Under the Golden Dome

“Under the Golden Dome”, is emailed weekly to subscribing members to keep them apprised of legislative developments at the Vermont Statehouse that affect agriculture. Legislative priorities are set annually by the organization following the elected delegate session determining policy in November.

Helpful Reports for the 2017 session are:

Vermont Subsurface Agricultural TILE DRAINAGE REPORT. Submitted by the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets and the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources January 31, 2017. Prepared for the Vermont General Assembly in Accordance with 2015 Act 64, Section 5. 

CLEAN WATER REPORT REQUIRED BY ACT 64 OF 2015 Compiled by STATE OF VERMONT OFFICE OF THE STATE TREASURER January 15, 2017 

The Miner Institute 2016 Annual Report on Tile Drainage. 

Vermont’s Pollinator Protection Committee REPORT TO THE VERMONT LEGISLATURE AS REQUIRED BY ACT 83 OF 2016 SESSION 

 

August 13, 2017

Contact Lyn DesMarais, Legislative Director (802) 345-2958 or at lyn.desmarais@gmail.com 

Reminders

Vermoont Farm Bureau Annual Meeting is Friday and Saturday November 3-4, 2017. Please Save the Date
Resolutions Committee Meeting: October 19, 2017
Resolutions Due: October 12, 2017

RAP DATES

Small farms who meet the criteria of the RAPs for small farms now have to self-certify with the Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets, (VAAFM) between July 1, 2017 and January 31 of 2018.. At last count, we were told that approximately 100 of the 700 farms have self-certified. Please click here for more information from the VAAFM: http://agriculture.vermont.gov/water-quality/regulations/rap#dates.

Money for Water Quality Projects

The VAAFM announced additional resources from the clean water fund for farmers The VAAFM is looking for requests for proposals for a second round of funding. Ag-CWIP will fund organizations assisting farmers in planning and installation of vegetative buffers adjacent to streams, grassed waterways to prevent gully erosion in crop fields, and grazing systems to exclude livestock from surface waters.  For more information click here: http://agriculture.vermont.gov/node/1570

Summer Picnic

Thursday August 31, from noon to 4pm. All members are invited. We realize that this is a challenging time for people to get off their farms. We hope somehow many of you can make it. It is a time to connect and reconnect with friends and it’s a terrific opportunity to chat with AFBF President Zippy Duvall and Lieutenant Governor, David Zuckerman. Rutland County, with the help of David Ainesworth, Harvey Smith, Terry Gulick, and Roy Folsom are putting on a great meal. This is your opportunity to talk with David and Zippy about your farming issues, be they national or local.

Looking ahead

Looking ahead at the next session of the Vermont legislature, water quality and costs should be on the table. There will be pressures to raise monies for health care and education. State labor issues of minimum wage, family leave, workers compensation, health insurance, independent contractor, are in play. Pollinator protection, Agritourism, increasing the states cost share program for farmers, privacy of Nutrient Management plans and criminal charges against farmers for loose animals are all on the table as well. The forestry industry merits attention as it is seeing some markets plunge and costs soar.

Water Quality

 Predictions of increased rainfall for Vermont means that run off and storm waters may be even more of a concern in the future. At a couple of water quality meetings that I have attended, there seems to be an urgency to embrace anything new in terms of farming methods which promise to clean up Lake Champlain quickly, or may serve as an alternative to raising the funds required by Act 64 for current farmers. We need to be vigilant that these funds, which were promised but not yet raised, are raised and are adequate.  I think it would be prudent if we remind non-farmers that the lakes and water ways of Vermont have been used as Vermont waste water systems for a long time. Patience is needed as practices are changed all over the state.

The RAPs are at the beginning of being rolled out. We hope that they will improve prevention of phosphorus run off in to the waterways, but they will not clean up Lake Champlain, or any other lake or stream. We appreciate that the blue green algae blooms forming in summer in our lakes is very serious, and that some areas of our lakes are unusable for fishing, swimming, or drinking water. Non- farmers need to appreciate that we don’t want sediment or nutrient run off from our fields at all.  Many farmers have adopted practices ahead of the RAPs, in just the past few years, to manage these issues. We need to continue to show people how the agricultural community in Vermont has stepped up to the plate in the last three years and is making significant changes that will slow or prevent phosphorus and other nutrient from entering the waterways. We need farmers to tell their stories as they best know how: face to face, to local newspapers, work with organizations, come to the State House, during the session and/or make and post videos to get your story out there of what you have done and are doing. Finally, we must remind everyone that phosphorus, nitrates and many other chemicals are already in our lakes and that the water cleanup is a much larger task. This is a systemic problem and requires an all-in solution with an all-in payment approach.

National Issues

 Labor Issues. As many of you have personal daily experience, labor issues on farms are real, and have been persistent for years. New farmers as they start to expand, often find it hard to find part time employees who can and will do the work. For established farms of all types, foreign labor or migrant labor, fills holes in their workforce.  Farmers who need temporary laborers are experiencing delays in their labor force reaching Vermont in a timely manner. For dairy farmers, as the needs of the farm are obviously not seasonal, there is no legal framework to hire foreign dairy workers under federal law.

Water quality issues are being discussed across the United States --nitrogen, phosphorus, pest pressure, herbicides and pesticides.  Zippy Duvall has the knowledge to talk to us about what is happening in other parts of the country and what other members are facing and doing to protect their water quality and to be good stewards of water. Our picnic is a great way to learn more.

Commodity Pricing; There has been some hope of improving global sales of dairy products this summer and a dip in global production of milk, but in general concerns continue across the United States for many commodities that prices continue to be depressed and are at historic lows. These commodity issues and that prices are not accurately reflecting production costs, will continue to be a topic of conversation at the federal level and during trade negotiations and discussion around the 2018 farm bill.

Facebook:  I post articles relevant to agriculture at least five days a week on Facebook. Please join Facebook, like us and join in on the conversations.

WEBSITE INFORMATION

How to submit written information to committees and how to around the Vermont State House:
Vermont State House
Budget Speech (audio)
 
Budget Speech Read copy:
 

Newshounds: for those of you who want a daily dose please subscribe to Morning Ag Clips: Newshounds

 Any one of many AFBF publications: AFBF

 Vermont Digger

Morning Ag Clips

VT Farm to Plate

NRCS USDA Gov


Handouts Agricultural Committee


Contacting representatives Email or In Person

At the beginning of each term we publish the member names on each committee of agriculture. The members are easy to contact. It's their first initial; last name @leg.state.vt.us with no spaces.

 Please do not use their private home phone numbers, unless you have their permission.

House Committee on Agriculture and Forest Products

Senate Committee on Agriculture

Sen. Robert Starr, Chair, rstarr@leg.state.vt.us

Sen. Anthony Pollina, Vice Chair, apollina@leg.state.vt.us

Sen. Brian Collamore, bcollamore@leg.state.vt.us

Sen. Carolyn Whitney Branagan, cbranagan@leg.state.vt.us

Sen. Francis K. Brooks, fbrooks@leg.state.vt.us

Contact me at (802) 345-2958 or at lyn.desmarais@gmail.com anytime.