YCQM: November 5, 2017

BURLINGTON, Vt. FROM WCAX, THIS IS
"YOU CAN QUOTE ME."
>> Darren: GOOD MORNING,
EVERYONE.
RIGHT NOW ON "YOU CAN QUOTE ME,"
THE BURLINGTON TELECOM MESS.
WILL IT EVER BE SOLVED?
WHAT MAYOR MIRO WEINBERGER IS
TELLING US.
THE SWAMI GOES TO MONTPELIER.
MEET OUR NEW POLITICAL REPORTER
NEIL GUSWAMI AND FIND OUT WHAT
HE'S WATCHING UNDER THE GOLDEN
DOME THIS LEGISLATIVE SESSION.
BETTING ON HEMP.
FARMERS TURNING TO THE
CONTROVERSIAL PLANT.
IS IT VERMONT'S NEW CASH CROP?
AND WICKED WINDS, FARMERS' FOE.
WHITE SPREAD DAMAGE AND POWER
OUTAGES.
THAT'S WHERE WE BEGIN THIS
MORNING.
LAST WEEKEND'S STORM LEFT TENS
OF THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE IN THE
DARK.
PEOPLE STILL PICKING UP DEB
BRING AND THAT INCLUDES
VERMONT'S FARMERS.
HERE'S KRISTIN KELLY.
>> SO WE DODGED THE BULLET ON
THAT ONE.
>> Kristin: THE PLASTIC IS DOWN,
THE BEAUTIFUL ARUGULA, SPIN
NICHE EXPOSED TO THE COLD AT THE
FARM.
BUT THE OWNER SAYS HE AND HIS
WIFE ARE LUCKY.
>> I KNOW SOME FARMERS HAVE HAD
SOME PRETTY SERIOUS STRUCTURAL
DAMAGE TO BARNS OR HOUSES.
>> Kristin: NO REAL STRUCTURAL
DAMAGE HERE, JUST A RACE AGAINST
TIME AFTER THE WIND STORM HIT
HARD SUNDAY NIGHT.
THEY NEED TO GET THE PLASTIC BAG
UP TO PROTECT THE GREENS AND AN
ELECTRICIAN JUST HARDWIRED A
GENERATOR TO THE BARNS TO POWER
THE COMPRESS SORES THAT KEEP THE
ROOT CROPS PROPERLY COOL.
A COST HE'S MORE THAN WILLING TO
PAY.
THE FARMER RELIES ON THOSE
VEGGIES TO GET THROUGH THE
WINTER.
>> YOU KNOW HOW MUCH VALUE YOU
HAVE IN THAT -- IN THOSE CROPS
THAT YOU GREW ALL SUMMER LONG,
THAT YOU HARVESTED.
>> Kristin: ALL ACROSS VERMONT,
FARMERS ARE SCRAMBLING.
>> AS FARMERS, YOU DO WHAT YOU
HAVE TO DO.
YOU PULL UP YOUR BOOTS AND YOU
GO.
>> Darren: PULL UP YOUR BOOTS
AND GO AND TO FIND OUT HOW MANY
FARMERS ARE HAVING TO DO THAT,
I'M JOINED NOW BY VERMONT'S
AGRICULTURE SECRETARY ANSON
TEBBETTS.
GOOD MORNING.
>> Tebbetts: THANKS, DARREN.
>> Darren: THANK YOU FOR BEING
HERE.
HOW WIDESPREAD IS THIS?
>> Tebbetts: IT'S WIDESPREAD.
HOOP HOUSES WERE MANGLED IN THE
WIND AND WE HAVE DAIRY FARMERS
SCRAMBLING TO MAKE SURE THEY
HAVE GENERATORS TO THE COWS CAN
BE MILKED AND RUN THE EQUIPMENT
AND GET THE MILK COOL.
AND WE'RE HEARING ANECDOTAL
EVIDENCE OF SUGAR BUSHES THAT
MAY HAVE BEEN DAMAGED, TREE
DAMAGE, BUT ALSO WITH THE
ELABORATE PIPELINE SYSTEMS NOW
IN MANY OF THOSE SUGAR BUSHES,
THERE'S A LOT OF MAINTENANCE
THAT NEEDS TO BE DONE AND GOING
INTO WINTER, THAT HAS TO BE DONE
SOON.
>> Darren: IS THIS A BIG
ECONOMIC LOSS TO FARMERS?
>> Tebbetts: IT WILL BE.
ESPECIALLY SOME OF THEM, IT WILL
RUN INTO THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS
WITH THE GREENHOUSES.
ANECDOTALLY, ONE GREENHOUSE SAID
THEY LOST ABOUT 6,000 DAN
DOWLING WORTH OF EQUIPMENT AND
GEAR.
THEY BOSTON TURKEYS AS WELL,
ANIMALS AS WELL, SO IT WILL BE
THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS FOR MANY
FARMERS.
>> Darren: YOU TOUCH ON THIS A
LITTLE BIT.
I THINK SOME FOLKS AT HOME MAY
NOT KNOW THE IMPORTANCE OF POWER
WHEN IT COMES TO FARMING.
CAN EXPLAIN THAT?
>> Tebbetts: VERY IMPORTANT.
JUST ABOUT EVERYTHING ON THE
FARM NOW IS RUN VIA ELECTRICITY.
COWS NEED TO BE MILKED AT LEAST
TWICE A DAY FOR THEIR HEALTH, SO
THAT HAS TO BE DONE.
THERE'S A LOT OF EQUIPMENT
INSIDE A BARN THAT NEEDS TO BE
RUN.
