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 inclined.


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 money.

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 run.

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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