TITLE XL
AGRICULTURE, HORTICULTURE AND ANIMAL HUSBANDRY

Chapter 425
THE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE, MARKETS, AND FOOD

Section 425:1

    425:1 Establishment. – There is hereby established a department of agriculture, markets, and food, an agency of the state under the executive direction of a commissioner of agriculture, markets, and food.

Source. 1985, 72:1. 1995, 130:2, eff. July 23, 1995.

Section 425:2

    425:2 General Functions. –
The department of agriculture, markets, and food shall be responsible for the following general functions:
I. Promoting and regulating agriculture in all its branches.
II. Regulating all commercial transactions involving the measurement of weight, distance, volume, or time.
III. Regulating the quality and grade of agricultural crops and supplies and food products. Nothing in this paragraph shall be construed to apply to dietary supplements as defined in 21 U.S.C. 321, as amended by the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994, and as may be amended from time to time.
IV. Gathering and disseminating information on agriculture, crop production, market activity, and other subjects consistent with the responsibilities of the department.
V. Cooperating with other agencies of the state and federal governments, the university of New Hampshire, commodity and consumer groups in the public interest and all who are engaged within this state in any form of agriculture, or its allied vocations, for advice on those activities.
VI. Conducting such other activities as the statutes shall direct.

Source. 1985, 72:1. 1995, 130:2, eff. July 23, 1995.

Section 425:2-a

    425:2-a The Granite State Farm to Plate Food Policy and Principles. –
I. It is the policy of the state of New Hampshire through the department of agriculture, markets, and food and in conjunction with other state agencies to encourage and support local food producers, farming, and fisheries, including businesses engaged in agriculture, the raising and care of livestock, dairy, fishing, foraging, and aquaculture, agritourism, horticulture, orchard management, maple syrup production, and the associated local and regional businesses that process, purchase, distribute, and sell such food throughout the state.
II. State agencies, including the department of agriculture, markets, and food, the department of business and economic affairs, the department of health and human services, the department of environmental services, the department of transportation, the department of education, the university of New Hampshire college of life sciences and agriculture, and the university of New Hampshire cooperative extension shall strive for interagency cooperation as well as cooperation with public and private entities to foster local, state, and regional food systems that adhere to the Granite State farm to plate principles below:
(a) Agriculture in New Hampshire represents a vital part of both the state's rural and urban economies and the larger food systems that connect it with the state's local and regional economies and the public.
(b) Consumer demand from individuals and institutions, including New Hampshire public schools, universities, child care facilities, after-school programs, restaurants, hospitals, and prisons, for locally grown and produced food is growing and deserves support from the state and state agencies.
(c) Support of local food economies is vital to public health of our residents and to the viability and livability of our communities.
(d) Increased access to healthy food occurs when local and regional community-based food production, processing, aggregation, distribution, marketing, and retail work together to build markets for healthy food.
(e) New Hampshire citizens and communities face social and environmental health issues connected to food, hunger, malnutrition, incidences of obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and other chronic diseases. Increased access to local, healthy food is needed to address such multifaceted issues.
(f) Local and regional food economies are a vital source of employment in our communities. Promoting the growth of such local food economies will enhance economic development and job growth throughout the state.
(g) Economic development opportunities among New Hampshire's cities and towns are facilitated by state and local governments cooperating to remove obstacles and excessive financial burdens to farms and associated businesses, including farmers' markets, cooperatives, food hubs, fisheries, and processing centers.
(h) All levels of government shall consider the findings of the Farm Viability Task Force of 2006-2007 as well as consider advocating farmland preservation efforts that would permanently protect farmland with voluntary agricultural conservation easements that place priority on protection of agricultural resources and production to ensure our state's future capacity to produce food.
(i) The New Hampshire dairy industry is vital to the state's economy. It impacts state and local economies via millions of dollars in total economic output, thousands of jobs and millions more dollars in labor income. The dairy industry should be further supported through the dairy premium fund as specified in RSA 184:109, and other methods that will encourage the success of the state's dairy industry.
(j) Federal governmental programs provide significant opportunities for the state to obtain federal funding that supports the development of local food systems, such as use of federal benefits at farmers' markets.
(k) Recognizing that a broad array of entities and organizations are already working together to promote New Hampshire local and regional food systems and participants, including agricultural producers, processors, distributors, and consumers, the input of such groups is vital to the construction of a more diverse and productive set of New Hampshire food systems.
III. To the extent possible, local governments shall consider the policy and principles of this section when adopting local law, or when enforcing existing law and regulation.

Source. 2014, 312:1, eff. Aug. 1, 2014. 2017, 156:14, II, eff. July 1, 2017. 2019, 319:3, eff. Aug. 7, 2019.

Section 425:2-b

    425:2-b Repealed by 2019, 111:2, eff. Nov. 1, 2020. –

Commissioner of Agriculture, Markets, and Food

Section 425:3

    425:3 Commissioner; Compensation. –
I. The commissioner of the department of agriculture, markets, and food shall be appointed by the governor, with the consent of the council, for a term of 5 years. Prior to the appointment of a commissioner, the governor and council shall receive and consider the recommendations of the agricultural advisory board as to such appointment. The commissioner of agriculture, markets, and food shall be qualified by reasons of professional competence, education, and experience.
II. The salary of the commissioner shall be as specified in RSA 94:1-a.
III. The commissioner of agriculture, markets, and food shall appoint one staff member who shall act in the commissioner's stead when the commissioner is absent from the state and at such other times as the commissioner shall direct.

Source. 1985, 72:1. 1995, 130:2, eff. July 23, 1995. 2007, 156:15, eff. Aug. 17, 2007.

Section 425:4

    425:4 Duties of the Commissioner. –
In addition to the powers, duties, and functions otherwise vested by law in the commissioner of agriculture, markets, and food, the commissioner shall:
I. Represent the public interest in the administration of the department and be responsible to the governor, the general court, and the public for such administration.
II. Except as otherwise provided for in this title, have the authority to adopt rules, pursuant to RSA 541-A, necessary to assure continuance or granting of federal funds or other assistance intended to promote agriculture.
III. Have authority to establish a unit within the department to provide for internal administrative functions, including financial, personnel, and other management functions.
IV. Organize the department into divisions and bureaus and assign to such divisions and bureaus their functions.
V. Employ, subject to the state personnel system and within limits of appropriations, such inspectors, clerks, and other assistants as are deemed necessary.
VI. Engage in research and educational programs which benefit agricultural producers, consumers, and the economic and environmental interests of the state.
VII. Cooperate, so far as is practicable, with the extension work of the university of New Hampshire.
VIII. Accept, hold in trust, and exercise control over donations and bequests made to the department for promoting agricultural education or the general interests of agriculture.
IX. Adjudicate disputes concerning activities that constitute agritourism pursuant to RSA 21:34-a. Prior to a party filing a land use application with a municipality, or after such land use application is denied, an applicant may petition the commissioner for a declaratory ruling regarding whether or not a municipality's ordinance, bylaw, definition, or policy regarding agritourism activities conflicts with RSA 21:34-a. The commissioner's jurisdiction shall be limited to the question of whether or not a municipality's ordinance, bylaw, definition, or policy on agritourism conflicts with RSA 21:34-a. The commissioner, or the commissioner's authorized representative, shall notify the parties, hold a hearing within 30 days of such request, and shall issue a declaratory ruling within 15 days of the hearing. The commissioner's declaratory ruling shall be dispositive, including in future land use applications with a municipality where such ordinance, bylaw, definition, or policy is at issue. A party aggrieved by the declaratory ruling may petition the commissioner for reconsideration within 20 days of the declaratory ruling, and thereafter, within 30 days of the decision on reconsideration, may appeal such decision to the New Hampshire supreme court. If the applicant petitions the commissioner for a declaratory ruling, all municipal appeal processes, including those defined in RSA 677:2 shall be stayed. The 30 day time period in which to request a rehearing shall begin on the next calendar day after the commissioner issues the declarative ruling, or after any appeal of the declarative ruling is complete. The commissioner shall adopt rules pursuant to RSA 541-A relative to the declaratory ruling process, including, but not limited to, an allowance for timely intervention of an aggrieved party. A municipality shall furnish the commissioner with a copy of any non-confidential appeal decision on any land use application involving whether or not a municipality's definition or policy on agritourism conflicts with RSA 21:34-a.

