Building Capacity in Agricultural Service Providers to Support Farmers in Regulations, Rules, and Legal Compliance

Final report for NENH14-001

Project Type: PDP State Program
Funds awarded in 2014: $44,322.00
Funds awarded in 2015: $44,103.00
Funds awarded in 2016: $45,436.00
Projected End Date: 10/31/2017
Grant Recipient: University of New Hampshire
Region: Northeast
State: New Hampshire
State Coordinator:
Seth Wilner
UNH Cooperative Extension
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Project Information

Summary:

Building skills to understand and deliver programs to farmers about laws affecting agriculture emerged as one of the top two areas of interest among NH agricultural service providers in two needs assessment surveys administered in 2014 – one to UNH Cooperative Extension personnel and one to other NH agricultural organizations. As such, building skills to provide assistance to farmers in legal topics became the focus of this project.

A team consisting of adult education specialists, an evaluation specialist, two agricultural educators, the SARE PDP Regional Coordinator and the NH SARE PDP Director developed an effective educational program, and 18 participants enrolled in the project. Fifteen of these participants were from UNHCE, one was from NCAT ATTRA and two were from Sweet Beet Farm.  By project’s completion, several staff had retired or departed, two new staff joined the project, and the non-profit staff departed. Third year participants numbered 15, which is two less than our performance target. 

Attorneys consulting on the project completed a 15-chapter NH Legal Guide for Agricultural Producers. Service provider participants learned how to understand the laws in this guide and interpret them for farmers via Moodle classroom resources, in-person workshops and individualized assistance from the project team. Participants, working independently or in teams, selected chapters of the guide, developed a strong understanding of the laws within their chapter(s) and created fact sheets for growers based on the guide content. Armed with new knowledge, skills and resources, the service providers became more confident to assist farmers and their colleagues about laws affecting agriculture and people to contact for guidance.

Sixteen agriculture service providers participants responded to a Year 2 verification survey and 15 were interviewed at the close of the project. After reading, digesting, and summarizing the 15 chapters that comprise the NH Legal Guide for Agricultural Producers, 15 service providers reported assisting 121 farmers in the second year of the project and 623 producers in the third year. To do this, program participants increased their confidence in addressing and educating producers on legal issues, increased their knowledge of the legal topics they self-selected to learn, and increased their awareness of resources to assist them and the producers with whom they worked. The service providers reported using new knowledge learned through this project in a variety of ways including in 38 fact sheets or educational tools, 41 webinars, talks and presentations, 14 workshops and in 297 consultations.

The project was not a smooth effort start to finish, and we ran into numerous obstacles and challenges.  The lawyers we worked with got back logged and one had family issues, which prevented timely completion of guide chapters and edits. Participants’ fear of not being able to understand the content of some chapters also came to fruition.  This would not have been such a large obstacle had the lawyers been available to provide edification, but this wasn’t the case always. With that said, some participants took initiative and researched legal aspects of chapter by contacting state officials or utilizing other resources and other lawyers.  This was a positive impact of the obstacles we faced.

Unplanned accomplishments also occurred. Over $19,000 was raised from supporters to pay for additional chapters, alternative lawyers, and graphic design services.  Additionally, this project helped to leverage a $37,500 Northeast Risk Management grant, legal chapters sponsored by a UVM Labor Management USDA-AFRI grant, and is a foundation resource for a $49,800 Northeast Risk Management grant on legal education for farmers.

Performance Target:

Seventeen agricultural service providers, who gain knowledge and skills in agricultural regulations related to their areas of expertise and focus, design and deliver educational programs and consultations to 150 farmers who manage 7,500 acres, including but not limited to workshops, webinars, presentations, fact sheets/other educational materials, and individual consultations.

Introduction:

Building legal skills to advise farmers about regulations, rules and legal compliance emerged as a key topic of interest among NH agricultural service providers in 2014.  Over 30 service providers completed two needs assessment surveys, one administered to UNH Cooperative Extension personnel and one to external NH agricultural organizations. In both surveys, agricultural laws and regulations for producers emerged as one of the top topic areas for agricultural service providers to build skills to assist farmers.

Agricultural laws were a subject of choice in the needs assessment because Cooperative Extension, non-profits and state agencies had been increasingly receiving requests from producers for assistance. Yet there was a dearth of resources and capacity to assist these producers. Given this resource and capacity gap, and the broad audience to which building skills in legal topics had relevance and applicability, this topic was selected as the focus of this three-year program.  

