On Sept. 14, over 60 agricultural enthusiasts attended the New Hampshire Ag Professionals Day. This was an opportunity to not only network with fellow farmers and ag professionals but to learn about the industry from lead workers in the field. Held at Flag Hill Winery in Lee, NH, various seminars took place for the group, including an information session on PFAS, updates from the NH Queer Farmers Network and Stories from the Field.

The session started off with a Climate Chaos and Emergency Response Panel. One of the speakers of this panel, Steve Crawford (state veterinarian, NH Department of Agriculture, Markets & Food), spoke about how to prepare for an emergency and the steps on how to respond. He mentioned how “weather is the number one factor that affects us in terms of disaster and recovery.”

It was mentioned how in 2022, New Hampshire experienced a D3 category drought, whereas 2023 has been full of excessive rain. Both of these extreme conditions lead to their own problems that farmers have to be prepared for.

One of the main takeaways was that there are only so many ways government and local officials can provide instructions and information at the time of an emergency. At the end of the day, it’s important to have a plan in place for when an emergency occurs. “When you don’t have a plan in place already, [when destruction occurs], it’s going to be too late,” Crawford stated.

All the attendees learned about various topics during a lightning round session with various speakers. These topics included how to harvest and sell wild mushrooms, the importance of on-farm research, updates on the federal disaster program and pesticide safety and education.

NH Ag Professional event: Emergency response and loan preparation

Rachel Maccini from UNH Extension was one of the presenters at the event. Photo by Kelsi Devolve

Along with these lightning round sessions, Charlene Anderson from the NH Community Loan Fund, Jean Conklin from Walden Mutual and David Bishop from Farm Credit East shared the Loan Readiness Toolkit for farmers.

The purpose of this toolkit is to assist farmers and ag businesses in their loan applications by helping to “make the process clear, transparent and supportive.” In a nutshell, there are two main steps to take before applying for a loan: you must understand your business and situation, so you can determine if this loan will help reach your goals, and if you have the financial statements required to apply.

It’s also important to make sure that your business can handle the debt and have a plan to pay off the loan. Once you are confident that a loan is right for your business, get ready to talk to a lender. Make sure you can tell your lender how your business makes money, what the purpose of the loan is, how much of a down payment you can apply to the loan and how you plan to repay it.

Overall, this NH Agriculture Professional Day emphasized how important it is to prepare for anything ahead – whether that be preparing for a drought, preparing for a flood, applying for a loan or having a pesticide safety plan.

by Kelsi Devolve