Source. 1985, 72:1. 1995, 130:2, eff. July 23, 1995. 2018, 56:2, eff. July 15, 2018.

Section 425:5

    425:5 Repealed by 1995, 130:9, I, eff. July 23, 1995. –

Section 425:6

    425:6 Repealed by 1995, 130:9, II, eff. July 23, 1995. –

Section 425:7

    425:7 Repealed by 1995, 130:9, III, eff. July 23, 1995. –

Section 425:8

    425:8 Repealed by 1995, 130:9, IV, eff. July 23, 1995. –

Section 425:9

    425:9 Repealed by 1995, 130:9, V, eff. July 23, 1995. –

Section 425:10

    425:10 Damage by Hunters. – The state shall compensate the owners for all domestic livestock killed or wounded by hunters for deer, in the open season for deer, in any county. The amount of damages in each case shall be assessed by the commissioner of agriculture, markets, and food or under his direction, and said sum shall be a charge upon the fish and game fund and paid therefrom.

Source. 1985, 72:1. 1995, 130:5, eff. July 23, 1995.

Section 425:11

    425:11 Law Enforcement. – The commissioner of agriculture, markets, and food shall cooperate with the attorney general and county attorneys in enforcing the laws relating to farm-foods adulteration, the pure seed laws, the fertilizer laws and such other laws as relate to the subject matter of this department.

Source. 1985, 72:1. 1995, 130:5, eff. July 23, 1995.

Section 425:12

    425:12 Agricultural Resources. – The commissioner shall collect and publish information relative to the agricultural resources of the state, and disseminate such information throughout the country in such ways as may be approved by the governor and council.

Source. 1985, 72:1, eff. July 1, 1985.

Section 425:13

    425:13 Report. – The commissioner shall, before December 31 of each even-numbered year, submit a report to the governor and council, which shall include an account of the general work of the department, the special teaching and that of the heads of the various departments under his jurisdiction, and such other information pertaining to the department as may be of public and general interest. He shall include such recommendations for legislative action as may be required, a statement of the total amounts of all expenditures, so classified as to show the amount expended in support of the several departments of work covered, and an account stating, by properly classified totals, all money received from sources other than the state treasury. The report shall be distributed to the town and public libraries of the state and to farmers, agriculturists, and others desiring it.

Source. 1985, 72:1, eff. July 1, 1985.

Section 425:14

    425:14 Supervision of Clerical Personnel of Veterinary Examiners. – The commissioner of agriculture, markets, and food shall exercise general supervision over the clerical personnel of the state board of veterinary medicine who work within his office.

Source. 1985, 72:1. 1995, 130:5, eff. July 23, 1995.

Section 425:15

    425:15 Interstate Conferences and Compacts. –
I. The commissioner shall have power to enter into compacts, subject to congressional approval, with legally constituted milk commissions or similar authorities of other states or of the United States of America to effect a uniformity in regulating and insuring an adequate supply of pure and wholesome milk to the inhabitants of this state, to provide uniform control of milk produced in this state and handled in interstate commerce and to exercise all the powers hereunder for such purpose as well as the following powers:
(a) To conduct joint investigations and hearings and to issue joint or concurrent orders.
(b) To employ or designate a joint agent or agencies to enforce such orders or compacts.
(c) To provide for classifications of milk in accordance with the form in which it is used or moved with uniform minimum prices or methods of fixing such prices for each class.
(d) To provide for payment to all producers and associations of producers delivering milk to dealers of uniform prices subject to adjustments with the joint agent for location and butterfat content.
(e) To make such joint regulations as may be incidental to and not inconsistent with the foregoing and as may be necessary to effectuate the above-mentioned powers.
II. The commissioner shall not enter into any compact which would provide for the fixing of prices on the sale or resale of milk unless he has obtained prior approval of the governor and council.

Source. 1985, 72:1, eff. July 1, 1985.

Section 425:16

    425:16 State Buildings at Eastern States Exposition. – The commissioner of agriculture, markets, and food shall operate the state building at the Eastern States Exposition, and his legitimate expenses incurred in the performance of this duty shall be a charge upon the appropriation made therefor.