THERE'S THE COOLING EQUIPMENT
THAT KEEPS THE MILK COOL AND
FRESH BEFORE IT'S DELIVERED TO A
MILK PLANT, SO THAT'S ALL VERY
IMPORTANT.
MANY FARMERS HAVE GONE THROUGH
THESE STORMS BEFORE, THEY DO
HAVE GENERATORS.
MANY ARE HAULING DIESEL FUEL AND
GAS TO THOSE, BUT IT'S EXTREMELY
STRESSFUL SITUATION IF YOU DO
NOT HAVE A GENERATOR AND
STRESSFUL TO KEEP IT GOING AS
WELL.
>> Darren: CAN YOU GIVE US ANY
ANECDOTAL EVIDENCE OF HOW THE
STATE HELPED FARMERS DURING THE
STORM?
>> Tebbetts: THE EMERGENCY ELECT
WAS OPEN FIRST THING SUNDAY AND
MONDAY.
WE HAVE A SEAT THERE AND WE'RE
HELPING A NUMBER OF FOLKS
LOOKING FOR GENERATORS.
WE HAD ONE CHEESE PLANT AT RISK
AND THEY HAD TO THROW A LITTLE
BIT OF PRODUCT AWAY.
THEIR GENERATOR BROKE DOWN.
WE HAD A TURKEY FARM AT RISK OF
LOSING A LOT OF PRODUCT.
THEY NEED TO HAVE THEIR TURKEYS
FROZEN AND WE WERE ABLE TO GET
THEM A GENERATOR, SO THAT
PRODUCT WAS SAVED, SO IT'S KIND
OF STUFF ON THE GROUND, GETTING
THE RESOURCES THEY NEED TO KEEP
OPERATING.
>> Darren: I HELP THE STATE IS
HELPING MONETARILY TOO.
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE FUND?
>> Tebbetts: IT'S NOT RUN BY THE
STATE ITSELF, IT'S A PRIVATE
FUND, BUT IT'S ABOUT $70,000
WORTH OF EMERGENCY FUNDING
AVAILABLE.
THESE ARE LOANS, THEY'RE
ZERO-INTEREST LOANS, UP TO
$10,000, SO IT COULD HELP A
GREENHOUSE IF THEY WANTED TO GET
BACK UP AND RUNNING OR HELP WITH
PAYING FOR FUEL AND SO FORTH AND
IT'S RUN BY A VERMONT FARM FUND
CALLED VERMONT FARM FUND.ORG.
THEY MANAGE IT AND THEY HOPE TO
TURN SOME OF THESE LOANS AROUND
WITHIN TWO WEEKS, SO IT'S A
PRETTY GOOD PROGRAM, ABOUT
$70,000 IS AVAILABLE.
>> Darren: AND IS THIS JUST FOR
SORT OF EMERGENCY SITUATIONS?
>> Tebbetts: EMERGENCY
SITUATIONS.
AS PEOPLE GO THROUGH THIS, ONE
THINGS THAT'S IMPORTANT, FARMERS
SHOULD DOCUMENT ALL THEIR
LOSSES, TAKE PICTURES, BUT IF
THERE IS SOME SORT OF FUND OR
LOAN PROGRAM THROUGH THE FEDERAL
GOVERNMENT THROUGH A DECLARATION
OR ASSISTANCE, THAT WILL BE
HELPFUL TO LET PEOPLE KNOW, AND
THEIR LENDERS AS WELL, INSURANCE
COMPANIES AS WELL.
>> Darren: ALL RIGHT.
AGRICULTURE SECRETARY ANSON
TEBBETTS, THANK YOU.
STILL AHEAD, MAYOR MIRO
WEINBERGER ON THE FUTURE OF
BURLINGTON TELECOM.
PLUS, HARPING ON HEMP.
>> Jennifer: AS FAR AS THE EYE
CAN SEE?
WILL THIS PLANT BE ABLE TO
OVERCOME A STIGMA AS THE NEXT
CASH CROP?
WE'LL BE TAKING A CLOSER LOOK AT
THIS INDUSTRY COMING UP.
>> Darren: A DEEPLY DIVIDED
BURLINGTON PUBLIC AND CITY
COUNCIL ARE MAKING IT TOUGH TO
SOLVE THE BURLINGTON TELECOM
FINANCIAL NECESSARY.
A DECISION ON WHO WILL BUY THE
CABLE AND INTERNET COMPANY WAS
SUPPOSED TO HAPPEN LAST MONDAY
NIGHT, BUT COUNCILORS WERE
EVENLY SPLIT BETWEEN THE TWO
FINALISTS GOING INTO THE MEETING
AND THEN COUNCILOR KAREN PAUL
RECUSED HERSELF FROM THE VOTE,
SAYING SHE JUST DISCOVERED SHE
HAD A CONFLICT OF INTEREST.
SHE DIDN'T SAY WHAT THAT IS.
THE COUNCIL ENDED UP POSTPONING
THE VOTE.
MAYOR MIRO WEINBERGER SUPPORTS
THE BID FROM KING.
SO WHAT IF COUNCILORS GO WITH
THE LOCAL CO-OP?
KRISTIN KELLY SITS DOWN WITH THE
MAYOR TO ASK IF HE'D USE A VETO
BLOCK THE CO-OP.
>> Kristin: IF IT WERE TO LAND
ON YOUR DESK, KEEP BURLINGTON
TELECOM LOCAL, WOULD YOU VETO
IT?
>> Weinberger: WELL, YOU KNOW,
KRISTIN, I'VE WORKED REALLY HARD
OVER FIVE AND A HALF YEARS NOW
TO WORK WITH THE COUNCIL.
