Published on Mar 2, 2014
Join NOFA-VT’s Policy Advisor Dave Rogers as he discusses the past, present and future of the labeling of foods containing genetically modified ingredients with VT Right to Know Coalition members Andrea Stander of Rural Vermont and Will Allen of Cedar Circle Farm. Recorded February 15, 2014.
VTDigger – Public banking advocates release economic study by Hilary Niles - Nov. 5 2013
Excerpt – Advocates of public banking, so far unsuccessful in their quest to get the Vermont Legislature to study the possibility of setting up a state-owned bank, have taken the task upon themselves….
Flomenhoft said about $236.2 million of new credit could be created in the state, as well as 1,000 jobs and $100 million in savings. For the full report, see the document link below. )
The VT State Bank Study – vtbank-prelim11-4complete
Read VTD full article
Another interesting article on state owned banks from Mother Jones -
How the Nation’s Only State-Owned Bank Became the Envy of Wall Street —By Josh Harkinson - 2009
Excerpt – The Bank of North Dakota is the only state-owned bank in America…. It was created 90 years ago, in 1919…. we have specifically designed programs to spur certain elements of the economy. Whether it’s agriculture or economic development programs that are deemed necessary in the state or energy, which now seems to be a huge play in the state.
What do private banks think of you?
The interesting thing about the bank is we understand that we walk a fine line between competing and partnering with the private sector. We were designed and set up to partner with them and not compete with them….
We also provide a dividend back to the state. Probably this year we’ll make somewhere north of $60 million, and we will turn over about half of our profits back to the state general fund. And so over the last 10, 12 years, we’ve turned back a third of a billion dollars just to the general fund to offset taxes or to aid in funding public sector types of needs.
MJ: Not bad for a state with a population of 600,000.
Read MJ full article
Invite from VT for a new Economy – Join Vermonters for a New Economy! We are a group of individuals and organizations who are working to design and enjoy all the new ways we can own and operate businesses, earn income, make exchanges, do our banking and investment, and measure the economy’s contribution to human and environmental well-being. We support sustainable agriculture, renewable energy and energy efficiency, creativity and knowledge based enterprises, affordable housing, and healing arts as the economic drivers of Vermont’s future. Click here to be added to our mailing list.
Dear Members & Friends:
> Today (Nov. 5), Washington state will tally up the votes for I-522, the citizens’ ballot initiative that, if passed, will require labeling of genetically engineered food. Right now, the vote is too close to call with the YES on I-522 campaign being outspent more than 3 to 1 by the bio-tech and industrial food companies. This has been the most expensive ballot initiative campaign in WA state history and the WA state Attorney General has filed a lawsuit against the Grocery Manufacturers Association for campaign finance violations. Here’s hoping the voters of Washington state can see through the fear and confusion that is being broadcast and grant themselves the right to know what is in their food!
> Sat Nov. 9th, I hope you’ll join me and other activists at the Vermont Environmental Summit at VT Technical College in Randolph. Regardless of the outcome in WA state, I will be working with other members of the VT Right to Know GMOs Coalition to share our strategy to pass VT’s GMO labeling bill in 2014. Stonyfield Yogurt founder and “Just Label It” spokesperson Gary Hirshberg will be the keynote presenter. With other organizers, I will also be offering tips on how you can be a powerful citizen advocate in the Vermont State House this winter. We’re expecting a full court press from the same interests who have been spending so much money to prevent labeling efforts across the country. PLEASE NOTE: Because we are a co-sponsor of the Summit, members of Rural Vermont can attend the day-long event, which includes lunch, for just $15 if you register by Thurs. at 5PM.
> November 15 is the deadline for comments to the FDA on their proposed rules to implement the Food Modernization and Safety Act (FSMA). Why should you care about this? Well, it has become apparent, through careful reading of the draft rules (by others much smarter than me), that they contain confusing and in some cases obscure provisions that could make it virtually impossible for small diversified farms to sell good local food and be economically viable. Thanks to the work of UVM’s Vern Grubinger, as well as folks at NOFA-VT, New England Farmers’ Union and the VT Agency of Agriculture, we have pulled together some of the best analysis of what you need to know and what you CAN do to add your voice to the protest over how these proposed rules could devastate small scale agriculture in Vermont.
