N.H. food stamp bill retained until next year

By on Apr 20, 2017 in Stories |

Senate Bill 7, often referred to as the “food stamp bill,” may eventually lose the food stamp component altogether. But it will have to wait until next year after a House committee voted to retain the bill Tuesday. Some members that did so called the efforts to cut down assistance for New Hampshire’s food-insecure “unconscionable.” “I think the bill needs work,” said Wolfeboro Republican Rep. William Marsh, a member of the House Health, Human Services and Elderly Affairs Committee. “We all recognize that and we’re not capable of doing that in a short period of time.” The bill was originally introduced by Nashua Republican Sen. Kevin Avard as a measure to tighten eligibility limits for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Among the proposals were discontinuing the waiver of federal work requirements, reducing income limits for applicants and stipulating that child support...

Goat to the mat: Yoga with Goats class kids around on N.H. farm

By on Apr 18, 2017 in Stories |

Janine Bibeau’s yoga class at Jenness Farm is generally like any other: soothing music in the background, a neat arrangement of long mats on the floor, lots of spandex. Then the gobble! gobble! of Cricket the turkey comes floating through the window. Chickens peek through the farm shop’s glass-paned doors, and inside, bleating and the clomp sound of hooves on the wood floor regularly interrupt Bibeau’s instructions. And of course, there’s the tribe of baby goats standing on people’s bent backs. “Yoga with Goats” has become an internet sensation since the Nottingham goat dairy first tried it out several weeks ago. The farm said its Facebook page jumped from about 5,000 likes to 35,000 in less than a week, and as of Tuesday, it had more than 47,000 likes. Classes don’t officially begin until May, but after posting videos and media coverage of the few “guinea pig” sessions so far, farm...

Can America’s documented, foreign guest worker program keep up with demand?

By on Mar 31, 2017 in Stories |

It’s a hot job. They sweat beneath an early autumn sun, lugging a ladder from tree to tree, gathering as many apples as can fit into a bucket. Container full, they unclip the bucket’s cloth bottom to empty the fruit into a large, wooden crate on the back of a tractor. Then they start all over again. This is how Jamaican pickers spend their days at Apple Hill Farm in Concord each September. They’ve worked for farmers Chuck and Diane Souther for decades as federally approved foreign-born laborers coming to the U.S. through the H-2A temporary agricultural labor certification program. Contrary to the undocumented workers who often use forged or expired documents to land employment at year-round operations like dairy farms, these seasonal, authorized workers may have the support of the President Donald Trump’s administration. A purported leaked federal memo appears to support temporary...

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

By on Mar 28, 2017 in Stories |

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 |

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 |

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...