By MICHELLE MONROE, St Albans Messengner:

DUMMERSTON, Vt. — Former Vermont Secretary of Agriculture Roger Allbee’s extensive work on behalf of rural Vermont was recognized on Wednesday by the Vermont Council on Rural Development (VCRD).

VCRD board chair and Secretary of Natural Resources Julie Moore presented Allbee with the Vermont Lifetime Achievement Award on Wednesday.

Created in 2015, the award recognizes “statewide leaders whose long service exemplified dedication, and honorable service to community and to all of rural Vermont,” according to VCRD.

Allbee has been working on aiding Vermont’s farmers and protecting its working landscape for decades.

Ted Brady, Deputy Secretary of the Agency of Commerce, said of Allbee, “Like no one else he carries the history of agriculture for Vermont.”

Allbee directed the first program in Vermont to nonpoint source phosphorous pollution from farms into Vermont’s waterways.

He helped the first Current Use Advisory Committee set the original procedures for current use, a program which allows farmland and forests to be taxed at the value they hold under their current use rather than their market value.

As an aide to Senator Jim Jeffords, Allbee helped to pass the first national agricultural lands protection act as part of the 1982 Farm Bill.

Working with Banks for Cooperatives and Farm credit, Allbee helped to bring affordable credit to farmers.

He was a founding co-owner of AGTEC, a trade and export company developing markets for specialty foods in Europe and Asia.

In the early 2000s, Allbee returned to Vermont to head the state’s Farm Service Agency, before assuming leadership of the Agency of Agriculture, Farms and Markets, where he advocated for Vermont’s farms, including dairy farmers facing what were then record low prices.

Even now, he continues to follow developments within the agricultural industry, particularly dairy, and keep others, including the Messenger, informed.

For Allbee, community, economic development, land use and agriculture are woven together. He believed, and convinced others, that discussion of tourism in Vermont needed to include the agricultural and forest industries which preserved the open lands people come here to see.

In its award announcement, VCRD credited Allbee with popularizing the term “working landscape.”

Allbee “encouraged, invested, and provided leadership for the Vermont Working Landscape Council which produced the ideas and impetus for the Working Lands Enterprise Program and its investments in creative enterprises on the land,” VCRD said.

His love of history, especially agricultural history, means Allbee has also served as an unofficial historian of agriculture in the state, drawing on the state’s agricultural past to help envision agriculture’s future, which he will tell you lays in value-added products.

VCRD Director Paul Costello described Allbee’s approach to leadership, writing, “Roger’s most powerful strategy is praise. He starts every paragraph using it. He looks first for the good in all his partners, even in his critics, tries to see others points of view and learn from them, praises their good intentions.”

“When he’s speaking in a small meeting or major conference he is peppering his remarks with stories of the good works or ideas of others, putting others in the spotlight, celebrating their leadership, making them important, gearing them for success, giving them power,” Costello continued.