The New Hampshire Executive Council has confirmed the appointment of Lorraine S. Merrill of Stratham to be commissioner of agriculture, markets and food for a five-year term. She had been nominated by Gov. John Lynch earlier last month and succeeds Stephen H. Taylor of Plainfield, who had served in the post for the past 25 years.
Merrill is co-owner with her husband John, son Nathan and daughter-in-law Judy of Stuart Farm, a 270-acre dairy enterprise with 240 milking cows and nearly 200 head of young cattle situated at the edge of the Great Bay Estuary. The herd consists of registered Holstein and Brown Swiss animals.
She has been active in the day-to-day operation of Stuart Farm in addition to her work as a writer for agricultural and general interest publications and involvement in many civic and professional activities at the local, state and national levels.
Merrill graduated from the University of New Hampshire in 1973. Having returned to the family farm, she taught elementary school for seven years. Over the years Stuart Farm has been recognized for its leadership in conservation and environmental management and in 2003 the Merrills were honored by the American Farmland Trust as Stewards of the Land, the organization’s highest honor.
Among Lorraine Merrill’s list of achievements are service as chair of the USDA Farm Service Agency State Committee for eight years, trustee of the University System of New Hampshire for eight years, founding member of the New Hampshire Coalition for Sustaining Agriculture, director of the New England Dairy and Food Council and member of the New Hampshire Farm Viability Task Force.
She has been involved in many other agricultural boards and committees and currently is a Food and Society Policy Fellow with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and the Thomas Jefferson Agricultural Institute. She has also served as a local school board member.
Merrill has been a regular contributor since 1983 to Hoard’s Dairyman, the leading dairy farmer trade magazine, producing features and a column entitled “The People Side” and holding the title of field editor. Her articles on agriculture, conservation, land use and many other subjects have appeared in newspapers, magazines, encyclopedias, books and on the web.
She has spoken frequently at conferences, seminars and training programs conducted by USDA, UNH, Cornell University, Texas A&M and EPA plus many consumer and environmental groups and the New Hampshire Office of Energy and Planning.
With her confirmation Merrill assumes leadership of an agency with 36 fulltime employees, eight part-time and seasonal workers and a budget of $4 million. The department consists of six divisions: animal industry, pesticides control, plant industry, weights and measures, regulatory services and agricultural development. Attached to the department are the state Board of Veterinary Examiners and the State Conservation Committee.
She will be the sixth person to hold the position of commissioner since the department’s establishment in 1913. Her predecessors include Andrew L. Felker of Laconia (1914-1947), Perley I. Fitts of Durham (1947-1962), Frank T. Buckley of Derry (1962-1972), Howard C. Townsend of Lebanon (1972-1982) and Stephen H. Taylor of Plainfield (1982-2007).
Concord, NH 03302-2042