Under the Golden Dome

“Under the Golden Dome”, is emailed weekly to subscribing members to keep them apprised of legislative developments at the Vermont Statehouse that affect agriculture. Legislative priorities are set annually by the organization following the elected delegate session determining policy in November.



September 14, 2018 

Jackie Folsom Legislative Director  (802) 426-3579 or at crkdbrks@aol.com 

            Stay Tuned for UPDATES ON YOUR 2019 COUNTY ANNUAL MEETINGS


Anyone in our membership is invited to attend the Washington County Meet the Candidate Event on Wednesday, October 3, from 6 - 8 at the Fresh Tracks Winery on Route 12 in Berlin.  We have 11 confirmed candidates attending; cash bar with excellent wine choices as well as cider, milk and light appetizers.  Come  get acquainted with the folks who are asking for your votes in November!

One of our members was driving a large piece of farm machinery (a chopper) down a local road from one field to another.  He came to a narrow spot in the road and stopped to let traffic by in both directions, then proceeded into the lane.  Imagine his surprise when blue lights started flashing!  A local sheriff told the farmer he was "over-width" for the road and needed to pull his chopper off the road, park it and go home.  The farmer reminded the sheriff of the Right to Farm law and said he had no other way to get to his fields.  The sheriff continued to be quite aggressive about the "law"; the farmer continued to try and make him understand.  Finally, the farmer simply got in the chopper and drove to the field.
This farm is now talking to the selectboard in the town and planning to sponsor an educational meeting with the selectboard and the sheriff's office.  This is great and absolutely pro-active, but as the farmer said, "Why is this MY job?  They should know the law!"  
Please make sure you know your rights and responsibilities, and if anyone else has challenges, let us know so that we can figure out next steps.
And thanks to the farmer for sharing this experience.

 I've heard from a sugarmaker in Chittenden County that is having serious problems with his zoning administrator over the interpretation of H.663/Act 143, the "Agritourism" law that was passed this session.  The farmer, too, has been pro-active, trying to get a better understanding of the law and share his knowledge with the town.  If anyone else is being challenged by zoning in their town, please let me know.  We've discovered that VT League of Cities and Towns is hosting an all-day workshop on October 17 at Lake Morey, and the morning session is on H.663.  Luckily, one of the presenters works for the VT Planners Association and was a wonderful advocate for the bill this year.

What's working well - and not working well - for women in Vermont's agricultural community?  The Vermont Commission on Women's Listening Project wants to know!  (Full disclosure -  Jackie was a member of the Commission, appointed by Governor Kunin).  What are the most important economic issues facing women in Vermont, according to your own experience or from what you can see?  Help VCW gather this information by taking a short survey (5-10 minutes).  The survey asks what needs aren't being met for Vermont women, what most effects their abilities to provide for themselves or their families, and what can be done to help.  Answers to this survey are completely anonymous and confidential, and responses from all Vermonters (not just women) are welcome.  Your responses will help inform and guide VCWs future work, and will be revealed to policymakers at the start of the legislative session.
Survey link:  https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/vcw2018listeningproject

I had a chance to meet with Mike Ghia, Shemariah Blum-Evitis and Cris Coffin from Land for Good last week.  They have several resources available for Farm Succession and Transfer and Leasing Property on their website:  www.landforgood.org .  They are also very concerned with siting of major solar projects on prime agricultural land, and we talked about what the landscape looked like in Vermont.  Dual purpose land use is being promoted in Massachusetts, but it seems highly unlikely you could crop beneath those panels, and, as Mike says, "there is not a lot of market for goat or sheep meat right now."  Is this something that Vermont Farm Bureau should have policy on?  It's my understanding that solar panels have a life expectancy of about 20 years, but are they recyclable, and what does the land look like underneath them if not cared for during that time?  Please think about this issue as you work on policy at your county meetings.

