Food & Agriculture
Sophia Kruszewski | Vermont Law School, Center for Agriculture and Food Systems’ Clinic Director & Assistant Professor of Law
December 10, 2020
Vermont is known for its vibrant local food culture and small-but-mighty farm economy. Home to 6,800 farms, Vermont leads the nation in maple syrup production and ranks among the top 10 states for certified organic farms (in terms of both acreage and number of farms) and for local food sales. In 2016 alone, sales from Vermont producers directly to consumers, retailers, institutions, and local distributors like food hubs totaled $250 million. Vermont’s farm and food businesses also directly employ over 64,000 Vermonters; food manufacturing is the second-largest manufacturing industry in the state. Clearly, Vermont’s local food sector is a strong driver of the state’s economy.
The picture is not entirely rosy, however. Even before Covid-19 exacerbated low milk prices, Vermont dairy farms were in crisis. The average age of Vermont farmers is just under 56 years old and over 30 percent are over 65, presaging the significant degree of farmland that will change hands in the coming years. Whether that land remains in agriculture depends not only on having the next generation of farmers ready to step in, but also on whether land prices offer a competitive option for the exiting farmer, while still being affordable for the incoming one.
Read the full post here.
Essential Growth: A Brief Look into the H-2A Visa Program that Will Carry U.S. Agriculture Through the Pandemic
Jessica Griswold | Vermont Law School, JD Candidate
August 27, 2020
On August 20, 2020, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued a temporary final Rule, Temporary Changes to Requirements Affecting H-2A Nonimmigrants Due To the COVID-19 National Emergency: Partial Extension of Certain Flexibilities (the “August 20 TFR”), announcing a further extension of H-2A guest-worker visas.
The DHS first issued Temporary Changes to Requirements Affecting H-2A Nonimmigrants Due to the COVID-19 National Emergency (the “April 20 TFR”), which initially allowed temporary H-2A workers to extend their employment in response to COVID-19 disruptions to the U.S. food and agriculture sector during the summer growing season. As the “continued disruptions and uncertainty” of the pandemic bleed into the fall agricultural season, the DHS has exercised its authority—under section 102 of the Homeland Security Act of 2002 (HSA) and section 103(a) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA)—to amend the April 20 TFR as a matter of national security.
Read the full post here.