KEENE, N.H. — On Monday, November 16, 2020, the Monadnock Farm and Community Coalition (MFCC) and the NH Food Alliance invite NH residents to join us for, “2020 NH Agricultural Policy forum” — an online event highlighting the efforts of advocates who have been working hard throughout this challenging year on policy supportive of agriculture.
The importance of locally grown food to our health, well-being, and local economies has never been more evident than during the COVID-19 pandemic. Fears around the instability of large-scale food production resulted in a sharp rise in sales of locally grown farm products at farm stands and CSA shares. But for those farms who don’t use these wholesale distribution channels, this year has been particularly challenging. Some predict the shutdown will result in the loss of farms, especially those who were struggling before, despite COVID-19 relief funding.
“NH farms were under pressure to make ends meet long before COVID-19,” according to MFCC Director, Roe-Ann Tasoulas. “With a short growing season, low prices and demand for dairy, and unpredictable weather impacting size and quality of harvest, many farmers scramble to make ends meet – including holding part-time jobs. The pandemic put pressure on an already stressed situation making farmers struggle to find debt relief, new distribution points – anything to keep their heads above water.” Tasoulas continues, “In our future, do we want to rely on food shipped from other regions, grown in ways that may or not be sustainable, or will our lawmakers buy in to the economic, physical, and environmental benefits of locally grown products and get behind policies that support the health of our farms, consumers, and communities?”
Such as policies that address: the impact of the pandemic and drought on the fiscal health of farms; land use, farm practices, crop and livestock production, and water regulation that support a more robust and sustainable agricultural future; making locally grown food more readily available to all residents through school cafeterias and government programs, as well as other priorities.
During the online forum, representatives from the NH State House Environment & Agriculture committee, NH Farm Bureau, and NH Food Alliance policy teams: Climate Resilience, Land Use, Food Access, and Farm to School will share their priorities in the legislative session and briefs that support a vibrant food system. A limited Q & A will be available during the session; questions not addressed directly will be submitted to representatives post-event and a follow up report will be emailed to audience members.
“The most important takeaway of the forum is to provide stakeholders options to engage with policy in a meaningful way, whether it is by joining a state policy action team, signing up for policy alerts from the NH Farm Bureau, or being better acquainted with lawmakers in Concord working on behalf of agriculture,” says Tasoulas. “In this very powerless time in history, there is nothing more empowering than working towards real solutions in our future.”
To find out more and to register, go to: https://2020nhpolicyforum.
The Monadnock Farm and Community Coalition is a coalition of 140 member organizations who come together regularly to build a sustainable local food system by cultivating community action and building collaboration to implement effective programs, projects, and policies.
The NH Food Alliance aims to influence and shape the future of our emerging local food economy to build a food system that works for all in New Hampshire: people, businesses, communities, and the environment.
–Monadnock Farm and Community Coalition
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