Vermont fights for a voice in the farm bill

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copyright the Chronicle October 11, 2017

 

by Joseph Gresser

 

Federal farm legislation is due to be passed next year, and Vermont wants to have its voice heard in the writing of a bill that could mean life or death for the state’s dairy industry.

The Vermont Milk Commission has been revived after six years of inaction to give voice to the state’s farmers and processors. The nine-member group met in Montpelier on September 26 to collect information in order to make recommendations to the state’s congressional delegation for items that should be included in the 2018 farm bill.

According to Secretary Anson Tebbetts of the state Agency of Agriculture Food and Markets, the commission, was raised from the dead for that purpose.

“Vermont needs to have a strong voice,” Mr. Tebbetts said about the meeting. He said the plan is to gather as much input from the state’s farmers as possible in order to offer the best advice to federal legislators.

The Chronicle was not present at the meeting, but spoke with Secretary Tebbetts and reviewed a tape of the gathering and draft minutes.

Members of the state’s agricultural community are especially concerned about the dairy provisions of the bill, in view of the unusually long stretch of low milk prices.

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Farm bill passes U.S. Senate

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Photo by Bethany M. Dunbar

Photo by Bethany M. Dunbar

copyright the Chronicle February 5, 2014

by Bethany M. Dunbar

The federal farm bill passed the U.S. Senate Tuesday, 68 to 32.

The bill includes a key provision for dairy farmers, called a Margin Protection Plan.  Similar to crop insurance, it allows farmers to buy into a plan that will protect their prices should the federal milk price normally paid to them drop, or should their production costs rise dramatically.

A statement from U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy says the hoped-for supply management plan that was in the Senate version of the bill was stripped out.  But as a member of the conference committee, Senator Leahy was able to make a change that will help smaller dairy farmers more than large corporate farms.

Small farms will be able to enroll at lower rates and get higher protection, the statement explains.

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