An informal advisory group consisting of agency department heads in the NH Department of Agriculture Markets and Food, staff in NH Farm Bureau, and a tax planner from Farm Credit East helped make decisions on data analysis and program topics for inclusion in the curriculum. The goal of this project was to address the growing need to help producers both understand the regulations they needed to comply with, and in many cases, how to comply.

Advisors/Cooperators

Click linked name(s) to expand
  • Chuck Bagley
  • Janet McAllister
  • Olivia Saunders
  • Dr. Julien Kouame
  • Faye Cragin
  • Pam Bruss
  • Amy Ouellette

Educational Approach

Educational approach:

Our educational approach featured three parts: 1) Hire lawyers and professionals with expertise in agricultural rules and regulations to put together a legal guide on subjects in which agricultural service providers were being asked to assist producers, 2)Use this trusted resource as a learning tool to empower agricultural professionals to select the subjects they desired to gain knowledge and their build skills, and form teams consisting of the people who selected each topic, and 3) Have each team learn the subjects they selected and have team megrant

 

Milestones

Milestone #1 (click to expand/collapse)
What beneficiaries do and learn:

Year 1 Milestone Accomplishments

Proposed Completion Date:
October 31, 2015
Status:
In Progress
Accomplishments:

YEAR One (October 1, 2014 – September 30, 2015)

  1. Winter 2015. Twenty beneficiaries will access videos and written content housed in a Moodle classroom to increase their awareness and understanding of the primary NH Department of Agriculture and NH Health and Human Services agricultural regulations that the agencies feel are the most important for farmers to know and comply with.
  2. Winter 2015. Twenty beneficiaries will participate in a live interactive webinar to increase their knowledge about the primary NH Department of Agriculture and the NH Health and Human Services agricultural regulations that the agencies feel are the most important for farmers to know and comply with.
  3. Winter 2015. Twenty beneficiaries attend a day-long interactive workshop taught by NH state officials and other legal experts to build on the knowledge gained through the interactive webinars and review of the Moodle classroom materials. Beneficiaries will increase their knowledge through interactive learning activities, lectures, and questions. 
  4. Winter/Spring 2015. Twenty beneficiaries will attend a live interactive webinar to process the information they gained from the in-person session, and to learn about educational materials regarding top priority NH state regulations and rules available for use in their work with farmers, including templates, PowerPoints, and/or videos.
  5. Spring/Summer 2015. Seventeen agricultural service providers will conduct workshops or farmer consultations informing NH producers about how to comply with some or all of these primary state regulations and rules.

Description of milestone accomplishments: 

This project became far more complex and difficult than was realized during the planning phase.  Becoming clear on the relevant laws farmers needed to understand and translating that into effective, correct, and precise educational tools was a time consumptive, difficult challenge.  The first year of the project was devoted entirely to these endeavors.  We now have 15 videos and a written legal guide ready to educate agricultural service providers in NH.  Another five videos and accompanying chapters are in the works as well.  We have forged effective working relationships with the NH. Department of Agriculture, Markets and Food, and the NH Department of Health and Human Services.  Additionally, we have forged an effective relationship with a highly skilled agricultural law attorney.

Despite being behind in our efforts, I feel very confident that we can do the training and still accomplish our performance target in the time we have left on this grant project. 

Milestones for Years Two and Three were revised from those in the original plan to reflect the revised educational approach adopted for the project.

Milestone #2 (click to expand/collapse)
What beneficiaries do and learn:

Year 2 Milestone Accomplishments

Proposed Completion Date:
October 31, 2016
Status:
In Progress
Accomplishments:

Year Two (October 1, 2015 – September 30, 2016)

  1. Fall 2015 – Legal Guide for NH Farmers is completed for the first 13 chapters identified as priority topic areas by farmers. – Successfully complete. Chapters have been updates by educators and have been expanded.  Additionally, more chapters have been developed.