Source. 1985, 72:1. 1995, 130:5, eff. July 23, 1995.

Section 425:17

    425:17 Advisory Committee. – The New Hampshire region trustee board of the Eastern States Exposition shall constitute an advisory committee to the commissioner of agriculture, markets, and food with whom the commissioner shall consult from time to time in the operation of the state building at the exposition. The trustees shall serve without compensation.

Source. 1985, 72:1. 1995, 130:5, eff. July 23, 1995.

Section 425:18

    425:18 Income and Operating Charges. – The commissioner, at his discretion, may rent the building or parts thereof for exhibition purposes, at reasonable rates, giving first preference to exhibitors of this state. The commissioner may also rent the building, or any parts thereof, for the purpose of storage or other uses, as necessary for supplemental income to help defray operating expenses. From the income received he shall pay the expenses and operating charges of the building, which may include a reasonable sum for insurance and improvements; any remaining balance shall be deposited with the state treasurer in a separate fund for the purposes of the eastern states building.

Source. 1985, 72:1, eff. July 1, 1985.

Section 425:19

    425:19 Repairs. – In case of partial or total destruction of the building by fire or otherwise, the commissioner may make needed repairs or replacement, with the approval of the governor and council, and may use the proceeds of any insurance.

Source. 1985, 72:1, eff. July 1, 1985.

Fund Distributions to Agricultural Fairs

Section 425:19-a

    425:19-a Application; Fund Distribution. – This subdivision shall apply whenever the legislature, in the operating budget or in other legislation, provides for a distribution of funds to agricultural fairs.

Source. 1987, 252:5, eff. July 1, 1987.

Section 425:19-b

    425:19-b Distribution to Agricultural Fairs. – The portion of the funds to be distributed under this subdivision shall be distributed by the commissioner of agriculture, markets, and food in accordance with the plan or formula given, if there is a plan or formula given, in the operating budget or other legislation to all agricultural fairs holding yearly exhibitions in the state and paying premiums of at least $1,500 annually. Each year a payment of $100 shall be paid to all such agricultural fairs. The balance of said fund shall be distributed pro rata to said fairs based on the amount of competitive or educational agricultural premiums paid in the preceding calendar year by said fair. In determining the premiums paid the commissioner shall take into consideration the premiums paid for contests, exhibits or displays of domestic livestock, household products, farm crops, and those made by 4-H clubs or other similar groups. Provided, that no agricultural fair shall be eligible for a distribution pursuant to this section unless said agricultural fairs offers premiums in at least 3 of the following areas: contests, exhibits or displays of domestic livestock, household products, farm crops, or projects submitted by members of 4-H clubs or other similar groups. Provided, further, that no agricultural fair shall be eligible for a distribution pursuant to this section if said fair pays dividends to stock-holders, or if the operators of said fair receive any part of the profits.

Source. 1987, 252:5. 1995, 130:5, eff. July 23, 1995.

Section 425:19-c

    425:19-c Reports as to Basis of Distribution. – The commissioner of agriculture, markets, and food shall adopt rules, under RSA 541-A, relative to the reports of premiums as he may deem necessary to enable him to determine the pro rata distributions to be made of sums distributed under this subdivision.

Source. 1987, 252:5. 1995, 130:5, eff. July 23, 1995.

Section 425:19-d

    425:19-d Records for Purpose of Audit. – The commissioner of revenue administration shall adopt rules, pursuant to RSA 541-A, relative to the accounting methods to be used by each fair which could qualify for a distribution, if a distribution is made under this subdivision. Each such fair shall use the calendar year as its fiscal year for keeping the books, records and reports of its fiscal officers. The commissioner of revenue administration is authorized to require the production of all such books, records, vouchers and other papers and documents as will enable him to make a full, accurate and complete audit. All such records shall be preserved for 3 years following the date of said audit.

Source. 1987, 252:5, eff. July 1, 1987.

