Title 6: Agriculture
Chapter 162: AGRICULTURAL DEVELOPMENT
6 V.S.A. § 2966. Agricultural and forest products development board; organization; duties and authority
§ 2966. Agricultural and forest products development board; organization; duties and authority
(a) Purpose. The purpose of this section is to create a permanent Vermont agricultural and forest products development board that is authorized and empowered as the state's primary agricultural and forest products development entity.
(1) The board is charged with:
(A) optimizing the agricultural and forestry use of Vermont lands and other agricultural resources;
(B) expanding existing markets and identifying and developing new profitable in-state and out-of-state markets for food, fiber, forest products, and value-added agricultural products, including farm-derived renewable energy; and
(C) identifying opportunities and challenges related to infrastructure, product development, marketing, training, research, and education.
(2) The board shall:
(A) review existing strategies and plans and develop and continually update a comprehensive statewide plan to guide and encourage agricultural and forest products development and new and expanded markets for agricultural and forest products;
(B) advise and make recommendations to the secretaries of relevant state agencies, the governor, the director of the state experiment station, the University of Vermont extension service, and the general assembly on the adoption and amendment of laws, regulations, and governmental policies that affect agricultural development, land use, access to capital, the economic opportunities provided by Vermont agriculture and forest products, and the well-being of the people of Vermont;
(C) monitor and report on Vermont's progress in achieving the agricultural economic development goals identified by the board;
(D) balance the needs of production methods with the opportunities to market products that enhance Vermont agriculture and forest products; and
(E) prepare a comprehensive report, in consultation with the agency of agriculture, food and markets and the department of forests, parks and recreation, indicating the progress made by the working lands enterprise board with regard to all activities authorized by this section. The report shall be presented to the senate and house committees on agriculture, the senate committees on economic development, housing and general affairs and on natural resources and energy, and the house committee on commerce and economic development on or before January 15, 2013.
(b) Board created. The Vermont agricultural and forest products development board is hereby created. The exercise by the board of the powers conferred upon it in this section constitutes the performance of essential governmental functions.
(c) Powers and duties. The board shall have the authority and duty to:
(1) meet, at least quarterly, to conduct such business and take such action as is necessary to perform the duties set forth in this section;
(2) design and conduct an ongoing public engagement process, which may include taking testimony and receiving information from any party interested in the board's activities;
(3) gain information through the use of experts, consultants, and data to perform analysis as needed;
(4) request services from state economists, state administrative agencies, and state programs;
(5) obtain information from other planning entities, including the farm to plate investment program;
(6) serve as a resource for and make recommendations to the administration and the general assembly on ways to improve Vermont's laws, regulations, and policies in order to attain the goals of the comprehensive agricultural economic development plan; and
(7) develop an annual operating budget, and
(A) solicit any grants, gifts, or appropriations necessary to implement the budget pursuant to 32 V.S.A. § 5;
(B) expend any monies necessary to carry out the purposes of this section.
(d) Comprehensive agricultural and forest products economic development plan.
(1) Using information available from previous and ongoing agricultural and forest products development planning efforts, such as the farm to plate investment program's strategic plan, and the board's own data and assumptions, the board shall develop and implement a comprehensive agricultural and forest products economic development plan for the state of Vermont. The plan shall include, at minimum, the following:
(A) an assessment of the current status of agriculture and forestry in Vermont;
(B) current and projected workforce composition and needs;
(C) a profile of emerging business and industry sectors projected to present future agricultural and forest products economic development opportunities, and a cost-benefit analysis of strategies and resources necessary to capitalize on these opportunities;
(D) a profile of current components of physical and social infrastructure affecting agricultural and forest products economic development;
(E) a profile of government-sponsored programs, agricultural and forest products economic development resources, and financial incentives designed to promote and support agricultural and forest products economic development, and a cost-benefit analysis of continued support, expansion, or abandonment of these programs, resources, and incentives;
(F) the use of the Vermont brand to further agricultural and forest products economic development;
(G) the enhancement and expansion of out-of-state marketing of Vermont products; and
(H) any additional issues as the board determines appropriate.
(2) Based on its research and analysis, the board shall establish in the plan a set of clear strategies with defined and measurable outcomes for agricultural and forest products economic development, the purpose of which shall be to guide long-term agricultural and forest products economic development policymaking and planning.
(3) Within one year of its first meeting, the board shall present the plan to the governor and the house committee on agriculture, the senate committee on agriculture, the house committee on commerce and economic development, and the senate committee on economic development, housing and general affairs as the Vermont comprehensive plan for agricultural economic development.
