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Saturday, March 24, 2007

Pro Active on Agriculture

This last week the Vermont House or Representatives unanimously voted in favor to support the recommendations of the Agricultural committee’s bill entitled THE VIABILITY OF VERMONT AGRICULTURE (H.R.522). While many proposals float in and out of committee meetings that offer suggestions and highlight faults of current policies too often there is little action that is taken in finding real solutions to the problems of the day. Many bills and aid packages come to the legislative process that are mere band-aid solutions and never take a proactive approach to solving a situation; however this latest action by the Vermont Legislature goes beyond that and is a beginning step in protecting family farms and our rural landscape.

Including within the bill is a provision that allows small scale poultry producers to sell their poultry to local restaurants and directly to consumers at local farmers markets without going through the costly and restrictive inspection process. The provisions are only for small scale producers of less than a thousand birds per year. Restaurants and farmers will be required to label each sale as “non-inspected.” To refute critics of those that oppose the measure on the grounds of public health, many feel that locally produced meats are much safer than those that come from factory farms that genetically modify poultry or inject the poultry with untested antibiotics.

There are many amongst the population who are calling for a more locally based agriculture. This past summer American Flatbread in Waitsfield tried to use organically raised poultry from a farm across the street, but was shut down by Health Department regulations. George Schenk, the owner during his recent testimony to the House Agriculture declared that we as a society have turned our backs on our agrarian roots and that we are responsible for the failures of the family farm. While regulation after regulation have been put in place to check on the large scale factory farms of Purdue and Tyson the responsible and local based producers of our local rural economies have been straitjacketed into poverty.

We have seen rises of food and animal produced illness from the factory farm industry and the debate is beginning to take fold of the roots of the problem. The most important factor to returning food safety is to fortify and support a local based food system and that will require your support. Small farmers have been bankrupted by a system that was supposedly designed to check on the larger scale producers, but instead we the populace have been left to pay the price with inferior quality meats and the paving over our rural communities.

There are many issues to be addressed when it comes to agricultural policy and while there are those farmers that are left struggling by anachronistic regulations I am proud to say there are representatives proactively seeking solutions to the demise of family farms and rural communities. If you live in Vermont, I recommend you thank Agriculture Committee Chair Zuckerman (P), Vice-Chair Perry (D) and all the other members of the committee for being proactive in finding solutions to the crisis in local agriculture. If you are not from Vermont I suggest you recommend that your representatives follow Vermont’s lead and be proactive.

Robb Kidd

“Cultivators of the earth are the most valuable citizens. They are the most vigorous, the most independent, the most virtuous, and they are tied to their country and wedded to it’s liberty and interests by the most lasting bands” Thomas Jefferson


At March 25, 2007 6:49 AM, Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

Right on. I can see this issue coming to a head all over.

Hey, I got your message the other night, but it was too late your time for me to call back.


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