Task force issues recommendations as Vermont’s dairy industry struggles

By Dave Fidlin | The Center Square

A Vermont legislative task force focusing on the state’s dairy industry capped off the calendar year with a list of recommendations that will be taken up in 2023 by the General Assembly.

The Task Force to Revitalize the Vermont Dairy Industry proposed a series of recommendations, which will be sent by way of a report to the state Senate Agriculture Committee in January before potentially advancing to other channels in state government.

The recommendations come at a time when Vermont’s dairy industry has been reeling in the face of outside pressures, which were exacerbated this past year as the cost of fertilizer skyrocketed amid inflation and the war in Ukraine.

Final numbers are still pending, but dozens of dairy farms within Vermont have closed in 2022. At the time of the task force’s first meeting in late August, the number was pegged at 22 operations.

Many of the proposed changes focus on the Vermont Milk Commission, an entity within the state’s Department of Agriculture.

The task force has recommended a series of tweaks aimed at giving the commission more flexibility in adjusting pricing mechanisms within Vermont to bring balance to dairy farmers and consumers alike.

During deliberations of the proposed changes, Michael O’Grady, deputy chief counsel with the Vermont Office of Legislative Counsel, discussed the state’s minimum producer price regulation.

“It’s discretionary for the commission,” O’Grady said of language in the list of recommendations. “What is being changed is guidelines for setting the price. It’s not just about production, it’s about processing and manufacture of dairy products as well.”

The Vermont Milk Commission is a long-established entity within state government, though there are efforts to provide it with more tools to respond to pressures facing the state’s dairy industry.

The commission, for instance, could have the ability to hire people to address a range of issues as they arise – a proposal that raised logistical questions about oversight of the task at the recent meeting.

“There’s options,” O’Grady said. “The agency can use its own staff, which is currently authorized. If they want to contract for outside services, they can. The General Assembly can appropriate money for that.”

While the task force’s work has wrapped, state Sen. Robert Starr, who serves as co-chair, said the process of implementing changes to help the state’s struggling dairy industry has actually just been formalized.

“I think it’s very important that we remember that what we’re doing is proposed legislation that we would be moving forward with,” Starr, D-Essex, said. “The meetings and the hearings and getting the people in – once the Ag Committee goes over this – will start all over again.”

Speaking to the next steps, Starr said, “We’ll be taking testimony. I feel that we’ve done a pretty good job of getting the legal aspects of this.”

Image courtesy of USDA

10 thoughts on “Task force issues recommendations as Vermont’s dairy industry struggles

  1. I will be interested to see how Bobby Starr and his sidekick Dan Smith disguise their latest form of over order pricing. It was an outright handout of $5,000 per farm in 1988. In September 2008 Smith presented to the Milk Commission a draft order levying a 38-50 cents per gallon tax on milk handlers. The tax would of course increase the cost of milk to supermarkets, general stores and convenience stores. The proceeds – like Starr’s Act 200 bonus of 1988 – would be handed out to every dairy farm in Vermont. These guys never give up.

  2. Ask yourself this question:
    Do they really want to solve the problems?

    We can see how they ‘solve problems’ afterall..
    How many of your problems has the Biden Administration solved?

  3. Randi Muzumdar, a resident of Illinois, sits on the Vermont Milk Commission. He currently works for HP Hood, Inc. The Ukranian War is the go-to excuse this year because the COVID psyop is falling apart. A number of dairies in Vermont are owned or contracted to corporations. The fallacy of the family-owned Vermont dairy farm went away years ago – they had to sell out one way or another to survive. The northeast dairy compact that favored Wisconsin and Minnesota over New England put many farms in CT, MA, VT, NH, NY out of business for good. The grifters and corporations paying off the Vermont legislature to save Vermont agriculture is a scam. More lies and deceit to fleece taxpayers. They sold us out long ago with their dirty corrupted schemes. They put farms out of business for their own financial gains. They also wanted the land to develop and make even more money – they stole thousands of acres through deception and corruption.

