USDA deputy secretary visiting Vt., NH

WALPOLE, N.H. (AP) — A U.S. Department of Agriculture official is visiting farms in Vermont and New Hampshire to discuss how the growing agricultural economy is helping to create jobs and expand local and regional food systems.

Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan starts in Vermont on Tuesday, where she'll tour the Brattleboro Food Co-op, which has grown from a tiny warehouse storefront in 1979 into a $17 million operation.

In New Hampshire, Merrigan will visit the Stonewall Farm in Walpole, a nonprofit working farm and educational center. She also will tour the site of the new Monadnock Community Market Co-op, which is scheduled to open in early 2013 and will provide farmers the opportunity to sell their food locally.

Merrigan also is expected to meet with students and faculty at Keene State College.

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