Douglas-Pollina argue over who gets credit for the “buy local” movement

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(Host) Pride of authorship takes many forms. In the gubernatorial race, there’s a fight over who came up with the idea for Vermont consumers to buy food locally.

Progressive Anthony Pollina says Governor Jim Douglas is claiming credit for launching a "buy local" movement in 2003. Pollina says the idea originated years before with farmers and citizen activists.

VPR’s John Dillon reports.

(Dillon) Pollina says Douglas’s rhetoric doesn’t match the reality of his record on local agriculture. A publication put out by the Agriculture Agency says the governor initiated the Buy Local movement in 2003. That’s not true, according to Pollina.

(Pollina) For years, I happen to have served on the board of the Northeast Organic Farmers Association, NOFA. And I helped organize committees, conferences, workshops, farmers markets that helped build the buy local movement. That was 20 or 30 years ago. And believe me, Jim Douglas was not in the room when those things were going on. This was the work of farmers. This was the work of citizens. It was not the work of politicians.

(Dillon) Pollina says he heard complaints from people who read the Ag Agency literature. They were upset that Douglas was taking credit for the movement to support local agriculture.

(Pollina) Now frankly, that is a ridiculous statement. The idea that Jim Douglas started the buy local movement ranks right up with the idea that Al Gore invented the Internet.

(Dillon) But the Douglas Administration says Pollina is confused about the issue.

(Tebbetts) He’s misinterpreting that.

(Dillon) Anson Tebbetts is deputy agriculture secretary. Although the publication refers to the buy local movement, Tebbetts says it references a specific state program.

(Tebbetts) The line in the Vermont Harvest is referring to a program that was begun here at the Agency of Agriculture. We’re not referring to the buy local movement, we’re referring to the buy local program which is a marketing campaign that has been under the direction of the Agency of Agriculture since 2003.

(Dillon) The state program aims to have major institutions such as state colleges and prisons, buy more food locally.

But Pollina says there’s much more Douglas could do to support local agriculture. He says the administration recently opposed legislation that would have mandated a buy-local requirement.

For VPR News, I’m John Dillon in Montpelier.

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