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USDA reaches out to N.H. farmers about finances

Prescott Farm Environmental Education Center

The US Department of Agriculture has reached out to farmers and ranchers in the Northeast to collect information on their financial well-being for the annual Agricultural Resource Management Survey.

Josh Marshall, a representative from the New Hampshire Farm Bureau Federation, says these types of surveys are important because they inform policymakers about farming conditions in New Hampshire.

“For USDA to be aware of the production levels, the production practices, and the things that are going on on-farm in New Hampshire, it’s really important to get services that represent the farmers of New Hampshire,” he said.

Farmers have had to adapt to the pandemic over the past couple of years, which has brought new practices onto farms, Marshall said.

“Our farmers are resilient, and over the past couple of years they’ve had to change on a dime to different marketing practices, or different products,” he said.

This year’s Agriculture Resource Management Survey will include questions to measure the impact of COVID-19 on farms, along with questions about operating revenues, production costs and household characteristics.

Pam Hird, the New England state statistician with the USDA, says the survey is used to help inform federal policy, including the farm bill, which expires in 2023.

“Our goal is to tell the true story of what’s going on in agriculture,” she said.

Hird says recent survey data has shown expenditures increasing for farmers between 2019 and 2020 across the United States around 2 percent. In the Northeast, expenditures have gone up close to 12 percent. And she says prices are increasing as well as expenditures.

A random sample of producers are chosen to participate in the survey every year. The USDA plans to set up phone interviews with producers who do not respond to the survey by January 18 so they can complete the questionnaire.

Mara Hoplamazian reports on climate change, energy, and the environment for NHPR.
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