Farmers to benefit from state program

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(Host) With prospects dimming for new federal farm payments, the Douglas Administration and legislative leaders have agreed to give farmers a little more financial help by the end of the year.

VPR’s John Dillon reports:

(Dillon) Governor Douglas and the Legislature came up with the state program as a stop-gap measure until federal disaster relief payments came through.

The federal money is stalled in Congress. So the state’s $8.6 million dollar plan became even more critical for farmers hard hit by low prices and disastrous weather.

Lamoille Senator Susan Bartlett chairs the Appropriations Committee.

(Bartlett) “This is one of these projects from beginning to end we’ve all been able to work together and put the farmers and their needs and agriculture and the state of Vermont as the top priority.”

(Dillon) The money was supposed to be distributed in five or six months. However, a drop in production – and a slight rise in milk prices – meant the program payments would have been stretched out until spring.

Yet farmers are still facing high costs for feed and fuel going into the winter.

So lawmakers began working with the Douglas Administration to get the rest of the money out to farmers by year’s end.

Lawmakers and the administration have also decided to change the way the money is paid out so that large-scale farmers get the same benefit as smaller farmers.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m John Dillon.

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