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Agriculture, Farmland and Open Space Preservation

Agricultural Commissions / Agritourism | Farmland Preservation | Open Space

Agricultural Commissions

  • RSA 673:4-b Agricultural Commissions
  • RSA 674:44-e Agricultural Commission
  • RSA 674:44-f Powers
  • RSA 674:44-g Appropriations Authorized
  • Agricultural Commission (see Chapter V of The Planning Board in New Hampshire - A Handbook for Local Officials)
  • See the results of the Municipal Land Use Regulation Annual Survey for municipalities with an Agricultural Commission.
  • What is an Agricultural Commission? New Hampshire Town and City, March/April, 2015
    The purpose of an agricultural commission is to protect agricultural lands, preserve rural character, provide a voice for farmers, and encourage agriculture-based businesses. For years, New Hampshire farmers have served as stewards of land and water resources, and provided habitat for native plants and animals. As New Hampshire communities grow and change, citizens are looking for ways to support local farms, and foster new ones.
  • Agriculture in New Hampshire, New Hampshire Town and City, March/April, 2015
    There are over 4,000 farms in New Hampshire. However, according to the 2012 New England Agricultural Statistics, fewer than 1,500 make $10,000 or more in annual revenue. As Bruce Crawford of the Boscawen Agricultural Commission puts it, it’s “hard work for little money.” That means a farmer’s work goes beyond the physical labor and the long hours: farmers must be creative and tireless to reach their customers.
  • Agricultural Commissions: Keeping Agriculture Viable in New Hampshire Communities, New Hampshire Town and City, June 2010
    How many farms are there in your community? Does your master plan include a chapter on, or any discussion of, agricultural resources? Is a farmer required to go through full site plan review to put up a seasonal farmstand? These are questions that a local agricultural commission can help to answer.
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  • The definitions of Farm, Agriculture, Agritourism and Farming - RSA 21:34-a
  • Agritourism Planning for Farmers - NH Department of Agriculture, Markets and Food
  • See NHMA Law Lecture #2 - Local Regulation of Agriculture - Fall 2015
    Just how far does the "right to farm" go? Join Attorney Amy Manzelli of BCM Environmental & Land Law and Attorney Margaret Byrnes of NHMA for a detailed look at local regulation of agriculture through real life scenarios and case studies, including an in-depth look at the recent NH Supreme Court case about weddings on farms, Forster v. Town of Henniker. Perfect for land use board members, selectpersons, and code enforcement officers. Presenters: Amy Manzelli, Esquire, BCM Environmental & Land Law PLLC and Margaret M. L. Byrnes, Esquire, Staff Attorney, NH Municipal Association.
  • See NHMA Law Lecture #1 - Developments in the Law: Accessory Dwelling Units, Agritourism, and Signs - Fall 2016
    This lecture explores a trio of recent legal developments that will undoubtedly impact your community and you land use ordinances. These include the passage of Senate Bill 146 which preempts local regulation of accessory dwelling units; the passage of Senate Bill 345 which, in response to the New Hampshire's Supreme Court's decision in Forster v. Town of Henniker, further limits local control of agritourism activities; and the United States Supreme Court's surprising decision in Reed v. Town of Gilbert, which substantially curtails the ability of municipalities to regulate sign content. Presenters: Benjamin D. Frost, Esq. AICP, New Hampshire Housing, and Timothy Corwin, Esq. AICP, City of Lebanon
  • STEPHEN E. FORSTER D/B/A FORSTER’S CHRISTMAS TREE FARM & GIFT SHOPPE v. TOWN OF HENNIKER Argued: February 19, 2015 Opinion Issued: June 12, 2015
    This opinion is instructive on several legal issues: 1) statutory construction - how courts interpret the meaning of laws; 2) implied preemption - whether state laws on a particular topic are so comprehensive that they preempt conflicting local ordinances; and 3) accessory uses - whether a use is subordinate and incidental to the principal use of the property and, therefore, permitted.

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Farmland Preservation

  • Laws and Rules - Department of Agriculture, Markets & Food
  • The definitions of Farm, Agriculture, Agritourism and Farming - RSA 21:34-a
  • Agricultural Land Preservation Program - RSA 432:18
  • "Agricultural activities are a beneficial and worthwhile feature of the New Hampshire landscape and shall not be unreasonably limited by use of municipal planning and zoning powers or by the unreasonable interpretation of such powers." RSA 672:1,III-b
  • Chapter 674 Local Land Use Regulations and Regulatory Powers
    • "Every zoning ordinance shall be adopted in accordance with the requirements of RSA 674:18. Zoning ordinances shall be designed: . . . 
      (i) To encourage the preservation of agricultural lands and buildings and the agricultural operations described in RSA 21:34-a supporting the agricultural lands and buildings; and . . . "
      [RSA 674:17, I]
    • The Agricultural Uses of Land subdivision of RSA 674, a.k.a. "The Right to Farm Law" [RSA 674:32-a to 32-c]
  • Administrative Rules - Acquisition of Agricultural Land Development Rights - Ag 700
  • Best Management Practices
    • State law on best management practices for manure management, RSA 431:33-35 applies regardless of local zoning. Generally, if someone does not have enough land to use the manure at agronomic rates, then only temporary storage is allowed and regular hauling and disposal is required.
    • There is a model Agricultural Incentive Zoning Ordinance that elevates agriculture as the preferred use in appropriate zones (residential uses not associated with agriculture require special use permits). The agricultural district would not be appropriate in more developed parts of town where a zoning ordinance might preclude agricultural uses. The model is part of the Innovative Land Use Planning Techniques: A Handbook for Sustainable Development.
  • Local Regulation of Agricultural and Horticultural Operations, New Hampshire Town and City, March/April, 2015
  • Preserving Rural Character through Agriculture: A Resource Kit for Planners
    A broad array of useful tools and techniques, compiled by the NH Coalition for Sustaining Agriculture. (The 3-ring manual/kit distributed to all New Hampshire municipalities by the Coalition has been scanned and all the contents are now available online.)
  • Tools for Preserving Barns and Farms - NH Division of Historical Resources
  • Conserving The Family Farm - A Guide to Conservation Easements for Farmers, other Agricultural Professionals, Landowners and Conservationists by Annette Lorraine
  • Who's Who in New Hampshire Agriculture
    Contact information for people and programs, and a brief economic overview of agriculture in New Hampshire, published by the NH Department of Agriculture, Markets and Food.
  • NRCS Farmland and Ranch Land Protection Program
  • American Farmland Trust
  • Creating an Agricultural Commission in Your Hometown
    Lorraine Stuart Merrill, for the NH Coalition for Sustaining Agriculture and UNH Cooperative Extension. Agricultural commissions are an effective mechanism for communities to take positive action to remain or become more farm-friendly.
  • Food Solutions New England (formerly New Hampshire Center for a Food Secure Future)
  • See the results of the Municipal Land Use Regulation Annual Survey for municipalities with Agriculture Incentive zoning.
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Open Space