  4. I would think the greatest expense to farmers is the taxation of their land and the continued assault on the cost of fuel to power their machinery. Also mentioned is labor which I thought was fixed by green card foreign labor. The incompetent government ideas are but a spit in the bucket to solving the farmers problems. Get out of their wallets if you wish to do something useful.

  5. The last thing Vermont needs is to “save” the dairy industry. The fertilizer used poisons our streams and the manure runs off and kills our pristine lakes. Milk/dairy sales are tanking since there are so many plant based substitutes which are very good and which are improving all the time.

    Let the dairy industry die, it is far past time.

    • You are full of c***p. Another ignorant Lib. Blind by propaganda. Yes there has been some isue of farm runoff….but LOOK at the many lakes that have issues. EVERY ONE of them is totally circled by small camps , many over 100 years old (1920’s to 1940’s, 50’s)…NO septic system.Many lake camps DIRECT PIPED into the lakes for decades. THAT is the sediment buildup you see, not as much far distant farms. GOOGLE ANY LAKE YOURSELF. THERE ARE NO TIE IN’S TO MUNICIPAL SEPTIC….too far away.

      Another LIBERAL FALLACY? Storm water runoff pollution. You blind idiot. The STATE OF VERMONT is the largest blacktop stormwater polluter. VT has 7.100 miles of PAVED BLACKTOP roads and highways and MANY FOLLOW STREAMS AND RIVERS.. Then you have similar amount of DIRT ROADS that ALSO follow streams. WHERE DO THEY DRAIN? Many drain DIRECTLY or INDIRECTLY to Champlain…7,100 miles of PAVEMENT RUNOFF BLACKTOP….that have MASSIVE amounts of sand, salt, dirt, silt and chemicals that stormwater runoff DIRECTLY TO CHAMPLAIN…..Doofus Sen Leahy boasted he just conned $135 MILLION to VT to clean up Champlain! But as LONG AS VT ITSELF, RUNS 7,100 MILES OF POLLUTING BLACKTOP HIGHWWAYS INTO CHAMPLAIN… NOTHING WILL CHANGE.

      But, you have No clue of any of it? CAMPS on lakes w/ terrible septic for 100 years do it….7,100 MILES of polluting paved road runoff does it.

      You are totally indoctrinated.

      • GlAD you liked it. I am not a liberal, I think Trump is a god! It is just time to let the milk industry in Vermont die. We should just buy them out as they age and use the incredible amount of money we are subsidizing them to fund the buyout.

        Besides, it will not matter what you or I think, they are going out of business anyway.

        Milk sales are just about HALF of what they were only 20 years ago, and going down fast every year. https://www.statista.com/chart/2387/american-milk-consumption-has-plummeted/

        • How is cheese made? The following is from the website you cited regarding milk consumption. The chart put 2022 at all time high for cheese consumption. My comment regarding the Northeast Dairy Compact – California & Wisconsin get Federal blessings over New England. We were sold out by Leahy, Welch and Bernie. HP Hood and other corporations control diary in Vermont – that’s why one of their insiders sits on the board.

          “Nov 24, 2022
          In 2020, the average consumer in the United States ate about 40.2 pounds of cheese. Over the past ten years, U.S. per capita consumption of cheese has increased by over five pounds. Cheese production
          Wisconsin and California are the leading American states in terms of cheese production. Wisconsin led the country, producing nearly three and a half billion pounds of the dairy product, while California accounted for an estimated two and a half billion.”

  6. I happened to talk at a holiday party with a dairy farm owner on the farm I worked on some 40 years ago. She and her husband, who have their own creamery that process the milk they produce,
    largest problem is labor. While they pay up to $20/hour they cannot find long term help in the creamery.
    Perhaps a focus could be to find a way for famrs looking for long term help to be legally matched with those seeking work and willing to work hard from other countries. Canadaian farms just across our border have managed to do it.
    We need to stop making immigration a political football and work to find ways that immigration can work to fill the jobs needed to be filled.

  7. Just what our farmers need. I’m from the government and I’m here to help you. We are collectively only safe when the government is closed.

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