N.H. Farmers In 8 Counties Eligible For Emergency Loans For Extreme Cold, Temperature Fluctuations

Jan 14, 2020

Credit Alix Contosta / UNH

The US Department of Agriculture has designated eight New Hampshire Counties as primary natural disaster areas.

Last winter temperatures dropped, then warmed up. Snow melted, and rain would freeze into sheets of ice.

"That would create poor conditions for a lot of crops,” said Carl Majewski, a field specialist at the Cheshire County UNH extension office. He says farmers he talked with were seeing the effects: fields weren't greening up where they should have been.

In all but two of New Hampshire's counties, farmers saw at least a 30 percent loss of alfalfa, raspberry or blueberry crops.

Farmers and producers who suffered losses from the extreme cold and temperature fluctuations last winter and early spring are eligible to apply for emergency loans.

What Majewski is seeing is supported by climate science - winters are getting milder.

"You see more of that, rather than it getting cold and staying cold," Majewski said.

These kinds of losses are expensive for farmers.

“It's expensive for purchasing the extra seed, the extra labor, the extra fuel,” Majewski said.

George Hamilton is a fruit and vegetable production field specialist at the Hillsborough County UNH Extension office.

He says the loss of alfalfa and hay fields means farmers “can’t harvest those crops to feed their livestock or dairy cows.”

And for farmers who sold hay “they had to go through and spend more money to replant the grass, and hopefully later in the growing season they were able to harvest it,” Hamilton said.

Affected farmers can apply for emergency loans through the farm service agency through August 17.