MOST OF OUR MAJOR VOTES HAVE
BEEN BY UNANIMOUS DECISION OR AT
LEAST LARGE CONSENSUS.
NEVER USED THE VETO ONCE IN THE
LAST FIVE AND A HALF YEARS BE AN
I PREFER TO WORK THAT WAY.
SO I'M HOPEFUL I WON'T HAVE TO
CONSIDER USING THAT HERE EITHER.
>> Kristin: THAT DOESN'T REALLY
ANSWER THE QUESTION.
>> Weinberger: I THINK IT'S
PREMATURE TO FULLY ANSWER THE
QUESTION.
THERE'S A LOT OF TIME BEBEAN NOW
AND MONDAY AND I HAVE TO LOOK AT
EXACTLY WHAT THE COUNCIL ACTION
IS AND WHAT THEY SEND TO ME.
CLEARLY I'M NOT TRYING TO IN ANY
WAY SOFTEN THE CONCERNS I RAISED
ABOUT THE PROPOSAL.
I THINK IT'S SIMPLY NOT VIABLE.
IF WE WERE TO TRY TO MOVE
FORWARD IT WITH, I THINK ALL
THAT WOULD ENSUE.
ARE LOTS OF LEGAL BILLS VERY
QUICKLY.
I'M HOPEFUL A MAJORITY OF THE
COUNCIL AGREES AND GOES WITH
THIS, AGAIN, VERY STRONG KING
PROPOSAL THAT TO ME REPRESENTS
THE RESOLUTION OF REALLY A
TEN-YEAR JOURNEY THAT HAS BEEN
AT TIMES EXTREMELY DIFFICULT,
PROBLEMATIC FOR THIS COMMUNITY.
WE HAVE A CHANCE MONDAY TO PUT
THAT ALL TO REST, TO RECOUP
MILLIONS OF DOLLARS THAT WE
THOUGHT WERE LOST AND WE'D NEVER
GET BACK.
>> Kristin: THE PROPOSALS ARE
KIND OF LIKE TWO EXTREMES,
RIGHT?
YOU HAVE GOT THIS PUBLICLY
TRADED COMPANY, AND THEN YOU'VE
GOT THIS LITTLE LOCAL CO-OP.
AND YOU'VE GOT THE PUBLIC
EQUALLY DIVIDED ON EITHER END.
WHY NOT TRY TO FIND SOMETHING
THAT'S MORE DOWN THE MIDDLE,
THAT'S KIND OF COMBINING BOTH OF
THESE THINGS WHEN EVERYONE SEEMS
TO DIVIDED?
>> Weinberger: RIGHT, YEAH.
WELL, THE -- WE ARE WHERE WE ARE
BECAUSE OF A SERIES OF CITY
COUNCIL DECISIONS, AND THE MOST
SIGNIFICANT ONE THAT REALLY PUTS
US WHERE WE ARE IS THE DECISION
ON OCTOBER 16th WHICH I REALLY
URGED THE COUNCIL AS HARD AS I
COULD, AS STRONG AS I COULD, TO
PUT A DIFFERENT ALTERNATIVE
PROPOSAL, THE SHARES PROPOSAL IN
AS WELL AS KING, SO THERE WOULD
BE TWO DIFFERENT TYPES OF VIABLE
OPTIONS TO CHOOSE FROM.
I WROTE MEMOS, I WENT ON EVERY
MEDIA CHANNEL I COULD, I HAD ALL
SORTS OF PRIVATE CONVERSATIONS.
I URGED THEM AS STRONGLY AS I
COULD TO KEEP THEIR OPTIONS OPEN
FOR THIS FINAL DECISION, AND
UNFORTUNATELY, I THINK, THEY
CHOSE NOT TO DO THAT.
AND AT THIS POINT, I THINK IT'S
VERY DIFFICULT TO GO BACKWARDS.
I THINK WE HAVE THE FINALISTS
BEFORE US AND A CHOICE NEEDS TO
BE MADE BETWEEN ONE OF THE TWO.
>> Kristin: SOME COUNCILORS SAY
WE'RE HERE BECAUSE OF YOUR
DECISIONS, NOT THEIR DECISIONS.
>> Weinberger: I -- CAN YOU
SPECIFY MORE THERE?
>> Kristin: WELL, IT WAS BROUGHT
UP LAST NIGHT AT THE MEETING.
>> Weinberger: I THINK THAT'S
NOT FAIR WHAT KAREN IS
SUGGESTING.
WE'VE ADDRESSED THIS.
THERE WAS A FOURTH BIDDER, IT
WAS A FOURTH BID THAT HAD SOME
REAL ISSUES WITH IT, AND I -- AS
I BECAME AWARE OF THOSE ISSUES,
I MADE THE COUNCIL AWARE OF THIS
EM -- AWARE OF THEM IN WRITING
AND VERBALLY AND I ALSO DID,
AFTER THOSE COMMUNICATION MANY,
SHARE WITH THE FOURTH BIDDER
WHAT MY CONCERNS WERE AND THAT
FOURTH BIDDER THEN CHOSE TO
WITHDRAW.
I DID -- I'VE ACKNOWLEDGED
REPEATEDLY, IF I COULD DO IT
OVER, I HAD.
IT WAS A MATTER OF A FEW HOURS,
FRANKLY, THAT WE SENT OUT AN
EMAIL SAYING IT WOULD BE BETTER
FOR THE COUNCIL TO GET THE EMAIL
BEFORE COUNCIL MEETING AND IN
RETROSPECT, IT WOULD HAVE BEEN
MUCH BETTER TO HAVE A
CONVERSATION WITH THE COUNCIL
BEFORE SENDING THAT EMAIL.
