Become a fan of us on Facebook®

August 20, 2015


New Tool Helps You Take Action

National Farmers Union (NFU) is launching a new online advocacy tool, the NFU Action Center, which will allow users to keep track of key issues affecting family agriculture and rural communities, and take action on these issues with the click of a button.

You will be able to:

  • Stay up-to-date with key issues, bills and votes on Capitol Hill
  • Send pre-written letters to representatives and federal agencies
  • Sign petitions
  • Share stories
  • Tweet at representatives and federal agencies

Take a look at the new NFU Action Center, sign up to become an Advocate of the Family Farmer, try some of the engagements (“Write a letter,” and “Tweet @ your representative”), and spread the word as best as you can! Now is a great time to send a letter to your senators about Country-of-Origin Labeling (COOL). Go directly to the COOL page by clicking here.

Take action today!

back to top

Congratulations to New England Farmers Union Scholarship Winner Ellie Pendleton

Scholarship winner Ellie Pendleton shows Aldermere Amazement.

New England Farmers Union Education Foundation is proud to announce its inaugural scholarship winner for 2015, Ellie Pendleton of Rockport, Maine. Ellie, a New England Farmers Union member, will be a sophomore at the University of Maine, and is pursuing a double major in animal science and education. As a freshman, she worked on the university’s farm milking dairy cattle. She wins a $500 award to help with college expenses.

For the past six years, Ellie has worked at Aldermere Farm, one of the world’s premier breeders of Belted Galloway cattle. The 136-acre farm is owned and managed by Maine Coast Heritage Trust, a statewide land conservation organization dedicated to protecting the scenic beauty, outdoor recreational opportunities, ecological diversity, and working landscapes of the Maine coast.


Ellie raises and shows Belted Galloway cattle, market steers, and lambs, and through her work at Aldermere Farm, she met a boy with special needs. Working with him through the farm’s programs, she saw significant gains in his physical and developmental abilities and she decided she wants to “design and implement an agricultural therapy program for youths with special needs,” according to her application essay.

A 4-H’er, Ellie has attended the Big E in Westfield, Massachusetts, and while there, has connected with young people interested in agriculture from throughout the east coast. “For New England agriculture to grow, a strong agriculture community is needed. Stronger youth connections provides a stronger agriculture community,” she wrote. Well said, Ellie! Congratulations and good luck from all of us at New England Farmers Union!

back to top

A Warm Welcome for Shop Talk at Warm Colors Apiary

New England Farmers Union held a Shop Talk on July 9 at Warm Colors Apiary in South Deerfield. Warm Colors is a beekeeping operation on 80 beautiful acres on the Mill River run by Dan and Bonita Conlon. While Dan has been keeping bees since his childhood, the two started keeping bees there as a full-time business in 2000, and since that time have built their operation to sell honey to retail grocery stores and food co-ops, colleges and universities, select restaurants, through a small shop on the farm, and online. They also breed and sell cold- and disease-resistant Russian queen bees, sell beekeeping equipment, teach beekeeping classes and hold workshops, work with local farmers to bring bees to fields (particularly squash) for pollination, and are involved in many agriculture and pollinator groups locally, state-wide; in the case of Farmers Union, regionally, and nationally. Dan and Bonita were one of the first members of New England Farmers Union when it started up in 2006.

Shop Talks are a way for farmer members to get their comments and concerns heard by Farmers Union, and for nonmembers to get to know what Farmers Union is all about. At the July 9 meeting, 10 attendees discussed many policy issues of concern, with an emphasis on the beekeeping industry, including:

  • Encouraging solar options for farms, nationally, and concern about Massachusetts reducing solar credits.
  • The need to update the pollinator section in New England Farmers Union policy book.
  • Suggestions for honeybee forage opportunities.
  • Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) clarification on exemptions, dates, planning.
  • Worries about FSMA record-keeping, government access to records, and subsequent enforcement and fines/information sharing among agencies.
  • Concern about a virus from bad potato seed infecting tomatoes, other crops.
  • Dams managed for utilities’ benefit, not for agriculture needs (suggestion that Irene mismanagement of dams led to decimation of farm fields).
  • Questions about regulations for farm workers versus processing workers.
  • Concerns about tax on hard cider.

New England Farmers Union thanks Warm Colors Apiary for hosting the event, and business members the Greenfield Farmers Cooperative Exchange, People’s Pint, and Hillside Pizza for donating a gift certificate, beer, and food for the event. If you’d like to host a Shop Talk at your farm, please contact Kate Snyder.

back to top

Farmer Input Will Improve CSP

The Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) is designed to help farmers and ranchers maintain natural resources and adopt conservation practices on agricultural land. Participants earn performance-based payments for these practices, such as cover cropping, highly diversified crop rotations, and managed rotational grazing.

Administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), CSP also provides farmers and ranchers technical assistance to actively manage existing conservation activities, and to implement additional conservation activities on land in agricultural production. Click here to read more.

back to top

Pipeline’s Concerns Outweigh Benefits

The Northeast Energy Direct Pipeline is a project currently being proposed by Kinder Morgan Energy’s subsidiary, the Tennessee Gas Pipeline Co (TGP). The pipeline route would start in Wright, NY, head south to Hancock, Mass., northeast to Northfield, Mass., and then eastward across southern New Hampshire to a hub in Dracut, Mass. The pipeline would bring natural gas from the fracking fields of Pennsylvania to an existing natural gas hub in Dracut.

The hub in Dracut already connects to the Canadian Maritimes, Maine, New Hampshire, and to what TGP describes as developers of liquefied natural gas export projects in New England and Atlantic Canada. Currently most natural gas enters this region from the world market via Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) facilities, arriving there by large LNG tankers. Click here to read more.

back to top

NFU Guest Opinion: The Hoeven-Stabenow COOL Compromise Is The Only Path Forward for Food Labeling

National Farmers Union (NFU) President Roger Johnson explains in a recent Agri-Pulse guest column that, fortunately for all parties involved in the Country-of-Origin Labeling (COOL) dispute at the World Trade Organization (WTO), Sens. John Hoeven, R-North Dakota, Debbie Stabenow, D-Michigan, and a bipartisan group of cosponsors have introduced a COOL compromise bill that both meets our international trade obligations and maintains the integrity of the country-of-origin label.

“The Hoeven-Stabenow compromise is a win-win for everyone involved with the WTO dispute,” says Johnson. “It mandates the development of a clear, strong and honest ‘made in the USA’ label that we know consumers want, and it defangs the WTO ruling by making the law voluntary, not mandatory. Consumers win, producers win, our trading partners win and the WTO ruling becomes a moot point.”

Johnson says that as a direct result of the WTO ruling and the mounting pressure from Canada and Mexico’s unsubstantiated threats, the U.S. House of Representatives recently voted to repeal COOL altogether, despite the fact that consumers have clearly demonstrated their desire to buy locally. Currently, all eyes are on the Senate.

“Thankfully, a strong bipartisan compromise was introduced last week by Senators Hoeven and Stabenow that provides a path forward for COOL,” notes Johnson.

Click here to read more.

back to top

U.S. Poultry Farmers’ Rights Are Under Siege

GUEST BLOG POST By Willie Nelson and Rep. Marcy Kaptur. This originally ran as an editorial in the Washington Post on July 7, 2015.

As Americans, we cherish our rights to speak freely, to assemble peacefully and to address our government representatives without fear of retaliation. But for tens of thousands of America’s poultry farmers, those rights are under siege by the poultry companies that control much of their lives.

In May of 2010, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and then-U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder traveled to Alabama for a hearing examining abuses and anticompetitive practices in the poultry industry.

Poultry farmers at this and similar events described a widespread culture of fear. Growers reported retaliation in the form of canceled contracts, substandard chicks and feed, unannounced audits, rigged prices and expensive upgrade requirements if they chose to speak publicly or to their congressional representatives, or to organize with fellow growers to defend their interests. Click here to read more.

back to top

America’s Farm Organizations Must Step Forward to Meet Demographic Challenges

GUEST BLOG POST By Roger Johnson, President, National Farmers Union

Oftentimes, it’s not until life presents us with new obstacles that we reassess the situation, discover untapped resources, unused talent or new approaches that could be harnessed to meet the challenge. The lack of abundant rainfall for farming certain crops, for example, has led to the development of drip irrigation systems and new cultivars that have much lower water requirements.

Areas of the nation once considered too dry for corn are now part of the Corn Belt, and locales where once only cactus grew are now producing citrus. One of the greatest challenges facing modern American agriculture, however, is its own demographics, with the average age of the nation’s 3.2 million farm operators at 58 years old and rising daily.

Click here to read more.

back to top

Northeast Regional Climate Hub Vulnerability Assessment Published

GUEST BLOG POST By David Hollinger, Northeast Hub Lead; Howard Skinner, Northeast Hub Co-Lead; Christopher Swanston, Northern Forests Sub Hub Lead

The Northeast Regional Climate Hub covers Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia. The Northern Forests Climate Sub Hub shares this footprint and represents people working and living in the forests of the Northeast.

About 21 percent of land in these 12 states is farmland (6 percent of national total), and 62 percent is classified as timberland (total land area covered by trees is somewhat larger). The northeastern United States is home to about 175,000 farms that collectively produce agricultural commodities worth more than $21 billion per year. The most important commodities in the Northeast are dairy production and poultry, and about half of the field crops (including pasture) grown in the Northeast are for animal feed. Horticulture is a relatively large portion of total plant production in the Northeast, as are perennial fruits such as apples, pears, blueberries, and cranberries. Farms in the Northeast are on average smaller than in many other parts of the country, and a greater percentage of these are operated by women than in the rest of the United States. Organic production is relatively greater than in most other regions.

Click here to read more.

back to top

Member Profile: Monadnock Food Co-op

Monadnock Food Co-op is a recent addition to Keene, NH, and a business member of New England Farmers Union. We wanted to learn more about this thirving food co-operative, so we posed some questions to Emerald Levick, who joined the co-op’s staff as Marketing and Membership Manager this spring.

What is the mission of the Monadnock Food Co-op?
The Monadnock Food Co-op is co-operatively owned and operated by people in our community, and exists to meet our community’s need for:
•    An accessible, community-owned downtown food market
•    A marketplace that welcomes and connects community
•    A healthy, sustainable food system
•    The support of local farmers and producers
•    Appropriate education and training for the community
•    A strong, sustainable, and improving local economy

How long has it been in existence?
The Monadnock Food Co-op incorporated in April 2010 and opened its grocery store on April 3, 2013.

What’s one of the biggest challenges it faces?
Communicating that we’re much more than a grocery store — a hub for local, natural and organic food, health, and community.

What do you enjoy most about this work?
I enjoy supporting our local suppliers in their growth and engaging and educating our customers on the topic of food. Food affects and is affected by so many parts of our lives, from health to finances, from politics to pleasure, from the environment to social inequity. The food system is fascinating and flawed, but there is so much positive momentum in so many areas, we can’t help but celebrate the work we are able to do, making the world a better place through our food choices.

How do you connect with farmers?
We carry locally grown produce from 45 farms. Many items are purchased directly from the farmers. We hold farm tours for our shoppers, invite farmers to table at our store, and often share what we learn from them through blog posts and in-store materials.

What concerns you about the future of farming?
The supply and distribution of locally grown food. As demand grows, how do we ensure farms and distribution methods are financially viable and environmentally sustainable, and prices are accessible to people with lower income?

What would you like to see as the future of agriculture in New England?
More collaboration and coordination at the regional level, as well as policies that support both the style of agriculture as it is conducted in New England, but also those that support access for all to the healthiest foods, rather than processed commodity items.

How does your membership in New England Farmers Union benefit you? Or, why are you a member?
New England Farmers Union helps us keep our fingers on the pulse of political action that affects the local farms we depend upon, and who depend upon us. It gives us the opportunity to raise our collective voices in their favor, and in our own. We are well aware that we can collectively work towards a more robust local food system in the way that seems to make most sense for our region, but well-meaning laws from all areas of our government can put an end to our work overnight if we do not raise our voices to fully inform those creating such laws about their potential consequences in the food system as it works here.

back to top

Farmer and Mediator Helps NH Farmers With Land Access and Farm Transfer

Cara Cargill, NH Field Agent

To further its farmland access, tenure and transfer work in New Hampshire, Land For Good (LFG), announced that NH-native Cara Cargill, of Holderness, joined the organization as its Field Agent in NH. Land For Good is a New England-wide nonprofit based in Keene whose mission is to put more farmers more securely on more land.

Securing affordable, high-quality farmland is a challenge that Cargill fully appreciates after spending several years searching for a suitable horse farm in New Hampshire. With extensive training and a graduate degree in mediation (Woodbury Institute at Champlain College), she also works as the Outreach Coordinator and mediator for the New Hampshire Agricultural Mediation Program (NHAMP).

More farms are sprouting up across the state. Though the total number of farms in the U.S. has decreased by 4.3% since 2007, NH has seen an increase of 5.4% (Census of Agriculture) in farms and farmland. NH ranks among the top 5 states in the U.S. as percentage of farms selling directly to retailers. Click here to read more.

back to top

Washington Corner

Read a roundup of August news from the capitol.
From National Farmers Union.

back to top

Welcome New Farmers Union Members

Farm Members
Firelight Farm
Fat Peach Farm
Hapberly Farms

Business Members
Squash, Inc
Wellspring House
A-1 Infared Technologies
Hillside Organic Pizza
The People’s Pint

Individual Members
Benjamin DeLanty
Sheila Whitney
Sally Carlson Crowell
Elliott Pendleton
Jonathan Magee
Emily Mason
John Snyder

Tools for Growth

Check out our resources page, full of programs and services to help producers in our region. Here are upcoming educational programs that might interest you.

Live Free and Farm: Food and Independence in the Granite State
An ebook written by NEFU Member and UNH Professor John Carroll which “paints a picture of New Hampshire as it has been and as it can be: a more self-sufficient and independent state fed more by its own farmers, gardeners and fishers, and thus a healthier state – physically, economically and politically.”

Vermont Open Farms
A resource for farmers on Agritourism.

Young Farmers
A resource page with trainings organized by state.

back to top

Upcoming Events

Please check the calendar on the New England Farmers Union website. We will post information about events that we will attend, and events that are of interest to our members. Please send along information if you have an event you would like us to post.

Sixth Annual Convention of New England Farmers Union
Gearing Up for Change in New England Agriculture
November 6-8 • Grappone Conference Center
Concord, NH

Berkshire Grown’s 17th Annual Harvest Supper September 21 • Great Barrington, MA

Barley Fest October 3 • Hadley, MA

Fall Farm Festival at Just Roots October 11 • Greenfield, MA

NESAWG’s It Takes A Region Conference November 12-14 • Saratoga Springs, NY

back to top

Click here to visit our E-News Archive.

join | donate | contact | Copyright © 2014 NewEnglandFarmersUnion.org. All rights reserved. NEFU is an equal opportunity provider and employer.