Don't forget to hold Friday, November 2, and Saturday, November 3, to attend the Annual Meeting of our organization at Trader Duke's in South Burlington, VT.
As usual for an election year, we are setting aside time on Friday afternoon to talk with candidates for governor and lieutenant governor.  So far, Governor Scott, Lt. Governor Zuckerman and Representative Turner have committed to attending.  We are still trying to get a response from Christine Hallquist and hope she will attend.
Friday morning will be dedicated to reports and elections, plus we will be warning a special vote to the members:  at the May 16, 2018, meeting, the Board of Directors voted 7-2 to propose a membership dues increase of $15.00 annually.  Please bring your opinions and comments about this proposal to the morning session and be prepared to vote!
The luncheon will feature awards for top-performing Nationwide agents as well as a conversation with one of the Nationwide board members.
In the afternoon, Jordan Craig from AFBF and Jackie from VFB will be doing a workshop on Advocacy and 5 Minutes Can Make a Difference.  Our reception with cash bar will begin at 5:30 and dinner (with choice of steak or chicken) will start at 6:30.  The prestigious Wallace Award will be presented after dinner, as well as the President's Award.
Due to staffing, we have decided there will be no Silent Auction this year, unless SOMEONE out there would like to volunteer as coordinator?!   
Saturday, please join us early for breakfast and then stay for the policy debate!  Secretary of Agriculture, Food & Markets Anson Tebbetts will be invited to address the attendees, as is our custom.
Packages will be available for both days, Friday only, Saturday only, and just the banquet (Friday night).  More information will be coming - please watch for information at your annual meeting or on the website.
The delegate package for both days will be $145.00, and we hope you take advantage of the low rate!  Hotel rooms will be available on Friday night for $112.00 plus tax. You must book directly through Trader Duke's. Click here or call 1-833-598-6491.  This rate is available until October 11, 2018.    
We have also asked Chittenden County members to present highlights of their county to the delegates on Saturday morning.
Please plan on attending the 103rd Vermont Farm Bureau Annual Meeting!  Keep the tradition going, visit with old friends and be a strong voice for agriculture!
From the team - Joe and Jackie
Due to county meetings and other events, there will be a slight hiatus in the publishing of the UTGD.  If you need to get in touch with us, please call Jackie at 802-426-3579 or email crkdbrks@aol.com or Joe at 802-644-6598 or josephtisbert@gmail.com .

Facebook:  Look for articles relevant to agriculture at least five days a week on Facebook. Please join Facebook, like us and join in on the conversations.


How to submit written information to committees and how to get around the Vermont State House:

Vermont State House
Budget Speech (audio)
Budget Speech Read copy:

Newshounds: for those of you who want a daily dose please subscribe to Morning Ag Clips: Newshounds

 Any one of many AFBF publications: AFBF,  Vermont Digger, Morning Ag Clips, VT Farm to Plate, NRCS USDA Gov

Handouts Agricultural Committee




Contacting representatives Email or In Person

At the beginning of each term we publish the member names on each committee of agriculture. The members are easy to contact. It's their first initial; last name @leg.state.vt.us with no spaces.

 Please do not use their private home phone numbers, unless you have their permission.

House Committee on Agriculture and Forest Products

Senate Committee on Agriculture

Sen. Robert Starr, Chair, rstarr@leg.state.vt.us

Sen. Anthony Pollina, Vice Chair, apollina@leg.state.vt.us

Sen. Brian Collamore, bcollamore@leg.state.vt.us

Sen. Carolyn Whitney Branagan, cbranagan@leg.state.vt.us

Sen. Francis K. Brooks, fbrooks@leg.state.vt.us

Contact me at 802-426-3579 or crkdbrks@aol.com.

Helpful Reports for the 2017 session are:

Vermont Subsurface Agricultural TILE DRAINAGE REPORT. Submitted by the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets and the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources January 31, 2017. Prepared for the Vermont General Assembly in Accordance with 2015 Act 64, Section 5. 


The Miner Institute 2016 Annual Report on Tile Drainage.