This is complicated and “wonky” stuff but I can’t stress how important it is for Vermont’s small-scale family farms to participate in this action now. See below for details and feel free to contact me with questions.
Finally, to end on an upbeat note – we are grateful to the over 60 raw milk producers who joined us last Sunday (Oct. 27) at the Bethel Town Hall for a very productive and inspiring Raw Milk Producers’ Summit. I hope you will read on for Rural Vermont member and activist Katie Spring’s first-hand account of this great gathering.
Let’s get organized!
P.S. For some really inspiring words from our unofficial farmer “Poet Laureate,” I urge you to check out Bill Moyers’ recent interview with Wendell Berry.
“FSMA” stands for Food Safety and Modernization Act and it is a law that was passed by the U.S. Congress in 2011. It represents the most comprehensive set of changes to food safety laws passed since the 1930s.
At the time it was being debated in Congress, Rural Vermont supported FSMA because the assumption was that most small-scale farms would fall under exemptions to its major provisions. As with almost all rules that come out of DC, things have changed.
Now, more than two years later, the Food & Drug Administration (FDA), which was given broad authority to implement FSMA, has set a deadline of November 15 for the submission of comments on two DRAFT rules it has prepared.
Although the purpose of FSMA was ostensibly to address post-Sept. 11 security concerns and the increasing frequency of food-bourne illnesses in the U.S. food system, it now looks like the proposed rules could radically restrict the kind of community-scale agricultural production and food processing that has been encouraged and is, in many ways, flourishing in Vermont and around New England. The rules, as currently proposed, have the potential to be very damaging to many farms – especially those who are focused on veggies and fruits.
WHAT IS MOST IMPORTANT?
In May 2012, Vermont became the first state in the nation to ban fracking for natural gas because of the dangers it poses to drinking water, clean air and livable communities across North America.
Despite this, Vermont Gas wants to expand Vermonters’ reliance on fracked gas. Its plan to build a pipeline to Middlebury is in front of state regulators right now and those regulators are holding a public hearing next Tuesday, September 10 at the Middlebury Union Middle School in Middlebury.
Please attend this important public hearing and voice your concerns.
Among other things, this pipeline would:
• Increase our reliance on gas just when we need to be moving toward clean renewable energy.
• Cut straight through wetlands and certified organic farmland.
• Run counter to our energy goals. Vermont has a goal of getting 90% of our energy from renewable sources by 2050. Allowing this pipeline to be built would lock us into a non-renewable fuel source for decades to come.
Learn more about the hearing and a rally beforehand organized by our friends at VPIRG, Toxics Action Center, Rising Tide Vermont, 350VT as well as local citizens.
We hope you can make it.
Thanks for all you do!
The VNRC Team
NOFA-VT Policy Advisor Dave Rogers as he discusses Vermont Gas Systems’ proposal to extend a natural gas pipeline through Addison county and its potential impacts. Dave is joined by Andy Simon, Campaign Coordinator for 350 Vermont and Nate Palmer of Laughing Tree Farm.
Video of mock F35 sound demo
Video via Youtube – Anne Galloway – Compressed F35 Video
Check out BFP video – The same sound demo at city hall park – HERE
Interesting article in the Burlington Free Press – Opponents of F-35 in Vermont outnumber supporters, Air Force says, acknowledging error in environmental report
Take action and find out about upcoming activities – http://www.stopthef35.com/
Decibel Comparison Chart – Here
No elected Vermont political leaders have met with affected homeowners/concerned citizens. Those most affected demand a public hearing with our elected political leaders. They cannot keep running from the facts and only offering their half truths.
- Chris Hurd
full article – F-35 in South Burlington.
The recent win by Monsanto will be appealed!
This is a biased ruling based on a paragraph on Monsanto’s web page. It is not based on public or environmental well-being, nor on the equal rights of farmers.
