NO. R-135. JOINT RESOLUTION urging Congress to reject proposed reductions in federal funding for programs supporting Vermont’s agriculture and rural economic development and the land grant college program.
Offered by: Committee on Agriculture.
Whereas, proposed federal funding levels for fiscal years 2006 and 2007 are a threat which could result in severe reductions and, in some instances elimination, of federal financial support for numerous agricultural, economic development, educational, environmental, and research programs that are essential for Vermont’s rural economy and the institutions that support the state’s magnificent working landscape, and
Whereas, the severity of these cuts would hamper significantly agricultural and economic development activities throughout the state, and
Whereas, a number of key conservation components of the federal farm programs, including the conservation security program, the environmental quality incentives program, the wetlands reserve program, the wildlife habitat incentives, the farmland protection program, and agricultural management assistance, is slated for funding decreases in fiscal year 2006, ranging from 17 to 70 percent, and
Whereas, the federal farm programs’ value‑added producer grants are slated for a 61‑percent cut, and even more devastating is the proposed elimination of the essential programs for enabling Vermont’s rural areas to participate fully in 21st century commerce, including rural broadband access, the rural strategic investment program, and the rural business investment program, and
Whereas, the federal Morrill Act, named after the law’s sponsor, Senator Justin Morrill of Vermont, established the land grant college program in 1862, and
Whereas, for over a century, Vermont’s land grant college, the University of Vermont and State Agricultural College (UVM), has conducted important research activities related to dairy farming, maple sugar production, and forestry, and it includes the university’s extension service that provides extremely important support services to farmers and communities throughout Vermont, and
Whereas, in 1887, Congress adopted the Hatch Act, providing federal funds to match state appropriations to support an agricultural experiment station (a system of funding, not a specific building) at every land grant college to conduct research “basic to the problems of agriculture in its broadest aspects,” and
Whereas, the proposed federal reductions call for a 50‑percent reduction in Hatch Act appropriations in fiscal year 2006 and their complete elimination in fiscal year 2007, and similar percentage cuts are being proposed to the McIntire-Stennis Act (forestry programs) and to federal animal health and disease research, and
Whereas, should all of these proposed cuts be implemented in their entirety, the estimated federal revenue loss to UVM would be $1,672,034.00, and
Whereas, the financial impact on UVM, and especially the vitally important extension service, would be devastating, resulting in the elimination of 23 full‑time equivalent faculty members and 12 full‑time equivalent staff positions which are reductions in force affecting 76 persons, and 32 graduate fellowships would also be eliminated, and
Whereas, parallel with the personnel reductions would be the forced closure of core UVM agricultural research facilities that have served students, agricultural professionals, and the state at large for generations, including the Miller Dairy Research Farm in South Burlington, the Blasberg Horticultural Center in South Burlington, the Proctor Maple Research Center in Underhill, and the University of Vermont’s greenhouses located in Burlington, and
Whereas, research involving dairy and maple products, tree fruit, vegetable and horticulture activities, invasive species, and integrated pest management would face mandatory curtailment should all of the proposed federal cuts become effective, and
Whereas, it is imperative that the proposed federal cuts enumerated in this resolution not be implemented in order to avoid the debilitating effects on Vermont’s agricultural sector and rural economic development, now therefore be it
Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives:
That the General Assembly urges Congress to reject proposed reductions in federal funding for programs supporting Vermont’s agricultural and rural economic development sectors, and be it further
Resolved: That the secretary of state be directed to send a copy of this resolution to the Northeast States Association for Agricultural Stewardship of the Council of State Governments; President George Bush; Governor James Douglas; U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns; Vermont Secretary of Agriculture, Food and Markets Stephen R. Kerr; University of Vermont President Daniel Fogel; U.S. Senate Agriculture, Nutrition & Forestry Committee Chair Senator Saxby Chambliss; U.S. House Agriculture Committee Chair Representative Bob Goodlatte; and the members of the Vermont Congressional Delegation.
The Vermont General Assembly
115 State Street