RURAL VERMONT COMMENTS ON THE VERMONT AGENCY OF AGRICULTURE, FOOD, & MARKETS PROPOSED HEMP RULES

Important amendments to the Vermont Hemp Law (S.58, now Act 44) have been signed into law by the Governor and go into effect immediately. The next step in the policy process is a public rule-making process to determine how VT’s Hemp Law will be implemented and enforced. The VT Agency of Agriculture has recently announced the schedule for public meetings and the public comment period for the proposed Hemp Rules.

There will be two public meetings:
Thursday, June 27, 2019,
1:00 pm- 4:00 pm Brandon Town Offices, The Ballroom 1 Conant Square, Brandon, VT 05733
Friday, June 28, 2019,
1:00 pm - 4:00 pm Emory Hebard Office Building 100 Main Street, Newport, VT 05855

Read and download the proposed Hemp Rules. Read Rural Vermont comments on the proposed rules here. You can access the online Hemp Rules Public Comment Form and you can also submit your comments by email to stephanie.smith@vermont.gov or by postal mail to: Cary Giguere or Stephanie Smith, 116 State Street, Montpelier, VT 05620-2901. Please take this opportunity for action to ensure that the implementation of the new Hemp law is fair and economically viable for Vermont producers.

THE DEADLINE FOR PUBLIC COMMENTS IS FRIDAY, JULY 5, 2019

Rural Vermont Releases Hemp Survey Results

In August 2018 Rural Vermont sent a survey to all of Vermont’s registered hemp producers and all the folks in the Rural Vermont database who have identified themselves as interested in hemp. The purpose of the survey was to gather information to help inform Rural Vermont’s strategy for engaging in the upcoming public rule-making process. We expect to have a timeline for the rule-making process by the beginning of 2019. Some highlights from the Hemp Survey:

-        76% of the survey respondents identified themselves as currently growing hemp and another 11% indicated they plan to grow soon

-        More than half are new to growing hemp and most are small-scale producers growing on an acre or less.

-        Over 80% are growing hemp primarily for CBD production with food products (33%) and seed (30%) being the next highest uses

-        Biggest barriers were identified as: Access to certified seed; access to information and technical assistance; and development of processing infrastructure

-        Biggest concerns for the upcoming rulemaking process are: creating a level and fair regulatory environment before the 2019 growing season and establishing an independent third-party testing and quality control program

Please read our Summary Report on the results of the Hemp Survey and contact us with any questions, ideas, or comments you may have.

Required Agricultural practices (RAPs) Development Committee

In early 2017 Rural Vermont was invited to participate with other farming organizations (NOFA, Vermont Farm Bureau, Champlain Valley Farmers' Coalition, and others) to meet at somewhat regular intervals to offer our opinions on how exemptions to aspects of the RAPs are determined and approached.  This group met consistently for much of 2017, and in 2018 our meetings have been less frequent.  

Human Rights Council

In early 2017 Rural Vermont applied to join the Vermont Human Rights Council.  This is a body of organizations representing different communities and different issues, which come together to educate one another on the needs of our particular communities and the issues affecting them; to create opportunities to work together on issues, campaigns, projects; and to grow the understanding we have of, and work we do in relationship to, the intersections of social justice, economic justice, racial justice, ecological justice, and human rights and dignity.  Organizations in the Human Rights Council include: the VT Workers Center, Justice for All, Rights and Democracy, Green Mtn. Self Advocates, Vermont Center for Independent Living, the VT Peace and Justice Center, Migrant Justice, local Unions, the VT Pride Center, 350 VT, Vermont Interfaith Action, and more.

Farm to Plate Network participation

Rural Vermont participates in the Farm to Plate Network, primarily via participating in working groups such as the Farmland Access and Stewardship Working Group, and the Food Access working group.  

Vermont Healthy Soils Coalition

Rural Vermont is one of the original members of the VT Healthy Soils Coalition - an organization founded in early 2017. This coalition - still in its infancy - can be joined by any individual or organization. The coalition currently exists as listserve (through which a diversity of conversations related to soil health practices, policies, and advocacy occur), we convene in person meetings, and have started to offer workshops / discussions.

Working with impacted groups of stakeholders

Rural Vermont seeks to work with impacted stakeholders from the working lands and greater food systems communities.  This work largely depends on particular needs and issues arising in affected communities. For example, Rural Vermont is currently working to help farmers who integrate poultry into their composting operations (offering chickens access to compost as part of their food regime) advocate for themselves and organize in relationship to a new Rule determined by the Agency of Natural Resources and Agency of Agriculture which presents significant barriers to this practice.  Historically, we have worked with impacted stakeholders to develop legislation related to Raw Milk, On-Farm Slaughter, GMOs, and more.