 

  1. Winter 2016 – UNH Cooperative Extension Program Planning Team meets to develop curriculum, pedagogy, and evaluation methods and tools. Team consists of Adult Education Specialist (Chuck Bagley), IT Distance Learning Specialist (Faye Cragin), Assistant Ag Educator (Pam Bruss), Regional Ag Field Specialist and Assistant-SARE Coordinator (Oliva Saunders), Regional Ag Field Specialist and SARE Coordinator (Seth Wilner), and  Evaluation Specialist (Julien Kouame).  Guest appearance by SARE PDP Coordinator Janet McAllister.  – Successfully complete

Our program model consists of gathering the participants (comprised of Extension, and non-profit agricultural service providers) for an in-person kick-off event.  Prior to this event, participants will: 1) receive an abstract of chapters in the brand new NH Legal Guide for farmers, and 2) using these abstracts, identify 2 or 3 farmers with whom they will work to address topics contained in the Legal Guide, and 3) Complete a survey to measure their knowledge, skills, trepidations and attitudes on agricultural law and working with farmers in this topic area. This will serve as a base-line from which we will measure growth and change.

At the training event, the participants will select at least one chapter in which they desire to build their expertise. The participants will learn how to use a Moodle Classroom that has been set up for them.  Likewise, they will meet their fellow participants to forge a network of agricultural service providers with whom they will be working to increase their knowledge of agricultural laws.

Finally, participants will be given a survey tool to take to the farmers with whom they will be working. This will serve as a tool to collect farmer baseline data. 

  1. Spring 2016 20 agricultural service providers participate in an in-person kickoff event utilizing the curriculum described above in milestone seven. The participants will leave with an increased understanding of the program expectations, an increased understanding of the legal topics they select to delve into, a timeline and action plan for completion of fact sheets, and team building. The beneficiaries will also increase their awareness of what materials exist for them to use in their educational efforts with farmers regarding top priority NH state regulations and rules.  

Complete. Twenty-three agricultural service providers participated the in-person kickoff workshop on May 10, 2016. Participants formed into 13 teams for creating fact sheets and developed action plans for their group’s work.

Pre-Program Survey

Before the kickoff event, participants responded to a pre-program survey that asked the following questions:

  1. Below is a list of legal topics impacting farmers in NH. Which of these topics, if any, would be valuable for farmers in your area to gain a better practical knowledge of, to improve the operation of their farming business?
  • Legal Business Structures
  • Contracts and Agreements
  • Labor Law
  • Environmental Law
  • Water Law
  • Dealing with Legal Disputes
  • Planning and Zoning
  • Animal Management and Welfare
  • There are no areas of law farmers require a greater practical knowledge of, to improve the operation of their farming business
  • Comments/Other Topics
  1. In few words, describe the attitudes and perceptions of the farmers you usually work with to becoming more legally compliant
  2. As an agriculture service provider, what concerns, fears, apprehensions, challenges and/or barriers do you have about facilitating farmer’s legal education in the field?
  3. As an agriculture service provider, what concerns, fears, apprehensions, challenges and barriers do you think farmers have about legal compliance?
  4. How comfortable are you educating farmers on legal topics?

Very comfortable —1 ——2——3——4——5——6—–7—Not at all comfortable

5. How confident are you with your knowledge about state and federal farming regulations?

Very confident —1 ——2——3——4——5——6—–7—Not at all confident

6. What would be the best way to communicate or educate your farmers on legal compliance?

  • One-on-one conversation
  • Email
  • Online information
  • Others (Please list): _______________________________________

This results of the survey were used to prioritize the chapters of a legal guide and the skill building to deliver education to farmers. The highlights of the survey showed that confidence in knowledge of legal the legal topics that participants identified as important to farmers ranged widely from not at all confident to somewhat confident.  There were zero responses for very confident.  Participants also has a wide range in their comfort teaching legal issues to farmers. The majority of participants were uncomfortable teaching this subject to farmers.

The major challenges that participants identified included simply deciphering legal writing to know what a law says and means, fear of touching the subject, resistance by farmers to hearing about laws, politics, and being shut down.

Concerns and fears that participants identified mirrored the challenges and included: too complicated, interpretation of the law, too many regulations to learn, feeling overwhelmed by the project, limited time, and limited knowledge.

The participants also expressed concerns about their own liability if they misinterpreted a law, were incorrect in explaining the laws, the accuracy of any legal resources that were generated, and that they couldn’t know everything.  

The following quotes exemplified these feelings and perceptions:

  • I would hesitate to help unless I was certain I understood the law in question – I could make things worse if I get it wrong.
  • Give a wrong legal advice
  • Getting the right info to the right producers
  • I don’t want to be the reason people don’t comply correctly

Workshop Description

After a review of the survey results and a discussion of strategies and resources to assist the agricultural service providers, all went around the room and signed up to increase their knowledge and provide outreach to farmers on legal topics of their choosing.

