The Dairy Farmers Task Force will meet for the first time this morning.
House Speaker Shawn Jasper announced Friday that he and Senate President Chuck Morse are creating a joint task force to address the “devastating impact on New Hampshire dairy farmers” due to severe drought conditions.
The Milk Producers Emergency Relief Fund Board recommended in its recent report that the Legislature approve a one-time grant for $3.6 million to help dairy farmers across the state, plus further measures to prevent future challenges.
In addition to the drought causing significant feed losses, milk producers have been struggling with low milk prices for the last two years.
Numerous elected officials have called attention to the issue after state Agriculture Commissioner Lorraine Merrill said 19 of 120 dairies have stopped dairy operations since Jan. 1.
Gov. Maggie Hassan proposed $2 million be appropriated each year to the relief fund in the 2018-19 state budget, and U.S. Sens. Jeanne Shaheen and Kelly Ayotte have asked their federal colleagues to address the wider price problems in the national dairy industry.
On a state level, some remain skeptical of whether bailing out the 101 remaining farms in the state with $3.6 million is the way to go.
The newly formed Dairy Farmers Task Force will review the drought’s effects on the dairy industry, identify common needs, and then issue a report and recommendations by Nov. 4.
Jasper said the following committee members have been appointed to the task force: Rep. Richard Hinch (chairman), Sen. Jeb Bradley, Rep. Neal Kurk, Sen. Andy Sanborn, Rep. Robert Haefner, Sen. Martha Fuller Clark, and Rep. Tara Sad.
The task force will meet at 9 a.m. today in the Legislative Office Building
(Elodie Reed can be reached at 369-3306, firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @elodie_reed.)