YCQM: January 19, 2014 - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

YCQM: January 19, 2014

Posted: Updated:
BURLINGTON, Vt. -

FROM VERMONT'S MOST TRUSTED NEWS SOURCE, WCAX BRINGS YOU YOUR NEWSMAKERS, YOUR NEIGHBORS, THIS IS YOU CAN QUOTE ME.

>>> AND GOOD MORNING, EVERYONE, OUR GUESTS THIS SUNDAY, PAUL COSTELLO HE CAN HE CAN TIFF DIRECTOR AT THE VERMONT COUNCIL ON RURAL DEVELOPMENT, AND GIL LIVINGSTON, THE PRESIDENT OF THE VERMONT LAND TRUST. WE'LL DISCUSS WORKING LANDS IN THE STATE. THE ECONOMICS, THE STRUGGLES. THANK YOU BOTH FOR BEING HERE THIS MORNING.

>> APPRECIATE IT.

>> THANK YOU.

>> AND OF COURSE THE CO-HOST AND OUR BUSINESS REPORTER AT CHANNEL 3 JOINS THE CONVERSATION THIS MORNING.

>> THANKS, DARREN, AND THANKS BOTH FOR BEING HERE. LET'S START WITH WHAT IS THE WORKING LANDS ENTERPRISE AND WHY IS IT IMPORTANT FOR VERMONT?

>> WELL, WORKING LANDS ARE THE ENVIRONMENT WE LIVE IN, YOU KNOW, VERMONT ISN'T A WILDERNESS. WE HAVE A FOREST THAT'S THE LEGACY OF GENERATIONS OF FAMILIES WORKING THE LAND. AGRICULTURE. AND THE LOOK OF FORM FIELDS AND FOREST, IT IS NOT -- FARM FIELDS AND FOREST, IT IS ESSENTIAL TO THE QUALITY OF LIFE AND THE VERMONT BRAND, BUT IT IS BASED ON THE HARD WORK OF FAMILIES FOR GENERATIONS THAT HAVE TILLED THE SOIL. WHEN WE THINK ABOUT IT TODAY, WE THINK ABOUT THAT NATURAL RESOURCE, AND ALL THE WAYS THAT WE CAN ADD VALUE TO IT SO THAT WE'RE NOT SHIPPING RAW LOGS TO CANADA, WE'RE SHIPPING BOWLS AND TOYS. WE'RE MAKING PRODUCTS FOR OURSELVES. WE'RE EXPANDING LOCAL SALES AND FOOD, BUT WE'RE ALSO DEVELOPING WORLD-CLASS CHEESES AND BEERS AND OTHER PRODUCTS THAT BUILD VERMONT'S BRAND IDENTITY INTERNATIONALLY, CREATE JOBS IN RURAL COMMUNITIES ESPECIALLY, ARE A FOUNDATION FOR OUR LONG-TERM FUTURE PROSPERITY.

>> CAN YOU PUT A PRICE TAG ON THE ECONOMICS OF WORKING LANDS IN VERMONT? HOW MUCH DOES IT CONTRIBUTE? HOW BIG OF A DEAL ARE WE TALKING ABOUT HERE?

>> WELL, I THINK IT'S ROUGHLY 20% OF THE GROSS PRODUCT, ECONOMIC PRODUCT OF THE STATE. AND CRITICALLY IMPORTANT IN TERMS OF THE ROLE OF THE WORKING LANDS ENTERPRISE BOARD, THE IDEA OF THE MULTI-GENERATION AL FAMILY LEGACY AROUND FORM AND FOREST PRODUCTION IS BASED ON STRONG ENTERPRISES, AND ENTERPRISES THAT NEED INVESTMENT PERIODICALLY, ESPECIALLY IN A CHANGING ECONOMY, AS WE HAVE NOW. AND AS CONSUMER INTERESTS AND NEEDS CHANGE, AND SO THE BOARD CREATED TWO YEARS AGO IS THE VISION OF THE GOVERNOR AND THE LEGISLATURE AROUND THE NEED FOR THE STATE TO STRATEGICALLY INVEST IN THOSE ENTERPRISES SO TO HONOR THAT CULTURAL AND ECONOMIC LEGACY, BUT ALSO UNDERSTAND LOOKING FORWARD THAT THE FARM ECONOMY IS IN TRANSITION, AND IS THE FOREST ECONOMY, AND THAT THEY ARE KEY ENTERPRISES THAT REQUIRE INCENTIVE INVESTMENTS IN ORDER TO HELP GROW.

>> ARE WE SEEING SORT OF A CRISIS POINT? YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT TWO YEARS AGO THIS GROUP WAS DEVELOPED. WERE YOU FOLKS ANTICIPATING SOME MAJOR OBSTACLES IN ANY OF THESE INDUSTRIES?

