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Vermont Farmers Travel to State House for Third and Final ‘Small Farm Action Day’ of Legislative Session

Lisa McCrory, of Earthwise Farm & Forest in Bethel, testifies before the House Committee on Agriculture & Forest Products as part of Rural Vermont’s Small Farm Action Day in Montpelier

Lisa McCrory, of Earthwise Farm & Forest in Bethel, testifies before the House Committee on Agriculture & Forest Products as part of Rural Vermont’s Small Farm Action Day in Montpelier

MONTPELIER, VT- On Wednesday, dozens of small-scale farmers again took time away from the frenzy of Spring planting and pasture season to travel to Montpelier for the third and final Small Farm Action Day of the 2016 legislative session. Travelling from as far as Bennington and Essex counties, farmers spent the day off their farms for the event organized by grassroots advocacy group, Rural Vermont, which included private meetings with legislators, testimony before the House Committee on Agriculture & Forest Products, and an “Eat Like a Farmer” reception, which provided farmers an opportunity to share their work and food with legislators.

Stephanie Eiring of Butterfield Farmstead in Bakersfield speaks with her State Represenative, Dan Connor, at Rural Vermont’s Small Farm Action Day in Montpelier

Stephanie Eiring of Butterfield Farmstead in Bakersfield speaks with her State Represenative, Dan Connor, at Rural Vermont’s Small Farm Action Day in Montpelier

Across the three events, Small Farm Action Days brought nearly a hundred Vermonters to the State House to engage in the public process and advocate for policies that support their livelihoods and strengthen their rural communities. That direct advocacy had a clear impact this session. As participants on Wednesday called on legislators to incentivize regenerative farming practices and promote scale-appropriate regulation, they also thanked lawmakers for their work this session, including passing bills to preserve Vermont’s on-farm slaughter law, improve pollinator health in the state, and strengthen regulation of pesticides.

“I want to thank you so much,” Kate Bowen, of Meadowdale Farm in Putney, told the House Committee on Agriculture and Forest Products, “for supporting on-farm slaughter, and for all you’ve done to help farming develop and evolve in Vermont.”

Lisa McCrory of Earthwise Farm and Forest in Bethel and Board Member of Rural Vermont, urged the Committee to help promote regenerative farming practices. “Farms like ours and a lot of small farms across the state are coming into agriculture employing regenerative practices that are proven to keep nutrients from going into our waterways, that build organic matter in the soil, and that create a more productive landscape over time. These are the practices that we should be encouraging, and that will ultimately make farms more profitable into the future.

Farmers Lisa McCrory, Alisha Utter, and Taylor Mardis Katz share tips about lobbying their legislators at Rural Vermont’s Small Farm Action Day in Montpelier

Farmers Lisa McCrory, Alisha Utter, and Taylor Mardis Katz share tips about lobbying their legislators at Rural Vermont’s Small Farm Action Day in Montpelier

Alisha Utter, a farmer and student at UVM, added, “In creating a political framework that encourages producers to employ traditional and innovative practices towards sustainability, you can help set the foundation for the future resiliency of our food system.”

Peter Burmeister of Burelli farm in Berlin and Board Member of Rural Vermont, found inspiration by the large number of young farmers who attended the three Small Farm Action Days, and whose numbers are growing throughout the state. “When you look around this room,” he said during testimony before the Committee, “and look at the farmers that are here, you’re looking at the best and brightest of our young people in Vermont. We’ve got an amazing group of energetic, intelligent, and dedicated young farmers, and we need to support and keep them here.” Rural Vermont co-hosted its March 30th Small Farm Action Day with the Vermont Young Farmers Coalition.

To help make it possible for farmers to take time away from their farms and travel to Montpelier during the busy Spring season, Rural Vermont offered stipends for farmers attending Small Farm Action Day. The stipends, made possible by a “Small and Inspiring Grant” from the Vermont Community Foundation with funds from the Neibling Family Fund, helped cover costs associated with child care, temporary farm labor, and transportation.


Small Farm Action Day Success!

Thank you for everyone who came out to our last Small Farm Action Day of 2016! The day was a great success and we are so grateful for everyone who came, testified, and donated to our ‘Eat Like a Farmer’ tasting.  Check out the Facebook Album for more photos.  Listen to the audio file of farmer testimony to the House Ag Cmte here. Until next year!


Small Farmers Meet with Lawmakers to Preserve Vermont’s On-Farm Slaughter Law

Taylor Hutchison and Jake Mendell of Footprint Farm in Starksboro join dozens of farmers at Small Farm Action Day in Montpelier

Taylor Hutchison and Jake Mendell of Footprint Farm in Starksboro join dozens of farmers at Small Farm Action Day in Montpelier

Farmers of all ages traveled to the Vermont State House Wednesday to participate in Rural Vermont’s Small Farm Action Day, co-hosted by the Vermont Young Farmers Coalition. Traveling from as far as Bennington and Caledonia counties, small-scale farmers spent the day away from their farms for private meetings with legislators and providing testimony before the House and Senate Committees on Agriculture. Over 40 participating farmers shared the unique challenges they face, and called on legislators to prevent the repeal of Vermont’s on-farm slaughter law.

Read the press release about the event, and check out the Facebook photo album.

There is one more Small Farm Action Day on April 26.


03/16/16: It was a good day

On-Farm Slaughter: The State House of Representatives voted this week, in a unanimous voice-vote, cleared the way for passage on a bill (H.860) that would preserve a long-standing staple of Vermont’s community-scale food system: on-farm slaughter.

The House vote advances a bill that would extend that sunset by another three years. As this bill now moves to the Senate, Rural Vermont will continue our work with farmers and consumers advocating to permanently secure this law, and to make improvements to it that would make legal small-scale on-farm slaughter a more practical and economically viable option for more Vermont farmers. More details on this page.

GMO Labeling: There was a big victory on Wednesday for Vermonters and consumers across the country who support the right to know what is in our food. The U.S. Senate voted to block a bill which would have completely wiped out state labeling laws including Vermont’s. The bill, introduced by Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS), chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee, was rushed to the floor with virtually no debate in a desperate scheme to preempt Vermont’s law before it takes effect on July 1st. Thankfully, Vermont’s Senators Leahy and Sanders led the charge to stop Roberts’ bill, which received only 49 of the 60 votes needed for passage.

This victory is worth celebrating. It is the third time in the past six months that we have successfully defeated efforts by the Senate to undermine states’ rights and the rights of consumers. However, it is not the end of the fight for Vermont’s labeling law. The Senate will be in recess for two weeks beginning this Friday, but we expect Monsanto, the Grocery Manufacturers Association, and their corporate collaborators to continue to wield their influence in the halls of Congress and undermine your right to know what is in the food you eat and purchase for your family.  For more information contact Andrea or the VT Right to Know GMOs Coalition website.