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BILL AS PASSED HOUSE AND SENATE 2007-2008

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S.322

AN ACT RELATING TO THE SLAUGHTER AND PROCESSING OF LIVESTOCK, THE VERMONT DAIRY PROMOTION COUNCIL, THE DEFINITION OF “LOCAL” AND “LOCALLY GROWN” GOODS, VALUE-ADDED FORESTRY AND FOREST PRODUCTS, AND CERTIFICATION OF STATE FOREST LANDS

It is hereby enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Vermont:

Sec. 1.  FINDINGS AND INTENT

(a)  The general assembly finds:

(1)  A viable agricultural sector in Vermont represents part of a secure regional food supply, which leads to energy and economic efficiencies.

(2)  The general public is increasingly interested in locally produced food.

(3)  Livestock raised on-farm for meat offers profit potential and economic opportunity for Vermont producers.

(4)  Meat from livestock raised on Vermont farms has an excellent reputation for quality and flavor.

(5)  In recent years, there has been increasing interest in the on-farm slaughter of animals for use by households for economic, ethnic, and humane reasons.

(6)  There are limited options for livestock slaughter in Vermont.

(7)  Historically, meat raised on Vermont farms has been safe and healthy; Vermont’s slaughtering and processing practices have excellent safety records.

(8)  The sustainability of Vermont’s local food systems depends on the relationship between the producer and the consumer.  Key aspects of such successful relationships include the producer’s integrity and the consumer’s interest in and knowledge of how the food is raised, harvested, and processed.

(9)  Community-supported agriculture programs can serve as models for meat producers interested in marketing directly to consumers.

(10)  Raising meat, fruits, and vegetables as close as possible to the kitchens of the end-user minimizes the carbon footprint of the entire food system.

(11)  The dairy promotion council should be required to report annually to the legislature, as well as the governor, on its activities, the amount of money received, and the expenditures thereof.

(b)  It is therefore the intent of the general assembly in enacting this legislation to:

(1)  Assure the continuance of a safe, local food supply.

(2)  Maintain the Vermont meat inspection service’s “at least equal to” status with the federal government’s USDA food safety inspection service.

(3)  Provide for collective ownership of animals raised and slaughtered on Vermont farms where the meat is distributed only to the owners.

(4)  Better understand the rules for building approved slaughter and processing facilities in Vermont and compare Vermont’s meat inspection regulations to other states.

(5)  Determine ways to build cost-effective slaughter and processing facilities and the feasibility of cooperative ownership.

(6)  Promote and encourage growth in Vermont’s livestock industry and the production of meat for local consumption by allowing for more on-farm slaughter and processing of livestock, creating opportunity for the development of more commercial slaughter and processing facilities, and by supporting those currently in the industry.

(7)  Provide more opportunities for Vermont livestock farmers and the supporting slaughter and processing industry to meet the growing demand for animals to be slaughtered and processed by ethnic and religious groups in accordance with their practices and beliefs.

* * * Dairy Promotion Council * * *

Sec. 2.  6 V.S.A. § 2972(b) is amended to read:

(b)  Included among the powers of the council in connection with the enforcement of this chapter are the powers to require reports from any person subject to this chapter; to adopt, rescind, modify, and amend all proper and necessary rules, regulations and orders to administer this chapter, which rules, regulations and orders shall be promulgated by publication in the manner prescribed therefor by the council and shall have the force and effect of law when not inconsistent with existing laws; to administer oaths, subpoena witnesses, take depositions, and certify to official acts; to require any dealer to keep such true and accurate records and to make such reports covering purchases, sales, and receipts of dairy products and related matters as the council deems reasonably necessary for effective administration, which records shall be open to inspection by the secretary of agriculture, food and markets at any reasonable time and as often as may be necessary, but information thus obtained shall not be published or be open to public inspection in any manner revealing any individual dealer’s identity, except as required in proceedings to enforce compliance; to keep accurate books, records, and accounts of all of its dealings, and to make annually a full report of its doings to the house and senate committees on agriculture and the governor, which shall show the amount of money received and the expenditures thereof.  The report shall be submitted on or before January 15.  The Vermont agency of agriculture, food and markets shall perform the administrative work of the council as directed by the council.  The council shall reimburse the agency of agriculture, food and markets for the cost of services performed by the agency.

Sec. 3.  LIVESTOCK STUDY

The legislative council shall consult with local producers, the Vermont congressional delegation, the agency of agriculture, food and markets, and the department of education and develop proposals for a Vermont locally produced meat-in-schools program.  The goals shall be to use existing resources to procure locally produced food products processed in Vermont and inspected by the Vermont agency of agriculture, food and markets to bolster the safety of the food in schools while supporting the Vermont agricultural industry.