>> WE HAD -- AT THE COUNCIL ON RURAL DEVELOPMENT, WE FACILITATED THE PROCESS THAT WE CALL THE COUNCIL ON THE FUTURE OF VERMONT, LOOKING AT THE TWENTY-YEAR TRENDS ACROSS THE ECONOMY, SOCIETY, IN THE STATE OF VERMONT. WE DID THE LARGEST SCALE ANALYSIS OF PUBLIC VALUES THAT WE BELIEVE HAS EVER BEEN DONE IN THE HISTORY OF THE STATE. AND OUT OF THAT DISCUSSION WHEN WE ASKED VERMONTERS WHAT WE STOOD FOR, WHAT WAS ESSENTIAL TO US AS A PEOPLE, THE BIGGEST THING THAT PEOPLE POINTED TO AGAIN AND AGAIN AND THE TOP VALUE WAS THE LOVE THAT WE HAVE FOR THE WORKING LANDSCAPE AND ITS HERITAGE. WHEN WE LOOKED AT THAT AND THEN WE LOOKED AT STATISTICS ACROSS THE INDUSTRY, WE LOOKED AT THE DECLINE AND THE CHALLENGES, THE LONG-TERM CYCLE AND THE DAIRY ECONOMY, AND THE TEN-YEAR DOWNWARD TREND WHERE WE LOST 40% OF CAPACITY IN THE FOREST PRODUCTS INDUSTRY, AND YOU SAY THE ECONOMIC FOUNDATIONS THAT PRODUCED THE LAND THAT WE LOVE ARE IN JEOPARDY, AND WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO VERMONT TO LOSE THAT LEGACY. ON THE OTHER HAND, WE HAVE THINGS LIKE THE HARDWICK CENTER FOR AN AG ECONOMY, AND ENTREPRENEURS ACROSS THE STATE TRYING NEW MODELS. HOW DO WE SUPPORT THOSE PEOPLE AND LOOK TO DEVELOP A NEW GENERATION OF LEADERS ON THE LAND THAT ARE SUPPORTING THE VALUE OF THE DAIRY ECONOMY AND HELPING IT BE LONG-TERM SUSTAINABLE AT THE SAME TIME THEY CAN MOVE PRODUCTS, INVENTING NEW PROCESSES, TAKING THINGS TO THE NEXT LEVEL AND ATTRACTING A NEW GENERATION OF YOUNG PEOPLE TO RURAL COMMUNITIES, THEY ARE SORT OF THE LIFEBLOOD OF RURAL COMMUNITIES, IS TO HAVE THAT REGENERATION. AND WE'RE SEEING THAT. SO OUT OF OUR WORK, AND OUT OF THE SUBSEQUENT POLICY WORK THAT HAPPENED THE LEGISLATURE AND THE GOVERNOR SAW FIT TO CREATE THE WORKING LANDS ENTERPRISE BOARD, AND INVEST IN IT WITH SEED DOLLARS TO STIR ENTERPRISE DEVELOPMENT AND INFRASTRUCTURE DEVELOPMENT AT SCALE THAT WOULD CREATE NEW JOBS, ATTRACT NEW PEOPLE TO BUSINESS, AND NEW YOUNG PEOPLE, LEVERAGE DOLLARS FROM PHILANTHROPY AND FROM THE PRIVATE SECTOR, AND REALLY CREATE SOME OF THE BUSINESSES THAT, LIKE YOU SAY, HOW DO WE BUILD THE NEXT BEN AND JERRY'S. THE NEXT CABOT, WE START WITH YOUTH AND WE INVEST IN ENTREPRENEURIAL DEVELOPMENT.

>> HOW DO YOU GET THE YOUTH EXCITED ABOUT THESE INDUSTRIES? IT DOESN'T SEEM LIKE FINANCIALLY THEY ARE ALWAYS THE MOST GROWING, BIGGEST SECTOR, IF YOU WILL.

>> A GREAT QUESTION, AND HEARTENING PIECE ABOUT AGRICULTURE, WHICH I OBSERVE IN MY WORK AT THE LAND TRUST IN HELPING YOUNG FARMERS GET ACCESS TO FARMLAND IS THERE IS THE NEXT GENERATION WHO HAS HAD LIFE EXPERIENCE OFTEN BEFORE THEY TURNED TO FARMING, BUT HAVE REALIZED THAT VERMONT IS A A PLACE FOR THE REASONS PAUL DESCRIBED WHERE FARM ENTERPRISES ARE ENCOURAGED TO GROW, WHERE THEY GET SUPPORT, WHERE THERE'S ACCESS TO MARKETS AND WHERE, YOU KNOW, IN A STATE WHICH HAS AN IDENTITY AROUND FOOD AND NATURAL IDENTITY, SO WE ACTUALLY HAVE A FULL-TIME STAFF PERSON WHO DOES NOTHING BUT WORK WITH YOUNG FAFRMERS, NEW FARMERS LOOKING FOR ACCESS TO THEIR FIRST FARMS, AND DISPROPORTION AT DIVERSIFIED FARMERS, PEOPLE, LIKE I SAID, WHO HAVE LIFE EXPERIENCE AND LIFE SKILLS, BUT HAVE CONCLUDED THEY WANT TO APPLY THEM, YOU KNOW, IN VERMONT, AND IN THE ENTERPRISE THEY GET TO CONTROL, AND IN THE DIRECT RELATIONSHIP WITH A PARTICULAR PLACE, A FARM OR A PIECE OF FOREST LAND.

>> DO YOU FIND THERE ARE ANY MEIGS CONCEPTIONS THAT PEOPLE HAVE ABOUT THE WORKING LAND -- MISCONCEPTIONS PEOPLE HAVE ABOUT THE WORKING LANDSCAPE?

