The Future of Farming in Vermont
Vermont's dairy sector is facing the worst crisis in decades. With dairy prices as low as they were 30 years ago, we are losing dozens of farms. Dairy pricing is a complicated issue and one that is controlled at the federal level. As governor, I will work with our dairy farmers to advocate on their behalf with our federal delegation to push for a fair pricing structure as well as a supply management system. At the same time, we must recognize as a state that there are still opportunities for farmers to thrive in our state. Although some state policies still stand in the way, we can and should work with farmers to encourage diversification, year-round production, value-added processing, and direct sales. These types of agricultural ventures are more likely to provide farmers with a fair price for their products, and they will also provide Vermonters with access to fresh, locally produced food. We are leading the nation in access to local food, but we can and must do even better in this area -- for our families, our farmers, and also for our economy.
Creating New Opportunities for the Agricultural Sector
As governor, I will give the agricultural sector the attention it deserves. Agriculture will not be an afterthought in my administration -- I will appoint a Secretary of Agriculture who knows the dairy sector well, and who also has an interest in and commitment to the many other types of agriculture that are in Vermont. We have over 6000 farmers in Vermont, and they are contributing every day to our local economy, as well as to our family dinners. I will focus on finding the opportunities for our agricultural sector that will allow farmers to get a fair price, create jobs, and provide Vermonters with more local food options. My administration will review current policies around direct sales between farmers and customers and will work to reduce barriers between them. I will also focus efforts in rebuilding our value-added processing infrastructure, such as dairy processing, slaughter facilities, and community kitchens. As a state, we must invest in this infrastructure and collaborate with other investors to ensure that our products do not have to leave the state for processing. I look forward to the recommendations of the Farm to Plate initiative, and that will be my starting point as governor for developing a real economic development plan for the agriculture sector, and integrating that plan with all aspects of the administration, including workforce development, tourism, and job creation initiatives.