The group was encouraged to sign up for no more than 2 topics, although some signed up for 3 or 4 topics.  A template sheet to guide group meetings and achieve outcomes was handed out.

Each topic offered had a corresponding chapter in a legal guide that was created in the first year of the project.  Although these were not fully complete, they were in solid draft form.

  1. Summer 2016 – Twenty Participants work in their self-selected teams to increase their understanding of the regulations they chose to study. The 20 participants utilize a Moodle forum to discuss questions, increase their knowledge, and ultimately develop a one to two page fact sheet on their topic.  The fact sheets will have at least the following information:  1) To whom the regulation applies, 2) A synthesis of the rules, 3) Actions farmers can take to be in compliance, 4) Where to turn for additional information, and 5) The oversight agency in charge of compliance.

In Progress. The Moodle forum is established, participants have formed teams and begun work on their fact sheets. Some teams have finished their fact sheets while others are still in progress.  All teams have made substantial progress.

  1. Summer 2016 – Attorney Amy Manzelli, NH Department of Agriculture, Markets and Food Division of Regulatory Services Director Jennifer Gournert, NH Department of Health and Human Services Director Colleen Smith, and a NH Department of Labor Inspector will review the fact sheets created by the educators to make sure they are factually correct and touched on the major points.

In Progress. Several chapters have been reviewed, additional chapters have been submitted and are awaiting review.

  1. Summer 2016 – Twenty program participants work with one to three farmers each to build the farmers’ knowledge about selected regulations and how to comply with these primary.  

Progress Note: Sixteen participants who responded to a verification survey in December 2016 reported they have worked with 121 farmers to help them build their knowledge and/or address legal concerns on their farms. More information about the participants’ actions working with farmers is reported in the performance target outcomes narrative below.

  1. Late summer/Early Fall 2016 – Twenty agricultural service providers attend an in-person session. At this session each team will present the fact sheets they developed.  This will serve to increase the participants’ ability to educate peers and farmers on the regulations they selected as well as to build the knowledge of all participants on the 13 regulations currently comprising the NH Legal Guide for Farmers.  They will leave the session with the ability to educate farmers about more topics than those they studied themselves.

Progress Note.  We have been unable to find a common date to hold this educational event. As such our project management team held a meeting to re-plan how the project moves forward.  Instead of trying to get all 17 to 20 participants in the same room at the same time, we are looking at alternative models to address this.  No final conclusions have been reached at the time of this report.    

Milestone #3 (click to expand/collapse)
What beneficiaries do and learn:

In Year 3, the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) become a topics of growing concern and interest to farmers and to agricultural service providers. Learning activities focused on this law and related food safety issues were added to the project.

1. Fall of 2017. 3 ag service providers will take a Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point Certification Training (HACCP). These educators will increase their knowledge and skills in developing compliant value added processing plans for farms.

Proposed number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who will participate:
3
Actual number of farmer beneficiaries who participated:
11
Actual number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who participated:
4
Proposed Completion Date:
October 31, 2017
Status:
Completed
Date Completed:
August 18, 2017
Accomplishments:

All four participants thereafter worked with 11 farmers and an additional 5 agricultural business owners to help these people write value-added processing plans that were compliant with FSMA Preventive Controls for Human Food Rule.  Two of these educators also worked with NH Farm Bureau to write newsletter articles that reached hundreds of growers across the state.

Milestone #4 (click to expand/collapse)
What beneficiaries do and learn:

Beneficiaries will access videos and written content housed in a Moodle classroom to increase their awareness and understanding of the federal Food Safety Modernization Act.

Proposed number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who will participate:
20
Actual number of farmer beneficiaries who participated:
144
Actual number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who participated:
11
Proposed Completion Date:
February 28, 2017
Status:
Completed
Date Completed:
February 28, 2017
Accomplishments:

Voiced-over PowerPoints and On-line decision-making tools were developed for both growers and ag service providers alike.  Eleven beneficiaries used these tools to increase their skills. Six of these 11 beneficiaries assisted 144 growers to understand different aspects of FSMA.

Milestone #5 (click to expand/collapse)
What beneficiaries do and learn:

Beneficiaries attend a day-long interactive workshop taught by NH state officials and other legal experts to build on the knowledge gained through the interactive webinars and review of the Moodle classroom materials. Beneficiaries increase their knowledge about federal food safety legislation, HACCP plans and other compliance needs for on-farm processing through interactive learning activities, lectures, and questions.