>> I THINK THAT THERE'S SORT OF A MYTH ABOUT IT. I THINK SOME PEOPLE DON'T UNDERSTAND THAT FARMS ARE BUSINESSES, THAT BECAUSE WE LOVE THE LAND AND WE LOOK AT THE PRETTY PASTURES AND STUFF, WE ANY IT IS AUTOMATIC -- WAY IT IS AUTOMATIC, BUT IT IS GRITTY WORK, IT IS HARD WORK. IT'S A LOT OF SWEAT EQUITY GOES INTO EVERY FARM, AND THE FACT IS, WE NEED TO SET CONDITIONS THAT HELP PEOPLE TO SUCCEED, AND WE NEED TO HELP PEOPLE GET ACCESS TO CAPITAL. WE NEED TO BUILD A REGULATORY ENVIRONMENT THAT SUPPORTS GOOD LAND MANAGEMENT AND A STRONG ENVIRONMENT, BUT DOESN'T PREVENT PEOPLE, BUSINESSES, FROM GROWING, AND IT DOESN'T PUT UP BARRIERS THAT MAKE IT IMPOSSIBLE FOR YOUNG PEOPLE TO GET IN. THE GREAT NEWS IS THAT YOUNG PEOPLE ARE REALLY INSPIRED AROUND THIS, AS A MOVEMENT, THAT REGARDLESS OF WHAT HAPPENS, YOUNG PEOPLE WANT TO BE IN TOUCH WITH THE SOIL IN VERMONT, THAT THEY COME HERE FOR THIS. WE ARE WORKING WITH HIGHER EDUCATION NOW, WHICH IS REALLY INTERESTED IN MAKING VERMONT AN EPICENTER OF THE NATION'S FOOD SYSTEMS MOVEMENT, THAT IT'S ONE OF OUR KEY OPPORTUNITIES BECAUSE OF WHO WE ARE, OUR BRAND, THE STATE, THE FACT THAT THE STATE AS A WHOLE IS OUR CLASSROOM FOR THIS KIND OF WORK, AND BECAUSE OF THE GREAT STORIES AT THAT ARE GOING ON BUSINESS TO BUSINESS AROUND VERMONT. IN HARDWICK, FOR EXAMPLE, THEY TALK ABOUT, YOU KNOW, THEY RAISE THE FLAG, HARDWICK IS GOING TO BE THE CENTER OF VERMONT'S AGRICULTURAL ECONOMY. IT WASN'T REALLY TRUE. NOBODY GAVE THEM PERMISSION. BUT TODAY THERE ARE TWENTY NEW BUSINESSES IN THE HARDWICK DOWNTOWN, AND MOSTLY THEY ARE VERY YOUNG BUSINESSES, BECAUSE A TOWN THAT WAS REALLY AGING, AND WAS -- HAD TAKEN SOME HARD KNOCKS IS NOW A PLACE THAT'S VERY COOL, IT'S VERY DYNAMIC, AND IT IS A PLACE THAT YOUNG PEOPLE WANT TO BE. AND IF WE DON'T MAKE EXCITING COMMUNITIES IN RURAL COMMUNITIES IN VERMONT, WE COULD SEE SOME OF WHAT HAS HAPPENED NATIONALLY WITH THE RURAL DOWNFALL OF TOWNS ACROSS THE COUNTRY IN RURAL AMERICA.

>> THERE IS NO DOUBT THAT HARDWICK HAS SEEN A RENAISSANCE, IF YOU DRIVE THROUGH, IT IS A VERY DIFFERENT TOWN THAN IT WAS ABOUT A DECADE AGO. AND YOU TALK ABOUT YOUNG PEOPLE REALLY BEING EXCITED ABOUT THIS MOVEMENT. BUT WHEN YOU LOOK AT VERMONT, AND ITS AGING POPULATION, WE HEAR THE TERMS GRAYING OF THE GREEN MOUNTAINS QUITE OFTEN, WHERE ARE THE YOUNG PEOPLE? HOW DO WE KEEP THEM HERE? HOW DO WE CONTINUE TO GET THEM EXCITED? I MEAN, THERE IS A RELATIVELY SMALL POOL OF THEM.

>> WELL, YOU ARE RIGHT, THERE ARE SOME SCARY TRENDS. ESPECIALLY ON THE FOREST SIDE. THE DEMOGRAPHICS AROUND PRIVATE FOREST LAND OWNERSHIP IN VERMONT ARE SCARY. UP TO 50% OF PRIVATE FOREST LAND WILL CHANGE HANDS IN THE NEXT TWO DECADES. SO IT IS REALLY IMPORTANT TO FOCUS ON THAT, FOCUS ON SUCCESSION AND OWNER SMIP -- OWNERSHIP. THERE ARE A NUMBER OF ANSWERS. ONE IS THE WORKING LANDS ENTERPRISE FUND, WHICH HAS AS A SPECIFIC STATUTORY MISSION SUPPORTING YOUNG FARMERS AND GETTING ACCESS TO FARMLAND. IF YOU LOOKED AT THE OF THE 20 GRAND RECIPIENTS FOR THE FIRST ROUND, THE MAJORITY OF THOSE FOLKS ARE YOUNGER ENTERPRISES, SO I THINK CREATING THAT OPPORTUNITY, AND THEN, HONESTLY, THERE ARE PROGRAMS LIKE THE CENTER IN BURLINGTON, INCUBATOR PROGRAMS, PROGRAMS THAT ARE RUN BY UNIVERSITY OF VERMONT EXTENSION THAT ENCOURAGE NEXT GENERATION FARMERS TO HONE SKILLS AND TO CONNECT THEM TO OUTLETS TO MAKE A LIVING THROUGH THE APPLICATION OF SKILLS.

