NH Department of Agriculture Abruptly Terminated Its Organic Certification Program for Processor/Handler and Livestock Operations
NOFA-NH is shocked and disappointed by the state’s arbitrary and unilateral decision to abruptly terminate its certification program for organic processor/handler and livestock operations. This is a damaging blow to local food production in our state and to the operation of farms who are leading the way towards the most ecologically responsible and healthy ways of raising food.
The Administration’s decision reveals a flagrant disregard for organic farmers’ and their allies’ efforts to restore food self-reliance, regional climate and disaster resilience, and conserve biodiversity, soil, and water quality. These are just a few of the many benefits that organic farming has been bringing to the state, together with its most prominent benefits: optimally healthy, nourishing food, and more robust rural economies. This abrupt decision was made without creating an adequate transition plan or input from impacted stakeholders. It harms both NH farmers and consumers, particularly the customers who rely on locally produced food. At a time when the state should be supporting and encouraging more farmers to transition to healthy soil practices such as those that are inherent in organic farming, we are reducing resources toward this cause. Such a loss poses a dire threat to our state’s ecosystem, agricultural economy, and the preservation of our rural landscape.
Our analysis found that this decision could impact as many as 45 organic farms, processors and handlers that are currently certified by the state as well as those farms that were in the process of transitioning to organic, all of which will be required to contract with a new certifier over the course of the coming year.
We request public debate be initiated regarding the present Administration’s priorities for the Department of Agriculture, Markets and Food. Citizens need to weigh in concerning the need for adequate funding and staffing of the Department - if it is to carry out its function to strengthen healthy food production in New Hampshire and serve the common good.
Sign NOFA-NH's Petition – We welcome institutions and individuals to sign onto a letter to the Governor, Commissioner of Agriculture and Executive Council requesting the following actions be taken immediately:
Adequately fund and staff the NH Department of Agriculture, Markets and Food so that it can remain a certifier in the state, direct ARPA funds to agriculture, and encourage the Department to prioritize their support of NH's organic producers, a cornerstone of any rural economy.
Provide an explanation of why the State Department of Agriculture has been unable to “maintain pace” with the USDA NOP standards and why they failed to notify producers at the start of the application period.
Include all farm membership organizations when soliciting feedback on the use of funds and policy that impacts constituents.
Please sign on with your support by October 17, 2021.