A Conversation with NH Representative Kuster

The Evolving Local Food System and Her Role on the House Agriculture Committee

NH representative Annie Kuster and NH Food Alliance network partners.

On February 8, 2021, Representative Annie Kuster (NH-02), who recently announced her reappointment to the House Agriculture Committee for the 117th Congress, held a virtual discussion with leadership from the NH Food Alliance, UNH Extension, Warner Public Market, the Hanover Co-op, and Kearsage Gore Farm. The discussion covered challenges and opportunities in developing a sustainable, resilient local food system and how Congress can support their work during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has created many challenges for our food system, but it is not the only challenge we face,” said Rep. Kuster. “We also know that we must do a better job of addressing racial and economic equity in our food system, ensuring that all have access to healthy food and can participate in our food system as consumers, producers, and beyond. I’ve been so impressed by the ingenuity of our Granite State farmers and food stakeholders throughout this crisis, and I’m committed, through my role of the House Agriculture Committee, to bring their voices to Congress and to help foster creative solutions so that we can continue to grow a vibrant and healthy local food system.”

Erin Hale, Research and Network Coordinator for NH Food Alliance, who was part of the virtual discussion, echoes Rep. Kuster's statement.  “The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the vulnerabilities of our food supply to global and national disruptions and exacerbated existing inequities in the food system,” said Hale. “Our innovative and adaptable NH producers, harvesters, and food businesses have played a critical role in keeping food on our tables, but they need support to continue to grow and feed a greater share of our residents. Meanwhile, the economic downturn has substantially increased food insecurity in NH and underlined the importance of improving access to healthy food for everyone through federal nutrition programs—including those like Granite State Market Match that benefit both our food producers and people in need. We appreciate the continued support of Congressional Representatives Kuster and Pappas as they respond to COVID-19 and work to build a resilient, sustainable, and equitable food system here in NH.”
Also present during the discussion were NH food system business owners, Allan Reetz, the Director of Public and Government Affairs for the Hanover Co-op, Bret Ingold, co-owner of Warner Public Market, and Sarah Hansen, co-owner of Warner Public Market and farmer at Kearsage Gore Farm. All three business owners voiced their views on the agricultural economy, the importance building a resilient local food system, and how partnerships with state and federal legislators can strengthen both.

“At the Hanover Co-op Food Stores, we know the benefits of a strong farm economy come from hard work and cooperative partnerships here and in D.C.,” said Allan Reetz, Director of Public and Government Affairs for Hanover Co-op. “Long before the pandemic, the work of Congresswoman Kuster — and food producers across the Granite State — strengthened the foodshed we rely on now, and must build for the future.”
Rep. Kuster has been a consistent advocate for New Hampshire’s farmers and producers, bringing the voices of Granite Staters to Congress. In the 117th Congress, Kuster was reappointed to the House Agriculture Committee, which she served on for her first three terms in Congress. On the committee, Kuster helped advance critical legislation to bolster the Northern Border Regional Commission, strengthen the dairy safety net, support veteran farming and small organic farms, boost rural development, and protect nutrition assistance.
Watch the full conversation below! Learn more about Representative Kuster's views and how to contact her here. And stay in touch with the NH Food Alliance by following on Facebook and Instagram or by signing up for our newsletter here.