The courts ruling does not address the issue – “Monsanto’s representations unequivocally disclaim any intent to sue appellant growers, seed sellers, or organizations for inadvertently using or selling ‘trace amounts’ of genetically modified seeds.” (trace amounts = 1%)
If we only protect our organic farms with a 1% capacity (as the court is doing), we won’t have organic seed anymore, and even wild seed will be permanently modified. This is a crisis we can’t standby and watch, we need to put the pressure on our elected officials, and educate anyone who will listen. The future of our food relies on it.
Excerpt from Reuters article (linked above) - Monsanto filed 144 patent-infringement lawsuits against farmers between 1997 and April 2010, and won judgments against farmers it said made use of its seed without paying required royalties. Many U.S. farmers have said their fields were inadvertently contaminated with Monsanto’s biotech seeds without their knowledge.
Excerpt from The Guardian article – Monsanto sued small famers to protect seed patents, report says – In its report, called Seed Giants vs US Farmers, the CFS said it had tracked numerous law suits that Monsanto had brought against farmers and found some 142 patent infringement suits against 410 farmers and 56 small businesses in more than 27 states. In total the firm has won more than $23m from its targets…
From the institute of responsible technology - In 2006 GM rice grown for one year in field trials five years earlier was reported to have contaminated the US rice supply and seed stocks, and found in Africa, Europe, and Central America. US rice futures dropped immediately by $150 and exports dropped by about 20% from the previous year. The total cost could reach as high as $1.2 billion.
read more about the costs of gmo contamination – http://responsibletechnology.org/docs/gmos-inevitably-contaminate-and-persist.pdf
GMO trees, creating sterile forests that kill insects, is just another example of the scale of this issue. The implications of GMO trees cross-pollinating with our forests is ecocide.
See all our articles covering the GMO issue - https://vermont4evolution.wordpress.com/?s=GMO
5th Annual VbC is on!
Reskilling workshops all weekend at AllTogethernow! Camping, food, and celebration! More than 20 workshops and discussions including: permculture design, root cellaring, rotational grazing, fruit & nut trees, a bunch more.
Starts 9am Saturday 22nd and goes until Sunday afternoon.
Ben Falk is kicking off the weekend at the Unitarian Church in Montpelier Thursday, June 20th, 7:30pm
Vermont was the first state to designate a day to clean up the entire state. Started in 1970 by Gov. Deane C. Davis, our unique tradition continues with thousands of Vermonters taking care of Vermont.
“THE FIRST GREEN UP DAY” As described in the words of Governor C. Davis, on August 30, 1984
“GREEN UP DAY launched Vermont’s environmental ethic and has been a strong and continuing influence in generating support for the environmental movement in Vermont.
“The first Green Up Day was on April 18, 1970. The idea came from Robert S. Babcock, Jr., then a full time reporter for the Burlington Free Press. It had its genesis on a clear spring day in March 1969 when Babcock, driving to work in Montpelier from his home in Waterbury, became appalled at the devastation caused by spring snow run-off and the unsightly litter thus revealed. Upon arriving in Montpelier he came to my office in the State House and proposed the inauguration of a statewide effort, to be supported by the State Highway Department and large groups of volunteer citizens to clean up the highways of the state.
“The more we worked and planned the more excited we all became. When the big day came we were thrilled to see over 70,000 Vermonters out on the roads picking up trash, hauling trash and supervising the action. A large number were young people whose enthusiasm was contagious and their work invaluable.
“The results were far beyond our expectations. Four thousand truck loads were reported hauled by the Highway Department comprising over 20,000 cubic yards of trash removed from the Interstate and other state roads,
Twenty years after the first Green Up Day, Vermont Green Up’s president Leonard Perry noted that: Green Up is more than a day in May. It is an attitude for a lifetime—an attitude toward our environment that Vermont is a precious place deserving our care and respect.
Green Up can occur at any time, at any place. Together we share the goal of keeping Vermont a clean, safe, beautiful place to live, visit and enjoy.
Green Up’s mission is to promote the stewardship of our state’s natural landscape and waterways and the livability of our communities by involving people in Green Up Day and raising public awareness about the benefits of a litter-free environment.
