Congresswoman Ann McLane Kuster

Representing the 2nd District of New Hampshire
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During visit to Litchfield farm, Kuster Announces New Bipartisan Bill to Improve Access to Farm Conservation Programs

Wednesday, July 20, 2016 - 10:00am

The “Improving Access to Farm Conservation Act” would cut regulation, increase savings for farmers seeking to access federal conservation programs

Litchfield, NH – This morning, Congresswoman Annie Kuster (NH-02) joined with local farmers, state officials, and other agriculture leaders to announce the introduction of her bipartisan Improving Access to Farm Conservation Act during a visit to Normanton Grass-fed Beef in Litchfield. Kuster’s bill would cut red tape and increase savings for local farms like Normanton’s by improving access to farm conservation programs administered through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). 

“New Hampshire has a proud history of farming and conservation, and I was pleased to visit Normanton’s farm today to discuss my bipartisan legislation, which will help our local farmers preserve their farmland without sacrificing their bottom line,” said Congresswoman Kuster. “Under the current law, small farmers who organize themselves as a business for tax and liability purposes are unfairly caught up in an annual reporting regulation that is time consuming, difficult to navigate, and costly to comply. My bill would lift this burdensome regulation, ensuring that small farmers are not unduly harmed by the current annual reporting statutes. I thank Congressman Rick Crawford for joining me in the introduction of our bill, and I thank Steve Normanton for giving us a tour of his farm and outlining exactly why this bill is so important to small farms like his.”

Kuster’s bill would reform a current law that inadvertently prevents many small farmers from participating in programs with cost-share payments, which help farmers afford the cost of implementing conservation measures.  It would lift burdensome regulations that act as a barrier to entry for NRCS contracts. 

During today’s visit to Normanton’s, Kuster toured the farm and heard directly from Steve Normanton and Rick Ellsmore, from the Natural Resources Conservation Services, about how her bill would help local farmers. Kuster was also joined on the tour by Jennifer Gornnert, the Director of the Division of Regulatory Service with N.H. Department of Agriculture, and Roger Noonan, the President of the New England Farmers Union.

A member of the House Agriculture Committee, Kuster has long fought for measures to help New Hampshire’s small farming industry. In 2014, Kuster successfully fought against federal rules that would have placed burdensome regulations on small New Hampshire farms and forced many out of business. Kuster’s Improving Access to Farm Conservation Act would similarly remove red tape for farmers and help them more easily access federal resources to boost their success.