Highgate Center, VT – A fourth-generation family farm is grappling with financial challenges and turning to lawmakers for support. Vermont Senator Peter Welch, alongside Senator Bernie Sanders, is championing a potential solution through a new bill.
The Choiniere Family Farm, rooted in family identity and under the stewardship of the Choiniere family since 1945, is facing tough times. Matt Choiniere, a fourth-generation partial owner of the farm, expressed the need for assistance, saying, “We’ve had a hard couple of years, but we just need some help getting back on our feet. Having legislators help us is very important.”
Senator Peter Welch visited the Choiniere Family Farm on Monday to promote this new bill, emphasizing the significance of farming in Matt Choiniere’s life, who has been connected to the farm since birth. Matt’s father, Guy Choiniere, echoes the sentiment, stating, “It’s always been cool to be on the home farm where previous generations grew up on.”
For Guy Choiniere, seeing his son share his passion for farming fills him with pride, noting, “I think that’s what is keeping Matt here on the farm is that he really enjoys seeing the beauty that we’re bringing to this farm, and he wants to spread that to more people.”
The Choiniere family is grateful for the support of their parents, acknowledging the sacrifices made to continue the family legacy. Matt Choiniere adds, “They could easily sell this farm for more than I could buy it for, and there are a lot of opportunities that they’ve given up to allow me to continue my dream and the family legacy.”
The Choiniere Family Farm has been a vital part of the local economy, supplying milk to Organic Valley, the nation’s largest organic cooperative, since 2005. However, the future of the family’s legacy is in doubt due to the decline of family farms in Vermont, driven by rising costs and feed shortages. Matt Choiniere explains, “A lot of places where farmers start cutting is hired labor. A lot of that gets taken out on family and farmers themselves, working longer days more challenging.”
The Choiniere family believes that the proposed O’Dairy Bill could provide the help they need. This bill aims to allocate $25 million towards dairy infrastructure, research, and innovation. It would also extend emergency assistance and enhance data collection research for family farms across the nation.
Senators Welch and Sanders are eager to include this bill in the Farm Bill, with hopes of seeing it passed by the end of the year. The Choiniere Family Farm, like many other family-owned farms, looks to lawmakers for support in preserving their agricultural heritage.