Report recommends dairy task force

In this April 20, 2011 file photograph, cows stand in Harold Howrigan's barn in Fairfield, Vermont. 

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As autumn winds down and our Green Mountain fields and forests prepare to rest, we give thanks for the bounty of the seasons. In the coming weeks, Vermont food will be at the center of the table as many of us celebrate with family and friends. Maybe the meal will begin with an appetizer plate arranged with Vermont’s award-winning cheeses, crackers, pickles, jams, and jellies, perhaps stacks of tasty local vegetables and meats grown and produced by our Vermont farmers and producers. On the table, a fresh Vermont turkey is paired with buttery mashed potatoes and many other sides.

Once dinner concludes, our thoughts turn to Vermont-grown holiday trees and wreaths. We are fortunate to have so much.

While producing food and forest products, Vermont farmers keep our landscape open. Vermont would not be the state we love without our farmers; the beauty of the Green Mountain State is expressed through their stewardship of the land, water, and animals. In winter, farmland sets the stage for skiing, snowshoeing, or snowmobiling. Farmers also provide vibrant habitats for hunting, with the chance to bag that buck during the fall or that turkey in the spring when Vermont turns green again.

We are thankful for those contributions in every season.

We are also focused on Vermonters in need. From food banks to gleaners and restaurants to community and faith organizations, we are grateful for those who donate their time and resources throughout the year. We are also grateful for those who will spend their day preparing and serving a locally sourced meal to those less fortunate.

Many Vermonters are vulnerable, and farmers are among them. Those who work the land are critical to our rural communities; they are stressed by unpredictable headwinds and the price of fuel, food, and fertilizer. We will continue to support them, help grow their operations, and encourage policies that make their businesses more affordable.

It takes a commitment of long hours to get products to our homes, and in addition to our farmers, we are grateful for retailers, store employees and those along the supply chain who make our holiday dinners so special. We honor all food systems stakeholders for their contributions to Vermont, the region, and the country.

We are all part of our Vermont community; we are all neighbors, supporting each other in so many ways. This holiday season, we raise a glass: cheers to our farmers for what they give us on this day and every day.

Anson B. Tebbetts is secretary of the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets.


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