AGRICULTURE

Darryl and Lucinda Williams at Luther Belden Farm in Hatfield, Massachusetts.
Carrie Healy / NEPR

This Thanksgiving, when scooping ice cream on top of warm apple pie, some Massachusetts lawmakers’ thoughts might turn to tax credits for dairy farmers. They would be expanded under a measure under consideration in the legislature.

Connie Borodenko with a recently found stash of Hen in the Woods.
Tema Silk / NEPR

Foraging was a survival skill for my grandmother in war-torn Suwalki, Poland, and again after she emigrated to America in 1911.  

President Trump made his view of the North American Free Trade Agreement very clear during the presidential election. He called NAFTA "the worst trade deal in ... the history of this country." And Trump blamed NAFTA for the loss of millions of U.S. manufacturing jobs.

His administration is in the midst of renegotiating the free trade deal with Canada and Mexico, and that is making many U.S. farmers and ranchers nervous.

To prevent their collective cultural knowledge about medicinal plants from disappearing, some Vermont tribal nations are sharing their expertise with those outside the native communities.

Late Blight Threatens Mass. Tomato Crops

Aug 9, 2017
Tomato plant infected with late blight.
Carol Lollis / Daily Hampshire Gazette

Farmers in Massachusetts and New Hampshire are preparing for potential crop losses brought on by late blight, a fungus-like disease that quickly rots tomatoes and potatoes.

Record-Breaking Year For Mass. Maple Syrup Producers

Jun 13, 2017
Jerrey Roberts / Daily Hampshire Gazette

For the third year in a row, maple syrup production in Massachusetts was at an all-time high.

A federal survey found the state's sugarmakers produced 7,000 more gallons this year than last year.

Massachusetts Maple Producers Association Coordinator Winton Pitcoff said the weather helped. Warm temperatures in January and February started the season off. Colder temperatures in March allowed production to continue into April.

The "Witness Tree" in the Harvard Forest, located in Petersham, Mass.
Carrie Healy / NEPR

Author Lynda Mapes spent a year in the Harvard Forest in Petersham, Massachusetts, chronicling a single tree. This red oak stands in one of the oldest and most intensively studied research landscapes in North America. 

Honey bees.
Courtney Collison / Creative Commons

Longmeadow, Massachusetts, voters will determine the fate of beekeeping on day two of the annual Town Meeting. One citizens' petition would basically ban beekeeping, by limiting it to agriculturally zoned land west of I-91.

Mark Lantzakis is one of about a half-dozen beekeepers in Longmeadow. He said the proposed restrictions aren't typical for this part of the state. 

"There is not, as far as I know, anything going on in other towns that would bar beekeeping," he said.

Millers River near Erving, Massachusetts
jkb / Creative Commons

Massachusetts is still in the process of recovering from a drought.  The next few weeks are a critical time for recharging ground water supplies.

Most of Massachusetts, except for Berkshire County, is under a drought advisory -- a step above normal conditions, with some limits on watering and irrigation.

And yet the state is in much better shape than last fall when most of Western Massachusetts was in a severe or even extreme drought.

The latest drought survey map for Massachusetts, as of April 6, 2017.
U.S. Drought Monitor

Recent wet weather has put a dent in the drought that's been plaguing most of New England for much of the past year. 

In western Massachusetts, most of the area is tagged by forecasters as just "abnormally dry." Only a swath along along the Connecticut River in Hampden and Hampshire counties, extending into western Franklin County is still under a moderate drought.

Anthony Artusa with the U.S. Climate Prediction Center said the chances are good for above average rainfall over the next few months, which will help wipe out the drought completely.

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