Call to Action -March 6, 2017

Hello VHC Members and Friends,

The Vermont Farm Bureau has been working to change the definition of farming to more fully include equine establishments. I’ve pasted below, in italics the most recent language that has been presented to the House Committee of Agriculture and Forestry and the Senate Committee on Agriculture. VHC Secretary, Terry Rose and I spoke before these committees in February, and they are primed to hear from their constituents. I am meeting with Secretary of Agriculture, Food and Markets, Anson Tebbetts later this month and will bring this message to him as well.

We need your help to advance this change! Please follow up with your representatives and senators to support this change. We need the most help in the house. A call, letter or email goes a long way – VHC can’t lobby, but as voters, you can reach out to your senators and representatives. You can find their contact info at Find Your Legislator

Among the items you could address are:

1. Change language from equality issues to horse farms should be encouraged as preferred rural development
2.  Change it from receiving tax advantages to horse farms support the rural economy: hiring employees, paying property tax, paying education tax while putting very little demand on the public purse, considerably less than housing developments.
3. Change it from loss of farmers and farms in the next fifteen years through retirement to make Vermont open for horse businesses.
4. Change it from loss of equipment dealers, open lands and feed and seed dealers to horse farms will keep them operating.

Add your own thoughts. You'll need to start the conversation now in crossover week when your legislators are home.  Talk to your own legislators and get them to talk to Dick Lawrence, R, Caledonia county and/ or Carolyn Partridge, D, Windham County. They listen to their constituents!!!

Thank you for taking action –

Heidi Krantz, President
Vermont Horse Council

Here is the info sent by Lyn DesMarais of the Farm Bureau to The Committee Chairs:

Dear Chairman Starr, Vice Chairman Pollina, Madam Chair Partridge and Vice Chairman Lawrence, 

Our horse farmers understand your concerns that they produce neither food nor fiber. But like ornamental plants, farm stands and Christmas trees,  they do believe that they are an integral part of Vermont's agricultural working landscape.  They also believe that they, through the care and handling of their animals, feed, haying, manure management and the like, engage in more  purely agricultural practices than some diversified agri-businesses. 

Mainly they want to wholly belong and to be treated equally by all Vermont agencies as agriculture and not just by a few.  Vermont Farm Bureau policy fully supports this request.  
We'd like to ask you to amend the definition of a farmer in the current use law which is found at 32 VSA chapter 124 , section 3752(7)  (it would be a new small Roman numeral 4 or (iv))  to be the same as the language below, which is also from Vermont statute,  Act 250. 
It is the definition of farming found in 10 VSA (section) 6001 (22)(G): 

(iv) who is engaged in the raising, feeding, or management of four or more equines owned or boarded by the farmer, including training, showing, and providing instruction and lessons in riding, training, and the management of equines.