On January 26, 2023, NOFA-VT staff and seven organic dairy farmers testified in a joint hearing of the House Agriculture, Food Resiliency and Forestry Committee and the Senate Agriculture Committee about our proposal requesting $9.2 million in relief for organic dairy farms. If you’re unfamiliar with the crisis unfolding in the organic dairy industry, read our previous blog post to learn more.
Our state representatives championed our proposal and put $9.2 million in relief in the Fiscal Year 2023 (FY23) Budget Adjustment Act (BAA), which ultimately opened the door to the conversation happening now.
We’re learning a lot about the budgeting process. When we first brought our proposal to the legislature, we thought that putting this relief into the BAA was the only option for getting much needed financial relief to farmers on a short timeline. We’ve since learned that there are multiple vehicles to get this relief out quickly.
The NOFA-VT team is now working with key legislators and the Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets to draft language that will allow this money to be appropriated and out to farmers, likely in May. As of this writing, this relief is not likely to be included in the FY23 BAA, but could instead take the form of a standalone bill or be included as part of the FY24 budget that would be applied retroactively, meaning farmers would still be able to get the support in May even if the funding is budgeted in the FY24 budget, which starts in July.
We applaud our legislators for their commitment to supporting our state’s organic dairy farmers and ensuring that this relief will be distributed quickly, equitably, and with relative ease. We’re eager to see this relief happen and we’ll keep you updated as this process continues to unfold.
If you see your representatives during town meeting day, be sure to thank them for their support of this organic dairy relief!