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 was proud to be the first Representative from New Hampshire to serve on the House Agriculture Committee in decades, and honored to be named as a Conferee to the Farm Bill Conference Committee in July 2018. This committee had the task of reconciling the House-passed and Senate-passed Farm Bills into the final 2018 Farm Bill, which was signed into law in December 2018.
In my role on the Conference Committee, I advocated for priorities to be included in the Farm Bill that would benefit small family farms in New Hampshire, rural communities, and vulnerable New Hampshire residents who need food assistance. In addition, I highlighted the importance of working across the aisle to protect New Hampshire’s dairy producers, enhance conservation efforts, invest in USDA-Rural Development and protect the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
I also fought successfully to include key provisions from my legislation, the Homegrown Organic Act of 2017, in the final Farm Bill. One of these provisions removes a separate payment limit for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program Organic Initiative (EQIP-OI), which provides financial assistance to implement environmentally friendly conservation practices for organic producers. Practices administered through EQIP-OI can help improve soil quality and enhance nutrient management, and this provision provides additional financial support to producers who wish to transition to organic. The other provision adjusts the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) by directing the Secretary of Agriculture to establish a “bundle” of conservation practices that is dedicated to organic transition. Both provisions will help decrease our country’s reliance on imports of organic food, which is a win-win for our economy, environment and families nationwide.
Additionally, I was proud to work with Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH) to secure provisions in the Farm Bill to strengthen the Northern Border Regional Commission (NBRC) and expand the reach of the program into Cheshire and Belknap counties. The NBRC has a proven track record of supporting rural development projects that are having a positive impact on communities in northern and western parts of New Hampshire and expanding NBRC’s reach will allow more Granite State communities to grow and thrive.
I also used my role on the Conference Committee to advocate for New Hampshire’s dairy producers, fighting successfully to repeal the flawed Margin Protection Program and replacing it with a program in the Farm Bill that offers flexible options and lower costs for dairy producers.