$2 million proposed in funding for dairy relief bill

By on Jan 25, 2017 in Stories | 1 comment

Dairy farmers are officially on the 2017 legislative docket. Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley presented a relief funding bill to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on Tuesday. “It’s hard to imagine drought after all the moisture we’ve had over the last couple months,” Bradley said. But he added that after a lack of rain, a shortage in forage crops and a second year of dropping milk prices, “dairy farmers and their herds were totally adversely affected.” State dairy licensing and permitting data show that for more than 10 months in 2016, New Hampshire’s 123 farms shipping milk were reduced to 115. On Tuesday, Bradley brought with him an amendment to the bill, proposing to simplify the process and appropriate $2 million to be divided among licensed milk producers. The original version of the bill, written in large part by Weare Republican and Dairy Farmers Task Force...

Gully Hill land: Agriculture or athletic fields?

By on Jan 11, 2017 in Stories | 0 comments

Farmland, athletic fields, a festival space or an ecological park? The Gully Hill Conservation Easement Committee is weighing all of its options as it decides the fate of one Concord parcel of land. “I would say at least probably it needs to be used for open space,” Concord Conservation Committee vice chairman James Owers said. He added that given the 114 acres acquired using conservation commission funds, the city is legally obligated to stay within certain uses. But what “open space” really means was up for debate Tuesday night. Some Gully Hill committee members thought the land off Loudon Road along the Merrimack River should be reserved for agriculture and “passive recreation” like hiking, skiing, walking and bird watching. Others proposed more active recreational use, like another White Park. The 69 acres of fields, bordered by wetlands and wooded areas, have long been in...

Concord farmer asks city for agricultural commission

By on Dec 17, 2016 in Stories | 0 comments

When Rob Morrill looks at the supermarkets and big box stores on Fort Eddy Road and the sprawling campus at the nearby New Hampshire Technical Institute, he envisions the fields he once farmed there. Morrill, who runs Morrill Farm Dairy with his family in Penacook, is asking that Concord officials try to remember agriculture when it comes to land use decisions. “Concord should feel very fortunate as a capital city, that there are two dairies operating,” he told the Concord conservation commission this week. Morrill made his case standing in a city hall conference room, next to a rendering of what once was. It depicted Concord in 1899, with city streets and buildings on one side of the Merrimack River, and a patchwork quilt of farm fields on the other. To help preserve the farms that remain today in the face of increasing development and declining agricultural infrastructure, Morrill...

Nonprofit helps struggling horse owners care for their animals

By on Dec 17, 2016 in Stories | 0 comments

Before two starving horses were rescued from a Weare property this week, Becky’s Gift Equine Relief received a call. The nonprofit, started by Canterbury resident Kathy Lang in memory of her daughter, Becky, helps horse owners care for their animals before the situation gets too dire. In the case of the Weare horses, they were past the point where Becky’s Gift could help them. The town’s animal control officer decided the horses needed to be immediately removed and sent to Live and Let Live Farm in Chichester. “We don’t take horses – we support and work with Live and Let Live very closely,” Lang said Friday. “We go out, we check the horses, we make sure the people are able to take care of them.” “Sometimes,” she added, “they’re not.” The owner of the under-nourished Norwegian Fjord mare and pony in Weare may be charged with a crime. Weare police said they are investigating. “People...

Dairy drought relief program proposal goes to Legislature

By on Dec 6, 2016 in Stories | 0 comments

The state’s Dairy Farmers Task Force demonstrated a herd-like quality when it voted to propose a dairy producer relief program to the Legislature on Monday. The decision was made with a 5-1 vote in a mere 15 minutes. The odd man out was Weare Republican Rep. Neal Kurk, who said that even though he helped design the relief program formula, he couldn’t support the idea. “The problem is not the drought – the drought exacerbates the problem,” Kurk said. “The problem is low milk prices.” Because those prices are set at the federal level he said “it requires a federal solution.” Hudson Republican Rep. Bob Haefner said that a federal fix could take a long time, too long for dairy farmers to wait with reduced feed stores, stretched loans and equipment in need of repair. State dairy licensing and permitting data show that New Hampshire had 123 farms shipping milk in January, which then got...

Final Dairy Farmers Task Force meeting will be held Monday

By on Dec 4, 2016 in Stories | 0 comments

Farmers, by nature, don’t like to complain. But this time, Tom Marston admits, is different. Reflecting on the summer’s drought and recent political attention on the struggles of the dairy industry, the Pittsfield dairyman and school bus driver said this was the first time he’s seen the plight of farmers so prominent in the New Hampshire State House. That change, Marston said, appears to be because he and other dairy farmers took their grumbling public. “I believe we brought the whole thing to light and that’s what started it,” Marston said. Those efforts will likely reach a climax Monday, when state legislators on the Dairy Farmers Task Force will meet in the Legislative Office building at 10 a.m. Heading into the fourth and most likely final meeting, task force chair, Merrimack Republican and House Majority Leader Dick Hinch said he expects the committee to come up with some...