GOVERNOR PHIL SCOTT SIGNS S.34 and H.495, SUPPORTING RURAL ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT, THE FOREST ECONOMY AND FARMS
At a public bill signing Monday, Vermonters highlighted the valuable impact this legislation will have on rural agricultural and timber businesses across the state
Albany, Vt. – Governor Phil Scott today signed S.34, an act relating to rural economic development, and H.495,an act relating to miscellaneous agriculture and subjects, highlighting the state’s commitment to our agriculture sector and spurring economic growth for rural communities.
These bills create a new exemption from the Vermont sales and use tax for specific types of machinery and equipment used in timber cutting, timber removal, and the processing of timber or other solid wood forest products intended to be sold at retail.
S.34 reconvenes the Vermont Milk Commission, charging it with putting forward proposals to the Vermont Congressional delegation for inclusion in the 2018 Federal farm bill to stabilize our diary industry, an examination of how to bring down workers’ compensation rates for high risk industries, and the creation of a Rural Economic Development Initiative.
H.495 provides a necessary clarification to existing statute that dyed diesel is not subject to Vermont’s sales and use tax, and creates a Water Quality Assistance program to assist timber harvesters in remaining compliant with water quality requirements.
“Vermont has been the only state in the northeast to charge sales tax on logging and processing equipment and parts – until now,” said Gov. Scott. “By reducing the cost of doing business, this change will give entrepreneurs more flexibility, as they carefully prioritize each precious dollar to keep their business and equipment moving, buildings heated, mills supplied with logs and Vermonters employed.”
Several legislators, loggers, farmers, and industry stakeholders, including the Vermont Forest Products Association and Vermont Traditions Coalition came to show support for the positive impacts these bills will have on the rural economy.
"This is a relatively small, but significant step in supporting a critically important segment of our economy – a step that will help loggers, foresters and landowners maintain healthy working forests and the many benefits they provide," said Forests, Parks, and Recreation Commissioner Michael Snyder. “We appreciate the Governor's leadership and the legislative support for this effort, and hope to build on it as we continue to work toward a sustainable, robust and modern forest economy that works for Vermont."
“We will continue to focus on enhancing the opportunity to operate, grow or invest in forest and farm-based businesses in Vermont,” said Gov. Scott. “I want to thank the Senate and House Agriculture Committees, the House Commerce and Economic Development Committee, the House Ways and Means Committee, the Senate Finance Committee, and all legislators who worked on these two bills.”
Click here for more information on the sales and use tax exemption, and to view S.34 visithttp://legislature.vermont.gov/bill/status/2018/S.34, andhttp://legislature.vermont.gov/bill/status/2018/H.495 to view H.495.
Vermont Dairy Producers Alliance works proactively with Vermont General Assembly
This week the Vermont General Assembly passed two bills; S.34 & H.495 which focus on cross-promoting development incentives and State policy goals to focus on rural economic development and improving water quality. The bills require a review of State programs and to propose program changes, conditions for incentives, or other strategies to cross-promote relevant State policies.
The Vermont Dairy Producers Alliance (VDPA) recognizes that the Legislative process often requires lively debate and compromise. The Legislature was at an impasse on several provisions but the VDPA did not walk away, we remained at the table to work with Legislators and the Agency of Agriculture to move forward.
Like last fall, the Alliance participated in the regulatory rule-making process for the Required Agricultural Practices (RAP). The Alliance will continue to work with those that want to partner with the Agriculture community to improve water quality in Vermont. However, we will not tolerate anything short of an "All in Approach". Environmental groups have thrown stones rather than taking the time to understand what investments have been made in agricultural practices. They should be reminded that we all have the same goals and that negative press and media does nothing for Vermonters or the waters of our state.
Furthermore, the very practices that the environmental groups have been pushing; no till, cover cropping, and improving soil quality is exactly what is happening on the farms every day. No two farms are alike, the landscapes and soils are different across the state and a one size or one practice approach will not achieve what the environmental groups are seeking. The Alliance rebuffs their claims that conventional dairy farmers don't care about the environment and water quality.
Alliance members have been working to develop environmentally sound solutions that help our dairy industry better the soil, air, and water of Vermont. It is important to recognize that within Vermont agriculture; dairy farming alone contributes $2.2 billion in economic activity each year.
“Dairy farming has become increasingly difficult both financially and agriculturally. Milk pricing reflects a supply/demand balance of markets, both domestic and global, which at times fall below the cost of doing business. At the same time, Vermont farmers have been working to improve farm practices for cost efficiencies, productivity, and concerns pertaining to environmental quality”. Amanda St. Pierre; Executive Director
Successful dairy producers set realistic goals and use a systemic process for decision making. They know their production costs, practice good record keeping for evaluating alternatives, and monitor the outcome of their decisions. Each day on the farm, new challenges arise and Vermont dairy farmers address them.
“We have experienced extreme volatility in milk pricing over the last two decades. In 2014, the average price was about $24 and low in 2000 of $13”. St. Albans Cooperative
We commend the House and Senate Agriculture Committees for working together and the Agency of Agriculture for proving they can be a partner.
Together we can make a difference. Invest in the work necessary to create well thought out regulations that work, subscribe and help shape our future.
*About the Vermont Dairy Producers Alliance: The Alliance is comprised of dairy farmers and industry partners in the farming industry, representing dairy farms of all sizes throughout Vermont. The Alliance works together with members, industry partners and state government to adopt regulations that won’t cripple the economic viability of the Vermont dairy industry.
To work collaboratively with farmers, industry members, and supportive businesses around the state to recognize the importance of the dairy industry in the development of long term policy, an effort which encourages and supports multiple millions of dollars in annual investment made by the dairy industry, as it pertains to the improvement of environmental quality. Also the effort to serve should inform and educate its members, it should promote a vibrant industry which supports growth, benefit's today's agricultural community, future generations, and the state of Vermont as well. Efforts will include promotion, lobbying, and representation in policy development.