Proposed number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who will participate:
20
Proposed Completion Date:
March 23, 2017
Status:
In Progress
Accomplishments:

Rather than hold a project-facilitated workshop, all  program participants were invited to attend FSMA training events and utilize our on-line resources.  Additionally, FSMA capacity building was integrated into UNHCE Agricultural staff meetings.    

We did reach all 20 program participants through these venues.

Milestone #6 (click to expand/collapse)
What beneficiaries do and learn:

Beneficiaries will attend a live interactive webinar to process the information they gained from the in-person session, and to learn about educational materials regarding HACCP plans and the Food Safety Modernization Act, including templates, PowerPoints, and/or videos.

Proposed number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who will participate:
20
Actual number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who participated:
17
Proposed Completion Date:
April 27, 2017
Status:
Completed
Date Completed:
July 17, 2017
Accomplishments:

Completed but modified: The beneficiaries were shown the on-line materials at several different events, including being sent links to the these educational resources via email.

Milestone #7 (click to expand/collapse)
What beneficiaries do and learn:

Agricultural service providers will conduct workshops or farmer consultations informing NH producers about how to comply with some or all of the Food Safety Modernization Act, HACCP plans and other compliance needs for on-farm processing.

Proposed number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who will participate:
17
Actual number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who participated:
10
Proposed Completion Date:
May 12, 2017
Status:
Completed
Date Completed:
October 19, 2017
Accomplishments:

Ten beneficiaries held workshops or worked one-on-one with farmers to assist them with understanding FSMA and FSMA compliance needs, this included, value-added processing (HACCP) and other on-farm compliance components of FSMA.

Milestone #8 (click to expand/collapse)
What beneficiaries do and learn:

Agricultural service providers will participate in a live interactive webinar to discuss the program and share personal learnings, increasing everyone’s knowledge about personal success stories and farm needs.

Proposed number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who will participate:
17
Actual number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who participated:
17
Proposed Completion Date:
September 21, 2017
Status:
Completed
Date Completed:
September 22, 2017
Accomplishments:

No single common date could be found, so our program team made individual phone calls to compile success stories, outcomes, and future programmatic needs. These needs were used to write an additional grant (NERME) on legal educational needs for farmers.

Milestone #9 (click to expand/collapse)
What beneficiaries do and learn:

Milestones for Teams working together to learn and develop teaching resources for their selected legal chapters.

Proposed number of farmer beneficiaries who will participate:
60
Proposed number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who will participate:
15
Actual number of farmer beneficiaries who participated:
623
Actual number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who participated:
15
Proposed Completion Date:
October 1, 2017
Status:
Completed
Date Completed:
October 1, 2017
Accomplishments:
  1. Fall 2016. Eight new chapters will be added to the NH Legal Guide for Farmers, completing this educational resource. This resource will be hosted on the websites of UNH Cooperative Extension, the NH Department of Agriculture, Markets and Food, NH Farm Bureau, and NOFA-NH.  It will be available for downloading and advertised to farmers. The new chapters that have been identified include:
  • A checklist for hiring farm labor in NH, Zoning regulations pertaining to NH farms, Right to farm in NH, the new Agritourism law explained, and chapters on the Food Safety Modernization Act.

Completed.  In all there are 15 chapters that were completed.  We did not include a chapter on FSMA as we generated many other resources and so many existed already (see above).  The guide chapters include:

LABOR & EMPLOYMENT LAW

LEGAL ORGANIZATION STRUCTURES

TAXATION AND THE FARM BUSINESS

INTERSTATE COMMERCE –SALES AND TRANSIT

UNIFORM LAWWEIGHTS AND MEASURES

FOOD LABELING IN NEWHAMPSHIRE

HOMESTEAD OPERATIONS

ORGANIC CERTIFICATION, FARMERS’ MARKETS

MILK AND MILK PRODUCTS REGULATIONS

ANIMAL HEALTH

MEAT AND POLTRY SAFTEY

CARCASS COMPOSTING

ZONING AND LAND USE

MUNICIPLE LAWS

  1. Winter 2017 – The 20 program participants will come together for another in-person educational event. Prior to this session they will receive an abstract of the eight new chapters.  They will again be asked to select at least 2 farms with whom they will work. 

The same model (enhanced by data collected from evaluations of previous sessions) will be implemented.  Thus participants will leave the in-person training, and use a Moodle Classroom to develop a second set of distilled factsheets.

