June is National Dairy Month and the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets honors Vermont’s dedicated dairy farming families and the many ways they help to shape our economy, our land, and our way of life.
In 2015, the Vermont Dairy Promotion Council commissioned an economic assessment of Vermont’s dairy industry in order to understand its true economic and value to our state. Concurrently, the Agency of Agriculture worked in partnership with the Castleton Polling Institute to survey Vermonters’ beliefs and attitudes towards the dairy industry.
Compiled in the final report, Milk Matters: The Role of Dairy in Vermont, the results of the economic study demonstrate that dairy remains at the heart of the Vermont economy--accounting for some 70 percent of all agriculture produced in the state, providing thousands of jobs, and contributing to a vital working landscape. Likewise, polling data revealed Vermonters’ views about dairy are overwhelmingly positive. Over 90 percent of Vermonters polled in the 2014 “Dairy in Vermont” survey expressed a belief that dairy is “very important to Vermont’s future.”
While the economic outlook for dairy remains strong, significant challenges lie ahead, including labor management, farm transitions, and environmental impact mitigation. Protecting and preserving our state waters continues to be a top priority for the Agency of Ag as we work side-by-side with Vermont farmers to improve regulations, and provide more effective technical and financial assistance.
Thus far, more than 1800 individuals – many of them dairy farmers - have attended over 80 meetings hosted by VAAFM and our Water Quality Partners since October last year to participate and provide comments in the Required Agricultural Practices (RAPs) rule-making process. A key component of Act 64, Vermont’s Clean Water Act signed into law in June of 2015, the RAPs are designed to further reduce the impact of agriculture on water quality across the state. Input from dairy farmers and community members has been invaluable to the VAAFM and our partners, and I want to encourage all Vermonters to continue to provide insight and make their voices heard at upcoming public hearings. Visit http://agriculture.vermont.gov/water-quality/regulations/rap for more information about the RAPs, and details about upcoming public hearings.
By working together, we can continue to expand the positive influence the dairy industry has on our state, and perpetuate the proud tradition of Vermont dairy farming for generations to come. Please visit www.vermontdairy.com to review the data highlights from the Milk Matters Report and take a moment during National Dairy Month to appreciate Vermont dairy farmers and all they do for our special state