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Letter: Bad regulations

I’m a farmer. I care about the environment and depend on it to produce healthy, nutritious crops. Sales of my crops can be easily damaged by food safety scares resulting from someone cutting corners so I understand the need for regulation. However, as a small businessperson, I don’t see regulations as the solution to every problem. Regulations must be written and administered intelligently, with a sound understanding of the activity they were intended to address. Unfortunately, recent nutrient regulations proposed by Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR) are not!

Good regulation results from cooperation and people working together. We have a long history of this in Massachusetts agriculture. Based on this history and concerns about water quality, Farm Bureau worked with the Legislature to give MDAR the ability to regulate fertilizer and manure.

Unfortunately, MDAR staff wrote the nutrients regulations without any farmer input. UMass expertise was overlooked, despite the law requiring MDAR to work with the university.

The result? Bad regulations that don’t work for farmers or the environment. Farmers are concerned the regulations will jeopardize their livelihoods. Academics say the regulations can actually harm water quality. In short, high energy-fodder for anti-regulation sentiments that are so pervasive in politics today.

In recent public hearings, MDAR got the message to drop the bunker mentality and work collaboratively. Regulation, and government in general, must be a cooperative effort. MDAR’s recent debacle with the nutrient regulations highlights this fact. Hopefully they’ll learn from it.

Dr. A. RICHARD BONANNO

owner, Pleasant Valley Gardens

president, Massachusetts Farm Bureau Federation

Marlborough

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