Agricultural commissions: A new resource for sustaining New Hampshire farms and communities

2006 Annual Report for CNE06-008

Project Type: Sustainable Community Innovation
Funds awarded in 2006: $10,000.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2008
Region: Northeast
State: New Hampshire
Project Leader:
Nada Haddad
UNH Coooperative Extension

Agricultural commissions: A new resource for sustaining New Hampshire farms and communities


The project addresses the challenges to agriculture presented by residential and commercial growth of NH towns and cities, those ag unfriendly tax, zoning, signage and other policies and regulations, as well as conflicts with new residential and commercial developments that make farming increasingly difficult.

The project will research and develop a local governance tool, the Agricultural Commission (Ag Com), that can represent the municipality’s agricultural community and interests, support a sustainable agricultural industry, promote ag-based economic development, act as mediators, advocates, educators and or negotiators on agricultural issues, policies and or conflicts, serve as agricultural advisors to town boards and commissions (bringing in outside agricultural experts as needed), work for the preservation of agricultural land and facilitate communication among farmers. It will get farmers and non-farmers thinking and talking about agriculture in communities and create an awareness of agriculture as a business as well as a cherished view or open space. It will give farmers and communities a means of institutionalizing agricultural needs into local governance. The end result will be communities that are ag - conscious and ag - friendly.

The project will create Ag Com information materials, conduct workshops for farmers and municipalities, monitor results and share findings. It uses a participatory bottom-up networked approach to involve stakeholders in project design, decisions and outcomes and assure project success.

Objectives/Performance Targets

Performance target:
To give NH farmers and NH towns and cities a new local governance tool they can use to sustain agricultural enterprises. At least 75% of NH farmers will know where to get information about this tool, know the process for getting this tool adopted in their town or city and how to use the tool in their communities.

Objective 1. After researching the experience of Ag Coms in MA and other states, the Study Committee develops criteria for Ag Coms in NH that fit NH needs, NH statutes and local governance structures.


Objective 2. Materials explaining what Ag Coms are, want they can do, how to organize and how to structure as well as providing sample warrant articles, press releases, etc are developed and published on the web and in CD and Print formats.

In progress. Materials have been developed and are undergoing final review by the Cooperative Extension Editor before publication.

Objective 3. Ag NH farmers and communities learn about Ag Coms by reading articles and attending workshops

In progress: One workshop held in December 2006; others set for Jan 2007, Feb 2007 and April 2007.


To achieve ojecterd stated above and ultimately our preformance target, we have

a. Worked with stakeholders—farmers, local, state and regional planners, the Municipal Association, conservation planners, legislators, ag resource providers, and others—to research and adapt the Ag Com concept for use in NH

b. Worked with the Town of Lee to pilot an Ag Com in NH

c. Interviewed Ag Coms in Massachusetts

d. Wrote and designed a how-to, resource guide for farmers, selectboards, planners, etc. desiring to organize and support the work of an ag com in their town in NH

e. Created and tested a power point presentation to introduce Ag Coms to towns

f. Organized meetings/workshops to introduce Ag Coms to NH farmers, resource providers, planners, communities, etc.

Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes

We have successfully created broad support for introducing ag coms to NH from farmers and organizations such as Farm Bureau, legislators, conservation organizations, planners and the municipal Association.

Although our materials have not yet been published, at least four NH communities have begun ag com conversations. The Governor's Task Force on Farm Viability identified Ag Coms as one of its 10 recommendations.