Vermont Farmers Concerned as 'Farm Bill' Expiration Looms

Montpelier, Vt. - Time is winding down on the current farm bill which former President Barack Obama signed in 2014. It's a multi-year policy that allocates billions of dollars to various agriculture subsidies.

"Interest in urban areas tend to overshadow the interests in rural areas and that was part of the problem in the last farm bill,” said Bill Bruett, farms in Shelburne.

With the expiration date looming, farmers gathered at the Statehouse Thursday to share concerns with lawmakers on the state-level.

Bruett said, "Markets are a little difficult but there is opportunity with the farm bill.”

On the dairy side of things, prices are down and farmers say production costs are higher. The farm bill does provide financial assistance to help offset this, but farmers in the Green Mountain State say the prices in Vermont are not reflected properly. ]

Another area of concern, immigrant labor. Some called for reform on the national level.

"Last year alone more than 40% of the people who applied for vegetable farms and for apple and fruit farms were late getting in through no fault of their application,” said Joe Tisbert, Vermont Farm Bureau.

Land conservation sees very little from the farm bill and farmers say there is no room for reductions.

"It's important to point out that when you invest in farmland conservation it is not really a five year farm bill, it is not a 10 year farm bill, it is not a 50 or 100 year farm bill… It is a forever farm bill,” said Allen Karnatz, Vermont Land Trust.

Farmers say they hope Vermont's voice is heard in Washington.

Bruett said, "I don't understand how the federal government can put all this money into a farm bill and ignore all the red flags that are being thrown across rural America.”

The farm bill also helps fund the supplemental nutrition assistance program, also known as food stamps.

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