Section 425:19-e

    425:19-e Audit of Accounts of Agricultural Fairs. –
I. The commissioner of revenue administration shall annually, at the cost and expense of each agricultural fair receiving a distribution, audit all accounts of fairs receiving money under the provisions of this subdivision, and the report of each such audit, when completed, shall be submitted to the president, treasurer and clerk of each fair so audited. If, in any case, the commissioner cannot guarantee that such an audit will be completed within one year after the end of a fiscal year for which a fair received a distribution, he shall so advise the president or treasurer of the fair, whereupon the respective fair officials may hire a certified public accountant or a public accountant licensed under RSA 309-A, to conduct such an audit within one year after the close of the fair's fiscal year in accordance with generally accepted auditing standards and applicable state statutes.
II. Every audit made by the commissioner of revenue administration or an independent public accountant licensed under RSA 309-A shall include a summary of findings and recommendations regarding compliance with applicable statutory provisions of law, and the adequacy of accounting and business procedures pursued by the fair examined. Contracts executed between the agricultural fairs and the independent public accountants shall stipulate that all accounts and funds of the fair are to be audited and a report of the audit is to be prepared in accordance with this section. At the conclusion of the audit, the independent public accountant shall submit a copy of an audit report prepared pursuant to this section directly to the commissioner of agriculture, markets, and food and to the commissioner of revenue administration for review and approval as to format only.

Source. 1987, 252:5. 1988, 80:5. 1995, 130:5, eff. July 23, 1995.

Section 425:19-f

    425:19-f Failure to Keep Records. – The failure to keep the books, records and papers required by this subdivision and follow such approved methods shall be considered sufficient cause for the commissioner of agriculture, markets, and food to withhold the distribution of funds provided for in this subdivision to the fair or fairs otherwise entitled to them until such books, records and papers are made available for audit and such audit made. Any funds remaining in the hands of the commissioner of agriculture, markets, and food which are not distributed because of continued failure to comply with the provisions of RSA 425:19-d shall be distributed after a period of one year, to the fairs which complied with the provisions of said section for the year in question.

Source. 1987, 252:5. 1995, 130:5, eff. July 23, 1995.

Division of Agricultural Development

Section 425:20

    425:20 Division Established. – The division of agricultural development is hereby created in the department of agriculture, markets, and food to foster, support and assist in the orderly development of the state's agricultural resources.

Source. 1985, 72:1. 1987, 149:3. 1995, 130:4, eff. July 23, 1995.

Section 425:21

    425:21 Division Director; Salary. –
I. The commissioner shall nominate a director for the division of agricultural development for appointment by the governor, with the consent of the council. The division director shall serve at the pleasure of the commissioner. The director shall be qualified by reason of professional competence, education, and experience.
II. The salary of the director shall be as specified in RSA 94:1-a.

Source. 1985, 72:1. 1987, 149:3, eff. July 10, 1987.

Section 425:21-a

    425:21-a Duties. – The division of agricultural development is authorized and directed to obtain and disseminate information in regard to quality, quantity, and location of agricultural, horticultural, orchard, dairy, and other similar products; assist producers in finding available and profitable markets for such products; compile and publish data concerning production, consumption, and value of food and fiber products; assist producers in promoting and advertising agricultural commodities; cooperate with other state agencies, agricultural organizations, and institutes in activities which foster improved agricultural marketing opportunities; gather and disseminate information relative to agricultural land; and shall adopt all reasonable means in whatever manner to bring into closer relationship the producers and consumers of the state.

Source. 1987, 149:4, eff. July 10, 1987.

