From the NH Farm Bureau - please call your state representative and let them know we need a Department of Agriculture in NH!
In a surprise development last Wednesday a floor amendment was offered in the Senate to SB 132, a study bill. The action establishes a Commission directed with developing implementation plans for merging: the Department of Cultural Resources, the Department of Agriculture, Markets and Food, the Department of Fish and Game, the Division of Parks and Recreation, and the Division of Forests and Lands into a newly established Department of Natural and Cultural Resources.
Farm Bureau policy strongly supports an autonomous Department of Agriculture, Markets and Food. The House Executive Departments and Administration Committee has scheduled a public hearing on SB 132 for Thursday, April 23, 11:00 a.m. in Room 306 of the Legislative Office Building. Strong attendance is needed at the hearing. If you can not attend the hearing, please call and voice your opposition to the members of the Committee nearest you and to your representative(s).
- Financially the Department pulls its own weight. It sustains itself on a very modest budget. It is in no way a cause of the state’s budget problems.
- Merging the Department would not save the state money. A merger could be used to mask a cut in services.
- Losing the Department undermines the nearly billion dollar agricultural industry in the state ($975,000,000) and the local production of fresh and safe food. The farming industry strongly opposes any change or loss of the Commissioner of Agriculture position. The position and Department are nearly a century old and the Commissioner is a leader and spokesperson for the industry, particularly within state government.
- The Department’s role is more important than ever. It has a series of experienced staffers who are readily accessible to farmers who need the support.
- The Department is home to a long list of important services to agriculture and the general public (consumers)
Agriculture in the state is growing:
- From 2002 - 2007 the number of farms in NH increased 24%, 3,363 to 4,166 (2007 Census of Agriculture)
- From 2002 – 2007 land in farms increased 6%, 444,879 – 517,879 (2007 Census of Agriculture)
- NH is ranked #1 in the nation in percentage of farms having direct sales to consumers (nearly 25%)
- NH is ranked #1 in the nation in percentage of farms with women as principal operators (30%).
Executive Departments and Administration, Room 306, LOB
11:00 a.m. SB 132, establishing a commission to develop implementation plans for merging state agencies and programs to enhance efficiency and lower costs.
Attend the public hearing if you can, but if you can't please call or e-mail the members of the committee nearest you. Phone calls are most effective, but if you need an email address use Who's My Leg? to communicate your opposition to the merger of the Dept of Ag under other departments.
**Is anyone interested in carpooling to Concord this Thursday? Let me know!**
photo courtesy of Leeks 'N' Bounds