At this in-person event, the 20 program participants will take another evaluation to track changes in their knowledge and attitudes surrounding legal expertise and building skills working with farmers in this topic area.  They will also be given the same evaluation that they used in the summer of 2016 (with the first set of farmers with whom they worked) so they can use it with the new set of farmers.

Changed/Modified – We could not find a common date to all get together, and there was not a uniform interest in doing so.  Instead we asked participants to work in their teams or on their own to build their knowledge. We further invited participants to write down any questions generated in their self-study so we could collate these and give them to the authoring lawyers.  We arranged written feedback or phone conversations to have these questions answered.

  1. Winter 2017 – 20 Participants will work in their self-selected teams to increase their understanding of the regulations they chose to study. The 20 participants utilize a Moodle forum to discuss questions, increase their knowledge, and ultimately develop a 1 to 2 page fact sheet on their topic.  The fact sheets will have at least the following information:  1) Who the regulation applies to, 2) A synthesis of the rules, 3) Actions farmers can take to be in compliance, 4) Where to turn for additional information, and 5) The oversight agency in charge of compliance.

Completed – This milestone was completed.  The participants utilized the on-line forum or they worked together or alone to increase their knowledge, draft summaries, actions for farmers, or synthesis of their chosen chapters.

  1. Winter of 2017 – A subgroup of the 20 participants will work together to develop a day-long workshop for farmers and other agricultural professionals on chapters covered in the NH Legal Guide for Farmers.

Completed/Modified – Participants chose to engage farmers in ways of their own choosing.  Farmer engagement by the 15 participants included: 38 fact sheets or educational tools, 41 webinars, talks and presentations, 14 workshops and in 297 consultations.

  1. Winter of 2017 – The participant subgroup will teach a day-long workshop for 25 farmers.   This educational event will continue to build the skills of the agricultural service providers, as well as increase the knowledge of farmers and other agricultural educators.  The program participants conducting the workshop will work with Extension specialists, agricultural agency staff, and legal experts to make sure the event uses effective educational techniques and is factually sound.

Completed/modified – see report above for milestone 4

  1. Spring of 2017. 20 program participants will work with an additional 2 farms each, bringing the total number of farmers to at least 4 per participant.

Completed – Of the 15 participants, 13 reported they engaged 4 or more farmers.  The remaining two participants did not respond to repeated efforts of contact.

  1. Spring of 2017 – Attorney Amy Manzelli, NH Department of Agriculture, Markets and Food Division of Regulatory Services Director Jennifer Gournert, NH Department of Health and Human Services Director Colleen Smith, and a NH Department of Labor Inspector will review the fact sheets created by the educators to make sure they are factually correct and touched on the major points.

Completed.  All chapters have been reviewed by appropriate lawyers and/or agency department heads.  This gave tremendous confidence to the agricultural service providers using the guide.

  1. Summer of 2017 – 20 agricultural service providers attend an in-person session. At this session each team will present the fact sheets they developed.  This will serve to increase the participants’ ability to educate peers and farmers on the regulations they selected as well as to build the knowledge of all participants on the 13 regulations currently comprising the NH Legal Guide for Farmers.  They will leave the session with the ability to educate farmers about more topics than those they studied themselves topics.   The participants will also receive a second evaluation tool to administer to all the farmers with whom they worked.  This second tool will track changes in farmers’ attitudes and knowledge about the rules and regulations they have learned, actions changed, and any benefits that may have been realized.

Not done – no desire of participants to get together in person.

  1. Fall of 2017 – 17 agricultural service providers will participate in a live interactive webinar to discuss the program and share personal learnings, increasing everyone’s knowledge about personal success stories and farm needs.

Not completed – We conducted phone interviews with each participant, reaching 13 of the 15.

  1. Fall 2017All participants will conduct interviews with farmers to assess any changes made on farms as a result of the work the participants did.

Not completed by all.  Those who did complete this found that farmers implemented many changes on their farm to comply with FSMA, labor laws, labeling, zoning, and other rules.

