By Anson Tebbetts | Vermont Agriculture Secretary
January 20, 2023 | Montpelier, VT - Governor Phil Scott proposed ground-breaking investments in food and farming in his budget address on Friday, January 20. The Governor’s budget leverages innovative investments and programs to grow Vermont’s food, farm, and forest economy.
“This budget is thoughtful, deliberate, disciplined, and carefully built to make the most of the historic resources available to us. It’s focused on investing, not just spending, to get the best results and grow revenue, so we can move families and communities ahead. It prioritizes the regions and people who need our help most, to deliver an increasingly healthy and vibrant economy in each of your communities., “said Governor Phil Scott.
One of the recommendations is grounded in the recently released report of the Governor’s Commission on the Future of Agriculture. Among the conclusions, the plan states: “All Vermonters benefit from healthy, nutritious foods and a robust local food system.”
To help address this finding, the Governor has proposed investing $10 million dollars in “grant funding for small and mid-sized agricultural producers and value-added processors in the meat, vegetable and maple sectors.” These areas of our food system have been under resourced, or ineligible, for available funding. This historic investment would be distributed to Vermont businesses specializing in meats, vegetables, and maple products. This support will help them grow and become more efficient, while producing more food for Vermont and the region.
The Governor also proposes investing in the work of people who make their living off the land. Under the Governor’s proposed budget $4 million dollars would be dedicated to the Working Lands Enterprise Fund. This proven program allows food and forestry businesses to expand. This investment was also recommended by the Governor’s Commission of Agriculture.
You can read the full report here: Vermont Future of Agriculture Commission - 2022 Supplemental Report
These proposed investments now will be presented to the Legislature. The Agency of Agriculture advocates for these investments because they support our farmers and producers, who are feeding us and farming the land.
The Governor’s proposal comes at a time when the region is making critical investments in dairy. Those in the dairy industry have identified local processing as strategy to help businesses prosper. The Northeast Dairy Business Innovation Center, located at the Agency, is preparing to launch a $13 million program to help dairy processors expand, and process their own Vermont milk. This could mean more local milk, cheese, butter, yogurt, and ice cream.
This is a vulnerable, but exciting, time for Agriculture. The Governor has proposed making long and short-term investments to support our farmers, producers and those who feed us. Agriculture in the Green Mountain State is transforming, emerging as a cornerstone of Vermont’s future. Please join us and invest in Vermont.
Secretary, Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets