AN ACT RELATING TO AGRICULTURAL ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
It is hereby enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Vermont:
Sec. 1. FINDINGS
Regulatory and economic pressures have forced Vermont’s farmers to explore new or innovative technology-based agricultural alternatives or solutions to remain competitive. Technology-based agricultural alternatives or solutions, such as renewable energy development, lessen the regulatory burden on agriculture, provide farms with new revenue sources, encourage increased participation of young Vermonters in agriculture, and help ensure the success of statewide environmental programs, such as the Clean and Clear Action Plan. Consequently, the General Assembly should encourage the agency of agriculture, food and markets to study and develop multiple technology-based agricultural alternatives and solutions to help sustain the dairy industry, livestock farms, and other agricultural sectors in Vermont.
Sec. 2. 6 V.S.A. § 4710(g) is added to read:
(g)(1) The agricultural economic development special account is established as a dedicated sub-account of the Vermont farm viability enhancement program special fund. There shall be deposited in such account any monies:
(A) Appropriated by the general assembly to the account; and
(B) Received by the state or the secretary of agriculture, food and markets from any source, public or private, for use for any of the purposes for which the account was established.
(2) The fund shall only be used for the purposes of:
(A) Encouraging private investment in the economic initiative; and
(B) Providing incentives for technology businesses, determined by the agency of agriculture, food and markets to provide critical technological solutions, for the growth of Vermont’s agricultural economy.
Sec. 3. INNOVATIVE AGRICULTURAL DEVELOPMENT
The agency of agriculture, food and markets under subdivision 4710(a)(3) of Title 6 shall develop an economic initiative to recruit and provide assistance to businesses developing and commercializing innovative technologies for farm-based energy and nutrient management. In administering the initiative, the secretary shall:
(1) Encourage businesses utilizing or providing emerging and existing technology to locate, develop, and grow in Vermont, with a concentration on:
(A) Renewable farm-based energy, such as biodiesel fuel, biomass fuels, methane or methanol, wind, solar, ethanol, and other renewable energy sources; and
(B) Nutrient management, such as mechanical separation, biological processes, and electrical impulse.
(2) Collaborate with the department of economic development, the Vermont center for emerging technologies, state and federal agencies, and private entities to recruit, develop, coordinate, and provide technical and financial assistance to businesses utilizing or providing emerging and existing technology in Vermont.
(3) Explore and utilize technology and financial incentives to advance and stabilize Vermont’s livestock industry and other agricultural sectors with emphasis on achieving:
(A) Increased farm revenues;
(B) Resolution of water, air, and soil quality problems;
(C) Added value uses for crops, livestock, agricultural residue, and byproducts;
(D) More productive use of marginal land; and
(E) Alternative agricultural and rural enterprises.
The Vermont General Assembly
115 State Street