And just like that, 2022 is here. Where do the days go? 2021 was another year of constant change under Covid-19. At times, we returned to our former world with its schedules, routines and traditions but the cloud of the pandemic was always with us. We welcomed vaccines to protect us against the virus arrived and so did the booster shots. Vermonters continue to do their part to mitigate the virus but it’s still with us.
We are grateful for our farmers and producers who continue to feed us under challenging circumstances. We know expenses are up for feed, supplies and fuel. We also are working on solutions with finding help to do the work. We are working with our partners in state government on helping the private sector find employees. The Agency along with the Agency of Commerce and Community Development, Department of Labor and a host of dairy processors are meeting and trying to find solutions. It’s clear we need to think of new ways to attract and maintain workers. This issue is not contained within Agriculture but can be found across all industries. More work will need to be done in 2022.
In 2021, the legislature did not meet in person but as I write this there are plans to open the State House once again to hearings and debate. We also expect opportunities for the public to participate virtually. This change has allowed more to listen from their homes, barns, fields, tractors, gardens, and businesses. Most of the committee hearings are also recorded so the public can also hear policy developed at their convenience.
We expect it to be a busy 2022 legislative session. Bills that did not make it into law can be taken up again and there will be a host of new proposals in the House and Senate. The Agency spends most of it’s in the Agriculture and Forestry, Commerce and Natural Resources committees. We often are asked to respond to bills that are proposed, and we do our best to give solid factual information as lawmakers deliberate.
We want to hear from you as well as we propose and debate public policy. Please reach out to us with your suggestions. The best ideas often come from real life experience and from the field.
The legislature also wants to hear from you. If you want to offer your thoughts start with your Representative or State Senator. There is full listing on the legislature’s home page. Get to know them and keep your eye on ways to participate at the State House or in your community. The session begins the first week in January and runs until the middle of May. Our focus will be on growing the Vermont economy, protecting the vulnerable and making it more affordable for Vermonters to live, work and play in the Green Mountains. Wishing you peace and prosperity in 2022.
Anson Tebbetts, Secretary, Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets