Partners in Advocacy Leadership Program Brings New Experiences for Cheshire County Farmer

Beth Hodge (Far right) is one of 10 participants from across the country taking part in the 10th class of American Farm Bureau’s Partners in Advocacy Leadership (PAL) Program. The group spent time in New York City facing mock interviews and receiving training for various media situations.

Newly elected Cheshire County Farm Bureau President Beth Hodge has lots on her plate. Running Echo Farm Pudding along with her sister Courtney, being an active member of NH Farm Bureau, and she recently added one more item: American Farm Bureau Federation’s Partners in Advocacy Leadership (PAL) Program! Beth is one of 10 members from across the country of the 10th PAL class which is designed to help today’s agricultural leaders accelerate their engagement abilities and solidify their role as advocates for agriculture.
 
Through a rigorous, two-year curriculum, participants of PAL use interactive real world experiences to encourage personal and professional growth.

“It’s been an incredible experience so far,” Beth said. “I’m learning so much about myself and really exploring how to use my skills to take my agricultural advocacy to the next level!”

Learn more about how the PAL program is growing agricultural advocates below through videos produced by the participants themselves! 
 
 

Advocacy and Education

Karen Wright of Trail Bend Farm in Belmont teaches fourth grade students about raising chickens at the Belknap County School to Farm Day. Their favorite part of the presentation was most definitely getting to pet a live chicken!

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.

  • Amy Matarozzo of LorrenJoyce Farm in Barnstead presents at the Belknap County School to Farm Day as NH Commissioner of Education Frank Edelblut looks on.

“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.

New Hampshire Has Seat at the Table for Federal Milk Marketing Order Talks

American Farm Bureau Federation Federal  Milk Marketing Order Work Group Update

By Scott Mason, Coos County Farm Bureau

Scott Mason runs Northwinds Farm in North Stratford, N.H. and is one of three dairy farmer representatives from the Northeast region on the American Farm Bureau Federal Milk Marketing Order Work Group.

June is National Dairy Month and what better time to begin a discussion on amending the Federal Milk Marketing Orders (FMMO).  American Farm Bureau Federation has put together a work group to study the FMMO to suggest potential policy changes.  There are three dairy farmers from each of the four AFBF regions of the country serving on this committee.

The question before us: Do nothing, tinker with the system a bit, or build a new system of price discovery.

Currently less than 10% of milk solids are used to price all of the milk.  Most milk products do not qualify to be used in the pricing formula, especially the value-added products.  Is there a better price discovery system?  A no vote on an amendment to a FMMO does away with the federal order. Processors are calling for larger make allowances.  There are many dairymen calling for some type of a supply management system.  Are there too many classes of milk?  Has America become the balancing plant for the world’s milk supply?  European Union price is up and ours is down after they did away with supply management. We supply China with 14% of their dairy needs, but only 5% of their total dairy value. Do farmers and processors share price risk?

Members of the American Farm Bureau Federation Milk Marketing Order Work Group meet at AFBF headquarters in Washington, D.C. NH Farm Bureau member from Coos County Scott Mason, who runs Northwinds Farm in North Stratford is one of three dairy farmers representing the Northeast region. (Photo Credit: AFBF)

We will be meeting through conference calls throughout the summer to look at these issues and others impacting the Federal Orders.  The NHFB Dairy Committee will be meeting to discuss the issue of FMMO as well.  I plan to reach out to the other New England Dairy Committees for similar conversations.  You can follow our progress on the AFBF website: AFBF Federal Milk Marketing Order Reform OverviewLatest research from AFBF

The work group will get back together in September to write a white paper for the AFBF board and policy discussion.

NH Farm Bureau Celebrates National Dairy Month

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!

NH Farm Bureau Members Featured on New HISTORY Series

(Left to Right) Si, Bram, Heather, Jamie, and Nate Robertson. The Robertsons own and operate Bohanan Farm & Contoocook Creamery in Hopkinton, NH. The family are featured in the new HISTORY series ‘The American Farm’ which debuts Thursday, April 4 at 10 PM. Photo courtesy of HISTORY/The American Farm

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.

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NHFB Young Farmer Committee Connects with Legislators Over Breakfast

NHFB Young Farmer Committee Vice-Chair Nicole Glines speaks at the annual Young Farmer Legislative Breakfast, held this year at Pearl & Sons Farm in Loudon.

The New Hampshire Farm Bureau Federation Young Farmer Committee held their annual Legislative Breakfast event at Pearl & Sons Farm in Loudon on Tuesday, March 26. Each spring, the group of agricultural enthusiasts between the ages of 16 and35 invites members of the NH House Environment & Agriculture Committee, federal lawmakers, and other movers and shakers in NH agriculture to join them for a hearty meal and an opportunity to hear concerns facing young farmers across the state.

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Senator Shaheen Hears Farmers’ Concerns Amid Shutdown Fears

Senator Jeanne Shaheen speaks with dairy farmer Jamie Robertson, who along with his family, operates Contoocook Creamery in Hopkinton.

Concord, NH. – New Hampshire’s senior Senator heard from a dozen or so NH farmers and agricultural specialists last Friday at the New Hampshire Farm Bureau Federation (NHFB) office in Concord. Senator Jeanne Shaheen wanted to know how or if the partial government shutdown, now in its third week, is weighing on farmers in the Granite State.

“Right now we aren’t hearing from our members about many problems due to the shutdown, but that could change,” Said NHFB President Denis Ward. Hopkinton dairy farmer Jaime Robertson echoed those sentiments and cautioned, “A lot of it depends on how long this drags out.”

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NH Farm Bureau 102nd Annual Meeting Recap

New Hampshire Farm Bureau Federation Holds
102nd Annual Meeting. New Slate of Officers and
Award Winners Announced

New Hampshire Farm Bureau Federation (NHFB) held its 102nd Annual Meeting on November 2nd and 3rd at the Mountain View Grand Resort in Whitefield, NH. The event, hosted by Coos County Farm Bureau, offered tours of local agricultural operations Fuller’s Sugarhouse and Forbes Dairy Farm, workshops, and competitions all in support of the theme “A Harvest of Farming History”

The culmination of NHFB’s grassroots policy development process occurs during the Meeting of the House of Delegates as part of each year’s Annual Meeting. Delegates, elected by their county Farm Bureau, met the morning of November 3rd to vote on the policies that will guide NHFB’s work in the coming year and to elect a slate of officers for 2019. The elected slate of officers is as follows: Denis Ward of Monroe – President, Joyce Brady of Columbia – 1st Vice President, Matt Scruton of Rochester – 2nd Vice President, Rebecca Stevens of Epsom – 2nd Vice President, Howard Pearl of Loudon – Treasurer.

The Annual Meeting Banquet, held the evening of November 2nd, recognized outstanding achievements and contributions to agriculture from NHFB members. To view the full list of awards given out that evening, click here.

  • The 102nd Annual Meeting of New Hampshire Farm Bureau started off with a farm tour of Fuller's Sugarhouse. Here owner David Fuller explains how sap flows throughout the facility while Stan Knecht looks on.

 

New Hampshire Apple Day Kicks Off Season at Sunnycrest Farm

(Right to left) Governor Chris Sununu joins NH Commissioner of Agriculture Shawn Jasper and Dan Hicks, owner of Sunnycrest Farm in Londonderry, to mark the official start of apple season in New Hampshire.

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.

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NH Eat Local Month 2018

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!

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Agriculture and America’s Pastime

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.

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Dairy Farm Tour Workshop Prepares Farmers to Connect with Consumers

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.

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Safety Program a Success for New Hampshire Farmers

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.”

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Ag Safety Awareness Week: No One Can Take Your Place

Concord, NH – Across the country, county and state Farm Bureaus are making safety a priority through the Agricultural Safety Awareness Program. As part of ASAP, March 4-10 has been designated as Agricultural Safety Awareness Week. U.S. Agricultural Safety and Health Centers will join Farm Bureau in promoting the week with its theme “No One Can Take Your Place.”

A different safety focus will be highlighted by New Hampshire Farm Bureau and U.S. Ag Centers each day of the week:

Monday, March 5 – Hearing
Tuesday, March 6 – Respiratory
Wednesday, March 7 – Impaired Driving
Thursday, March 8 – Fire
Friday, March 9 – General Health

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Bartletts Recognized with NHFB Profile Award

Bill & Heidi Bartlett of Bartlett’s Blueberry Farm in Newport were presented with the prestigious NHFB Profile Award by Seth Wilner at the NHFB 101st Annual Meeting.

Each year, NHFB has the honor of presenting the Profile Award to recognize a New Hampshire person or persons for distinguished service to agriculture and rural life. Nominations for this award come from County Farm Bureau Board of Directors and are judged by a panel of past Profile Award winners.

The 2017 Profile Award was presented to Bill & Heidi Bartlett of Bartlett Blueberry Farm in Newport, NH. Bill & Heidi Bartlett purchased what is now Bartlett’s Blueberry Farm in Newport in 1985 and have continued its growth as a successful farm and business for over 30 years. Beyond that, their contributions to the community have been just as important as their dedication to agriculture.

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