VERMONT DAIRY PRODUCERS ALLIANCE WORKS WITH VERMONT GENERAL ASSEMBLYThis week the Vermont General Assembly passed two bills; S.34 & H.495 which focus on cross-promoting development incentives and State policy goals to focus on rural economic development and improving water quality. The bills require a review of State programs and to propose program changes, conditions for incentives, or other strategies to cross-promote relevant State policies.

The Vermont Dairy Producers Alliance (VDPA) recognizes that the Legislative process often requires lively debate and compromise. The Legislature was at an impasse on several provisions but the VDPA did not walk away, we remained at the table to work with Legislators and the Agency of Agriculture to move forward.

Like last fall, the Alliance participated in the regulatory rule-making process for the Required Agricultural Practices (RAP). The Alliance will continue to work with those that want to partner with the Agriculture community to improve water quality in Vermont. However, we will not tolerate anything short of an “All in Approach”. Environmental groups have thrown stones rather than taking the time to understand what investments have been made in agricultural practices. They should be reminded that we all have the same goals and that negative press and media does nothing for Vermonters or the waters of our state.

Furthermore, the very practices that the environmental groups have been pushing; no till, cover cropping, and improving soil quality is exactly what is happening on the farms every day. No two farms are alike, the landscapes and soils are different across the state and a one size or one practice approach will not achieve what the environmental groups are seeking. The Alliance rebuffs their claims that conventional dairy farmers don’t care about the environment and water quality.

Alliance members have been working to develop environmentally sound solutions that help our dairy industry better the soil, air, and water of Vermont. It is important to recognize that within Vermont agriculture; dairy farming alone contributes $2.2 billion in economic activity each year.

“Dairy farming has become increasingly difficult both financially and agriculturally. Milk pricing reflects a supply/demand balance of markets, both domestic and global, which at times fall below the cost of doing business. At the same time, Vermont farmers have been working to improve farm practices for cost efficiencies, productivity, and concerns pertaining to environmental quality”. Amanda St. Pierre; Executive Director

Successful dairy producers set realistic goals and use a systemic process for decision making. They know their production costs, practice good record keeping for evaluating alternatives, and monitor the outcome of their decisions. Each day on the farm, new challenges arise and Vermont dairy farmers address them.

“We have experienced extreme volatility in milk pricing over the last two decades. In 2014, the average price was about $24 and low in 2000 of $13”. St. Albans Cooperative

We commend the House and Senate Agriculture Committees for working together and the Agency of Agriculture for proving they can be a partner. Together we can make a difference. Invest in the work necessary to create well thought out regulations that work, subscribe and help shape our future.


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