>> SO ARE THERE NUMBERS TO SORT OF BACKUP WHETHER OR NOT THIS IS WORKING, BECAUSE I REMEMBER A STUDY A FEW YEARS BACK SAYING THAT THE AVERAGE AGE FOR A VERMONT FARMER WAS ABOUT 60, 62 YEARS OLD.

>> RIGHT.

>> SO ARE WE SEEING THAT NUMBER GO DOWN NOW?

>> I THINK IT'S TOO EARLY TO BE ABLE TO DOCUMENT THAT. YOU KNOW, YOU THINK ABOUT THE LANDOWNERS, USUALLY THE OLDER GENERATION IN A FAMILY THAT STILL OWNS THE LAND. SO PART OF THAT IS NATURAL TO THIS. BUT, YOU KNOW, WE IMPORT MORE COLLEGE STUDENTS, EVEN THOUGH MORE OF OUR COLLEGE STUDENTS ARE A COLLEGE-AGE YOUTH GO OUT OF STATE THAN EVER BEFORE IN OUR HISTORY, WE ALSO IMPORT MORE STUDENTS THAN WE EVER HAVE, SO THAT WE ARE A NET IMPORTER OF COLLEGE STUDENTS. AND A LOT OF THOSE STUDENTS WANT TO CONNECT WITH STUFF GOING ON IN HARDWICK, AND STUFF GOING ON IN RUTLAND. WE HAVE BEEN WORKING WITH MIDDLEBURY COLLEGE LATELY. THEY ARE STARTING A NEW FULL-TIME TEN-YEAR TRACK POSITION IN FOOD SYSTEM STUDIES, BECAUSE KIDS ARE COMING TO MIDDLEBURY COLLEGE, THESE ARE HIGHLY -- THEY ARE VERY BRIGHT, SKILLED YOUNG PEOPLE, WHO ARE COMING TO VERMONT AND THEY ARE SAYING, HEY, WE WANT TO BE CONNECTED TO THIS FOOD SYSTEMS MOVEMENT, IN A SCHOOL THAT'S REALLY ESSENTIALLY A WILL IB RAL ARTS -- LIBERAL ARTS INSTITUTION WANTS TO HELP THEM BE CONNECTED. ONE OF THE THINGS WE SEE DOING ASIDE FROM THE WORKING LANDS ENTERPRISE STUFF, WE BUILT A HIGHER EDUCATION CONSORTIUM WITH UVM AND STERLING COLLEGE, GREET MOUNTAIN PSYCHOLOGY, BTC -- GREEN MOUNTAIN COLLEGE, BTC, AND THE LAW SCHOOL TO THINK ABOUT HOW WE SHARE STUDENTS, HOW WE TELL THE STORY NATIONALLY TO ATTRACT MORE PEOPLE HERE, HOW WE HELP THEM HAVE BETTER CONNECTIONS THROUGH INTERNSHIPS AND SO FORTH, SO THAT VERMONT, WHICH HAS GOT THIS TREMENDOUS BRAND IDENTITY RIGHT NOW NATIONALLY FOR YOUNG PEOPLE, IS HELPING YOUNG PEOPLE CONNECT TO THE GROUND AND START ULTIMATELY, SOME OF THEM, START BUSINESSES. AND SO THE SEED FUNDING OF THE WORKING LANDS ENTERPRISE FUND IS JUST A CRUCIAL -- IT IS SORT OF LIKE A SPEAR POINT IN VERMONT AGRICULTURE AND FOREST PRODUCTS RENAISSANCE, HELPING PEOPLE START BUSINESSES, HELPING THEM GROW, HELPING THEM HIRE NEW PEOPLE, AND YOU LOOK AT THESE FARMS, LIKE PETE'S GREENS, OR YOU LOOK AT WHAT'S GOING ON JASPER HILL, WHERE AN EMPLOYEE AT JASPER HILL GOES OFF AND STARTS HILL FARMSTEAD BREWERY, WHICH IS NOW ONE OF EIGHT OF THE TOP 100 BEERS IN THE COUNTRY. THERE ARE NEW CHEESEMAKERS SPURRING OUT OF THE GUYS WHO ARE GROWING FAST, NEW BREWERS SPURRING OUT OF THE BREWERS AND WE ARE BUILDING INDUSTRY QUESTIONSERS. -- QWESTERS. IT IS BIG BUSINESS ULTIMATELY. YOU WILL SEE SOME OF THE LARGE-EPLAYERS, GREEN MOUNTAIN COFFEE ROASTERS, KA BOT, BEN AND JERRY'S, THESE ARE NATIONAL AND INTERNATIONALLY REPUTED FIRMS. YOU TALK ABOUT MADE IN VERMONT, THIS STUFF REALLY STARTS TO ADD UP. AND THEN YOU HAVE A TV STATION THAT ADVERTISES FOR EVERYBODY. [ LAUGHTER ]

