Focus on New Hampshire
A new “Keep Local Farms” program launched by New England state agricultural leaders and dairy promotion organizations and inspired by the “fair trade” concept, will allow consumers to contribute online to directly support the region’s dairy farmers, and in the future, through co-branded dairy products. “Dairy farms are the ‘anchor tenants’ of New England’s agricultural landscape,” said our New England Director Cris Coffin. “The stability of this bucolic pastured landscape depends on the economic stability of our dairy farms—and this initiative offers consumers a way to support local dairy farms directly and help ensure that farmers receive a sustainable price for their milk.”
FACT: New England has approximately 1,880 dairy farms; dairy farmers are currently receiving about .97 cents per gallon of milk while it costs about $1.80 a gallon to produce.
August 3-9 is New Hampshire Eat Local Week—prime time for residents to celebrate New Hampshire farms while buying local food grown in the state. “NH Eat Local Week encourages people who are just discovering or getting interested in obtaining more of their diet locally to explore local foods and sources,” says New Hampshire Commissioner of Agriculture Lorraine Merrill. “For more advanced local-eaters, it’s a chance to engage in a little friendly competition to ratchet up their local food quotient.” The NH Eat Local Week challenge card and Web site suggest three levels of commitment that participants can strive for to increase their consumption of fresh local foods.
New Hampshire Policy Update
A report finalized by the New England Governors’ Blue Ribbon Commission on Land Conservation offers recommendations to keep the region’s farmland in farming. Recommendations include a New England Farm and Food Security Initiative to identify and address barriers and opportunities to increase production and consumption of New England-grown farm and food products, and protect the region’s agricultural lands. Commission members briefed the New England governors on the recommendations, and we will be working with the Commission and the six state Departments of Agriculture to move these valuable recommendations forward.
Legislation enacted this year in New Hampshire and Vermont will mean changes to how farmland is taxed. In New Hampshire, House Bill 1442 provides additional tax relief for agricultural buildings and certain forest buildings at the option of a municipality. If adopted by a town, the measure allows agricultural buildings to be assessed at their replacement cost less depreciation and the land beneath the building to be assessed at 10 percent of its full market price. In Vermont, Senate Bill 311 broadens the state’s current use assessment by allowing the enrollment of wetlands, rare or exemplary natural communities, riparian buffers, vernal pools, and significant wildlife habitat.
The New Hampshire Farm Viability Task Force submitted its final report in 2006. Appointed by Governor Lynch, the task force was charged with studying and making recommendations to improve the viability of agriculture in New Hampshire. Key recommendations include:
- A substantial increase in state funding ($3 million) for agricultural conservation easements.
- Development of a Farm Viability program modeled on existing programs in Massachusetts, Maine and Vermont.
- Creation of local agricultural commissions.
In addition the report proposes: increased funding for Extension and UNH education and research; increased direct-marketing opportunities; enhanced regional cooperation in support of the dairy industry; and relief from burdensome state regulations.
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New England Field Office
Cris Coffin, New England States Director
1 Short Street, Suite 2
Northampton, MA 01060-3952
(p)413-586-9330 ext. 29