Photo Credit: Eric Muhr
September 2020 — NOFA-NH thanks Governor Sununu, Commissioner Jasper and the NH Department of Agriculture, Markets and Food for expanding the NH Agriculture COVID-19 Relief Program to include aid for any farmers who have lost revenue or incurred expenses due to COVID-19.
There are two more application periods for the Registered Farm and Expanded Farm Programs. These programs aim to “ease the burden of substantial new COVID-19-related costs like extra cleaning and sanitizing, ensuring social distancing, and lost sales, including $1.5 million for specialty crop producers that had at least $50,000 of 2019 gross sales, and $1 million for all other farms that, during any application period, have incurred average COVID-19-related expenses of at least $500 per month or average COVID-19-related lost sales of at least $1,000 per month.
June 30, 2020 — Board Member Colleen O'Brien and NOFA-NH's Policy Committee members wrote an Op-Ed published in the Concord Monitor which was signed by 12 other organizations.
June 9, 2020 — NOFA-NH and eighteen farms, agriculture and food system organizations signed a letter to Governor Sununu, Agricultural Commissioner Jasper, and the GOFERR Advisory Board, urging reconsideration of the CARES Act eligibility criteria, and the creation of a relief package that benefits all NH farmers, large and small. Read the letter here.
NH agricultural grants will be provided to dairy, fruit, vegetable, and ornamental plant growers in the state, drawing from a $10 million appropriation: $4.5M to dairy farmers, $1.5M to other farmers, and $4M in reserve. Despite written testimony from NOFA-NH based on a community survey of 60 farmers, many of whom indicated negative financial impacts from COVID-19, farms that grossed less than $50,000 in 2019 will not qualify for this aid. The present plan excludes almost 90% of the over 4,100 farms in the Granite State.
Though NOFA-NH understands that a sense of limited funds motivated this decision, we are disappointed with the outcome, and feel it does not reflect the findings of our community survey. NOFA-NH believes that every farm in New Hampshire has inherent cultural, economic, natural resource, and human value, and each contributes to the beloved rural character of the state. Small and mid-size farms are powerful engines for economic development, and can provide for resilience, food security, and ecological health now and in the future. Over time, NOFA-NH hopes that a more holistic analysis of the multi-dimensional values of all of NH's farms will lead to more inclusive policies.
We appreciate the invitation to submit testimony to the GOFERR (Governor’s Office for Emergency Relief and Recovery), the work of the Stakeholder Advisory Board, and invite future opportunities for dialogue.