Q: What specific bills or programs have you initiated to strengthen Vermont agriculture?
A: In 2010, I joined other legislative leaders to amend the 2010 Recovery and Reinvestment Act bill to reinstate the Vermont Seal of Quality program. As Chair of the Senate Institutions committee, I included language in the 2010 capital bill that broadened the pool of non-profit entities that could apply for competitive grants available through the Farm-to-Plate Investment program.
Over the previous three years I voted to support the sale of un-pasteurized milk and allow industrial hemp to be grown in Vermont. I voted to find better ways to prepare students for careers in Agriculture, Forestry and Horticulture (AF&H) and determine how to better prepare the next generation of Vermonters to become involved in these sectors. I also voted to support ways to ensure and enhance the viability of Vermont agriculture and successfully introduced an amendment relating to the interim assistance to the dairy industry and the development of long-term goals for a viable agricultural sector. In 2007, I successfully proposed including $200,000 for emergency funding for farm capital.
Q: What specific plans do you have to enhance the profitability of Vermont agriculture?
A: Farming is so important to our economy in so many different ways. I feel it is vitally important for Vermonters to learn once again how to become self-sufficient. This will require a stronger focus on educating Vermonters. I would encourage and expand partnerships between non-profit organizations and schools in developing consumer-based agricultural courses in K-12 schools. I would continue to support and develop more robust and self-sustaining agricultural sectors that promote emerging agricultural industries and work to ensure that the policies and programs of the State will support and promote the Vermont agriculture industry as a vital component of the State's economy and essential steward of our land. I would continue to work to increase economic development in Vermont's food and farm sector, create jobs in the food and farm economy and improve access to healthy local foods. I would also work as I have in the past to market the Vermont brand both outside of Vermont and internally.