Read more and learn how to participate at – http://www.greenupvermont.org/history.php
By: Jonathan Leavitt, From: Toward Freedom
Thursday, 24 January 2013
Vermont, the most progressive state in America, spent over $14 million last year to lock up Vermonters in for profit prison like Lee Adjustment Center, located in Kentucky’s Daniel Boone National Forest. Private prisons like Correctional Corporation of America (CCA)’s Lee Adjustment Center offer no mental health, educational or rehabilitational services, but they do post massive corporate profits; CCA posted $1.7 billion in 2011 revenue alone. As best-selling author Michelle Alexander notes in her seminal book The New Jim Crow, more black men are under correctional control now than were enslaved in 1850. A recent New Yorker piece noted more Americans are now incarcerated than there were imprisoned in Stalin’s gulags.
Clearly a dialogue about mass incarceration, budget crises, and privatization is unfolding. A group of Vermonters working out of Church basements and living rooms is attempting to build a movement to push this conversation forward by passing a historic law banning Vermont’s use of for-profit prisons.
Behind the Profitable Private Prison Wall
Between 2002 and 2003, according to the Rutland Herald, the number of prisoners in Vermont increased at “nearly five times the national average.” The number of teenagers and young adults in Vermont jails surged by more than 77 percent. A racialized “get tough on crime” ideology, mandatory minimums, and harsher sentencing guidelines from the failed war on drugs left then Republican Vermont Governor Jim Douglas at a moment of departure: build new prisons, or start shipping Vermonters incarcerated under these controversial policies into the deep south to be warehoused without even the “rehabilitative” programs found in Vermont prisons.
All petitions have been delivered to VY’s corporate headquarters in VT and we’ve finally got their attention. Entergy has four law firms and a pile of lawyers trying to throw out CRWC studies that debunk their case for thermal pollution of the Connecticut River.
CRWC’s four expert reports conclude that Entergy’s case is “significantly flawed” and relies on outdated science. The reports have been presented to all the decision makers in Vermont, including the Governor, and present a damning case for Entergy.
These reports are top notch. So much so that even the State of VT is using these reports in their own filings to the Vermont utility regulators who will decide later this year whether Entergy should get a new license to operate.
Thanks to the terrific legal support provided by the Vermont Natural Resources Council & VT Law School the fight’s not over yet, but it’s not a fair fight given Entergy’s deep pockets.
Make Your Voice Heard
Your support keeps CRWC in this fight, representing you and the River. Over the last year the Council – thanks to your support and that of members & friends – has put together a technically rigorous take-down of Entergy’s case. Legal & consultant fees, however, continue to accumulate. Your support is needed now more than ever.
Make a donation today to keep the pressure on Entergy and tell them that we won’t back down when it comes to protecting the Connecticut River.
Submit formal comments to the Vermont Public Service Board.
Read the four expert reports, testimony in support of these reports and more on CRWC’s website.
You can see all the filings in this case on the Vermont Public Service Board electronic docket.
Hearings in Montpelier, the next step in this process, are tentatively set for the weeks of February 11th & 18th. Stay tuned for more updates. As always, contact us with any questions or concerns.
For the River,
Decision Linked to Emphasis on Ecology and Sustainable Agriculture
Craftsbury Common, VT—Sterling College has announced that it is proud to be the first college in Vermont, and the third college in the United States, that will soon divest its endowment from the two hundred fossil fuel companies identified by 350.org in its effort to move higher education toward fossil free investment. The Board of Trustees voted unanimously at its February 2, 2013 meeting to instruct the investment team to take this action and to move swiftly to divest.
Bill McKibben, Sterling College honorary alumnus and the founder of 350.org, one of the organizations leading a nationwide campus divestment campaign, said of the college’s move, “Sterling College has always been a leader in sustainability and environmentalism. I am thrilled that Sterling has decided that divestment is an important tool for reversing climate change.”
Sterling College is committed to environmental stewardship. Everything about what it teaches, and how it teaches, is geared to building a world that works. In taking this important action, the College and its Board of Trustees is affirming its commitment to its mission to educate problem solvers.
