Our organization’s mission statement is pretty succinct: “New Hampshire Farm Bureau Federation is a membership organization dedicated to advocacy for and education about agriculture.” Those two pillars, advocacy and education, are the foundation upon which all of our work is built.
Often it’s our advocacy work in the halls of the State House and Legislative Office Building that are our most recognizable contributions to agriculture. After all, these efforts, over 103 years, have resulted in successes like affordable expansion of power and lighting to rural areas in the 1930s, the establishment of Current Use law in the 1970s, and enabling local agricultural commissions in the early 2000s (just to name a few). The dedication of NH Farm Bureau staff and members alike has also prevented legislation potentially damaging to agriculture from being passed.
The fact of the matter is, however, that advocacy doesn’t exist solely at the Capitol. It starts on farms and woodlots across the state. It thrives in conversations farmers have in the supermarket or on social media. By offering your experiences and practices as a primary source to the non-agricultural world you are actively advocating for your own way of life while educating them at the same time.
An impactful and easy way to connect with the non-farming community is to participate in New Hampshire Agriculture in the Classroom’s School to Farm Days. These events, organized by NHAITC State Coordinator Debbi Cox and held across the state, invite fourth grade students to a local farm where they will visit dozens of stations explaining various aspects of agriculture. The fusion of education and advocacy was fully demonstrated at the Belknap County School to Farm Day on September 24th, hosted at Ramblin’ Vewe Farm in Gilford, where nearly all of the stations featured NHFB members.
“Interaction with the kids is what it’s about. There are so many people removed from agriculture,” Belknap County Farm Bureau President Brian Matarozzo said. He, his wife Amy, and their son Hayden brought one of their dairy cows from LorrenJoyce Farm in Barnstead to the event as part of their station on cows and milk.
Along with cows, the Belknap County School to Farm Day offered students a chance to see and learn about goats, chickens, oxen, garlic, soil conservation, maple sugaring, and more. “In the several hours that they are rotating stations they learn about the connections to agriculture in their daily lives,” NHAITC Coordinator Debbi Cox explained. “We try to incorporate history, math, science and more to really coordinate with teachers’ curriculum.”
The New Hampshire Commissioner of Education Frank Edelblut stopped by as well to get a better understanding of just how important hands-on learning opportunities like School to Farm days are in the overall education system. “All of the various tactile things, the overall experiences are really a concrete learning opportunity for the kids,” Edelblut observed.
That’s the long way around getting to my point, which is that advocacy and education become the same thing when you share your story. Share it with your neighbors, your fellow church parishioners -anyone who will listen! But most importantly, share it with our youth. Someone is going to provide the next generation of leaders and thinkers with a depiction of agriculture. It’s up to us in the agriculture community to make sure that depiction is accurate.
It’s the time of year when cows head back out to pastures of plenty and green fields across the state sprout the familiar signs of summer. Appropriately enough, it’s also time to celebrate June as National Dairy Month.
According to the International Dairy Foods Association, National Dairy Month began as National Milk Month way back in 1937 in hopes of promoting milk consumption during a period of surplus. Over the years National Dairy Month has evolved to spotlight all of the dairy industry’s contributions to society. From nutritious and tasty food products to open space conservation and economic activity, the dairy industry has a positive impact on our lives in many ways.
In coordination with National Dairy Month, the New Hampshire Farm Bureau Young Farmers Committee is again accepting the 10 Gallon Challenge and wants you to follow along as they do. Visit their Facebook page all June long to see Young Farmers crisscross the state purchasing 10 gallons of milk to support the dairy industry and donating it to food pantries and soup kitchens to help fight food insecurity. Last year they completed the challenge in every county in NH and inspired even more people to join in (check out the recap video of last year’s challenge below). This year they hope to triple their donations!
In other dairy-related news, New Hampshire Farm Bureau will have a seat at the table for American Farm Bureau’s Federal Milk Marketing Order Working Group. Coos County dairy farmer Scott Mason will head to Washington, D.C. this month as one of three farmers representing the Northeast Region.
So get a moo-ve on and start celebrating National Dairy Month. Raise a glass of your favorite milk, add an extra slice of cheese to that burger, or just thank your local dairy farmer!
To be a successful farmer you have to be a jack of all trades. Some days you are an electrician, other days you may be a plumber, and sometimes –on a good day- you get to farm too! The Robertson family from Hopkinton, NH spent the last year adding yet another job title to that list: Television stars.
