Issue Position: Agriculture
"It is time for Vermont to declare independence from industrialized agriculture. On day one I will convene a working group and get started. Farmers will set the specific priorities but we will strengthen our farms, our local food supply and the processing and transportation systems that support it. "
Making Agriculture the Priority it Should Be: We are losing time, money and farms by not making a real commitment to and investment in our family farms and rural communities. We must find ways to increase the profitability of our dairy farmers and stabilize farm milk prices. At the same time we must support the great efforts going on in communities across the State to diversify and strengthen our farm economy. We have much to be proud of, but there's so much more left to do.
25 Years of Working with Vermont Farmers: We need a Governor who truly appreciates, is involved in and supports the family farmers of Vermont and for 25 years I have done just that. In the 1980's I stood with farmers in St. Albans struggling with the burden of increased property taxes. In the 1990's I helped organize a series of national dairy farmers meetings, bringing farmers from across the country to Vermont to lay the groundwork for a regional dairy policy, leading to the Northeast Dairy Compact. More recently I worked with a group of farmers to found the Vermont Milk Company, a Vermont owned, farmer-controlled business with a diversified, value added processing plant in the Northeast Kingdom.
Getting to Work on Day One: I would support local processing of Vermont vegetables, meat, dairy and other products, including incentives to agricultural development projects that provide jobs while helping grow our local agriculture. I would advocate a Vermont Fair Trade Brand Certification program to identify real Vermont products that provide a decent return to farmers. I would push for a real State of Vermont Buy Local program that would bring Vermont milk, yogurt and cheese, meat and vegetables to every Vermont school and Vermont food into state institutions. I would also work with farmers to extend the growing season with greenhouses and other strategies. But these ideas are just the beginning; from day one I would engage farmers and all Vermonters in a conversation about agriculture priorities, because I want to hear from you.