View from 116 State Street: February 2017

By Anson Tebbetts, Vermont Secretary of Agriculture

February. I really start to think about Spring. The seed catalogs are stacked up. I start to think about ordering my seeds. What will I try this year? When I walk in the woods, I hear the mating call of the chickadees and the owls are hooting early in the morning. They are in the midst of “making more owls.” When I walk to the barn each morning, I wonder if the ewes have had their lambs? Spring is near.

As we think about a new season, we are in the midst of listening and learning from you. Thanks to all those who met with us at the annual farm show in Essex. We did hear a few themes from our farmers. We heard you continue to want our help with issues.  Finding qualified labor to do the work on the farm, in the fields and on the road was one consistent concern we heard from those making a living from Agriculture. We heard you value the technical assistance we provide to new and growing businesses as you work your way through federal and state regulations. We heard from our maple industry about “fake” versus “real.” Our sugar makers told us some of our big food companies are using the word maple loosely and it’s hurting their industry. We will continue to learn more about this important consumer assurance issue.

Keep the feedback coming. We are serious about customer service. We are also serious about growing the Vermont economy. We are serious about making Vermont more affordable. We are also serious about taking care of those who need our help. The Governor has challenged all of us to be “bold” and break down the silos in state government. Agriculture is talking with the Agency of Commerce. Agriculture is working with the Agency of Transportations. Agriculture is communicating with Labor. Agriculture is staying close to public safety.  We can all help each other make Vermont a better place to live and work.

Governor Scott and the legislature are both committed to growing the rural economy. Agriculture will play a large role in that effort, and we will continue to work closely with the Governor’s office and the legislature to address the issues that are most important to all of you. Keep the ideas coming. Thanks for your warm welcome and continued leadership. 

Now back to those seed catalogs.