Milestone Activities and Participation Summary

Educational activities conducted by the project team:

ActivityYear 1Year 2Year 3Total
Consultations 30 256 286
Curricula, factsheets or educational tools 1 1 24 26
Online trainings 26 26
Webinars, talks and presentations 12 12
Workshop / field days 1 1

Beneficiaries who particpated in the project’s educational activities and events:

AudienceYear 1Year 2Year 3Total Individuals
Extension 0 17 15 15
NRCS 0 1 0 0
Nonprofit 0 4 2 1
Agency 0 0 2 2

Participation Summary:

17 Number of agricultural educator or service providers reached through education and outreach activities

Learning Outcomes

15 Agricultural service providers reported changes in knowledge, skills and/or attitudes as a result of their participation.
15 Ag service providers intend to use knowledge, attitudes, skills and/or awareness learned through this project in their educational activities and services for farmers
Key areas in which the service providers (and farmers if indicated above) reported a change in knowledge, attitudes, skills and/or awareness::

Year 3 key areas of learning verified:
Understanding of laws affecting farmers
When participants were asked, “Did you increase your knowledge of any law during the last year as a result of the SARE Ag-Law training process?” 15 said they did. The areas identified were as follows: FSMA, Worker Protection Standards, Labor laws, Marketing Laws,Leases, Composting rules, Pesticide application rules, Right-to-Farm laws, weights and measure rules, business structure laws, tax laws, food processing/value-added laws, Homestead Rules, and agritourism rules.

Performance Target Outcomes

Performance Target Outcomes - Service Providers

Activities for farmers conducted by service providers:
ActivityYear 1Year 2Year 3Total
Curricula, factsheets and other educational tools 14 24 38
Consultations 41 256 297
Webinars, talks and presentations 41 41
Workshops and field days 2 12 14
15 Total number of agricultural service provider participants who used knowledge and skills learned through this project (or incorporated project materials) in their educational activities, services, information products and/or tools for farmers
744 Farmers reached through participant's programs
Total amount of production these farmers manage:
7,500
Performance target outcome for service providers narrative:

Year 3 Narrative

Seventeen agriculture service provider participants responded to a Year 2 verification survey and 15 were interviewed at the close of the project. After reading, digesting, and summarizing the 15 chapters that comprise the NH Legal Guide for Agricultural Producers, these service providers reported assisting 121 farmers in the second year of the project and 623 producers in the third year. To do this, program participants increased their confidence in addressing and educating producers on legal issues, increased their knowledge of the legal topics they self-selected to learn, and increased their awareness of resources to assist producers. The service providers reported using new knowledge learned through this project in a variety of ways including in 38 fact sheets or educational tools, 41 webinars, talks and presentations, 14 workshops and in 297 consultations.

At the onset of this project many agricultural educators identified lack of knowledge of laws, fear of misinterpretation of laws, and lack of resources as fears and reasons for not working with farmers on legal issues.  In the exit phone interviews, it was commonly said that this project increased the confidence of the participants in the subjects they chose to learn.  The legal guide was further identified as a resource that increased their awareness of department heads from agencies they could turn to for the participants could go to help farmers with questions they did not know or understand.  Additionally, participants said that they increased their awareness of agency staff who they could turn to for information and opinions or interpretations. Participants translated their increased confidence, knowledge, and awareness of resources into engagements with farmers.  They also helped their colleagues.  UNH Cooperative Extension staff now know who they can turn to for expertise on different laws and regulations.  This has turned into an efficient model to assist the agricultural service provides, farmers, and NH agency staff alike.

Performance Target Outcomes - Farmers

Performance target outcome for farmers narrative:

Farmers’ changes reported by service providers in Year 2

  • Changed business structures from sole proprietor and partnerships to LLCs
  • Discontinued volunteer program on for profit farms
  • Implemented formal curriculum and made other changes to intern program on farm
  • Made changes to H2A worker housing
  • Moved away from selling raw milk at neighbor’s farm stand when learned of NH laws
  • Augmented signs on delivery vehicles that go out of state to reach Boston markets
  • Worked with NH Department of Health and Human Services to put in new commercial kitchen to be in compliance with laws they learned about
  • Sent recipes away for certification when learned about NH Homestead Act
  • Enrolled in educational programs to be in compliance with new poultry and rabbit direct sales law (HB 608)

Additional Project Outcomes

Number of grants applied for that built upon this project:
Year 1Year 2Year 3Total
2 2 4
Number of grants received that built upon this project:
Year 1Year 2Year 3Total
2 2
Dollar amount of grants received:
Year 1Year 2Year 3Total
$4 $ $87300 $87304
1 New working collaboration
Additional Outcomes Narrative:

Through this project we have raised an additional $19,000 in funding through donations and other grants. This project is valued by NH Farm Bureau, Sullivan County Farm Bureau, NOFA-NH, NH Department of Agriculture Markets and Food, and colleagues, all of whom provided economic support to pay for expenses to make this project successful.