>> Kristin: HAVE YOU DONE ENOUGH
IN A LEADERSHIP ROLE TO BRING
COUNCILORS TO YOUR SIDE?
>> Weinberger: I THINK IN SOME
WAYS, I'VE BEEN CRITICIZED OF
DOING TOO MUCH AND CARING TOO
MUCH ABOUT THIS AND INSERTING
MYSELF IN WHERE I SHOULDN'T BE,
WHICH SURPRISES ME.
I THINK THE PEOPLE OF BURLINGTON
ELECT A MAYOR TO BE A LEADER, TO
TELL THEM WHERE THEY STAND.
IT WAS -- YOU KNOW, THIS IS THE
ISSUE I'VE WORKED ON MORE THAN
ANY OTHER ISSUE OVER THE LAST
FIVE AND A HALF YEARS, AND IT'S
ONE I CARE DEEPLY ABOUT, AND I
DO SEE IT AS THE OPPORTUNITY TO
FINALLY RESOLVE THIS DECADE OF
CHALLENGES AND, YOU KNOW, I'M
SURE THERE'S SOMETHING MORE OR
BETTER OR DIFFERENT I COULD HAVE
DONE ALONG THE WAY.
I'M WORKING AS HARD AS I CAN AND
I HOPE WE CAN GET TO THIS
RESOLUTION ON MONDAY.
>> Darren: AND WHAT WILL
LAWMAKERS IN MONTPELIER GET DONE
THIS COMING LEGISLATIVE SESSION?
OUR NEW POLITICAL REPORTER WILL
BE THERE TO REPORT THE STORIES
THAT MATTER TO YOU.
HE'S AT THE STATE HOUSE NOW, AND
NEIL, GOOD MORNING.
>> Reporter: HEY, GOOD MORNING,
GREAT TO BE WITH YOU AND GREAT
BE TO JOINING THIS TEAM.
>> Darren: WE'RE HAPPY TO HAVE
YOU, CERTAINLY.
SO YOU GREW UP HERE IN VERMONT,
IN SOUTHERN VERMONT IN
BENNINGTON, HAVE BEEN IN
MONTPELIER THE LAST FOUR YEARS.
YOU'VE BEEN THE CHIEF AT THE
VERMONT PRESS BUREAU THE LAST
THREE YEARS.
A VERMONTER COVERING VERMONT
POLITICS.
COULDN'T BE HAPPIER ABOUT THAT.
THERE'S A LOT TO GET TO THIS
COMING LEGISLATIVE SESSION.
LET'S START WITH LEGAL WEED.
WHAT ARE THE CHANCES LAWMAKERS
DO SOMETHING THIS YEAR?
THERE'S A GOVERNOR'S COMMISSION
NOW LOOKING AT IT.
WILL IT FINALLY PASS?
>> Reporter: THAT'S A -- THAT
REMAINS TO BE SEEN.
WE KNOW THAT THERE ARE MANY
LAWMAKERS THAT WOULD REALLY LOVE
TO MOVE SOMETHING TO THE
GOVERNOR'S DESK VERY QUICKLY, SO
I THINK IF WE DON'T SEE
SOMETHING PASS AGAIN IN THE
HOUSE AND THE SENATE AND ON TO
THE GOVERNOR'S DESK IN THE FIRST
COUPLE OF WEEKS, IT'S PROBABLY
GOING TO MEAN THAT EVERYBODY IS
TAKING THIS TISSUE OFF THE TABLE
FOR A LITTLE WHILE AND WAITING
FOR THE COMMISSION THAT THE
GOVERNOR CREATED TO REPORT BACK.
>> Darren: MINIMUM WAGE, NEIL,
AND PAID FAMILY LEAVE, TOP
PRIORITIES FOR A MAJORITY OF
DEMOCRATS.
CAN LAWMAKERS PASS THOSE BILLS,
GET THEM TO THE GOVERNOR, AND IF
THEY DO, THEN WHAT?
>> Reporter: I THINK THERE'S A
REALLY GOOD CHANCE THAT ONE,
POTENTIALLY BOTH COULD PASS.
THERE IS PRETTY TREMENDOUS
SUPPORT IN BOTH THE HOUSE AND
THE SENATE FOR BOOSTING THE
MINIMUM WAGE.
WHETHER IT GOES ALL THE WAY UP
TO $15 PER HOUR IS A QUESTION
THAT REMAINS TO BE SEEN, AND
PASSING PAID FAMILY LEAVE IS
ALSO HIGH ON THE PRIORITIES FOR
DEMOCRATIC LEADERS.
IF AN ELECTION YEAR, LET'S NOT
FORGET 2018 IS AN ELECTION YEAR,
AND THE GOVERNOR WILL BE SEEKING
RE-ELECTION AND THIS IS
SOMETHING THAT HE DOES NOT WANT
TO SIGN AND IT'S AN ISSUE --
BOTH OF ISSUES THAT MAJORITY
DEMOCRATS THINK THE PEOPLE OF
VERMONT ARE BEHIND.
SO I THINK THERE'S A REALLY GOOD
CHANCE THAT WE SEE SOME ACTION
AS THE DEMOCRATIC LEADERSHIP
TRIES TO SEND THESE TO THE
GOVERNOR.
I FIND IT HARD TO BELIEVE THAT
HE WOULD ACTUALLY SIGN BOTH OF
THESE, SO IT PUTS SOME REALLY
DRASTIC DIFFERENCES ON THE TABLE
FOR VOTERS IN 2018, IN NOVEMBER.
>> Darren: I WANT TO GET TO
CAMPAIGN 2018 IN JUST A MOMENT,
BUT LET'S GET A LOOK RIGHT NOW
AT THE NATIONAL PICTURE.
