Farming has been and remains vital to Vermont’s economy (about $4 billion impact on our state’s economy) and quality of life. Although the number of dairy farms has dropped below 1,000 over the last decade, the gallons of milk produced and sales have climbed, and Vermont’s dairy farms are central to the state’s agricultural infrastructure. The brightest change has come through value-added and diversified farming, with young Vermonters creating artisan cheeses, producing high-quality organic fruits and vegetables, and much more. Vermont leads the nation for value of organic sales as a percentage of farm sales. In addition, food processing is the second largest manufacturing industry in Vermont; food production, processing, and distribution are responsible for over 56,000 jobs in Vermont, about 13 percent of all jobs.
Lawmakers (Gov. Shumlin was leader of the state Senate at that time) and advocates created the Farm to Plate Project, which was expanded last year under the Shumlin administration, to strengthen Vermont’s food system.