Dairy farmers closer to receiving drought aid

By on Feb 10, 2017 in Stories | 1 comment

From “cow committee” to the New Hampshire Senate floor, dairy farmers inch ever closer to receiving funds to help make up for last summer’s drought. In a 19-3 floor vote Thursday, state senators moved forward a bill that would provide $2 million to the Milk Producers Emergency Relief Fund board to then be distributed to the state’s dairy farmers. The board recommended that the Legislature appropriate a $3.6 million one-time payment for dairy farmers back in October. This was in response to the 2016 drought and associated feed losses, which were compounded by two years of low milk prices set by the federal government. Over the course of 2016, the number of licensed cow dairy operations in New Hampshire dropped from 123 to 115, according to state data. The Dairy Farmers Task Force took up the issue this past fall, a group that Senate majority leader Jeb Bradley said was fondly referred...

Keeping up with changes: Loudon farm does first boil thanks to early, big sap run

By on Jan 27, 2017 in Stories | 0 comments

The Moore family may not be big on the term “climate change.” But the Loudon farmers have seen changes in the maple season, invasive species and forest regeneration over time. And they’re learning everything they can to adapt. This year, for instance, has brought an extended January thaw. And while it’s normal for a day or two to be significantly warmer than usual this time of year, temperatures that sometimes touch 50 degrees for a week and a half is unusual. “It’s not just a little sap run,” 28-year-old Jeff Moore said. In response, Jeff, his 26-year-old brother, Brad, and their father, Larry, all bustled around the Windswept Maples Farm sugar shack Thursday to get their evaporator up and running. They boiled about 6,000 gallons of sap collected over the previous week in a network of taps, tubing and holding containers. By the wee hours of Friday morning, they had 125 gallons of...

How organic farming is growing, if slowly, in New Hampshire

By on Jan 27, 2017 in Stories | 0 comments

Generally speaking, New Hampshire is a little behind the curve when it comes to organic farming. Compared with Vermont and Maine, Granite State organic growers are fewer and farther between. The U.S. Department of Agriculture Organic Integrity Database shows 147 operations in New Hampshire have been certified since 2002, when national certification began. Vermont, a state with less than half the population of New Hampshire, boasts 724 certified organic farms. Maine, which is more comparable to New Hampshire in population but larger in size, has 545 certified organic farms. Northeast Organic Farming Association of New Hampshire (NOFA-NH) staffer Monica Rico said that’s changing, albeit slowly. “I think we have a growing movement with organic farming in New Hampshire,” she said. The data would seem to support that: There’s been a spike in certifications the past two years, on top of...

$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...