(4) The board shall conduct a periodic review and revision of the comprehensive agricultural and forest products economic development plan as often as is necessary in its discretion, but at minimum every five years, to ensure the plan remains current, relevant, and effective for guiding and evaluating agricultural and forest products economic development policy.
(5) The board shall within one year of adopting the plan develop benchmarking standards to measure progress in meeting the plan's goals and outcomes.
(e) Annual report. The board shall make available a report, at least annually, to the administration, the house committee on agriculture, the senate committee on agriculture, the house committee on commerce and economic development, the senate committee on economic development, housing and general affairs, and the people of Vermont on the state's progress toward attaining the goals and outcomes identified in the comprehensive agricultural and forest products economic development plan.
(f) Composition of board.
(1) The board shall be composed of 16 members. In making appointments to the board pursuant to this section, the governor, the speaker of the house, and the president pro tempore of the senate shall coordinate their selections to ensure, to the greatest extent possible, that the board members selected by them reflect the following qualities:
(A) proven leadership in a broad range of efforts and activities to promote and improve the Vermont agricultural or forest products economy and the quality of life of Vermonters;
(B) demonstrated innovation, creativity, collaboration, pragmatism, and willingness to make long-term commitments of time, energy, and effort;
(C) geographic, gender, ethnic, social, political, and economic diversity;
(D) diversity of agricultural and forest products enterprise location, size, and sector of the for-profit agricultural and forest products business community members; and
(E) diversity of interest of the nonprofit or nongovernmental organization community members.
(2) Members of the board shall include the following:
(A) five members appointed by the governor:
(i) a person with expertise in rural economic development issues;
(ii) an employee of a Vermont postsecondary institution experienced in researching issues related to agriculture or forestry;
(iii) a person familiar with the agricultural or forest tourism industry;
(iv) an agricultural lender; and
(v) a person with expertise and professional experience in forest products manufacturing.
(B) six members appointed by the speaker of the house of representatives:
(i) a person who produces an agricultural commodity other than dairy products;
(ii) a person who creates a value-added product using ingredients substantially produced on Vermont farms;
(iii) a person with expertise in sales and marketing;
(iv) a person representing the feed, seed, fertilizer, or equipment enterprises;
(v) a forester; and
(vi) a sawmill operator.
(C) five members appointed by the committee on committees of the senate:
(i) a representative of Vermont's dairy industry who is also a dairy farmer;
(ii) a person with expertise in land planning and conservation efforts that support Vermont's working landscape;
(iii) a representative from a Vermont agricultural advocacy organization;
(iv) a person with experience in providing youth with educational opportunities enhancing understanding of agriculture or forestry; and
(v) a logger.
(3) The secretary of agriculture, food and markets or his or her designee shall be an ex officio, nonvoting member. The secretary may provide staff support from the agency of agriculture, food and markets as resources permit.
(4) The secretary of commerce and community development or his or her designee shall be an ex officio, nonvoting member.
(5) The commissioner of forests, parks and recreation or his or her designee shall be an ex officio, nonvoting member. The commissioner may provide staff support from the department of forests, parks and recreation as resources permit.
(1) Eight members of the board shall constitute a quorum, and an action of the board shall be taken by a majority of those members present and voting.
(2)(A) The chair of the board shall be elected by the board from its membership at the first meeting.
(B) The chair shall serve for the duration of his or her member term, until his or her earlier resignation, or until his or her unanimous removal by the governor, the speaker of the house, and the president pro tempore of the senate.
(C) A chair may be reappointed, provided that no individual may serve more than two consecutive terms as chair.
(3) Each member of the board shall serve a three-year term, except:
(A) the governor initially shall appoint one member to a one-year term, one member to a two-year term, and two members to a three-year term;
(B) the speaker of the house initially shall appoint two members to a one-year term, one member to a two-year term, and one member to a three-year term; and
(C) the committee on committees initially shall appoint one member to a one-year term, two members to a two-year term, and one member to a three-year term.
(4) Any vacancy occurring among the members shall be filled by the respective appointing authority pursuant to this subsection, and shall be filled for the balance of the unexpired term. A member may be reappointed, provided that no individual may serve more than two consecutive three-year terms.
(h) Compensation. Members who are not state employees or whose membership is not supported by their employer or association may receive per diem and reimbursement for travel to the extent funding is available. (Added 2009, No. 158 (Adj. Sess.), § 4; amended 2011, No. 142 (Adj. Sess.), § 2, eff. May 15, 2012.)