Agricultural Advisory Board

Section 425:22

    425:22 Advisory Board Established. –
I. There shall be a board advisory to the commissioner of agriculture, markets, and food which shall consist of the following 15 members:
(a) Ten members, one from each county, actively engaged in agriculture.
(b) One member who shall represent the petroleum industry.
(c) One member who shall represent the food distribution industry.
(d) One member who shall represent the food retailing industry.
(e) One member who shall represent consumer interests.
(f) One member who shall represent the advertising industry.
II. The term of office of members of the board shall be 5 years and until their successors are appointed and qualified. Vacancies shall be filled for the unexpired term only. However, beginning July 1, 2001, the terms of 2 members representing agriculture as provided in subparagraph I(a) and one member representing the industry interests as provided in subparagraphs I(b)-(f) shall expire each year. Initial terms for members representing agriculture shall expire in the year as follows: Belknap and Sullivan counties, 2002; Carroll and Strafford counties, 2003; Cheshire and Rockingham counties, 2004; Coos and Merrimack counties, 2005; and Grafton and Hillsborough counties, 2006. Initial terms for members representing industry interests shall expire in the year as follows: petroleum, 2002; food retailing, 2003; advertising, 2004; food distribution, 2005; and consumer, 2006. No board member shall be eligible for successive reappointment after 2004. Appointments to the board shall be made by the governor with the advice and consent of the council on the basis of extensive experience and demonstrated ability and on a nonpartisan basis.
III. The governor shall annually designate a chairperson from among the membership. No member shall serve as chairperson more than 3 years.
IV. Members of the board shall serve without compensation, but shall be entitled to receive mileage and expenses when in performance of the duties required under this subdivision.
V. A member who has 2 unexcused absences from meetings of the board shall be automatically dropped from the board, and a new member shall be appointed before the next meeting.

Source. 1985, 72:1. 1995, 130:3. 2000, 72:1, eff. June 20, 2000.

Section 425:23

    425:23 Advisory Board; Duties. – The board shall consult with and advise the commissioner of agriculture, markets, and food with respect to the policies, programs, and operations of the department on a continuing basis and for such purposes shall meet with the commissioner not less than semi-annually at the call of the chairperson or 3 board members. The board shall designate and advertise at least one meeting annually as a public hearing at which interested persons may appear and be heard regarding matters affecting agriculture, markets, and food and related laws. The board shall review and make biennial recommendations relative to administrative, legal, and regulatory factors affecting the viability of the agricultural economy. The board shall promote close coordination of the activities of the department with activities of the United States Department of Agriculture, Environmental Protection Agency and other federal agencies; the University of New Hampshire, including cooperative extension work; other state agencies; and farm organizations of the state. Upon expiration of the term of office of the commissioner of agriculture, markets, and food, or upon the occurrence of a vacancy in such office, it shall be the duty of the board to submit advisory recommendations to the governor and council concerning such new appointment or the filling of such vacancy.

Source. 1985, 72:1. 1995, 130:3, eff. July 23, 1995. 2007, 81:1, eff. Aug. 10, 2007.

Section 425:24

    425:24 Repealed by 1995, 130:9, VI, eff. July 23, 1995. –

Agriculture in the Classroom

Section 425:25

    425:25 Agriculture in the Classroom Committee. –
I. There is hereby established an agriculture in the classroom committee, which shall include but not be limited to the following members: the director of the university of New Hampshire cooperative extension, or designee; the state commissioner of agriculture, markets, and food, or designee; the commissioner of the department of education, or designee; the dean of the college of life sciences and agriculture at the university of New Hampshire at Durham, or designee; and one representative from each of the following, appointed by the governor: New Hampshire Fruit Growers Association, Granite State Dairy Promotion, New Hampshire Plant Growers Association, New Hampshire Beekeepers' Association, New Hampshire Maple Producers' Association, New Hampshire Farm Bureau Federation, Granite State FFA Association, New Hampshire Christmas Tree Promotion Board, New Hampshire Farmers' Market Association, and the New Hampshire Horse Council. The committee shall elect a chairperson from its members. The members of the committee shall serve without compensation, but the appointees shall be entitled to expenses, including traveling expenses, necessarily incurred in the discharge of their duties. It may adopt rules, pursuant to RSA 541-A, necessary for the execution of its functions under this subdivision and shall keep a record of its official actions.
II. The agriculture in the classroom committee shall:
(a) Determine the objectives and programs of agriculture in the classroom.
(b) Develop details and directions of the agriculture in the classroom programs.
(c) Apply for, receive, and expend any funds from federal, state, or non-state sources, including grants and matching funds which may be available and accept private donations and gifts from any source for the purpose of administering agriculture in the classroom programs.
(d) Direct fundraising and spending for agriculture in the classroom programs.
(e) Hire and oversee an education director when funding allows.

Source. 2009, 115:1, eff. Aug. 21, 2009.

Lease of State Land for Farming Study Committee

Section 425:26

    425:26 Repealed by 2012, 250:2, eff. Nov. 2, 2012. –