President Matthew Derr said, “Sterling College is an incubator for those who care about Vermont, care about the natural world in which we all live, and who want to promote healthy and just food systems, and as such, it makes no sense for us to invest in companies that are wreaking havoc on our climate.”
Rian Fried, trustee, said, “With this action, not only will the social return of the portfolio increase, the safety of the long-term financial returns will also be significantly enhanced by shielding the College from direct exposure to companies whose production levels are unsustainable.”
President Derr continued, “Our legacy and our focus on food, water, health, energy, and governance through conservation, education, and sustainable agricultural practices absolutely compels us to take this action. We hope that we inspire other colleges and universities to take this important next step toward divestment in fossil fuels because higher education is an important bully pulpit, and we need to focus the nation’s attention on this critical issue for future generations of our students
Rural Vermont Raw Milk Meetings
and 2012 Raw Milk Producer Survey
Dear Members & Friends,
Rural Vermont is reaching out to our entire network to help us locate all raw milk producers in Vermont. Rural Vermont is seeking input for the 2012 Raw Milk Producer Survey, described below, which will greatly help us move forward in our campaign to advocate for improvements to the Raw Milk Law (Act 62).
In the coming weeks, we will be hosting regional “Milk Meetings” to help raw milk producers prepare for inspection by the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, voice their opinions about ways in which the raw milk law could be improved, and to network and share a meal with other raw dairy farmers. The first gathering is on January 31st in Hinesburg, followed by four additional meetings around the state. Scroll down for additional dates and details.
If you are a raw milk consumer, please make sure that your farmer is aware of Rural Vermont’s upcoming surveys and meetings.
Raw Milk Producers Survey Information Needed
Rural Vermont has been at the forefront of advancing farmers’ right to sell raw milk and has been given the responsibility of reporting raw milk sales data to the Vermont Legislature. Now we need your help. The survey includes questions about 2012 sales, as well as issues related to the current raw milk law. Please complete the Rural Vermont 2012 Raw Milk Producers Survey today.
No matter the size of your milking operation or the length of time you have been milking, we want to hear from you. Also, if you have just recently stopped selling raw milk, we’re especially interested to hear about any impediments you may have experienced. All identifying information included in the survey will remain confidential.
Your information will help us communicate to Vermont legislators that raw milk provides significant economic opportunities for Vermont farmers. We realize that there are many challenges that still need to be addressed, so please complete your survey today and help us bring attention to these issues.
Rural Vermont Raw Milk Meetings
Rural Vermont has been informed by the Vermont Agency of Agriculture’s Dairy Section and Animal Health Division that they will be resuming inspections of farms selling raw milk direct to consumers. The agency’s stated purpose is “to ensure that they are in compliance with the statutes enacted several years ago” when the Raw Milk Law (Act 62) was passed in 2009. You can read materials related to the Agency of Agriculture’s inspection protocol and animal health requirements on the Agency’s website.
In response to the Agency of Agriculture’s plans to ramp up inspections of raw milk dairies, we will be hosting several regional milk meetings. Farmers can expect to learn tips for simple and inexpensive ways to comply with the law, as well as the opportunity to offer input about what changes to the current raw milk law would be most helpful to raw dairy producers.
The first meeting will be held in Hinesburg from 11am – 3pm on Thursday, January 31st with a potluck lunch. Rural Vermont members attend at no charge, $5 fee for non-members. For exact location, RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org or call (802) 223-7222.
Similar meetings will be held on February 7th in Randolph Center, February 21st in South Wheelock, and dates to-be-determined in southeastern Vermont and Poultney. Stay tuned for more info at http://www.ruralvermont.org.
Rural Education Action Project
For any of you that are wanting to keep up on Vermont Yankee check out VY Evacuation Plans and More @ http://www.evacuationplans.org/ they do a great job posting all the related articles as they come out. For other Nuclear news check out Fairewinds Associates @ http://www.fairewinds.com/. For Fukushima news check Fukushima Update @ http://fukushimaupdate.com/.