A few bills have been introduced in the House that we're currently keeping an eye on:
Universal School Meals (H.165)
Last year, the legislature instituted Universal School Meals for the first time - meaning free school breakfast and lunch have been provided to all Vermont students for the current school year. A new bill, H.165 would make this funding permanent through the Education Fund and continue to ensure that meals are provided to all students regardless of their family's income. Universal School Meals have been proven to reduce stigma in the lunchroom, improve educational outcomes for students, and - especially when combined with the Local Foods Incentive Grant - have positive ripple effects in our local farms and rural economies! Learn more from our friends at Hunger Free Vermont.
Right to Repair (H.81)
H.81 is a bill that aims to ensure accessible, timely, and affordable repairs of agricultural and forestry equipment by restricting equipment dealers' ability to impose excessive costs, burdens, or limitations on equipment owners or independent repair providers.
Accessory On-Farm Business (H.128)
H.128 would clarify and expand upon previous legislation designed to support accessory on-farm businesses as a means of diversifying and increasing farms' income and long term viability. "Accessory on-farm businesses" include on-farm processing and sale of agricultural products, events or farm stays featuring farm practices or products, and aggregation and resale of products purchased directly from other farms - think farm stands, farm tours, farm dinners, camps or workshops, etc. This bill would exempt accessory on-farm businesses, as well as small forest products processors, from needing an Act 250 permit.
Small Farm Diversification and Transition (H.205)
H.205 would create a new grants program at the Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets to provide financial assistance specifically to small farms seeking to diversify production and/or transition from one type of farming to another. This would include support for on-farm processing of agricultural products, and the development of accessory on-farm businesses.
The Senate Agriculture Committee is also actively working on legislation related to:
- right to farm (i.e. expanding protection for farmers from nuisance lawsuits),
- state milk pricing (i.e. establishing an equitable minimum price paid by milk handlers to dairy farmers in the state), and
- a miscellaneous agriculture bill
We'll provide updates on these bills and more soon!