As a community-supported agriculture farmer, I frequently find myself educating people about the importance of their decision to support local farms.
Our food choices affect everything from the tiny processes that determine the health of our bodies to the health of our communities and the global environment. We vote every day with our food dollars for the kind of lives we want to live and the kind of world we want to live in. But on town meeting day, Dummerston residents will also get to vote with their, well, votes!
At Town Meeting, we will vote on whether to restore funding for the Farmland Protection Fund to $5,000 per year. The money that residents have voted into the fund in previous years has been instrumental in permanently conserving two farms in town. In addition to helping to offset the total costs of these projects, the town’s contribution has been important in leveraging additional funding.
Though the money in the fund is used to help compensate farmers who choose to have their land permanently protected from development, the benefits extend to everyone.
By keeping farmland in our community, we protect water quality, wildlife habitat, agricultural jobs, food security, and the quality of life that comes with living in a rural community.
And land conservation lowers property taxes for everyone. If all the conserved land in town were developed for housing, our tax rates would be higher because of the increased demand for roads, schools, police, and firefighters and for other services. Information from the Vermont League of Cities and Towns on how land conservation results in lower property taxes can be found at vnrc.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/The-Land-Use-Pr-ton-12.2002.pdf.
But the most important reason to fund farmland conservation in my view has to do with the importance of agricultural soil. High-quality agricultural soils are an irreplaceable resource that we literally can’t live without. They can either sustain our community for many generations, or they can end up like Putney Road in Brattleboro.
Please join me in voting to restore Dummerston’s annual investment in the farmland protection fund to $5,000.