NH Senate Committee Approves Agricultural Lands Protection Legislation

Matt Leahy | May 24, 2023
A green field on Tuckaway Farm.

Tuckaway Farm, in Lee, where the Forest Society purchased a conservation easement on a 36-acre parcel of land in 2021 that was an addition to the already-conserved farm lands.

The New Hampshire Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources approved House Bill 221. This bill proposes to make some important improvements to New Hampshire’s existing Agricultural Land Preservation (ALP) Program. The Forest Society supports this bill. (Read our testimony here)

RSA 432, the enabling statute for the Agricultural Land Preservation (ALP) program, gives the New Hampshire Department of Agriculture, Markets & Food (DAMF) the ability to conserve important farmland across NH through the purchase of conservation easements. These scenic farms support the backdrop for the larger tourism-based economy and provide employment, economic, and environmental benefits to their local communities.

One of the challenges that has become apparent in recent years is that the DAMF’s capacity to administer ALP and to take on the technical and financial responsibilities of managing and monitoring those easements is constrained.  

Fortunately, New Hampshire has a capable land trust community who have protected thousands of acres of NH farmland. These organizations have the expertise and capacity to take on the responsibilities of protecting and stewarding the important agricultural land in our state. 

The passage of HB 221 will allow land trusts to hold easements on the properties protected under the ALP Program. The Forest Society is supportive of HB 221 because adding the ALP into the toolbox of land protection programs will mean better outcomes for the conservation of our state’s agricultural and farming community.