A Page 1 article in Sunday’s Times Argus (“Serving notice”) notes that the Vermont food system is currently undergoing unprecedented growth, “from $6.9 billion to $8.6 billion between 2007 and 2012, according to figures from the Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund.”
That being the case, it seems incomprehensible that Gov. Shumlin, as has been widely reported, is proposing severe cuts or possibly the outright elimination of the working lands program, which provides small subsidies to food- and agricultural-related enterprises. As a result of this modest initiative, 91 percent of the grant recipients increased production capacity to fulfill additional contracts during the first year of its implementation, thereby creating jobs and tax revenue.
Simultaneously, the state continues to pledge several million dollars in subsidies to GlobalFoundries, a company owned by the government of the Emirate Abu Dhabi, in order to incentivize its presence in Chittenden County after it acquires the IBM facilities there.
Showing favoritism to a multibillion-dollar offshore entity while cutting back investment in the homegrown agricultural enterprises that represent the heart and soul of Vermont should be viewed as an insult to the hardworking entrepreneurs who have allocated their lives and personal resources to the fastest-growing business sector in the state.
Foreign companies like GlobalFoundries are “footloose” operations that have no qualms about pulling up stakes and moving on to wherever, whenever they feel they can operate more profitably elsewhere. Vermont farmers are rooted in the soil of this state and have no desire to ever abandon their passionate love for the work they perform on the land.
Please contact your legislators and let them know that economic development in Vermont cannot count on faceless corporations whose loyalty needs to be bought with taxpayer dollars. Please ask your senators and representatives to keep the working lands program alive and thriving.
Peter Burmeister, Berlin
The writer operates a small-scale livestock farm and processing plant in Berlin.