Jaime and Heather Robertson and their three sons Si, Nate, and Bram, who operate Bohanan Farm & Contoocook Creamery in Hopkinton, are one of five farms from across the country being featured on a new HISTORY series called ‘The American Farm’. HISTORY bills the show as, “an authentic portrait of the fight to go from seed to stalk, and from farm to fork. The series presents an up-close look at one full year of family farming.” A film crew spent most of last year documenting the lives of the Robertsons from the fields to the dinner table.
Thursday, September 6th marked the beginning of apple season in New Hampshire as Governor Chris Sununu made the ceremonial first pick at Sunnycrest Farm in Londonderry alongside Commissioner of Agriculture, Markets & Food Shawn Jasper, Sunnycrest owner Dan Hicks, and UNH Cooperative Extension Fruit & Vegetable Production Field Specialist George Hamilton. Also on hand were members of the New England Apple Association and New Hampshire Fruit Growers Association.
Throughout the month of August, New Hampshire Farm Bureau (NHFB) joins with 70+ partners throughout the state to highlight New Hampshire Eat Local Month — a month-long celebration of local food and New Hampshire farmers and producers.
“New Hampshire residents, and visitors alike, are showing unprecedented interest in local food, and this month-long celebration offers a great opportunity to feature New Hampshire grown foods and farms,” said Gail McWilliam Jellie from the New Hampshire Department of Agriculture, Markets & Food.
With 70+ partners working together to bring you great NH Eat Local Month festivities, it won’t be hard for you to find a way to get involved!
Over the previous three years, over seven million households, on average, have tuned in to watch the Major League Baseball All-Star game and Tuesday night’s game should be no exception. Marking the mid-way point of the season, the All-Star Game pits the best players from the American League versus their National League counterparts for bragging rights at the highest level of America’s pastime.
This year, the midsummer classic is being hosted at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C., just a few miles away from the American Farm Bureau Federation headquarters. So, AFBF is swinging for the fences and placing an ad in the MLB All-Star Game Program.
Sharing your story, connecting with the public, and educating new generations on the benefits of agriculture along with the quality of farmers’ products and practices are key ways to strengthen the connection between producers and consumers. Why not accomplish all three and never leave your property?
In late March, Jessica Ziehm of the New York Animal Agriculture Coalition (NYAAC), Laura Hardie of New England Dairy Promotion Board (NEDPB), and Emily Getty of Stonyfield led a farm tour workshop for dairy farmers and stakeholders at Stonewall Farm in Keene. The goal of the workshop was to prepare farmers with the tools and resources they need to host their own farm tours.
Farm Bureau members and staff were there to participate and document the event. You can read more about the workshop here, watch the recap video produced by NHFB below, and download useful resources for hosting your own farm tours at the bottom of this page.
Editor’s Note: March 4 – 10 is Agricultural Safety Awareness Program Week (ASAP). ASAP was created to bring awareness to safety and health issues facing the agriculture industry. The following article can also be found in the March/April Issue of ‘The Communicator’
Reflecting on his chosen profession, Chichester farmer and past Merrimack County Farm Bureau President, Steve MacCleery, paused before declaring, “The biggest thing I can say about farming is that it’s difficult, but I enjoy it.” Steve explained that he and his wife Holly didn’t get rich pursuing agriculture, but they agreed that it was a great way to raise their children and to enjoy earning a living. “Having said that, you have to try to be safe.”
County Annual Meeting Season: The Meaning of Grassroots!
By Diane Clary; NHFB Executive Director
NHFB, The Voice of Agriculture, is a “Grassroots” organization. That means everything we do originates from the individual member. Each voting member has an equal voice and that voice steers Farm Bureau. If you don’t add your “voice,” our message is diminished. New Hampshire Farm Bureau demonstrates its strength through membership and member participation. We are nothing without our members and our member’s voices. “How can I add my voice to our message?” you ask. Attend your County and State Annual Meetings. Not only will you enjoy great fellowship with great people but you will have the opportunity to have YOUR VOICE heard. County and State staff work very hard to make these events worthwhile for attendees and your attendance would show appreciation of these efforts. Change starts with the individual member, share your concerns with the county and begin the process of grassroots policy development. Get your voice heard and make a difference. If you would rather have a more supportive roll and less vocal roll; attend the meeting so that you will be informed on the issues and make your decision of support based on all of the information.