>> IT DOES ADD UP, AND IT MAKES VERMONT HAVE A MARKET EDGE. AND WHEN YOU LOOK AT OUR COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE NATIONALLY, AND GLOBALLY, WE'RE NOT GOING TO COMPETE FOR THE LOWEST COST PLACE TO DO BUSINESS, WE ARE NOT GOING TO COMPETE FOR THE BOTTOM OF THE MARKET, FOR COMMODITY PRODUCTION. WE HAVE TO COMPETE FOR THE CREATIVE NICHES, AND THE MORE IT CONNECTS WITH OUR BRAND, AND PROMOTES THE FOUNDATION OF OUR BRAND, WHICH IS OUR LAND AND OUR COMMUNITIES, THE STRONGER IT IS GOING TO MAKE US FOR THE NEXT WAVE. SO WE'RE DOING A LOT RIGHT RIGHT NOW. THIS NEW INVESTMENT IN WORKING LANDS ENTERPRISE FUND AND THE GOVERNOR'S LEADERSHIP IN ADVOCATING IT FOR IT TO GO TO A HIGHER LEVEL THIS YEAR ARE REALLY, REALLY IMPORTANT TO THE FUTURE OF VERMONT.

>> IS THIS, THOUGH, JUST SUBSIDIZING JUST ONE PART OF THE BUSINESS COMMUNITY?

>> GOOD QUESTION. YOU WANT TO TAKE THAT? I DON'T WANT TO KEEP JUST TALKING.

>> GO AHEAD.

>> YOU KNOW, YOU CAN'T SUBSIDIZE THINGS THAT AREN'T WORKING, RIGHT? AND YOU KNOW, WE'VE HAD SITUATIONS IN VERMONT WHERE WE GO THROUGH A DAIRY CRISIS, AND WE HAVE HAD A THREE-YEAR CYCLE OF DAIRY CRISES, AND WE'VE HAD LEGISLATIVE APPROPRIATIONS THAT HAVE BACK-MADE MILK PAYMENTS TO SUPPORT -- BACK-PAID MILK PAYMENTS TO SUPPORT DAIRY FARMS. THAT'S PROBABLY A GOOD THING TO DO, BECAUSE WE NEED THOSE DAIRY FARMS AND WE WANT TO KEEP THOSE FAMILIES PRODUCTIVE. BUT IT IS NOT A PROACTIVE ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT STRATEGY. ONE OF THE THINGS THAT GIL AND I AND OTHERS DID AS WE LOOKED AT THIS WHOLE ISSUE WAS, WE LOOKED AT THE 40-YEAR HISTORY OF PUBLIC POLICY DEBATE AROUND THE FOREST PRODUCTS AND AGRICULTURE, AND WE SAW IN EVERY SINGLE REPORT THAT WAS WRITTEN THEY SAID THE KEY TO THE LONG-TERM ADVANCEMENT IS TO INVEST IN DIVERSIFICATION AND INVEST IN VALUE ADDED. YOU ARE NOT INVESTING TO SUBSIDIZE AN INDUSTRY, YOU ARE INCHED -- INVESTING IN THE FUTURE, IN THE LEVERAGE POINTS THAT ARE GOING TO DRIVE BUSINESS FORWARD. AND WE HAVE -- IN THE WORKING LANDS ENTERPRISE BOARD, UNITED THE BEST FORCES FOR GOOD AROUND THIS WHOLE AREA. YOU HAVE THE AGENCY OF AGRICULTURE, AGENCY OF COMMERCE, AGENCY OF NATURAL RESOURCES, FOREST, PARKS AND RECREATION, SUSTAINABLE JOBS FUND, VERMONT HOUSING CONSERVATION BOARD, AND VERMONT'S ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY, ALONG WITH STRATEGIC LEADERS THROUGHOUT THE FARM AND FOREST INDUSTRY, ALL CONCENTRATING ON WHERE ARE THE BEST INVESTMENTS THAT ARE GOING TO LEVERAGE THIS ECONOMY FORWARD.

>> ALL OF THIS REALLY COMES FROM VERMONTERS, AND WHAT THE ORGANIZATION DID FIVE YEARS AGO TO TEST THE MOST IMPORTANT VALUES AND MOST IMPORTANT INVESTMENTS VERMONTERS WANT TO MAKE, AND INVESTING IN A STRONG WORKING LANDSCAPE, POLLED NORTH OF 58% OF ALL VERMONTERS, SO I THINK WE MIGHT FEEL DIFFERENTLY IF WE DIDN'T HEAR FROM VERMONTERS THAT THE CULTURE, THE ECONOMY, THE HISTORY OF THE STATE IS EMBEDDED IN THE SUCCESS OF WORKING FARMS AND WORKING FORESTS, AND BUILD A PROGRAM AROUND THAT DESIGN.

>> WE REALLY STAND FOR THIS.