HOW DOES THE FEDERAL BUDGET
PASSED BY THE GOP-LED CONGRESS
IMPACT VERMONT AND HOW WILL
STATE OFFICIALS REACT?
>> Reporter: WELL, WE KNOW THERE
ARE A LOT OF THINGS IN THE
FEDERAL BUDGET THAT THE
REPUBLICAN-LED CONGRESS HAS
PASSED THAT WILL HAVE SOME
PRETTY SIGNIFICANT IMPACTS HERE
IN VERMONT.
PARTICULARLY AROUND
ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES, AROUND
HEALTHCARE, MEDICAID CUTS ARE
SOMETHING THAT REALLY WILL BE
DIFFICULT TO DEAL WITH ON A
STATEWIDE LEVEL.
THE STATE ONLY HAS SO MUCH
CAPACITY TO ADD STATE REVENUE
INTO THAT PROGRAM, SO I THINK
IT'S GOING TO BE DIFFICULT FOR
THE ADMINISTRATION TO COME UP
WITH A BUDGET THAT SORT OF
BACKFILLS ALL OF THE FEDERAL
FUNDING THAT MIGHT BE LOST HERE
IN VERMONT, AND IT'S GOING TO BE
DIFFICULT FOR THE REPUBLICAN
GOVERNOR AND THE DEMOCRATIC
LEGISLATURE TO COME TO TERMS ON
EXACTLY WHICH PROGRAMS SHOULD BE
BACKFILLED AND WHICH ONES DON'T
NEED TO BE.
I THINK WE ARE LOOKING AT A
PRETTY CONTENTIOUS 2018
LEGISLATIVE SESSION AS THEY HASH
OUT THESE MONEY PROBLEMS.
>> Darren: I'M CERTAIN OF THAT
FOR SURE.
WELL, YOU'RE IN THE KNOW DOWN
THERE.
LET'S GET BACK TO CAMPAIGN 2018.
WHO DO YOU THINK STEPS UP?
WHO WILL RUN FOR STATEWIDE
OFFICE, WHO WILL CHALLENGE
CONGRESSMAN WELCH OR SENATOR
SANDERS?
>> Reporter: I THINK THERE ARE A
NUMBER OF NAMES CIRCULATING.
NO ONE HAS REALLY COME FORWARD
AND SAID YES, I PLAN TO
CHALLENGE CONGRESSMAN WELCH OR
SENATOR SANDERS.
I THINK IT'S GOING TO BE
DIFFICULT FOR ANY REPUBLICAN OR
INDEPENDENT OR ANY OTHER PARTY
TO FIELD A CREDIBLE CANDIDATE
THAT HAS A CHANCE AGAINST EITHER
OF THESE TWO REALLY LONG-TIME
MEMBERS OF CONGRESS.
BOTH HAVE SUBSTANTIAL BANK
ACCOUNTS THEY CAN USE TO FUEL
THEIR RE-ELECTION CAMPAIGN.
BOTH HAVE INDICATED THEY WILL
RUN.
IT'S GOING TO BE SOME TIME
BEFORE I THINK WE SEE ANYONE
STEP UP TO CHALLENGE THEM.
I THINK THE MORE INTERESTING
QUESTION MIGHT BE WHO, ALONG,
YOU KNOW, WITH THE GOVERNOR,
STEPS UP TO RUN IN 2018 HERE IN
VERMONT.
WE'VE SEEN ONE CANDIDATE STEP
FORWARD, BUT THERE'S LIKELY TO
BE MORE.
WE EVEN HAVE A 13-YEAR-OLD
RUNNING, SO THERE COULD BE SOME
INTERESTING ANGLES THERE.
>> Darren: YEAH.
ANY PREDICTIONS ON WHO ELSE
MIGHT STEP FORWARD?
I KNOW JAMES ELLERS OBVIOUSLY
WHO YOU JUST ALLUDED TO.
WHO ELSE?
>> Reporter: WE KNOW THERE ARE A
NUMBER OF PEOPLE HAVING
CONVERSATIONS WITH THE VERMONT
DEMOCRATIC PARTY.
OFFICIALS WITH THE VERMONT
DEMOCRATIC PARTY AREN'T QUITE
READY TO TALK ABOUT WHO THOSE
PEOPLE ARE, BUT I'M TOLD THERE
ARE SOME NAMES PEOPLE WILL
RECOGNIZE.
SECRETARY OF STATE JAMES CONDOS
HAS MENTIONED A COUPLE TIMES.
HE HAS INDICATED HE HAS NO
DESIRE AT THIS POINT TO RUN FOR
GOVERNOR, BUT THAT CAN ALWAYS
CHANGE AS WE'VE SEEN IN THE
PAST.
>> Darren: CHANNEL 3'S NEW
POLITICAL REPORTER, NEIL
GUSWAMI.
THANK YOU, WE'RE GLAD TO HAVE
YOU ON THE TEAM.
COMING UP NEXT, THAT'S NOT POT,
THAT'S HEMP, AND MORE VERMONT
FIELDS ARE FILLED WITH IT.
CHANNEL 3'S INVESTIGATIVE
REPORTER JENNIFER COSTA JOINS ME
NEXT.
>> Darren: A PLANT ONCE OUTLAWED
IS NOW MAKING A COMEBACK IN
VERMONT AND MANY FARMERS ARE
BETTING ON HEMP.
JENNIFER COSTA REPORTS.
>> Jennifer: WHEN CYNTHIA GOT
INTO THE WEDDING BUSINESS, THEY
NEVER THOUGHT SHE'D BE GETTING
BRIDES THROUGH FIELDS LIKE THIS.