By Jeff Holmes, Sullivan County Farm Bureau
(editor’s note: March 5-11 is Ag Safety Awareness Program Week. Each day of the week is focused on raising awareness of different, avoidable hazards on the farm. One of those hazards involves Equipment Operator Space. Using equipment on the farm helps get the job done more quickly and efficiently but can also present a number of hazards. In the article below, past NHFB President, Jeff Holmes, discusses how you can minimize risk by using PTO shields.)
Farming can be a dangerous business. Why not do what you can to help minimize the risks your operation presents? Missing or damaged PTO (power take-off) shields present a serious hazard for equipment operators. Not all hazards can be addressed cheaply but PTO shield issues are an exception.
By Christina Murdock, DVM
The FDA policy known as the Veterinary Feed Directive came into effect on January 1, 2017. It was passed to promote the judicious use of antimicrobials that affect both human and animal health, but I understand there will be frustration among the agricultural community. I just want everyone to understand why it came about and what this new policy entails.
Back in 2015 the White House issued its National Action Plan For Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria. It may seem like common sense, but what the public health officials want people to understand is that Antimicrobial Resistance is a scary concept: “The Right Antibiotic at the Right Time at the Right Dose for the Right Duration.” The FDA is responsible for regulating animal drugs, feeds, devices, and most animal health products. They want veterinarians to oversee the use of medicines that may have an effect on the human population who consume animals that may have undergone treatment. Under the Federal Food Drug and Cosmetic Act (FD and C), the FDA has the broad mandate to assure safety and effectiveness of drugs, devices, and the safety of the food supply.
The 2016 growing season has brought its fair share of trials and troubles to the Granite State. We have all been experiencing, either first hand or through the countless news stories on television and on-line, the effects of a prolonged and fierce drought. The dairy industry may have been hit the worst as the unique combination of weather and low milk prices has led to twice as many New Hampshire dairy farms closing up shop this year than the previous four years combined. While no one can legislate enough rain to pull us out of the drought, our farmers have begun calling for legislative remedies to the dairy crisis looming over the state. As more and more folks speak up and challenge our elected officials to find a way to help, those officials have been forced to listen.
Politicians have been visiting farms and holding meetings to gather information. They are reaching out to lawmakers in Washington, D.C. and saying all the right things. But so far no action has been taken. Although a Milk Producers Emergency Relief Fund was established in New Hampshire in 2008, it has never been funded. The assurances and platitudes have borne no fruit.
While our legislators have had no choice but to pay heed to the challenges facing agriculture, moving forward it is up to us as individuals to hold them to their campaign promises. Listen to what your local and regional leaders are saying about how they will help agriculture. Get involved by calling or writing your Representatives and Senators. But don’t stop after you cast your vote in November. As an industry we must be sure the promises made in an election year are followed through when we need them most.
As a grassroots organization, Farm Bureau’s best gift to you is the confidence that thousands of other farmers, conservationists, and land owners stand behind you, but it is the power of individuals getting involved that makes the biggest difference. This time of year you have the opportunity to help write the policy that guides our organization by attending your County Farm Bureau Annual Meeting. Policies adopted at those meetings move along to the Policy Development Committee and finally the delegate session at NH Farm Bureau’s Annual Meeting in November. Through this policy development process, Farm Bureau’s members plot the course of action we will take as the voice of agriculture in New Hampshire.
-Josh Marshall, NH Farm Bureau Communications Director
Foreign agricultural workers can apply for H-2A Visas which allow them to work seasonally in the United States on farms and other agricultural operations. Many farmers in New Hampshire count on this H-2A labor to fill seasonal positions on their farms. In the past few years, employers here in New Hampshire and across the country have had to deal with costly delays in the process of getting these laborers to their farms on time. As frustrating as the process is, the alternative could mean having no workers at all
Since a New Hampshire Supreme Court Ruling last summer saying that agritourism is not defined as agriculture in the current RSA (RSA 21:34-a), New Hampshire Farm Bureau members and staff have been working closely with political leaders in both the New Hampshire Senate and House of Representatives to come up with legislation to clarify the RSA regarding agriculture here in New Hampshire and to unambiguously lay out the connection between agritourism and agriculture, keeping in mind the rights of towns and their planners to have local controls.