You Can Quote Me -- January 31, 2010 -- Vt. Agriculture Secretary Roger Allbee discusses the latest on milk prices and other issues on the farm.
From Vermont's most trusted news source, WCAX brings you your news makers, your neighbors.
This is you can quote me.
>> And good morning everyone I'm Darren Perron.
>> I'm Kristin Carlson.
Our news make they are Sunday morning is agriculture secretary Roger Albee.
We will discuss milk prices, trends in farming and new struggles on the horizon.
>> We will also have your neighbors in the news.
A father and daughter reunited after 33 years apart.
Goats, adopt an orphan.
We will explain.
A new set of wheels for sugar makers and the lady cats host some little fans.
That's coming up.
>> But first our our news make they are morning is Roger Albee.
Been the agriculture secretary now for three years.
And there is a lot going on down on the farm.
We will talk to him about that.
thanks so much for being here.
>> Good morning.
>> Good to see you.
Let's start first with the big happening in berry, a wrapup of the farm expo and the farm show this week.
What was on people's minds?
>> Well, the farm show concluded this week on Thursday and it was a wonderful event.
It was the the 76th year of the farm show.
It had many people coming.
It is an opportunity for all types of farmers to get together, the dairy industry, the maple industry, the bee keepers.
I went to their meeting.
They had the biggest turnout ever.
>> How are they doing?
>> The colony collapse in Vermont an the bee keepers are doing quite well and quite excited.
They are growing.
There is a lot of back home bee keepers.
One of the concerns they had was bears, increased bear activity and mites but a lot of activity with people raising bees today.
We also had the dairy people at the dairy luncheon today.
This week on Thursday.
And it was wonderful to see the turnout.
There is a little more optimism on the dairy side because of prices that are coming up.
Still below the cost of production but on Thursday, we saw a lot of optimism about people saying we think we can make it through the future even though they have had a bad year
>> Milk prices, farmers are getting paid $1.15 for a gallon now?
>> Well they are getting paid about $1.15 per gallon and the projection for 2010 is they might get $1.44 per gallon.
Their costs of pro duck shin is still about $2 below ‑‑ $2 over what they are getting for milk.
>> How are they holding on?
>> It is difficult.
Most of them, the average farm has lost $105,000 this year and that's about 216 million dollars to the overall economy in Vermont.
As you know, or as you might not know, the dairy sector overall supports about 15,000 jobs in Vermont so it is a big influence on our working landscape.
But, there is a lot of optimism out there and it will take a lot of time to rebuild their capital.
I a lot of us are trying to work on some sort of growth management supply control system.
The secretary of agriculture, Mr. Vilasek is coming to Vermont on February 13.
He has been invited to the state by senator Leahy and senator sanders and meeting with the dairy industry to talk about what are the options going forward.
We are also meeting with ‑‑ or have met with secretary ‑‑ deputy secretary MERRIGAN this last week on Friday and she has said that they want to use the northeast, particularly New England for a model of a regional food system so we are hoping that the combination of the state's working together with USDA on some of their programs that, we can really build into a model food system for the country, using New England as an example and dairy hopefully can work into that.
>> We will talk maybe in a moment about some solutions and what's being talked about but talk about the depression that some farmers are feeling and the new support systems that are out there to help them.
We have heard of tragic situations.
It must be hard to do what you have always done and lose money.
>> Well, it is.
And you know, money really can ‑‑ or the lack of money can create a great deal of depression and ‑‑ in families.
Stress in families.
With sometimes the spouse and certainly the children many times and basically what we have done is we have put together an employee assistance program that can be available for dairy farmers in the states, just like many employees have like we have with the state, where a dairy farmer can call the assistance line and get help with financial assistance and had you to deal with stress or had you to deal with another family member that may have stress or how to deal with any number of things, including health issues and finances, transfer issues of farms, if that's an issue.
So we think that is something that people should have access to.
Even if neighbors know that there is stress on another dairy farm they can call this stress farm and say can you somehow tell us how we can help in providing asis tans.
So we are using all avenues out there the best we can.
>> Milk prices are always on a rollercoaster ride.
>> They are on a rollercoaster and certainly the prediction that is every 32 to 35 months you will have these steps.
This is worse than predicted because of the world recession.
And that wasn't predicted as you well know.
But going forward we are all working, as I said, with USDA, our delegation and we are meeting with other states, New England n New England and Pennsylvania and New York to see if we can come up with a regional system to better balance supply and demand within the regional milk production because we have 60 million people within a day's drive of us and we have known from research that we have done that people want to buy local milk.
More than ever because of food scares.
People want to know where their food comes from.
we just launch keep the local farms, Haniford, the food retailer was the first one to launch in New England.
They have 176 stores.
