Hinsdale, CLF discuss large farm permit process

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(Host) Clark Hinsdale of the Vermont Farm Bureau says regulations governing large farms in Vermont are adequate. Speaking last night on VPR’s Switchboard program, Hinsdale said he opposes subjecting large farm applications to a review similar to Act 250 by giving adjoining land owners party status.

Hinsdale said while many people have legitimate concerns about large farms, others are only interested in keeping the farms out of their backyards:

(Hinsdale) “What would happen is if the large farm review process became Act 250, is we’d simply turn into New Hampshire. The forest would swallow up most of the rest of the open land that development didn’t take. So I think we have to be very, very careful. Keep in mind also that Vermont has the second highest incidence of trust funders in the United State of America. Within a mile or two of virtually any farm in the state of Vermont are people who are independently wealthy who can go hire a lawyer to stop the farm down the road just because they feel like it.”

(Host) Sandy Levine of the Conservation Law Foundation said large farms should be subject to a review process similar to Act 250. Levine said, neighbors should have a greater voice in the application process.

(Levine) “I would say in Mr. Hinsdale’s comments, I think he’s being fairly alarmist in suggesting that if you ask large farms to go through an Act 250 like process, you’ll never see a large farm in this state. Developers say that all the time about Act 250 as well but actually 99% of the developments proposed go through Act 250 with no appeal, with no opposition whatsoever. I don’t think that farms would have a different experience at all.”

(Host) Levine says large farms pose serious environmental problems. She called for an overhaul in the way the farms are reviewed by the state. Hinsdale is trying to gain state approval of a large farm application to expand his family’s dairy farm in Charlotte.

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