No farmer in New England wants to relive the 2023 growing season. A hard freeze in late May was followed by one of the wettest summers on record, and crop farmers of all kinds faced several unexpected challenges. The weather created a ripple effect, leaving farmers with less working capital for the 2024 growing season, forcing producers to have to make difficult decisions about their businesses and livelihoods.

The New Hampshire Department of Agriculture, Markets & Food (NHDAMF) recently launched a Crop Loss Program to potentially aid farmers in NH dealing with the repercussions of last summer.

University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension (UNHCE) conducted a crop loss survey at the end of the 2023 growing season. Farmers across NH were able to voluntarily contribute their crop yield data. In total, it’s estimated that the weather contributed over $3.1 million of lost revenue in just vegetable crops. Of that $3.1 million, Hillsborough County saw over $1.9 million in lost revenue.

The wet conditions affected the crops in several ways, from poor seed germination to weed control to limited equipment access to fields. Additionally, the rain compacted the soil causing nutrient leaching which further impacted the health of crops.

Another highly impacted sector of NH agriculture was the fruit industry. The May frost damaged early apple and peach crops and left producers with little to sell in autumn. According to the UNHCE crop loss survey, nearly 900 acres of apples were impacted, creating a loss of over $7.9 million for the fruit industry. The ripple effect for these producers came in autumn for the U-pick customers. Many farms brought in produce to sell at their stands but could not provide customers with the “pick-your-own” experience – something NH agritourism relies on. They also lacked the inventory to make value-added products like apple cider, baked goods and more.

The adversity farmers faced during 2023 is not questionable, and NHDAMF created a program to help aid those farmers who experienced crop loss during that growing season. UNHCE’s Seth Wilner (agricultural business field specialist) and Sarah Allen (state dairy specialist) explained the program with help from NHDAMF.

Until May 15, farmers can apply for relief funding. The criteria for the program are that farms need to have experienced at least a 30% loss in crops during the 2023 growing season due to weather events and have annual gross receipts of at least $30,000. The farm must be principally located in NH and have been in business since Jan. 1, 2022. (Farms that were bought and came under new ownership in 2023 are also eligible but need to be noted in the application.)

The application is simple, and farm owners are encouraged to assemble all their documentation before completing it. Farms will need the past three years of tax returns to provide proof of income and their classification as a sole proprietor, partnership, corporation, etc. Additionally, farmers will need to input their gross farm revenue, farm profit, farm depreciation expenses and wages paid to farm owners for the years 2020-23. Applicants should also have information that estimates the loss in crops during 2023 compared to previous years (most easily done by inputting total yields for each affected crop from 2020-22 and then the yields from 2023 to see the difference).

The completed applications can be sent to and all information will be kept confidential. Farmers who have questions about their specific operation are encouraged to reach out to NHDAMF or UNHCE for guidance on how best to complete the application. The application and all supporting documentation can be found at

Farmers can apply to receive 50% of their adjusted net farm losses up to $500,000. The first installment will be half of the payment (25% of the lost revenue), and if funds remain, the other 25% will be dispersed. Funding for this program comes from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), and this specific program is being overseen by the Governor’s Office for Emergency Relief & Recovery. Every state was allocated ARPA funds during COVID-19, but how the funds were used was up to each individual state. New Hampshire Ag Commissioner Shawn Jasper negotiated for $8 million for the use of crop relief funding for farmers.

UNHCE field specialists acknowledge that these times can be stressful for farmers, and they should not be afraid to ask for help. UNHCE provides a Farmer Mental Health Program that offers advice, support and people to talk to in times of crisis. Jasper thanked everyone for their efforts and said NH farmers should be prepared for more unusual growing seasons and continue to be resilient.

The NHDAMF Crop Loss Program will not diminish the impact of the 2023 growing season but will provide an avenue of support for NH farmers during difficult times.

by Hannah Majewski