ISSUES

Animal Identification & Transportation Regulations

In 2017 the Vermont legislature, at the request of the VT Agency of Agriculture, passed a law that, once implemented, will apply the federal interstate animal identification requirements on animals being transported within Vermont. Read more about this new law and how Rural Vermont is working to ensure that its implementation does not unfairly affect small-scale farmers.

Compost

In 2012, the Vermont Legislature unanimously passed the Universal Recycling Law (Act 148), which effectively bans disposal of three major types of waste materials commonly found in Vermonters’ trash bins over the course of six years. One of the provisions of Act 148 mandates that, by 2020, all food scraps will be composted.

Composting is an age-old practice vital to the nutrient management and soil health of farms.  Rural Vermont has been working with farmers to ensure that their right to on-farm composting is protected, and that the sale of compost is not taxed, just as sales of other fertilizers are not taxed. Find out what Rural Vermont is doing to protect farmers’ ability to continue composting, and how you can help.

Current Use

At the heart of Vermont’s working landscape is a law commonly referred to “Current Use”, or the Use Value Appraisal program. Rural Vermont was founded in 1985, in part, to address the issue of fair taxation of agricultural land. During almost every legislative session, there are attempts to “reform” current use to protect against improper utilization of the program, or driven by the need to generate revenue for the state.  Find out what Rural Vermont is doing to protect current use, and how you can help.

GMO Labeling & Regulation

Rural Vermont was a lead organizer of the Vermont Right to Know GMOs Coalition, along with Cedar Circle Farm and Education Center, the Northeast Organic Farmers Association (NOFA-VT), and the Vermont Public Interest Research Group (VPIRG). In 2014, the Coalition successfully advocated for the passage of the Vermont Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act making Vermont the first legislative body in the country to pass GMO labeling legislation. Read more about the history of Rural Vermont’s GMO campaign, including our current work to oppose the implementation of the sham federal labeling law that superseded Vermont’s law.

Hemp

Hemp farming is an agricultural issue that is also related to health, environment, and economic development. Hemp has the potential to be a lucrative agricultural crop with many high-quality food, fiber, and fuel products made from it. In 2013, Rural Vermont worked to pass a simple law legalizing the production of hemp in Vermont.  Rural Vermont continues to work with our national partner Vote Hemp to remove the federal prohibition against hemp cultivation. Read more here about Rural Vermont’s work to help farmers realize the full potential of hemp in Vermont.

On-Farm Processing of Poultry

In the 2017 legislative session an amendment, to the original “chicken bill” from 2008, was passed which significantly expanded opportunities for farmers to produce, process and sell poultry from the farm without inspection. You can learn more about the new law and Rural Vermont’s work on Farm Fresh Poultry here.

On-Farm Slaughter of Livestock

On-farm slaughter of livestock has a long tradition in Vermont of feeding farm families and their neighbors. In 2013, Rural Vermont was successful in getting legislation passed that created a legal way for Vermonters to have access to farm fresh meat. This legislation was expanded in 2016.  Find out more about what Rural Vermont is doing to help farmers continue to access the tradition of on-farm slaughter and expand opportunities for customers to access this healthy source of locally produced meat.

Raw Milk

Since 2009, Rural Vermont has been advocating for the expansion of farmers’ ability to sell raw milk to meet growing demand from customers. At a time when national interests were trying to ban sales of raw milk, the Vermont Legislature protected farmers’ rights to sell, and consumers’ ability to buy raw milk. Many issues and barriers remain. Find out what Rural Vermont is doing to continue to promote the ability of farmers and consumers to sell and buy farm fresh milk.

Water Quality

In 2015 Vermont passed a law, H.35, Vermont’s “Clean Water Law” focused on reducing the ever-increasing amount of pollution in Vermont’s lakes, streams, and rivers. While the legislation covers a wide variety of topics and sources of pollution, Rural Vermont has worked extensively on the the requirements in the new law that affect the practices and economics of small-scale farmers in Vermont, including the rules mandated by the new law: the Required Agricultural Practices or “RAPs” which were adopted in 2016. Read more here about Rural Vermont’s on-going work on this complex and crucial issue.

Working Farm Dogs

Read more about why and how working farm dogs, long used on farms to guard against predators, or assist with herding, were becoming the unfortunate target of town regulations. Find out what Rural Vermont did to protect farmers’ ability to keep these vital animals.