They launched it a few weeks ago and now we have Harvard and UVM as colleges, universities that have come on with their students to do this and this is where money will come back directly to the farmer because the consumer will be paying a little bit more if they want to.
We also have a local retailer that has indicated they want to be involved.
So it is exciting that there is more local people saying they want to buy local milk and they want p to pay more for it to help farmers.
>> What about the argument we have lost a lot of farms, but still milk production has maintained steady.
What about the argument that maybe there are too many dairy farms and it doesn't ‑‑
>> I think people need to realize that east of the Mississippi, we are actually in a milk deficit situation.
There is not enough milk east of the Mississippi.
The problem we have with our national pricing system, and itch the average consumer knew how milk was priced, their eyes would glaze over.
Because it is a very complicated system.
P and very hard for anyone to understand ‑‑
>> Like three people who understand it and one ha passed away and two aren't talking?
>> Two aren't talking.
It is that complicated.
It really is.
But it is a system that really works against the northeast, because if there is an oversupply of milk in the west or anywhere and as you know they have sub; ‑‑ subsidized water, power, they are growing crops that contribute to dairy farms in the large herds.
15 to 20 thousand herd sizes out there an the crops are coming from irrigated lands so with federal water.
And federal power.
And yet it hurts our price in the northeast so somehow we have to get beyond that.
we are meeting with secretary VILASEK and dep second at this to see how we can craft something that might work for the northeast.
And our delegation has been working on that.
We hope we can crack that and get something going.
>> Some sort of a premium price for local milk or ‑‑
>> Regional system that might work where you could basically have a higher price based on milk within the region.
>> Like a local fairy compact of some sense?
>>> The compact certainly sends people scattering because they ‑‑ especially some people in other parts of the country.
But I thank we would call it a regional food security system.
Regional production system.
That's what we are working toward.
>> Well recently there was sort of a scare that went through the dairy industry when there was a federal crackdown and ‑‑
>> Immigration came.
>> Congratulations by the way for winning that award.
>> Thank you.
There was some concern in the dairy industry about that.
Where does that stand now?
these agents came to some farms and said show us your papers.
Do you know what has been the result of that?
>> The agents came to five farms in Vermont and they were doing an audit across the country.
And at this stage we haven't heard of any followup to that.
we do know that senator Leahy has requested provision in the immigration regulations already, which have been used since 1950, which basically have allowed producers in the western states or midwest to get what we call seasonal worker, but sometimes year hand round for working on goat and sheep farms.
Some of the goat and sheep herders in the west have been able to get workers.
>> For several ‑‑ a Visa for several years?
>> Well, more than one year.
>> And senator Leahy has petitioned the secretary of labor to allow that to pertain to dairy.
And we hope that that might happen.
I know in listening to the president's speech, state of the union this last week, that he has talked about immigration reform being something that he wants to push forward on.
So I think there is a lot of recognition that there needs to be a change in immigration because these workers are needed on farms, farm credit in the northeast has done a major research on this in the past and said without these guest workers, the agriculture secretary in the northeast and then in fact in the country would face severe handicaps.
>> And then many are here illegally.
some are here legally.
Even with the the economy where it is, are you still hearing that farmers can't get Vermonters to do that work?
>> We are hearing that farmers can't get the type of consistent help they need even in this type of economic situation
>> These are long hours?
>> Long hours and you know we had a situation where a dairy farmer offered very good wages and good benefits and advertised and in newspapers for labor and couldn't get the the kind of consistent long hours help they needed.
>> Are you frustrated that there hasn't been some sort of solution to this?
it seems like we are in this day tan a little bit in the federal government.
think we are all frustrated that we can't get an easy solution.
These are difficult issues because people are polarized on all sides on the issue.
And ‑‑ but I think ‑‑ in think at some stage we have, to and I'm pleased that our delegation has been working on it, have to recognize that these workers are needed and somehow we have to have a guest worker program that works for the dairy industry as it works for the apples and some of the other tries that have been using guest workers from Jamaica and other countries for many years.
>> Do you favor sort of like a two or three‑year program or Visa program?
>> Some program like that that would be ‑‑ and there's been attempts in Congress to do that.
senator Leahy has been working on one with senator Feinstein and others that would have a guest worker program where the worker would go back for a period of time to their home country but could come back and work on the farms for a little more extended time than three or four months.
>> Let's push topics now to the bilocal movement.
That's something that's been around for a little bit now.
Still growing for a while and it seemed like that trend was just going through the roof.
>> It is still growing.
People really want today to know where their food is coming from.
We are seeing seeing food recalls all the time.
I think the latest one was salami a week or so ago but been other food recalls and certainly we are seeing an increased certain about food safety and local food.
So you are seeing the growth of farmers markets, seeing growth of what they are called CSA's, community‑supported agriculture and it is not a flash in the pan.
I call it a renaissance of the past.
