Press Release

Vermont Farmers, Hunger and Climate Advocates Support Welch Priorities in Senate Farm Bill

May 10, 2024

BURLINGTON, VT  Today, Vermont farmers and agriculture leaders, nutrition advocates working to end hunger, and climate champions applauded the introduction of the Senate’s recently-unveiled Farm Bill, the Rural Prosperity and Food Security Act, which includes priorities for Vermont that were championed and led by Senator Peter Welch (D-Vt.)

Senator Welch serves as Chair of the Senate Agriculture Subcommittee on Rural Development and Energy, and has introduced several bills this Congress to support Vermont’s dairy, organic, and crop farmers; strengthen rural development and infrastructure; improve access to nutrition; strengthen our local food systems and expand markets; and make our communities more resilient to flooding—all of which were included in this Farm Bill. Many of these bills and policy provisions from Sen. Welch were bipartisan.    

“The Farm Bill is critical to the future of agriculture in Vermont and the region. This bill invests in our working landscape creating more opportunities for farmers, producers and consumers. Under Senator Welch’s leadership this proposed Farm Bill makes important investments that will grow our economy and make it more affordable to those who are earning a living off the land,” said Vermont Secretary of Agriculture Anson Tebbetts

“Ensuring small and organic farmers, who tend land and keep us all fed is critical for a food secure, climate- resilient Vermont. We are deeply grateful for Senator Welch’s tireless efforts to ensure that our farmers are centered in the next farm bill,” said Grace Oedel, Executive Director of the Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont

“Vermont Foodbank commends the Senate’s work toward advancing a farm bill that supports what we have heard from our neighbors across Vermont – that food assistance programs should be easier for neighbors to access and use, and those programs should meet their dietary and cultural requirements. This bill summary provides investments in The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP), which are critical to Vermont Foodbank’s work – like many food banks across the country, we have been purchasing more food in recent years as demand has increased. Strengthening TEFAP will help Vermont Foodbank, our network of partners, and farms to continue to support our neighbors. And, perhaps more importantly, this bill summary prioritizes SNAP (called 3SquaresVT here in Vermont) and the continued modernization of The Thrifty Food Plan which will give participating neighbors the ability to better afford the nutritious food we all need to thrive,” said John Sayles, CEO of Vermont Foodbank

“On behalf of the Vermont Farm Bill Nutrition Coalition, I applaud the Senate Agriculture Committee’s Farm Bill proposal, and Senator Welch’s efforts to ensure that so many Vermont priorities, including improvements to the SNAP application process, the opportunity to pilot hot prepared foods as allowable SNAP purchases, and the preservation of regular updates to the SNAP food plan that account for actual food cost increases,” said Anore Horton, Executive Director of Hunger Free Vermont. “SNAP is our single most important food security program, and now we need to come together to enact a Farm Bill that truly expands food security with dignity for all of us.” 

“The Bond Bank’s commitment from USDA RUS for a RESP loan will be a game changer in reducing energy costs for Vermont’s rural villages, towns, and school districts in the long term but short-term savings are also needed. Extension of the loan term from 10 years to 20 years for energy savings loans will reduce loan payments while providing more budgetary relief. It will also allow communities to make the right technology choices by reducing upfront costs,” said Michael Gaughan, Executive Director of the Vermont Bond Bank

“The proposed farm bill includes several provisions that will improve the economic and environmental sustainability of dairy farmers and cooperatives across Vermont and the Northeast. We thank Senator Welch for his open-door policy with farmers and cooperatives throughout this process. The need for a farm bill this year is imperative, and we look forward to working with Senator Welch as negotiations continue,” said Catherine de Ronde, Agri-Mark, Inc

“At SunCommon we’re proud to help farms go solar with the support of USDA grant programs. The Rural Energy Equity Act, included in the Farm Bill summary, will help us deploy even more renewable energy projects for rural farms and businesses. Extending and expanding the higher coverage of project costs will help make the investment in solar and other technologies affordable for many more people. We strongly support Senator Welch’s efforts to build on the success of existing programs and help rural businesses benefit from lower cost, lower carbon energy technology,” said Mike McCarthy, SunCommon Commercial Sales Manager. 

The Rural Prosperity and Food Security Act contains more than 100 pieces of legislation that aim to support our farms, create jobs, improve rural infrastructure, expand access to childcare and health care, support rural education and skills training, build out high-speed rural broadband, help rural homes and build more housing in rural America, assist homeowners and farms transition to greener energy and lower their utility bills, clean up our drinking water, conserve our land, and more.  

Read more about how the Rural Prosperity and Food Security Act would strengthen rural development and expand rural clean energy production and infrastructure.   

Read more about how the Rural Prosperity and Food Security Act would help promote Vermont’s local food markets and systems, help Vermont farmers transition to organics, and support Vermont’s dairy farmers.  

Read more about how the Rural Prosperity and Food Security Act would help improve access to nutrition for Vermont families.  

Read more about how the Rural Prosperity and Food Security Act would provide disaster relief and resiliency for Vermont farmers and communities.  

Read a summary of the Rural Prosperity and Food Security Act here.   

Read a section-by-section of the Rural Prosperity and Food Security Act here.