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Home » From the Commissioner

Department of Agriculture Celebrates Centenary

New Hampshire Department of Agriculture, Markets & Food (September 12, 2013)

One hundred years ago this month, the state legislature voted to abolish the state Board of Agriculture and establish a state Department of Agriculture. Save the date for a 100th birthday celebration on October 22. The Board of Agriculture, precursor to the Department, began in the mid 1800s with the primary function of providing educational lectures and programs around the state for farmers. By the 1890s, the Board had taken on efforts to rebuild the state’s rural economy, and initiated measures to control animal diseases and crop pests, and unscrupulous marketing of fertilizers and feeds to farmers.

The Department is co-hosting an Open House on October 22 with the House Environment and Agriculture Committee, under the leadership of Chair Rep. Tara Sad of Walpole and Ranking Member Rep.Bob Haefner of Hudson, with help from the NH State Grange and NH Farm Bureau. Both organizations had instrumental roles in the creation and early development of the Department.

Nahum Batchelder, the progressive farmer from Andover who was elected both master of the State Grange and National Grange, served on the state Board of Agriculture from 1887 to 1913, much of that time as secretary, or head of the Board, including during his single term as governor in 1903-04. Batchelder oversaw the expansion of the Board of Agriculture’s roles, and led the transition to the formation of the Department in January 1914, under the leadership of its first and longest-serving commissioner, Andrew Felker.

Felker’s name is familiar to Bulletin readers for the award bestowed in his name each year at the Farm & Forest Expo, honoring an individual “for leadership in promoting the growth and prosperity of New Hampshire agriculture.”  Felker served as commissioner for 40 years. He initiated much legislation to protect farmers and consumers and developed a professional staff to administer the laws. He also founded the Weekly Market Bulletin, which is nearly as venerable as the department, having been published every Wednesday since its introduction in 1919, and remains a vital vehicle of communication for the state’s agricultural community.

The Department’s Open House event will begin at 10:00 AM on Tuesday, October 22 with presentation of a proclamation from Governor Hassan and a talk by former Commissioner Steve Taylor on the birth of the Department of Agriculture and the progressive era in New Hampshire history that it represents.  Following the talk, everyone is invited to visit exhibits and demonstrations that will be held on the State House Lawn and in the Department’s offices on the second floor and basement of the State House Annex from 11:00 AM to 2:00 PM.

Watch for details on a Facebook photography contest depicting New Hampshire agriculture in honor of the centenary, which will be announced soon. Winners will be featured at the upcoming 2014 Farm & Forest Expo on February 7-8, 2014. Also in celebration of the department’s100th anniversary, and the first-time-in-100-years hosting of the National Grange Annual Meeting in Manchester in November, we will honor the state’s Centennial Farms. The department is collaborating with the New Hampshire State Grange and the Associated Women of the NH Farm Bureau to identify and recognize Centennial Farms around the state.  Centennial farms will be highlighted at Farm & Forest.  Please see the announcement nearby from Rep. Bob Haefner, seeking help with identifying working farms in the same family for 100 years or more.

Visit the department’s Facebook page for photos of New Hampshire Apple Day at Butternut Farm in Farmington. Governor Hassan and Executive Councilor Colin Van Ostern talked with orchardists Gif and Mae Burnap and picked apples and peaches while news photographers snapped pictures.  Rep. David Miller of Rochester brought former Executive Councilor and University System Board of Trustees Chair Fred Hall, now 93, to the event.

Lorraine Merrill, Commissioner        lorrainemerrill                                                                

(reprinted from the Weekly Market Bulletin, Sept. 11, 2013)

SUBSCRIPTION NOTE:

The NH Department of Agriculture, Markets & Food Division of Agricultural Development compiles market information and publishes the Weekly Market Bulletin for the agriculture community. The Bulletin is the department’s ‘publication of record’ and includes appropriate industry notices, announcements, seasonal information and market survey data. Subscribers may advertise in the popular agricultural classified advertising at no charge. One-year subscriptions are $28 for delivery by U.S. Postal Service, or $22 for delivery by secure internet. Sign up for the Weekly Market Bulletin by calling the office at 271-2505 and providing a credit card for payment; or visit the office at 25 Capitol St., Concord; or mail in your request with a check. Be sure to provide your address, phone number, and if you are requesting an online subscription, an email address.

 

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