Emily Corwin / NHPR

  According to the USDA, Americans are producing and eating more locally-raised food every year.  But the market for local meat has trailed behind the market for local produce.  Until recently, reasoning has been that there’s a shortage of local slaughterhouses. But as three slaughterhouses open their doors in NH this year, industry-wide studies show that more slaughterhouses may not be the answer, after all. 

Logan Shannon

An agricultural art dating from the Neolithic period shares a glass with the robotics of the future. Since the first evidence of grapevine cultivation for wine about 7000 years ago, viticulture has developed a degree of automation…still, wine-makers depend on human hands and eyes to thoroughly -- and tediously -- inspect their crop for quality and yield. Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University are developing an automated grape-counting system that will help lighten that load and lead to the production of better wine. Sara Reardon is a staff writer and reporter for New Scientist who covered the machines that could change the future of winemaking.

Emily Corwin / NHPR

With almost 60 farmers markets across the state, demand for local food is growing.  But local farmers still struggle to make a profit growing local food. In fact, about three quarters of all farms in New Hampshire gross less than $10,000 from sales each year.

This is the first installment in our summer business series investigating how a changing market place is affecting New Hampshire farmers.

Amanda Loder, NHPR

This week some NHPR staffers got their first weekly share of veggies from a nearby CSA – which stands for community supported agriculture.

The idea is that consumers buy a share of the year’s crops in advance – that gives them a weekly supply of produce, while farmers get a more stable income stream than what they might have selling just through farmers markets or farmstands.

NOAA George E. Marsh Album

E - The Environmental Magazine

Dear EarthTalk: Could it really be true that we are in the midst of the worst drought in the United States since the 1930s?                                                         -- Deborah Lynn, Needham, MA


E - The Environmental Magazine

Dear EarthTalk: What is the “Monsanto Protection Act” and why are environmentalists so upset about it?                                                                                                       -- Rita Redstone, Milwaukee, WI

Congress is in the midst of renewing this giant legislation, after missing its first deadline to do so.  And New Hampshire farmers are keeping an eye on this process, they want assurances a final measure won’t just favor big agribusiness, but also, the smaller farms prevalent in our region.  We’ll find out the bill might include and what’s at stake for the Granite State.


su-lin via Flickr Creative Commons

Americans largely oppose the slaughter of horses for human consumption. Despite the cultural taboo, the United States is a key exporter of live horses to slaughterhouses in Mexico and Canada.  Each year, more than 100,000 American horses are killed in North America for consumption abroad.  Many American horses are given drugs that are carcinogenic to humans, putting consumers’ health at risk. 

Traditional Pork Production Finds Home In N.H.

Nov 14, 2012
Todd Bookman / NHPR

On Edward Epsen’s farm in Salisbury, New Hampshire, around 40 pigs are doing what lucky pigs get to do: forage for acorns and graze in pastures high with Timothy grass.

“So we are going to be killing this pig here, and the other one that was walking around on this side of the electric net," says Epsen. “It slipped out of sight for the moment…oh, there he is.”

The two that will die in a few minutes are American Mulefoots, a rare breed known for its lard.

When Epsen approaches, the 250-pound pigs roll onto their backs.

New England Apple Orchards Face Apple Shortage

Oct 2, 2012
<a href="">Judo_dad1953</a>

Phil Rymsha is turning away apple-picking and cider-drinking hopefuls at his orchard in Harvard, Mass., because there simply aren't enough apples on his trees.

N.H. Apple Crop Arrives Early

Aug 21, 2012
<a href="">iMaffo</a> / Flickr

New Hampshire apples are already ripe, about two weeks ahead of schedule. They're available at farm stands and farmers' markets, but that doesn't mean you can head to the orchards to pick them yourself –  just yet.

N.H. Dept. of Agriculture, Markets, & Food

Lorraine Merrill, Commissioner of the New Hampshire Department of Agriculture, Markets and Food discusses the new Farm bill in Congress, as well as trends here in New Hampshire -- from the struggles of dairy farms to new efforts promoting exports of Granite State food.


E - The Environmental Magazine

Dear EarthTalk: How do green groups feel about the new 2012 Farm Bill draft recently released by the Senate? -- Roger Wheeler, Miami, FL


Like so much of the legislation coming out of Washington, D.C., green groups are mixed on the new Farm Bill now making its way toward a floor vote. No doubt there are some conservation bright spots in the bill, but the question is: Are there enough and do they go far enough?

You may think that the great historic debate between communism and private property is over.

Well, it's not. Not at your local community garden.

Take, for example, the experience of Campos Community Garden in Manhattan's East Village.

Eight years ago, the garden was decrepit and abandoned. Beverly McClain walked by it all the time, on the way to her daughter's school. And one day, she and a motley group of fellow gardeners decided to revive it.


E - The Environmental Magazine

Dear EarthTalk: American farmers are an aging population. Is anyone doing anything to make sure younger people are taking up this profession in large enough numbers to keep at least some of our food production domestic?-- Beverly Smith, Milwaukee, WI

Part of a series

Thanks to high commodity prices and surging productivity, U.S. farmers earned a net income of nearly $98 billion last year — a record, according to the Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute.

Here's the secret of the modern dairy farm: The essential high-tech advances aren't in machinery. They're inside the cow.

Take a cow like Claudia. She lives at Fulper Farms, a dairy farm in upstate New Jersey. Claudia is to a cow from the 1930s as a modern Ferrari is to a Model T.

In the 1930s, dairy farmers could get 30 pounds of milk per day from a cow. Claudia produces 75 pounds a day.

To appreciate a cow like Claudia, you have to know where to look.

OK, so this story is about weeds and weedkillers, neither of which is ever the hero of a story, but stay with me for a second: It's also about plants with superpowers.

Unless you grow cotton, corn or soybeans for a living, it's hard to appreciate just how amazing and wonderful it seemed, 15 years ago, when Roundup-tolerant crops hit the market. I've seen crusty farmers turn giddy just talking about it.

Researchers have nailed down something scientists, government officials and agribusiness proponents have argued about for years: whether antibiotics in livestock feed give rise to antibiotic-resistant germs that can threaten humans.

This is one of those stories that reminds us that everything really is connected to everything else.

Here's the web of connections: a threat to California's booming almond business; hard times for honeybees in North Dakota; and high corn prices.


OK, let's start with the almonds. They come from an old-world tree that migrated to California and prospered in the hands of farmers like James McFarlane, who lives right outside the city of Clovis.

It's stevia time!


The USDA recently released a new growing zone map for the entire country. The Plant Hardiness Zone Map is the guide gardeners use to determine what plants and flowers will most likely thrive in their location. This is the first significant update in more than 20 years. The new online interactive map takes advantage of much more detailed data analysis, and it’s making news because it shows that warmer winters are sustaining plants that previously would have died off in colder climates.

Photo by Lisbokt, courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons

We’ve heard the stories of farm family underdogs pitched against profit-hungry developers or deep- pocketed corporations. This story of a land dispute in Canterbury New Hampshire defies the good guy versus bad guy model. The players in this conflict are two well-liked farm families. One has been farming in town for hundreds of years, and currently runs a dairy farm. The other family is not native, farms organically, and has corporate backing.