“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.
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.
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
The Annual State Summer Board Meeting and Picnic
Despite the forecast for rain, we ended up having a wonderful sunny day for our state-wide summer picnic and board meeting. We had just over 100 attendees. As well as many Farm Bureau members, guests included Lt. Governor David Zuckerman, former Governor Jim Douglas, Secretary of Agriculture, Anson Tebbetts, former Secretary of Agriculture and current UVM director Chuck Ross, Senators MacDonald, Flory and Collamore, and Representatives Shaw, Carr, Potter, Chestnut-Tangerman, Smith, Ainsworth, Cupoli, Buckholz, Bock and Norris.
A special thank you goes out to David Ainsworth for arriving at 6 am to begin cooking his pig on his wood fired cooker, Terry Gulick for bringing the corn and chicken and the cooker and barbequing that, Harvey Smith for his delicious beef brisket, all of which was much appreciated, and Roy Folsom from Nationwide Insurance (Fewer Agency) for contributing funds to help with expenses, and to those who brought salads and desserts. Zippy Duvall was in great form and urged us to continue to advocate for changes to laws to make farming more economically viable. He also urged us to warmly welcome and engage with Secretary Perdue when he arrives.
Your county meetings are starting in earnest this month and next. We have sent the County Presidents suggestions for policy changes and resolutions. We think the priorities of the next session will be education, health care and the budget. Issues in agriculture will probably be water quality and how to fund continuing clean-up efforts. Playing a role in this debate will be pesticides and herbicides, implementation of the RAPs and tile drainage. There will be more work done on trying to identify methods of farming to ameliorate water woes.
Equally important, as you gather, would you please bring together a list of farmers who would be willing to testify at the Vermont State House next session in any of the following categories
Water quality changes you've made on your farm: needs for funding for, cover crops, no-till, soil amendments, regernative and other practices to ensure minimal nutrient loss.
Tile drainage: how it works and the cost benefit analysis of having it installed and the water quality issues and non-issues you have with it.
Bee keepers: the state of your hives, how you keep bees and what if any issues you are having.
Corn growers: how much corn you grow the types of seeds you use and fertilizers and cover crops you are utilizing to meet water quality issues.
Dairy producers: what is important to your bottom line that Vermont legislators can help you with. What do you need in the 2018 Farm Bill?
New markets: what are they and what do you need?
Agritourism: what is it and what do you need?
Maple Syrup and sugar producers: what do you need?
Foresters and forestry management, what do you need?
Anything we've left out.
Let's be seated at the table, engaged and talking with legislators, and not on the menu!
Remember engagement takes all forms: you can participate by phone, email, text or in person. I'm sure you can even Skype. In this time, out of session for the legislators, get them to see you on your farm at work.
Thank you for everything you have done for me these past two years, including the friendship offered and the guidance. It's been a privilege to work for and with you. This winter I'll be home on my farm. I hope to see you when I come up for Vermont Farm Bureau events at The State House.
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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.
Linda Leehman, Committee Assistant (802) 828-2233
Sen. Robert Starr, Chair, email@example.com
Sen. Anthony Pollina, Vice Chair, firstname.lastname@example.org
Sen. Brian Collamore, email@example.com
Sen. Carolyn Whitney Branagan, firstname.lastname@example.org
Sen. Francis K. Brooks, email@example.com
Contact me at (802) 345-2958 or at firstname.lastname@example.org anytime.