Sec. 4.    AGENCY OF AGRICULTURE, FOOD AND MARKETS;
               SLAUGHTER ON PREMISES STUDY

In consultation with interested parties, the agency of agriculture, food and markets shall study and recommend actions to meet the objectives set forth in Sec. 1(b) of this act.  The results of such study and any actions recommended shall be included in a report to the house and senate committees on agriculture on or before January 15, 2009.

Sec. 5.  6 V.S.A. § 3306(f) is amended to read:

(f)  Itinerant custom slaughterers, who slaughter solely at a person’s home or farm and who do not own, operate or work at a slaughtering plant shall be exempt from the licensing provisions of this section.  An itinerant custom slaughterer may slaughter livestock owned by an individual who has entered into a contract with a person to raise the livestock on the farm where it is intended to be slaughtered.

Sec. 6.  9 V.S.A. § 2465a is added to read:

§ 2465a.  DEFINITION OF LOCAL AND LOCALLY GROWN

For the purposes of this chapter and rules adopted pursuant to subsection 2453(c) of this chapter, “local,” “locally grown,” and any substantially similar term shall mean that the goods being advertised originated within Vermont or 30 miles of the place where they are sold, measured directly, point to point, except that the term “local” may be used in conjunction with a specific geographic location, such as “local to New England,” or a specific mile radius, such as “local–within 100 miles,” as long as the specific geographic location or mile radius appears as prominently as the term “local,” and the representation of origin is accurate.

Sec. 7.  FINDINGS

The general assembly finds that:

(1)  The forests of Vermont are integral to the economy, culture, beauty, and appeal of the state.

(2)  The annual contributions of forest-based manufacturing and forest‑related recreation and tourism contribute $1.5 billion to the Vermont economy annually.

(3)  Revenues from forest-related recreation and tourism activities totaled $485 million in 2005.

(4)  Forest-based manufacturing contributes approximately 10 percent of Vermont’s total manufacturing sales.

(5)  The forest-based manufacturing industry provides employment for 6,379 people and generates a payroll of over $207.4 million.

(6)  Forest-based recreation and tourism provide employment for over 6,300 people and generate payrolls of $93.0 million.

(7)  Each 1,000 acres of forest land in Vermont supports 1.4 forest-based manufacturing, forestry, and logging jobs and 1.4 forest-related tourism and recreation jobs.

(8)  Wood provides the energy for approximately six percent of electrical and heating use in Vermont.

(9)  The forests of Vermont help maintain the environment and health of Vermont by aiding the filtering of clean water and clean air and by providing wildlife habitat to a diversity of animals.

(10)  Despite the significant, unparalleled contributions of the forests, forest-based manufacturing, and forest-related recreation and tourism to the state’s economy, jobs, energy, and environment, the forestry and forest products industries receive considerably less support and financial assistance than those afforded other Vermont industries, such as agriculture.


Sec. 8.  10 V.S.A. chapter 85 is added to read:

CHAPTER 85.  VALUE-ADDED FORESTRY
AND FOREST PRODUCTS

Subchapter 1.  General Provisions

§ 2701.  POLICY

It is the policy of the state to encourage the sustainable management and use of its forests and woodlands; to preserve the natural beauty of the state’s forests and woodlands; to protect its wildlife; to preserve and protect the forest environment and health; and to promote, foster, and encourage the forestry and forest products industries of the state.  To achieve these goals, the general assembly declares it to be in the best interests of the state to promote opportunities and markets for value-added forest products.  Fostering and enhancing the value-added forestry markets will help the state retain and expand the state’s forest products manufacturing sector, will retain manufacturing jobs within the state, and will protect the health and viability of the forest environment.

Subchapter 2.  Forestry and Forest Products Viability Program

§ 2721.  VERMONT FORESTRY AND FOREST PRODUCTS VIABILITY
               PROGRAM

(a)  The Vermont forestry and forest products viability program is a voluntary program established at the department of forests, parks and recreation to provide assistance to Vermont timber harvesters, foresters, and forest products manufacturers to enhance the financial success and long-term viability of the Vermont forest products industry.  In administering the program, the commissioner shall:

(1)  Collaborate with the Vermont housing and conservation board, the members of the Vermont wood products marketing council, the Vermont woodlands association, the Vermont loggers association, state agencies, federal agencies, private entities, and service groups to develop, coordinate, and provide technical and financial assistance to Vermont timber harvesters, foresters, and forest products manufacturers.