That people really want to connect to their local food, even the large grocery chains are saying they are seeing consumers who are coming in and they are looking at the packaging.
They are looking at where the food comes from and they really want to connect to the local food.
And that's why you are seeing even retailers when you go in grocery stores advertising local and fresh and identifying where the food is coming from because they are rec freezing ‑‑ recognizing that the consumer today is identifying more with freshness and locality of food.
If you go to our farmers markets, the one in Burlington for example in the summer, they are packed.
They are packed.
People are really connecting to local food.
From hard wick is one region that's got Ann I lot of attention.
The that well‑known chef, retired reporter Dan rather did something on them and they did a network where they are trying to supply and grow their own.
Do you think Vermont could ever grow its own food?
there is enough?
>> Growing its own food is certainly a big leap.
Because right now we only produce about 7 or 8% perhaps of what we consume.
And like milk we only consume 5% of the milk that we produce but I think there is an opportunity for Vermont to produce more of what they consume.
The challenges that we have in the past, 20, 30 years ago, we had more processing facilities.
We had more storage facilities for craps year‑round.
We had more slaughter hows.
We had more local production of, you know, grains and breads and meats and other crops on a more year‑round basis.
But I think we are starting to see that turn around a little bit.
Where some of those facilities are coming back.
I know in my own community in southern Vermont now we have a local butter shop that has opened and I have gone into the shop and they are doing very well.
They are crowded.
On Saturday and on Fridays and on later parts of the week.
And that is because people are connecting to that local food.
But we need more of the processing and storage facilities to make that happen in a greater sense.
>> Well, agriculture secretary Roger Albee we will have to leave it there.
thank you so much for your time.
If you like to learn more visit our website WCAX.com.
You will find a variety of farming stories there by the channel 3 news team and now here is Darren with our neighbors in the news.
>> Thank you.
Coming up, he searched for his daughter for more than 30 years, waiting for this moment.
You will see next!
>> A man who hasn't seen his daughter since she was a toddler is now getting to know her as an adult.
Keaghan harsha has the story of an emotional reunion three decades in the making.
>> Mccloud has spent the the last three decades waiting and wondering.
>> I doubt there is a birthday that went by I didn't think about her.
>> To in 1976 his estranged wife and two year old daughter Malaysia left on a three month long vacation to Spain.
When the three months were up, they didn't return.
The mother took her daughter and vanished to start a new life in a new country.
Phone calls went unanswered, searches turned up empty‑handed.
One year passed and then another until frustration morphed in denial.
>> Hey had people say do you have any children.
Would I go no.
because it always ‑‑ I knew it was going to bring up something that would start triggering emotions that I didn't want to deal with it.
>> But as the years passed, he never stopped searching and waiting.
And neither did his daughter Malaysia.
>> Every month, every time a new kind of search would come up, I would go for it.
And I would search and I would search.
>> Finally on November 16, 2009, the searching paid off.
Malaysia found her father on‑line and called him and this Wednesday night, 33 years of waiting ‑‑
>> Very anxious.
>> Finally came to an end.
>> He was reunited with his doubt early and his 3 year old grandson Marcos.
>> It's okay now.
>> While the family has a lot of catching up to do, they say they can wait to do it.
>> This feels like the most ‑‑ for me the most natural thing ‑‑ I mean we are finding out that we're alike.
It split is a story with a fairytale ending.
>> There is nothing ‑‑ nothing that could describe.
It is really really emotional.
It is really good.
>> And ending where they all live happily ever after in northern New York.
>> Heartwarming story match LASHa and her son say they have no plans of returning to Spain.
>>> Now a story about an unusual adoption.
A Hines burg arfman has a brand‑new family and as Rachel Feldman tells us at first glance, tilly and her new parents don't have much p in common.
>> Who says three is a crowd?
certainly not this trio.
They are a family.
>> Okay, goats.
>> And it doesn't seem to matter that they are goats and tilly is clearly not.
>> They really depend on each other.
>> Joan and Jamie know the importance of family.
The mother‑daughter team own the equestrian center in Hines burg where tilly started her life months ago.
>> It was touch and go for the first couple of weeks.
We thought she was going to die
>> She didn't reel little want to stay in this world and we we said you have to.
>> On medication and I barely able to work.
They say her mother starred to turn against her weak offspring.
>> Tilly came up lame and so both she and her mother were put on stall rest.
For about a week when they were let out, Hanna ended up kicking tilly in the head causing her to have sees URLS and forcing two to be separated.
>> She was so miserable being by herself we were trying to find a way to make her happy and comfortable.
And one day it just suddenly occurred to thaws we have got these two baby goats that were running around the place and the goats charged right in and said okay we are in charming and they have been like this ever since.
>> They are together 24/7.
>> Because they will actually all sleep on top of each other and pile up like little pig pile in the corner of their stall.