>> WHAT KIND OF RESULTS HAS THE FUND SEEN THROUGH GIVING THESE GRANTS? I MEAN, HAVE JOBS BEEN ADDED? WHAT TANGIBLE THINGS HAVE HAPPENED?

>> WE'VE GONE OUT AND INTERVIEWED 13 OF THE 30 INITIAL ROUNDS. SO THERE IS A SECOND ROUND GOING FORWARD RIGHT NOW, AND THEN THE NEW INVESTMENT WILL ARE BE FOR NEXT YEAR. AND OF THE 13 PEOPLE THAT WE INVESTED, ALL OF THEM SAID IF IT WEREN'T FOR THIS GRANT, WE WOULDN'T HAVE GROWN AS FAST, WE WOULDN'T HAVE LEVERAGED NEW CAPITAL AND WE WOULDN'T HAVE CREATED NEW JOBS. OF THE 13, WITH LESS THAN A MILLION DOLLARS, PROBABLY TOGETHER THEY HAD 400,000, THEY CREATED 13 JOBS. AND A COUPLE OF THEM ARE TALKING ABOUT LEVERAGING TO 60 OR 80 JOBS THE NEXT COUPLE YEARS.

>> PAUL COSTELLO WE ARE LOOKING AT SOME. PHOTOS. THESE ARE SOME OF THE GRANT RECIPIENTS RIGHT NOW. WHAT CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT THE MONEY THAT'S GOING TO THESE FOLKS THAT WE'RE SEEING?

>> JUST A COUPLE OF EXAMPLES. BLACK RIVER PRODUCE IS ONE OF THOSE. IT IS AN EXISTING LONG-STANDING SUCCESSFUL VERMONT BUSINESS BASED IN SPRINGFIELD. THEY LARGELY SERVE AS A CONDUIT FOR VERMONT-BASED PRODUCERS, BOTH MEAT, AS WELL AS VEGETABLE PRODUCERS TO ACCESS EASTERN SEABOARD MARKETS, BUT THEY REALIZE THEY WERE UNABLE TO MEET MARKET DEMAND AROUND MEAT, AND THEY ALSO UNDERSTOOD THAT MANY BEACH PRODUCERS AND OTHER MEAT PRODUCERS IN VERMONT -- BEEF PRODUCERS WERE HAVING A HARD TIME GETTING ACCESS TO SLAUGHTER FACILITIES, AND WEREN'T ABLE TO DIRECTLY MARKET THEMSELVES. SO ONE OF THE GRANTS THAT WAS ROUGHLY $50,000, WENT TO BLACK RIVER PRODUCE. IT WAS MATCHED 2-1 BY BLACK RIVER. WHAT THEY'VE DONE IS ACQUIRED THE FORMER BEN AND JERRY'S PLANT IN SPRINGFIELD. SPRINGFIELD, BEING A COMMUNITY THAT'S HISTORICALLY HAD CHALLENGES AROUND UNEMPLOYMENT. THEY'VE RETRO FITTED THAT PLANT, SO NOW IT WILL HAVE A STATE-OF-THE-ART SLAUGHTER FACILITY, AND NOT ONLY WILL THEY INCREASE EMPLOYMENT, THEY HAVE ABOUT 40 EMPLOYEES AS A RESULT OF THAT PROJECT, BUT BEYOND THE HEALTH OF BLACK RIVER PRODUCE, THEY NOW WILL PREDICTABLY BUY BEEF FROM VERMONT BEEF PRODUCERS. THEY WILL PROVIDE SLAUGHTER CAPACITY, WHICH DOESN'T EXIST IN VERMONT, AND THEY WILL DO IT AT A PREMIUM HIGHER THAN MOST BEEF PRODUCERS IN VERMONT CAN GET NOW. SO KIND OF TWO OUTCOMES, MAYBE THREE, INCREASED EMPLOYMENT BASE POUR SPRINGFIELD, INCREASED HEALTH AND GROWTH FOR BLACK RIVER PRODUCE, BUT ALSO SERVING A BROAD SECTOR OF VERMONT MEAT PRODUCERS, FARMERS, SO THEY HAVE A CONSTANT PLACE TO SELL THEIR PRODUCTS.

>> AND THAT'S JUST ONE EXAMPLE OF SEVERAL. AND YOU HAD MENTIONED THE GOVERNOR'S SUPPORT. HE INCLUDED THIS YEAR IN THE BUDGET ABOUT $1.5 MILLION FOR THESE EFFORTS AS WELL. AND THAT'S AN INCREASE, AND IT'S IN THE BUDGET THIS IS A BIG DEAL.

>> IT IS.

