of Conference Committee, a process where the House and Senate rectify conflicts in their respective versions of the bill. This unified bill (HB 4835) now goes to the House and Senate for a vote, which is likely a formality. It then goes to the Governor for his signature. He has the option to veto sections with which he disagrees.
There is a component of the Environmental Bond Bill which is problematic for the farming community:
- There is a provision which would prohibit the Department of Environmental Protection from delegating its authority to other agencies in the oversite of composting. This would end the Department of Agricultural Resources (DAR) Farm Composting Program which has been operating successfully for more than 20 years.
- It’s an advantage to both farmers and the Commonwealth to have an agency which understands farming charged with the oversight of farm compost operations. Composting and on-farm activities such as manure management and maintaining soil health are inter-related. DAR understands these issues. DEP does not.
- This language came about due to complaints about A SINGLE FARM. There is no evidence to suggest that DAR oversite is lacking in any way, or that farm compost operations overseen by DAR have more complaints than commercial compost operations overseen by DEP.
Please call Governor Baker’s office and let him know that you oppose the provisions in HB 4835 which would end the DAR composting program. Ask him to VETO this section. Be sure to reference “lines 1571 – 1581” as the language that is problematic.
The toll-free number for the Governor’s office is (888) 870 – 7770.