>> PEOPLE HAVE BEEN STOPPING TO
TAKE PICTURES.
>> Jennifer: OR THINK.
>> THINKING IT WAS MARIJUANA.
>> I DON'T KNOW WHAT THEY THINK.
>> Jennifer: SHE'S TURNING HEADS
IN ADDISON COUNTY BY STICKING
LITTLE PLANTS THAT LOOK LIKE POT
IN BOUQUETS, DECORATIONS, EVEN
HAIR DOS.
>> IS THAT A THING, HEAVEN
WEDDINGS?
>> I HOPE IT'S A THING.
>> Jennifer: IT'S HER FIRST
STONE AND SHE'S ALSO THE GROWER.
>> DID YOU EVER THINK YOU'D BE A
HEMP FARMER?
>> NO, NO.
>> Jennifer: A JOB TITLE THIS
FORMER OLYMPIC HOPEFUL IS STILL
NAVIGATING.
>> IT WOULDN'T HAVE BEEN
SOMETHING I WOULD HAVE JUST GONE
OFF ON MY OWN, BUT THERE WERE
PEOPLE THERE TO SAY THIS IS
POSSIBLE, IT IS LEGAL.
>> WE NEED TO OVERCOME THIS
STIGMA.
>> Jennifer: RYAN MATTHEWS IS
ONE OF THOSE PEOPLE.
>> HEMP CAN BE A REALLY VIABLE
CASH CROP FOR FARMERS TO ROTATE
THROUGH THEIR FARMS.
>> Jennifer: AS OPERATIONS
MANAGER FOR VERMONT HEMP
COMPANY, HE PARTNERS WITH PEOPLE
LIKE HOUSEMAN.
>> WE DIDN'T EXPECT FARMERS TO
BE ABLE TO COME UP WITH THIS
KIND OF INVESTMENT ON THEIR OWN.
>> Jennifer: WHICH IS WHY THEY
PROVIDE CERTIFIED SEEDS AND
MENTORING IN EXCHANGE FOR A CUT
OF PROFITS.
>> WHEN YOU LOOK OUT AT THIS
FIELD, IS IT LIKE A DREAM COMING
TRUE?
>> DEFINITELY.
>> Jennifer: THE TOPS CAN BE
SOLD FOR FOOD PRODUCTS.
THESE FINE CRYSTALS FOR THEIR
SUPPOSED HEALING PROPERTIES
CALLED CBD AND THE REST FOR
FIBER IN ROPE, CLOTHING AND
BUILDING MATERIALS.
>> THE FUTURE IS WIDE OPEN.
>> Jennifer: MATTHEWS EXPECTS
THIS COMPANY TO EXPAND TEN-FOLD
IN THE NEXT YEAR.
IF THAT HAPPENS, THE TEAM WILL
CONTROL CLOSE TO 2,000 ACRES.
THIS IS WHAT JUST ONE ACRE OF
HEMP LOOKS LIKE.
WE CHECKED RECORDS AT THE STATE
AGRICULTURAL DEPARTMENT AND
DISCOVERED THERE ARE 558
REGISTERED ACRES OF HEMP RIGHT
HERE IN VERMONT.
THAT'S A HUGE EXPLOSION FROM
JUST A FEW YEARS AGO.
>> I'VE ALWAYS BEEN INTERESTED
IN CANNABIS.
YOU KNOW, THAT SOUNDS A LITTLE
WEIRD.
>> Jennifer: KEN RUNS THE STATES
INDUSTRIALIZED HEMP PROGRAM
THROUGH THE AGENCY OF
AGRICULTURE.
IN 2013, STATE LAWMAKERS PASSED
A BILL SAYING VERMONTERS COULD
GROW HEMP DESPITE A FEDERAL
PROHIBITION ON THE CROP.
>> WEED NEED TO BE ABLE TO
ENSURE THEY'RE NOT GROWING
MARIJUANA AND PROVIDE THE
ASSURANCES TO THE LAW
ENFORCEMENT COMMUNITY THAT THIS
IS NOT A COVER FOR ILLEGAL
ACTIVITY.
>> Jennifer: HEMP CANNOT HAVE
MORE THAN IDENTIFY 3% OF THE
PSYCHEDELIC COMPONENT.
A PUBLIC REGISTRY HELPS THE
STATE KEEP TABS ON WHO'S GROWING
AND WHERE.
FROM EIGHT REGISTRANTS THE FIRST
YEAR TO NOW 93, ALL ACKNOWLEDGE
THEY'RE BREAKING FEDERAL LAW.
>> THE EVOLUTION OF THE INDUSTRY
IN THE LAST THREE YEARS EVEN IN
VERMONT HAS BEEN EXTRAORDINARY
TO WATCH.
>> Jennifer: FOR HOUSEMAN, HEMP
IS NOT A HOBBY.
IT'S A HIGH STAKES GAMBLE TO
SAVE THE FAMILY FARM.
WHEN THEIR MOTHER WAS RECENTLY
DIAGNOSED WITH DEMENTIA, SHE
FACED A TOUGH CHOICE, PAY THE
MORTGAGE OR MOM'S MEDICAL BILLS.
>> I'M WILLING TO GIVE ANYTHING
A TRY AT THIS POINT IN ORDER TO
SAVE THIS PROPERTY.
>> Jennifer: THE QUESTION NOW,
CAN THIS CROP RAISE ENOUGH CASH
TO SAVE HOUSEMAN FROM THE BANK?
YOU CAN FIND IT GROWING RIGHT
ALONG THE ROAD.
