Legislative Update

H.663 – AGRICULTURAL ENTERPRISE BILL

What this bill would do: Provide statewide consistency in how accessory on-farm businesses are regulated by municipalities giving farmers more opportunities to develop additional income for their farms.

What is the status of this bill: This bill has passed the House, was slightly amended by the Senate Ag Committee and is currently being considered by the Senate Natural Resources Committee

Talking points: Rural Vermont supports this bill and has worked in coalition with several other ag organizations to shepherd it through the legislative process. Ask Senators to vote for the bill and ask House members to concur with the Senate amendment.

S.101 – RIGHT TO FORESTRY BILL

What this bill would do: Provide some basic protection from nuisance lawsuits for small-scale, non-permanent legal forestry operations.

What is the status of this bill: This bill passed the Senate, was amended by the House, further amended by the Senate and now it is expected that the House will concur with the Senate’s latest amendment.

Talking points: Rural Vermont supports this bill, because it creates a basic “right to forestry” similar to Vermont’s “right to farm” and provides support for the working lands economy. Ask House members to support the bill as amended by the Senate. 

S.276 – RURAL ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT BILL – Including new Hemp Pilot Program

What this bill would do: Many, many things – it is a “Christmas tree bill.” Rural Vermont has been focused on the Hemp section but there are lots of other components that will have impact on farms and rural communities.

What is the status of this bill: It has gone through many iterations and changed substantially at each step in the process. It passed the Senate and is currently in the Hse Ag Cmte and will next need to be reviewed by Hse Ways & Means and House Appropriations. Then, it still must pass the House and the Senate will have to agree with the many changes the House has made. Time is running out and this bill is at risk for not making it.

Talking Points: Rural Vermont supports this bill in large measure because of the Hemp provision. Because this bill is in jeopardy we are working with legislators to find another bill that is more likely to pass to which the Hemp provision could be added. Tell Senate and House members you want to see the Hemp Pilot Program enacted this year.

 

H.915 – POLLINATOR PROTECTION BILL

What this bill would do: In its current form, the bill would BEGIN to address the threat that neonicotinoid pesticides pose to pollinators, soil health, water quality and aquatic insects.

What is the status of this bill: It was just amended and passed by the Senate on Thurs. Now it needs to go back to the House – hopefully they will concur and pass it as well. Not clear whether the Governor would veto it.

Talking Points: Rural Vermont supports the bill but would like to see stronger measures taken to protect pollinators and move the state away from the use of chemicals and pesticides more quickly. Ask House members to pass the bill when it comes back to them.

H.904 – MISC. AGRICULTURAL SUBJECTS BILL

This bill currently contains many of the same provisions as S.276 (see above) but it is likely it will be significantly amended by the Senate Committee on Natural Resources & Energy. It is one of the bills that might be an alternative vehicle for the Hemp Pilot Program.

H.903 – REGENERATIVE FARMING BILL

What this bill would do: In its current form the bill would put into law the Vermont Environmental Stewardship Program that the Agency of Ag has been developing over the past year.

What is the status of this bill: It is expected that this bill will not pass

Talking Points: Rural Vermont supports a just transition to regenerative farming practices but feels the standards proposed in the VT Environmental Stewardship Program are not rigorous enough.

S.260 – CLEAN WATER FUNDING BILL

What this bill would do: The original intent of this bill was to create a long-term funding mechanism for the multi-million-dollar annual cost of addressing Vermont’s significant water quality problems.

What is the status of this bill: It has gone through many revisions. It passed the Senate in late March. Since then it has been considered by multiple House committees. It is currently being worked on by the House Ways & Means Cmte. When this bill passed the Senate, it landed on a list of bills the Governor said he would veto.

Talking Points: Rural Vermont supports the creation of a long-term funding mechanism to address water quality. Such a funding mechanism must just and enable farmers to be fully engaged in the solutions to water quality problems.

Coco Moseley