(2)  Include teams of experts to assist timber harvesters, foresters, and forest products manufacturers in areas such as assessing business resources and potential; researching, developing, and adopting new technologies; improving product quality; developing value-added products; finding and reaching new markets; improving and refining existing markets; and lowering costs of production for Vermont’s forest products sector.

(3)  Encourage economic development through investing in improvements to essential infrastructure and the promotion of timber harvesters, foresters, and forest products manufacturers in Vermont.

(4)  Enter into agreements with private organizations or individuals or with any agency or instrumentality of the United States or of this state and employ technical experts to carry out the purposes of this section.

(5)  In consultation with the Vermont housing and conservation board, other state agencies, foresters, harvesters, and forest products manufacturers establish:

(A)  enrollment criteria for the forestry and forest products viability program created by this section;

(B)  criteria for awarding grants from the forestry and forest products viability program special fund created by subsection (b) of this section.  The grant criteria shall include at least the following requirements:

(i)  the grant recipients shall be enrolled in and committed to participating in the forestry and forest products viability program;

(ii)  the grant application is developed in consultation with timber harvesters, foresters, or forest products manufacturers;

(iii)  the use of the funds will improve the economic viability of a timber harvester, forester, or forest products manufacturer.

(C)  performance goals, evaluative measures, and other criteria to implement and evaluate the effectiveness of the forestry and forest products viability program;

(b)(1)  The forestry and forest products viability program special fund is established in the state treasury and shall be administered by the commissioner of forests, parks and recreation in accordance with the provisions of subchapter 5 of chapter 7 of Title 32, except that interest earned on the fund shall be retained in the fund.  The fund shall be used only for the purpose of implementing and effectuating the forestry and forest products viability program established by this section.  Any monies appropriated by the general assembly or received by the commissioner of forests, parks and recreation for this program from any other source, public or private, shall be deposited in the fund.  The fund shall be used only for the purposes of:

(A)  providing funds for the forestry and forest products viability program as established in this section;

(B)  providing funds to enrolled timber harvesters, foresters, or forest products manufacturers;

(C)  providing funds to service providers for administrative expenses of the program; and

(D)  leveraging other competitive public and private funds, grants, and contributions for the forestry and forest products viability program.

(2)  The commissioner of forests, parks and recreation may solicit federal funds, grants, and private contributions for the forestry and forest products viability program.

(c)  The commissioner of forests, parks and recreation shall report in writing to the senate and house committees on agriculture and the senate and house committees on natural resources and energy on or before January 31 of each year on the activities and performance of the forestry and forest products viability program.  At a minimum, the report shall include:

(1)  an evaluation of the program utilizing the performance goals and evaluative measures established pursuant to subdivision (a)(5)(C) of this section;

(2)  a summary of the money received in the fund and expended from the fund;

(3)  an estimate of the financial impact of the Vermont forestry and forest products viability program on the forestry and forest products industries;

(4)  an assessment of the potential demand for the program over the succeeding three years; and

(5)  a listing of individuals, trade associations, and other persons or entities consulted in preparation of the report.

Sec. 9.  DEPARTMENT OF FORESTS, PARKS AND RECREATION
             REPORT ON SUSTAINABLE CERTIFICATION OF STATE
             FOREST LANDS

On or before January 15, 2009, the commissioner of forests, parks and recreation, in consultation with Vermont timber harvesters, foresters, and forest products manufacturers, their respective trade associations; the Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund; and others shall report to the house and senate committees on agriculture, and the house and senate committees on natural resources and energy regarding the feasibility of certifying the management of and sourcing of materials from state forests under the forest stewardship council (FSC) chain of custody, the sustainable forestry initiative (SFI), and the American tree farm system (ATFS) standards.  The report shall include:

(1)  A summary of the requirements for certification under the FSC, the SFI, and the ATFS standards;

(2)  An estimate of the economic value to the Vermont forestry and forest products industries of certification;

(3)  An estimate of the financial cost to the department of forests, parks and recreation to conduct certification of all state forest land;

(4)  An analysis of how certification standards could be of benefit in emerging carbon markets;

(5)  A recommendation as to whether the department of forests, parks and recreation should certify Vermont state forest land under the FSC, the SFI, and the ATFS standards; or

(6)  A recommendation as to whether the department should establish a program under which a certain percentage of timber sales from state forest lands will be reserved for sale to value-added forest products manufacturers in Vermont.

Sec. 10.  EFFECTIVE DATE

This act shall be effective upon passage, except Sec. 5 which shall take effect April 15, 2009.



Published by:

The Vermont General Assembly
115 State Street
Montpelier, Vermont


www.leg.state.vt.us