AND IT LOOKS PRETTY ILLEGAL.
>> I THINK PEOPLE ARE STARTING
TO UNDERSTAND THAT IT'S
DIFFERENT, BUT THEY STILL LIKE
TO JOKE AROUND THAT IT'S POT.
>> Jennifer: LOOKS CAN BE
DECEIVING.
THIS FIELD OF GREEN IS NOT POT.
THIS IS WHAT ONE ACRE OF HEMP
LOOKS LIKE.
WE CHECK RECORDS AT THE STATE
AGRICULTURE DEPARTMENT AND
DISCOVERED THERE ARE ACTUALLY
558 REGISTERED ACRES OF HEMP
RIGHT HERE IN VERMONT.
THAT'S A HUGE EXPLOSION FROM
JUST A FEW YEARS AGO.
>> THE CANNABIS THEY'RE GROWING
EXCEEDS .3%, IT'S NO LONGER
HEMP.
IT'S SOMETHING ELSE.
>> Jennifer: SOMETHING CLOSER TO
MARIJUANA THAT MOST VERMONTERS
ARE NOT ALLOWED TO GROW, SO THE
QUESTION FOR THE STATE IS HOW TO
REGULATE A CROP ONCE OUTLAWED
FOR DECADES.
>> THEY WERE WORRIED THAT PEOPLE
WOULD TRY TO GROW MARIJUANA,
HIDE IT IN HEMP, BUT AS A
GROWER, IT DOESN'T REALLY WORK
VERY WELL BECAUSE THIS WILL
CROSS POLLINATE WITH THE
MARIJUANA AND ACTUALLY RUIN THAT
CROP.
>> THIS IS NEW GROUND.
NOBODY HAS REALLY BEEN OVER
THERE BEFORE EXCEPT IN THE
PUBLIC SAFETY AND LAW
ENFORCEMENT COMMUNITY WHERE THEY
SIMPLY SAY YOU EITHER ARE IN
POSSESSION OF A CONTROLLED
SUBSTANCE OR YOU'RE NOT.
THERE'S NO DEGREE OF MAYBE.
>> Jennifer: NOW THERE IS A
DEGREE OF MAYBE AND TESTING IS
POSING REALLY CHALLENGES FOR THE
AGENCY OF AGRICULTURE.
WE DISCOVERED IT'S TAKING THE
STATE LONGER THAN EXPECTED TO
SET UP A REGULATORY PROGRAM.
>> HOPEFULLY WE'LL HAVE
SOMETHING IN PLACE BY THIS TIME
NEXT YEAR.
>> Jennifer: THE AGENCY HAD
PLANNED TO VISIT REGISTERED
FARMS THIS STURM AT THE REQUEST
OF -- SUMMER AT THE REQUEST OF
POLICE OR FARMERS THEMSELVES TO
SAMPLE PLANTS' THC LEVELS.
THE HEMP PROGRAM, THE CHIEF
TELLS US BLANKET TESTING WOULD
REQUIRE TREMENDOUS RESOURCES.
>> AT THIS POINT, THERE IS NO
OFFICIAL MANDATE THAT WE WILL
TEST ALL FARMS ALL THE TIME.
AND EVEN IF WE DO HAVE A MANDATE
AT SOME POINT TO START GOING
INTO TESTING FARMS OR TESTING
CANNABIS COMING OFF OF FARMS,
WOULD IT BE UNIVERSAL EVERY
YEAR, EVERY FARM IS TESTED?
I DON'T KNOW.
I DON'T THINK THAT WOULD BE
PRACTICAL.
>> Darren: AND JENNIFER JOINS US
NOW.
GOOD MORNING, JENNIFER.
>> Jennifer: GOOD MORNING.
>> Darren: DOES GROWING HEMP
POSE ANY UNIQUE CHALLENGES TO
FARMERS?
>> Jennifer: YEAH, MANY OF THEM
TALKED ABOUT FINDING GOOD
QUALITY HEMP SEEDS.
THAT'S CRITICALLY IMPORTANT TO
THE SUCCESS OF A HEMP FARMER.
THEN THERE'S ISSUES WITH PESTS,
HOW DO WE GET RID OF THEM IN THE
CROP AND DO I WANT TO USE
PESTICIDES AND I THINK THE
BIGGEST THING IS HARVESTING.
THE STATE POINTS OUT THAT THE
TECHNOLOGY IS SO FAR BEHIND
BECAUSE THIS IS A CROP THAT HAS
BEEN ILLEGAL FOR DECADES AND
DECADES AND NO ONE HAS REALLY
BEEN INVESTING IN THAT
TECHNOLOGY TO KEEP UP LIKE MANY
OTHER CROPS.
AND SO WE'RE ACTUALLY SUPPOSED
TO GO TO ONE FARM AND SEE THE
WHOLE HARVESTING PROCESS AND
THEY'RE LIKE, OH, YOU'RE GOING
TO BRING CAMERAS?
WE DON'T WANT YOU TO DO THAT
BECAUSE WE HAVE A FREE-THROWS
TARE THING GOING WITH HOW --
PROPRIETARY THING GOING WITH HOW
WE HARVEST IT AND WE'D LIKE TO
KEEP IT TO OURSELVES, WHICH IS
SOMETHING I DIDN'T THINK ABOUT.
>> Darren: YOU MENTIONED
REGISTRATION.
IS THIS EASY?
HOW DOES IT WORK?
>> Jennifer: IT'S A RELATIVELY
EASY PROCESS.
93 REGISTERED GROWERS SO FAR
THIS YEAR, A HUGE BOOM FROM A
COUPLE YEARS AGO.