>> WELL, AND HE CITED THE FACT THAT IN HIS -- IN HIS GUBERNATORIAL PERIOD, WITH THE SUSTAINABLE JOBS FUNDS, BUT WITH THE INFRASTRUCTURE AND THE GOOD WORK FORWARD AND CHUCK ROSS, THE SECRETARY OF AG AND THE GREAT WORK THEY ARE DOING, THEY HAVE BEEN ABLE TO DOCUMENT A THOUSAND NEW JOBS IN THIS SECTOR. AND YOU LOOK AT VERMONT JOB CREATION SINCE 2008. THAT'S HUGELY IMPORTANT. WE SEE THIS AS SORT OF LIKE WE'RE BUILDING MODELS FOR BUSINESSES TO EXPAND IN THE FUTURE, AND I WOULD LOVE TO GIVE ANOTHER EXAMPLE OF THAT. VERMONT PELLET COMPANY IN NORTH CLARENDON GOT A $39,000 GRANT THAT THEY LEVERAGED ALL THE MONEY TO BUY A COUPLE OF PIECES OF EQUIPMENT THAT LET THEM BUILD A MECHANICAL WAY OF MOVING PELLETS, YOU KNOW, DOING THE PROCESSING THAT THEY NEEDED TO DO THAT ALLOWED THEM TO IMMEDIATELY JUMP THEIR PRODUCTION BY 10%, HIRING TWO NEW PEOPLE IMMEDIATELY. AND THEY'VE REACHED PLANT CAPACITY. THEY HAVE THIS MODEL WHICH SAYS WE SHOULDN'T BE BUILDING A HUGE FACTORY IN VERMONT FOR THIS, WE SHOULD DO IT THE VERMONT WAY, WHICH IS SORT OF COMMUNITY-BASED, LOOK AT A WOODSHED AREA OF ABOUT 30 MILES AROUND YOU. BRING WOOD IN, AND BRING IT BACK OUT TO THAT AREA, AND THEN LET'S REPLICATE THIS MODEL. SO THEY ARE LOOKING NOW WITH THIS GRANT AND THE PROGRESS THEY'VE MADE WITH THEIR FIRST PRODUCTION FACILITY TO DO ANOTHER. CHRIS BROOKS HAS PART OF THE VISION FROM THE AG THING IS LET'S SHARE OUR MODEL. LET'S HELP OTHER PEOPLE SUCCEED. LET'S MARKET TOGETHER. LET'S AGGREGATE PRODUCT. AND HE'S GOT SOMETHING THAT IS SORT OF FRANCHISABLE, EVEN SOMETHING THAT HE CAN GIVE AWAY TO HELP OTHERS GET STARTED, AND OTHER PARTS OF VERMONT ARE LOOKING AT STARTING THAT. SO, AGAIN, WITH THAT INFRASTRUCTURE INVESTMENT, WE ARE LEVERAGING THIS REAL GROWTH IN THE ECONOMY AS A WHOLE.

>> VERMONT HAS ALWAYS BEEN KNOWN FOR DAIRY FARMS, BUT TALK ABOUT HOW IMPORTANT INNOVATION AND DIVERSITY IS IN THE WORKING LANDSCAPE.

>> ABSOLUTELY CRITICAL. SO I THINK MAYBE THE FIRST POINT IS TO REMEMBER THAT VERMONT ENTERPRISES THAT PRODUCE MILK ARE STRONG. THEY ARE VERY RESILIENT, AND HAVE HAD TO BE BECAUSE OF THE VERY CYCLICAL NATURE AND UNPREDICTABLE NATURE OF MILK PRICING. BUT VERY ENTREPRENEURIAL, VERY SUCCESSFUL OPERATORS, FARMERS THESE DAYS. AND DON'T AT ALL WANT TO DIMINISH THAT, BECAUSE THE STRENGTH OF THAT SECTOR IS CRITICAL TO THE OVERALL ECONOMY. BUT WITH THAT ANCHOR, AND, AGAIN, I LOOK FOR THE VERMONT LAND TRUST, WE CAN SERVE FARMS OF ALL TYPES AND ALL SKILLS ALL OVER VERMONT -- ALL SCALES ALL OVER VERMONT. IN ADDITION TO THRIVING DAIRY FARMS, THERE'S GREAT RISK THAT WE'LL USE HILL FARMS ACROSS VERMONT, AND FARMS THAT HAVE CLOSELY CONNECTED TO COMMUNITIES THROUGHOUT VERMONT, UNLESS THEY CAN BE CONSERVED, AND SECOND, UNLESS THEY ARE VIABLE ENTERPRISES ASSOCIATED WITH THEM. BECAUSE THEY TEND TO BE SMALLER, BECAUSE THE CHARACTERISTICS OF THE BARNS THAT ARE INFRASTRUCTURE IS LESS MODERN THAN DAIRY REGIONS IN VERMONT, YOU KNOW, DIVERSIFIED PRODUCTION IS MUCH BETTER ADAPTED, SO JUST FROM A CULTURAL COMMUNITY CONNECTION PERSPECTIVE, IF WE CAN'T FURTHER DIVERSIFY AGAINST THAT BULKHEAD OF DAIRY PRICES IN VERMONT, DIVERSIFY IN A WAY THAT PROTECTS AND MAKES ECONOMICALLY VIABLE FARMS ALL OVER VERMONT, I THINK OUR CULTURE WILL CHANGE.

>>> WELCOME BACK, EVERYONE. WE ARE TALKING WORKING LANDSCAPES THIS MORNING.

>> THAT'S RIGHT. WE'RE ALSO GOING TO MOVE ON TO COMMODITY-BASED BUSINESSES. LET'S TALK ABOUT THE APPLE INDUSTRY, ONE OF THESE GRANTS HAS HELPED A FARMER WHO DOES MUCH THAR -- THAN JUST SELL APPLES.

