Report: Act 250 reforms key to Vt. farm viability
MONTPELIER, Vt. (WCAX) - Proposed Act 250 land use reforms could help farms remain viable by allowing them to diversify their business models, according to a report to the Vermont Legislature.
The report from the Natural Resources Board says there are too many regulatory barriers from the state agency of agriculture, municipalities, and Act 250. It says current regulations restrict what can be considered on-farm ventures and that small adjustments or exemptions would make it easier for farmers to try something new and stay profitable.
Diversifying farms has been touted as one way to confront sagging dairy prices and protect the state’s working lands. According to the report, while Vermont continues to lose dairy farms and farmland, the state has also added 1,000 other farms in the last 25 years that require less space. Another big pressure facing dairy farmers is the soaring value of their land and associated development pressures. Dairy land is now worth about $405 an acre -- more than double what it was a decade ago.
“We think this is a critical step. Things change. If you look back at the history books, Vermont used to be full of sheep and now we are getting more sheep. I don’t think there is any one single solution and we have to be open to adapting. and if we don’t adapt, then we won’t successfully continue, and that’s just reality,” said the ag agency’s Steven Collier.
Collier says no bill has been proposed yet and that that will be the next step.
Copyright 2023 WCAX. All rights reserved.