Secretary of agriculture announces $200M fund for small farmers

The US secretary of agriculture spoke with farmers in New Hampshire on Friday and announced millions of dollars in new funding to help local growers and small farms.US Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack visited Brookdale Fruit Farm in Hollis to announce a $200 million fund to help smaller specialty crop farmers meet government regulatory standards. “It’s a tough business, it’s an incredibly tough business, but we are certainly blessed to have the farmers we have in this country, because we’re one of the few nations in the world that’s food secure,” Vilsack said. Lawmakers said the fund will be important for New Hampshire, where there are lots of small, local producers.”It’s about cutting costs for specialty crop farmers, which is really so much of the New Hampshire farming community, from maple farmers to farmers like Brookdale,” said US Sen. Maggie Hassan, D-New Hampshire. In a roundtable discussion, farmers told the secretary about problems they face, including difficulty securing a steady labor force through the immigration system. Vilsack said he’s working on a pilot program to train and bring in agricultural workers from Central America. “It’s limited what we can do, but we’re going to try to get more workers into the country,” he said.Farmers also spoke with the secretary about the added costs coming with inflation.”Talking to these farmers today, they’ re experiencing worker shortages,” said US Rep. Chris Pappas, D-New Hampshire. “It’s harder for these small farmers to be able to eke out a living, so that’s what we’re hoping some of these USDA programs will be targeted to assist with.”Farmers are used to living and working with a lot of uncertainty, but inflation has introduced a new level of volatility things.”It’s hard to figure out where you start to price when things keep moving,” said Chuck Southern, of Apple Hill Farm in Concord.

The US secretary of agriculture spoke with farmers in New Hampshire on Friday and announced millions of dollars in new funding to help local growers and small farms.

US Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack visited Brookdale Fruit Farm in Hollis to announce a $200 million fund to help smaller specialty crop farmers meet government regulatory standards.

“It’s a tough business, it’s an incredibly tough business, but we are certainly blessed to have the farmers we have in this country, because we’re one of the few nations in the world that’s food secure,” Vilsack said.

Lawmakers said the fund will be important for New Hampshire, where there are lots of small, local producers.

“It’s about cutting costs for specialty crop farmers, which is really so much of the New Hampshire farming community, from maple farmers to farmers like Brookdale,” said US Sen. Maggie Hassan, D-New Hampshire.

In a roundtable discussion, farmers told the secretary about problems they face, including difficulty securing a steady labor force through the immigration system. Vilsack said he’s working on a pilot program to train and bring in agricultural workers from Central America.

“It’s limited what we can do, but we’re going to try to get more workers into the country,” he said.

Farmers also spoke with the secretary about the added costs coming with inflation.

“Talking to these farmers today, they’re experiencing worker shortages,” said US Rep. Chris Pappas, D-New Hampshire. “It’s harder for these small farmers to be able to eke out a living, so that’s what we’re hoping some of these USDA programs will be targeted to assist with.”

Farmers are used to living and working with a lot of uncertainty, but inflation has introduced a new level of volatility.

“It’s hard to figure out where you start to price things when things keep moving,” said Chuck Southern, of Apple Hill Farm in Concord.

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