Additionally, this project helped to leverage a $37,500 Northeast Risk Management grant, legal chapters sponsored by a UVM Labor Management USDA-AFRI grant, and is a foundation resources for a $49,800 Northeast Risk Management grant on legal education for farmers.

Four new collaborations were formed by UNH Cooperative Extension with NOFA-NH, NH Department of Ag, Markets and Food, NH Health and Human Services, NH Conservation Districts

Success stories:

As mentioned previously in this report, the program participants had great trepidation discussing legal topics with farmers. Additionally, and perhaps as a core reason for this trepidation, the beneficiaries did not know laws impacting farmers, nor did many even know where to find resources.  As a result of this project, beneficiaries increased their awareness of resources, their knowledge of various laws, and their confidence in teaching these topics to farmers.

One ag service provider said as a result of learning about laws affecting agritourism, and as a result of increasing her awareness about the need to help farmers, she seated a panel of farmers and lawyers to educate participating farmers at an agriculture marketing conference.  

Another program participate was asked to speak to a group of farmers on key laws affecting farmers and here is what she said:

“After participating in this training, I was invited to speak at the Seacoast Permaculture Group meeting. This audience is mostly made up of new and beginner farmers, some who may be working to expand their operations to a commercial scale. Amongst these participants, knowledge on agricultural laws which they need to be in compliance with, is generally low. I was able to use what we learned in the SARE training to communicate to producers what regulations they should be aware of to grow and sell their product.”

Finally, the competency we built for ag service through this project for FSMA will impact programming moving forward for years.

 

Assessment of Project Approach and Areas of Further Study:

Well what a last project to take on.  Whoa!  A complex subject, emotionally charged for may of the beneficiaries, high need for farmers, limited existing resources.  This was a difficult project for sure.  Add to it, it was no one’s job.  Legal issues impact all ag service providers, yet in NH, no one is charged with knowing this subject matter and providing education to growers.  So, as to be expected, we were faced with constant challenges.

I liked our initial approach: take baseline data to understand obstacles, challenges, and existing perspectives from the ag service providers.  Use this information to build confidence and skills.  I also liked giving participants choices as to which legal topics they learned and provided outreach to farmers on.  At first this worked well. But shortly after participants selected their topics, several challenges emerged.  One of the most common was the inability to understand the regulation/laws selected.  Another challenge was lack of time, and thus lack of priority to follow through.

We changed our implementation approach away from a team approach and moved it to an individual approach.  Our program team divided and worked individually with the participants to make sure they followed through on their commitments and also to support them in their work with farmers. 

I applaud our project team for being so flexible, adaptive, and creative.  Year 1 saw delays in actually getting the Legal Guide complete.  Year two started with great momentum, then we lost that as the project became highly challenging. We also had to raise additional money to support the project, which added additional work to our project team’s plate.  Year three required higher engagement with individual program participants than planned.

In the end though, we had a highly impactful project. We built confidence in the program participants, we created resources for ag service providers and farmers alike, we built knowledge for the ag service providers who then went out and worked with farmers.  Farmers implemented changes on their farms to be in compliance with laws. We raised funds, used portions of this project to submit different grant applications, and we forged lasting collaborative relationships with different ag organizations both within NH and in other states.

SARE Outreach

Outreach about SARE:

Information about SARE grant programs and information resources was shared at the events and activities listed below.

Year 1 (2014-2015) SARE Outreach Activities

Event/Activity

Number of Contacts with:

Farmers

Ag. Professionals

Summer Fruit and Vegetable Twilight Meeting

27

6

North Country Fruit and Vegetable Seminar

315

15

UNH Open Farm Twilight Meeting

43

7

One-on-One Outreach Activities

11

2

NH Food Safety Modernization Act Task Force Meeting

5

17

Advanced Farm Management Series

29

5

UNH Cooperative Agricultural Staff Meeting

0

23

Year 2 (2015-2016) SARE Outreach Activities

 

Event/Activity

Number of Contacts with:

Farmers

Ag. Professionals

SARE Farmer Grower and Partnership grant Workshop

22

4

One-on-One Consultations with Farmers

25

7

Presentations at Educational Events and Meetings

53

16

Recieved information about SARE grant programs and information resouces:

Audience Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Total
Service providers 75 27 33 135
Farmers 430 100 151 681
Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.