>> THANKS SO MUCH. YOU KNOW, WE ARE CONCERNED ABOUT THE DAIRY ECONOMY, AND THE COMMODITY BASE OF THAT. THE WOOD COMMODITY, AND THE APPLE ECONOMY HAS COMMODITY, AND WE REALLY LOST ABOUT 80% OF THE ORCHARDS IN THE STATE OF VERMONT OVER THE LAST 30 YEARS, WHEN WE WERE TRYING TO SELL IN THE GLOBAL COMMODITY AGAINST NEW ZEALAND AND WASHINGTON STATE, AND OTHER PLACES THAT ARE GROWING COMMODITY APPLES AND WERE GROWING THEM CHEAPER, MORE CHEAPLY THAN WE COULD, WE SAW A REAL DECLINE AND A SERIOUS ONE. IF YOU LOOK AT SHOREHAM AND ADDISON COUNTY, THERE IS A LOT OF ABANDONED AND DECAYING APPLE ORCHARDS. ONE OF THE INTERESTING SEED GRANTS IN -- AND THIS IS A SEED GRANT TO BERKSHIRE AND CHAMPLAIN, THEY ARE SAYING WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENT VALUES IN AN APPLE? YOU KNOW, YOU HAVE YOUR PRIZE APPLE YOU SELL FOR A DOLLAR, BUT THEN YOU MAKE A PIE, AND YOU SELL THE PIE IN A DIFFERENT MARKETPLACE. YOU MAKE A CIDER AND YOU BUILD A MARKETPLACE FOR THE CIDER. WITH WOODCHUCK CIDER IN MIDDLEBURY, ONE OF THE LARGEST CIDER PRODUCTION COMPANIES IN THE UNITED STATES NOW. AND THEN YOU LOOK AT LIQUEURS, WHICH THERE'S A VARIETY OF HIGH-COST AND QUALITY PRODUCTS BEING PRODUCED IN VERMONT, AND IT'S BURGEONING. SO BILL SHIRE HAS LOOKED AT HOW HE CAN PUSH THE MARKET IN EACH OF THOSE AREAS, AND HOW HE CAN HELP OTHER FARMERS DO SO. THE OLD SHOREHAM CO-OP WHICH HAS BEEN EMPTY IN THE DECLINING YEARS OF THIS INDUSTRY IS NOW BEING USED AGAIN TO BEGIN TO AGGREGATE APPLES, AND BUILD A BIGGER SUPPLY CHAIN FOR PRODUCTION IN THESE DIFFERENT VENUES, AND BILL WAS ABLE TO EXPAND HIS CIDER-MAKING CAPACITY TO CREATE NEW JOBS, AND AT THE SAME TIME, HE IS LEVERAGING THIS OPPORTUNITY, AND IT SETS UP THIS MARKET, AND THERE ARE YOUNG PEOPLE IN SHOREHAM NOW STARTING NEW ORCHARDS AFTER ALL OF THIS. AND TO ME, AS A NATIVE VERMONTER, IT IS AN ENORMOUSLY IMPORTANT SUCCESS STORY, BECAUSE IT IS PROVIDING A PRODUCTIVE BASIS FOR COMMUNITIES IN RURAL PARTS OF THE STATE THAT IF YOU DON'T HAVE AN INDIGENOUS ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT, THEY JUST TURN INTO BEDROOM TOWNS. AND THEY LOSE THEIR CHARACTER. SO WE ARE SEEING A REAL ECONOMIC REVIVAL WITH THESE KIND OF GRANTS.

>> YOU BRING UP AN INTERESTING POINT IN THAT, YOU KNOW, THESE OTHER STATES THAT HAVE, YOU KNOW, THEY ARE LARGER, AND THEY HAVE THESE LARGER OPERATIONS. VERMONT IS SO SMALL. HOW IS IT COMPETING? IS IT NAME ALONE?

>> IT'S NAME, BUT IT'S ALSO VERMONT HAS A REAL SENSE OF QUALITY THAT'S BEEN WELL EARNED FOR GENERATIONS. FROM MAPLE SYRUP TO MILK TO CHEESE, A VARIETY OF DIFFERENT PRODUCTS HAVE BEEN IN THE REGIONAL AND NATIONALLY MARKETPLACE FOR A LONG TIME. WE ARE VERY CAREFUL ABOUT THE QUALITY WE PRODUCE, CAREFUL ABOUT THE LABELING OF THAT PRODUCT, WE ARE CAREFUL TO CONNECT THOSE PRODUCTS TO ACTUAL PRODUCERS SO PEOPLE CAN PUT A FACE TO WHO IS ACTUALLY MAKING WHAT THEY ARE EATING. SO FRANKLY, I THINK IT IS A WELL EARNED REPUTATION NATIONALLY THAT'S FUNDAMENTALLY BASED ON QUALITY AND A COMMITMENT TO QUALITY.

>> GIL LIVINGSTON, PAUL COSTELLO THANK YOU FOR JOINING US TO TALK ABOUT THESE IMPORTANT TOPICS. WE APPRECIATE IT.

>> THANKS FOR THE OPPORTUNITY.

>> THANK YOU.

>> THANKS FOR WATCHING.

>> SEE YA! Captioning provided by Caption Associates, LLC captionassociates.com

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