25 BUCKS, OPEN ENROLLMENT ONCE A
YEAR, BUT IN TERMS OF REPORTS,
THERE'S NO REGISTRY -- NO
RESIDENCY RESTRICTIONS, NO
MINIMUM ACRES, AND NO CAP ON HOW
MANY PEOPLE CAN GROW SO FAR.
>> Darren: SO YOU DON'T HAVE TO
LIVE IN VERMONT?
>> Jennifer: NO.
>> Darren: INTERESTING.
YOU MENTIONED THE TESTING, THAT
BLANKET TESTING ON THESE CROPS
WOULD BE REALLY EXPENSIVE.
SO HOW IS TESTING BEING DONE
NOW?
>> Jennifer: THIS IS SOMETHING
THAT SURPRISED US.
WE HAD ANTICIPATED GOING ALONG
WITH THE STATE AND KIND OF
WATCHING HOW TESTING WOULD WORK
AND SAMPLING.
THEY DO HAVE THE AUTHORITY NOW
TO HANDLE IT.
BEFORE THIS, THIS WAS JUST A LAW
ENFORCEMENT AREA, AND SO THE
LEGISLATURE GAVE THE AGENCY OF
AG AND PLANT INDUSTRY
SPECIFICALLY THAT'S KIND OF THE
REGULATORY ARM, THE ABILITY TO
TEST AND HANDLE WHAT MAY TURN
OUT BEING SOMETHING OTHER THAN
HEMP, BUT RIGHT NOW TESTING AND
SAMPLING IS VOLUNTARY.
SO IT'S DONE AT THE REQUEST OF
LAW ENFORCEMENT, AND TYPICALLY
HOW THE PROGRAM CHIEF TELLS ME
IT WORKS IS LAW ENFORCEMENT
FEELS A LITTLE QUESTIONABLE OR
SOMETHING IS FISHY GOING ON IN
THE FIELD, THEY'LL CALL AND SAY,
YOU KNOW, WHAT IS GOING ON AT
THIS ADDRESS AND THEY'LL LOOK ON
THEIR LIST AND SAY, OH, THAT'S
ACTUALLY HEMP.
THEY LOOK VERY SIMILAR TO AN
UNTRAINED EYE, AND THEY ARE
REGISTERED WITH US, THEY'RE IN
GOOD STANDING, BUT THEY COULD
ALSO REQUEST THAT A SAMPLE BE
TAKEN.
BUT FARMERS ARE ALSO INTERESTED
IN HAVING THEIR CROP TESTED
BECAUSE IT'S CRITICALLY
IMPORTANT THAT THEY STAY BELOW
THAT .3% THC AS YOU HEARD TIM
SAY.
IF IT'S MORE THAN .3%, IT'S
SUDDENLY NOT HEMP, IT'S
SOMETHING ELSE.
IS IT QUITE MARIJUANA?
THEY DON'T KNOW, IT'S A GRAY
AREA.
RIGHT NOW TESTING THE VOLUNTARY.
THEY'RE LOOKING FOR THC LEVELS
IN A NUMBER OF OTHER -- AND A
NUMBER OF OTHER THINGS.
IT COSTS $150 AND THAT'S TO HELP
PAY FOR THE PROGRAM.
THE TESTING IS RELATIVELY
EXPENSIVE, BUT IF YOU'RE A
FARMER AND YOU HAVE YOUR CROP
TESTED AND YOU FIND OUT IT'S
ABOVE .3%, JUST BECAUSE YOU
THOUGHT YOU GOT ONE KIND OF SEED
AND YOU ENDED UP GETTING
ANOTHER, THE AGENCY DOES REPORT
THAT, HAS TO AND WILL REPORT
THAT TO LAW ENFORCEMENT.
THAT'S A LITTLE SCARY.
>> Darren: YEAH, YOU COULD BE
JUST OVER AND YOU'RE BREAKING
THE LAW.
>> Jennifer: AND NOT INTENDING
TO.
THAT'S WHY YOU WANT IT SAMPLED.
YOU THINK YOU'RE GROWING ONE
THING AND THE SEED EITHER WASN'T
WHAT YOU THOUGHT IT WAS OR
THERE'S SOMEBODY OVER THERE AND
THERE'S CROSS POLLINATION AS
THIS BECOMES MORE AND MORE
POPULAR.
THE AGENCY IS ALSO TRYING TO
EXPAND ITS TESTING CAPABILITIES.
RIGHT NOW THEY'RE IN A TEMPORARY
LOCATION AND A PERMANENT
FACILITY IS SUPPOSED TO COME
ONLINE IN 2018.
SO THERE ARE A NUMBER OF
CHALLENGES.
AS KIM SAID, THIS IS NEW GROUND
AND HOW DO WE DO IT AS A STATE.
THEY ARE TRYING TO ANSWER
SEVERAL OTHER QUESTIONS ABOUT
PESTICIDES AND PATHOGENS AND NOW
IF WE'RE GOING TO GET INTO THIS
CBD REALM, AND WE TOUCHED ON IT,
BUT IT'S REALLY KNOWN FOR ITS
HEALING PROPERTIES, HOW DOES THE
STATE BACK UP THOSE CLAIMS?
AND IF SOMETHING HAS SOME CBD,
IS IT ENOUGH AND DOES THE STATE
GET INTO REGULATING THAT AND
ASSURING IT IS WHAT IT IS?
>> Darren: STAY TUNED, I GUESS.
JENNIFER COSTA, OUR
INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER, THANK
YOU SO MUCH.
THANK YOU FOR WATCHING.
THE NEWS CONTINUES NEXT RIGHT
HERE ON CHANNEL 3.
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