N.H. dairy farms deal with threat of labor deportations

By on Mar 28, 2017 in Stories | 0 comments

Their long hours of milking, cleaning the parlor, breeding cows and herding the animals are an essential part of how milk makes it into New Hampshire’s grocery stores. But those farm laborers – often immigrants with forged or expired documents – are worried about doing their own shopping at the supermarket these days for fear of deportation. Farmers here and across the country are concerned about losing their workers, too, as the dairy community waits to see to what extent President Donald Trump’s immigration executive orders will be carried out. The looming threat of widespread deportation isn’t necessarily what New Hampshire farmers expected from Trump, said Dave Chappelle, a Vermont and New Hampshire labor management consultant for dairy farms. “I have been to farms in New Hampshire where I have gone to talk to the Hispanic employee, who the owner knows probably doesn’t have the...

Amended dairy farmers relief bill heads back to Senate

By on Mar 24, 2017 in Stories | 0 comments

Dairy farmer relief funding is one step away from Gov. Chris Sununu’s desk. Despite some legislators’ opposition to the idea of a “bailout” for one industry and not others, the House approved $2 million in funding for drought-affected dairy farmers, 257-96. Since it passed with an amendment Thursday, it will head back to the Senate, which passed the original version 19-3 last month. The bill has come almost full circle after legislators approved the floor amendment proposed by dairy task force member Rep. Neal Kurk. He suggested a formula, and not an evenly divided $2 million appropriation, to be used to distribute funds. Kurk’s amendment now institutes a mechanism assessing each of the state’s 115 dairy farmers, their feed losses and their resulting milk production due to the 2016 drought. The formula also takes into account federal funding a dairy farmer may receive to avoid what...

Meet one of the originators of New Hampshire Maple Weekend

By on Mar 23, 2017 in Food To Do, Stories | 0 comments

On Thursday morning, I drove into Barbara and Don Lassonde’s driveway to see Barbara tacking a poster to the side of the sugar house. It was only appropriate that the man depicted in the poster, wearing a green full-body jumpsuit and pouring sap into an evaporator, looked an awful lot like Don. He’s married to the woman who helped begin the advertised event – the Kearsarge Maple Festival – as well as the statewide New Hampshire Maple Weekend. The Lassondes began sugaring in 1972 at their Fisherville Road house in Concord as a hobby – they had a maple tree in the yard, Barbara told me, and both wanted to do it after seeing their New England relatives sugar. “My uncle had 1,500 buckets,” Don said. “Can you imagine washing those at the end of the season?” Once they began their own operation, Don said it was handy that they lived near a fire station. “If we had too much smoke from the...

Legislators aim to make ‘ritual slaughter’ inclusive of more faiths

By on Mar 2, 2017 in Stories | 0 comments

Grinding through a bill about livestock and meat inspection, legislators have spent a lot of time on one, short section: which faiths are permitted to perform animal slaughter in accordance with religious beliefs. The proposed legislation originated from a 2016 study committee examining livestock and meat regulations. Slaughter according to Jewish religious ritual was already allowed, and the study committee decided that slaughter required by Islamic religious ritual should be permitted, too. Both methods require an animal to be alive, not shocked, shot or otherwise harmed prior to slaughter, to be performed by someone of the Jewish or Muslim faith, and to be done with a single, swift slice to the throat. Not everyone in the House Committee on Environment and Agriculture agrees with the bill’s more inclusive terminology. Meeting minutes show that on Feb. 14, Republican Rep. Anne Copp...

Boscawen therapeutic riding program looking for new home

By on Mar 2, 2017 in Stories | 0 comments

Everything about Whispering Horse Stable is understated, quiet. The therapeutic riding center is obscured behind Tim Reese’s Boscawen home on Corn Hill Road. Its small barn is occupied by just one horse, Cloud Dancer – also known as C.D. And most days this winter – due to abundant ice and snow – owner Heather Wunschel said she’s mostly stayed inside, completing barn chores and leaving rides on C.D. until mud season ends. By that time, though, Wunschel will need a new place to run her business. She said that Reese informed her that the current barn space will no longer be available as of April 15, her one-year anniversary of opening the business. Wunschel is now on the lookout for a new home in Boscawen. If she can find one before the warmer season, her business will be bustling: she’ll again start up riding lessons for her two current clients, bring in her volunteers from last summer...