Promoting Local Agriculture and Rural Development
In New Hampshire, the agricultural industry contributes nearly one billion dollars to our local economy every year. With over 400,000 acres of land across the Granite State devoted to everything from timber operations and greenhouses to dairy farms and apple orchards, agriculture is an integral part of our landscape and history. I am excited to bring this unique perspective to Congress, and I am proud to be the first Representative from New Hampshire to serve on the House Agriculture Committee in decades. The Agriculture Committee has spent most of the 114th Congress conducting hearings for the next five-year Farm Bill, and I was proud to bring a Northeast perspective to the Agriculture committee. The programs authorized by this bill are essential to supporting our farmers and agricultural producers, providing nutrition assistance to families in need, and protecting our environment. As the Committee moves closer to drafting a Farm Bill, it is imperative that we support programs that help our local and organic farmers, expand farm-to-school initiatives, and strengthen the safety net for growers of fresh fruit, vegetables, and other specialty crops.
I believe that through the Farm Bill and other programs, the federal government can play an important role in supporting the resurgence of local agriculture that we are seeing in New Hampshire. I have been working with Republicans and Democrats in Congress to make improvements to the next Farm Bill so that it works for New Hampshire farmers—not just big agribusiness.
Supporting our farmers and foresters is an important part of supporting our rural communities and encouraging economic development in the North Country. I fought to include a provision in the 2014 Farm Bill that will develop a strategy for how we can better use USDA Rural Development programs to support rural community colleges. This amendment helped Lebanon College secure a $1.6 million loan awarded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and reopen its doors to hundreds of students in August 2015. I also support expanding Rural Development programs that help bring broadband access to our rural communities, promote the use of money-saving renewable energy technologies, and maintain critical infrastructure.
To strengthen our agricultural economy in New Hampshire, I am taking the following steps:
- Supporting New Hampshire Dairy Farmers: Over the past several years, New Hampshire’s dairy industry has faced significant challenges that threaten the future of our agricultural landscape for years to come. In 2016, New Hampshire lost 19 dairy farms as a result of low milk prices, market instability and a record drought that strained feed production and increased feed costs. As a Member of the Agriculture Committee, I have called on the USDA to implement a state-by-state average feed cost formula for farmers enrolled in the Dairy Margin Protection Program, which is intended to act as a safety net during hard times. In addition, I have called on USDA to lift a funding prohibition that prevents USDA from providing emergency support to dairy farmers who are close to shutting their doors. As the committee moves closer to the next Farm Bill, supporting Granite State dairy producers will be a top priority of mine
- Protecting Access to Nutrition Assistance: I have been a tireless advocate for increasing access to fresh, nutritious food for families in New Hampshire. During debate on the Farm Bill, I spoke in support of funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which provides assistance to help low-income families purchase food. I also spoke out against a reckless bill that would have devastated this program. In addition, I am a strong supporter of programs that allow nutrition assistance to be used at farmers markets, which helps low-income families and also supports the farmers in our communities.
- Supporting Responsible Forestry: New Hampshire has a unique understanding of the need to conserve our environment while also responsibly harvesting our timber resources to support the economic vitality of the North Country. As a member of the Subcommittee on Conservation, Energy, and Forestry, I support legislation that will increase opportunities for the sale and use of forest products. I am a cosponsor of the Forest Products Fairness Act (H.R. 979), which would include forest products in the USDA’s preferential purchasing program for bio-based goods. In addition, I am a cosponsor of legislation that would fix the “fire borrow” problem within the U.S. Forest Service, which occurs when the Forest Service exhausts all firefighting funding and must “borrow” from non-fire accounts to pay for suppression activities.
To better advocate for New Hampshire agricultural producers and rural communities, I have joined the Congressional Dairy Farmers Caucus, the Specialty Crops Caucus, the Organic Caucus, the Healthy Forests Caucus, and the Rural Caucus.
More on Promoting Local Agriculture and Rural Development
Kuster speaks to participants at Farm Bill listening session in Boscawen, NH
Tomorrow, August 16th at 3:00 PM at the University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension Office in Boscawen, Congresswoman Annie Kuster (NH-02) invites local farmers, foresters, conservationists and other stakeholders to join her to discuss the 2018 Farm Bill and hear their thoughts about this critical legislation. The Farm Bill, which is reauthorized every five years by Congress, covers programs related to agriculture, such as nutrition, conservation, forestry, and rural development.
Last week, we learned that in a conversation with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, President Trump said that he won New Hampshire because “New Hampshire is a drug-infested den.”
(Washington, DC) – This week, Congresswoman Annie Kuster (NH-02) introduced the Homegrown Organic Act of 2017, a bill that will modify three existing conservation programs to incentivize farmers who wish to transition to organic agriculture. Organic agriculture is the fastest growing sector of the U.S. food industry, with demand for sales far exceeding the domestic supply. This legislation aims to boost American production of organic products by assisting farmers who are working towards USDA Organic Certification, a process that can take up to three years.
(Washington, DC) – Congresswoman Annie Kuster (NH-02) applauded yesterday’s announcement of a $25 million dollar loan from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development Program to North Country Growers in Berlin to construct a 20 acre greenhouse to grow lettuce and tomatoes. Kuster supported the application for the grant.
This week President Trump released his proposed budget for 2018. Let me tell you, it’s left me very concerned about his priorities and the potential impact it could have on hard working Granite State families. His preliminary budget proposal is simply a disaster for our economy, environment, and for seniors; just to name a few. This budget proposal should raise red flags for anyone who wants to grow our middle class, create good paying jobs, protect human health and our environment, and fight climate change.
(Washington, DC) – Congresswoman Annie Kuster (NH-02) released the following statement on President Trump’s proposal to eliminate the Northern Border Regional Commission (NBRC). The NBRC is critical in helping spur economic growth and community development projects in New Hampshire’s North Country and throughout rural parts of the Northeast:
(Washington, DC) – Congresswoman Annie Kuster (NH-02) released the following statement on the preliminary budget proposal released by President Trump for Fiscal Year 2018:
A high resolution version of the photo is available here