>> She says the only thing that gets their goat is being away from each other.
>> Sometimes the goats manage to get out and tilly just is beside herself trying to call to her goats
>> They spend so much time together that tilly even horses around ‑‑ well, more like a goat.
>> She doesn't buck and play the way you would see a normal foal do it.
She will stand and twist and butt at the air with her head the way a goat will do it.
>> And she head butts.
>> But no matter where she's headed, tilly's getting stronger.
And felled says it is all things to the goats.
>> I really believe that it was these two silly goats that you know made this thing stay alive.
>> A remind he were the of the importance of family.
In whatever form it takes.
Rachel Feldman, channel 3 news.
>> Vermont maple producer have a new tool to push their product.
And to get their sear up to go.
Jack Thurston explains.
>> A celebration so sweet, it brought out royalty.
Vermont the's maple king and queen cut the ribbon of a new professional trailer.
The display complete with a roof that looks like a real sugar house and graphics you would see on containers of maple syrup will tour Vermont, New England and beyond educating people about the maple industry.
>> It is our chance to offer something to those people, many of them for the first time.
And give this many a chance to enjoy something that we feel pretty proud of as Vermonters.
>> Maple foundation volunteers will use to it give cam samples and demonstrations at first and conventions, hoping it catches at tension of maple customers and tourists
>> It sure does.
>> 90 year old Everett Willard manned a previous model and even boasts of impressing lady bird Johnson with Vermont maple syrup when the former first lady was at an event on the top of Mt. Mansfield.
>> She stopped ‑‑ decided ‑‑ that was good.
That's what we wanted.
>> It is a lot better than the ole one though.
>> Decade later, Vermont's maple industry has only continued impressing connoisseurs.
The state is now the top sear in producer and sugar makers say this trailer sends a modern message
>>> Maple industry has really changed here in Vermont.
Really gone high‑tech.
It is hard to make a profit, hard to change and really ‑‑ food safety is something we are really looking at in the industry.
This trailer really shows it it.
>> It looks like the new trailer will be pretty busy.
scheduled to be at several specialty events this winter, spring and summer.
Jack Thurston, channel 3 news.
>> That trailer came with a 40 thousand dollar pricetag, paid through grants and private donations.
And believe this, we have heard from a few sugar makers who said that during last week's January thaw the sap was actually running.
I'm sure that's not the case anymore.
>>> The UVM women's basketball team have had a great season so far.
They are doing just awesome.
And that means a lot of younger girls consider them role models.
So, the lady cats decided to give their little fans some lessons.
>> So we are just going to go over some fundamentals today and get you guys to scrimmage and just have fun and interact with us so we can meet you guys because you guys are the biggest thing that we appreciate.
We enjoy all of your support and without you guys, it wouldn't be the same for us.
>> I think there will be a lot of awe.
I think that's what you do when you are young.
you look up to people that are playing in college.
I hope there is a lot of learning.
But I think the bottom line is, we just hope that everyone connects with somebody because I think you just need a role model.
I think you need to be able to say well you know if Alissa did it so, can I.
>> There are some kids that will come and have a good time.
Them want to meet us and Hank out with us, which is great and there were some kids who want to know what it takes to be a division one athlete.
And for those kids this is a great place to come and start to learn some of that.
>> Keep your hands up.
>> Great opportunity to be here and be having fun with all these new people.
And learning basketball.
>> What's been your favorite thing so far today?
>> Ball handling.
I'm a point guard.
>> Who is your favorite player?
>> Because kind of like me.
A good ball handler and really good shooting.
>> 1, 2, 3.
>> Well the lady cats are playing this afternoon at home.
Two o'clock they are playing UNH.
>> We wish them well.
We got a lot coming up on the channel 3 news this week at 6:00.
Olympic fever is here.
>> That's right.
On Tuesday there will be a big sendoff in Lebanon, New Hampshire for ski jumper nick Alexander and channel 3 news will have a live report.
>>> We will also continue our special reports from Haiti as reporter Kate Duffy and photographer Bob Davis follow a Vermont medical team working to help that devastated region.
And the programming note for you next week.
You can quote me will take a week off.
And instead we are going to bring you our first‑ever local Superbowl special called the super bash
>> Will be cool.
Have seemed up with the sports department for an hour‑long live show starting next Sunday as Kristen just said at 11 o'clock.
Will have great recipes, local stories, all connected to football.
>> Channel 3 is also looking for Vermont's biggest sports if he gnat take enter and vote.
Go to WCAX.com and the two the winners will face off in a Wii sports challenge.
>> I will thereby along with Kristen, Sharon, we will all be there.
Looking forward to it and until then thanks for sharing part of your Sunday with us everyone.
I'm Darren Perron.
>> I'm Kristin Carlson.
Have a great day.
>> Take it easy.