Bravo and well said! Incentive/initiative programs are important for small
farms and small farms are crucial. Not saying these programs are perfect -
bureaucracy is indeed bureaucracy. Let's keep our eye on the prize - feeding
our locale. Get the help you need if you need it. Pay it back if you are so


Chandra Blackmer



From: Vermont Vegetable and Berry Growers
[mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Pooh Sprague
Sent: Sunday, May 20, 2012 9:35 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: NRCS


Heres my two cents to a really interesting discussion.

I applaud Sam's and Pauls positions, and their strong  beliefs. But as a
labeled "back to the land hippy" of the 70's, there were no programs
available to us. In fact, when I  went to see  about some fixed USDA 1%
money in 1976 I was being poured into the  Northeast dairy farms I was
told(literally) that USDA was not interested in loaning money to "hippies
growing cabbage". USDA has come a long way since then.


This is a very hard business to get into. Capital costs are high for the
return on product produced, and land is a commodity that is rapidly
tightening up and  out of reach for most young people starting up. I would
agree with    both Paul and Sam that the money is not "free", comes with
strings(doesnt all  money?) and should not drive  your business plan just
because its available. But be pragmatic about the use of it. If there is a
federal program that allows you to achieve a particular income stream or
gets your farm to a critical mass that is sustaineable, why not use it?  We
are every bit as entitled to  it as the commodity farmers,as we are
taxpayers as well. Dont feed at the trough of the federal government to make
your farm work, but take  advantage of the programs that allow you to make
your farm work for you. 

On Sun, May 20, 2012 at 9:27 AM, Paul Horton <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

Farm Subsidies ( grants, gifts, cost sharing, or the euphemism of the day)
are a product of farm policy. HIstory has shown us, especially via
commodity crop subsidies, that consolidation of the industry and production
of cheap food  has been, and I believe, continues to be, our farm policy. We
are all aware of how this has damaged our ability to charge a reasonable
price for our products. Corn, fencing, high tunnel, irrigation and any other
subsidy contributes to artificially lowering costs of production.  I think
we will lose control of our businesses and our sector if we accept this

I want to know if I have a viable business model, and if so, I want to teach
others how to produce good food in a profitable way. These land based
businesses can support families, enhance communities, and be enduring.
However, I believe it is essential that we remain independent and continue
to develop business and production models that work without any of our
neighbors' tax dollars. I have thought about this very much and realize it
is difficult to turn away from thousands or even tens of thousands of
dollars, but the influence this money purchases may damage us in the long

We have not and will not accept any form of subsidy and I urge others to do
the same.

Paul Horton
Foggy Meadow Farm
2494 Lake Road
Benson, VT  05743
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