The Big Picture
Currently, these bills are on their way to the Governor’s desk and are expected to be signed:
l S.58 - Align Vermont’s Hemp law with new federal law so that farmers, gardeners, and others can more easily integrate this crop into their plantings and products.
l H.205 - Takes a small crucial step toward protecting our pollinators by making a class of pesticides (neonicotinoids) restricted to use only by trained and licensed applicators, thus taking them off the shelves for consumer use. LATE-BREAKING NEWS: The Governor signed H.205 late on May 28th. Call 828-3333 to thank him.
l S.160 (SJ, p. 1620) - Extends the sunset on the On-Farm Slaughter law to 2023 AND makes “game-changing” improvements in the on-farm slaughter law along with many other policy changes intended to support rural economic development
l H.525 (SJ, p. 1659) - Makes meaningful improvements to Vermont’s Raw Milk Law and other changes to agricultural policy and programs
With these victories comes a lot of work including: Informing Rural Vermont’s constituents of the changes and their impact and following up with the regulators and our allies to ensure that the new laws are effectively implemented. Stay tuned for more information and how you can be involved.
A Brief Look Ahead
In addition to outreach about changes to the On-Farm Slaughter and Raw Milk Laws and the new Pollinator Protection Law, Rural Vermont will be paying close attention to how the following sections of S.160 are implemented:
A strategic planning process and report by the VAFFM in consultation with the Vermont Farm-to-Plate Investment Program on revitalizing and stabilizing VT’s agricultural economy (Section 1);
A report by VAAFM that provides an assessment of marketing opportunities in major metropolitan markets in the Northeast for VT dairy products (Section 2);
A Soil Conservation Practice and Payment for Ecosystem Services Working Group – Rural Vermont was successful in advocating for a representative from the VT Healthy Soils Coalition and a small-scale diversified farmer to be part of the Working Group (Section 3);
A report on radio frequency identification tags for livestock (Section 7). Since scale appropriate and humane identification of livestock is one of Rural Vermont's core issues, it was important for us to successfully include that the Secretary shall consult with the Vermont Grass Farmers Association and the Vermont Sheep and Goat Association during the development of the report so that the concerns and needs of small-scale and small-size livestock producers are taken into consideration.
It also establishes a Forest Carbon Sequestration Working Group (Section 9);
Genetically engineered seeds will be subject to a seed review committee prior to sale, distribution or use in Vermont (Section 18).
And in H.525, Rural Vermont is eager to keep an eye on:
Legislative Study Committee on Wetlands (Section 21);
The Environmental Stewardship Program (Sections 11 & 12)
The Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (Section 13);
The Agricultural Environmental Management Program (Section 14).
For a more detailed recap, please visit the From the Statehouse Blog here.