Letter to the editor: Independent candidates would not fix pollution issue

Former representative Willem Jewett warns Addison County voters that when considering whom to vote for to fill Claire Ayer’s senate seat “we do not need feel-good rhetoric and clever marketing.” Jewett is referring to Independent candidates Paul Ralston and Marie Audet, who suggest in a color ad that “agriculture is essential to the future of Vermont,” that “farmers will put us on a path to clean water,” and that “farmers will continue to be successful in caring for the environment.”
Let’s get real: Audet and Ralston are not Independents and they are not Democrats. And farmers will not solve Vermont’s water problems. They are the principal cause of them.
The reason Audet and Ralston are running is to protect the state’s $70 to $80 million per year support for conventional dairy that when added to an additional $35 million per year for Act 64, which is supposed to clean up the pollution coming from Vermont’s steadily decreasing number of farms of steadily increasing size, will still lose $150 million per year.
The ad also suggests that Vermont conventional dairy is a “way of life to feed our community.” The reality is starkly different: the nation’s dairy farmers are struggling because they have produced a 20-billion-pound surplus, which causes FMMO prices to drop way below their cost. This in turn drives our small- and medium-sized farmers out of business and leaves Vermont’s steadily increasing number of super large farms (CAFOs) freedom to expand. CAFOs are the principal cause of the surplus and the rising pollution in the lake.
Do not be fooled: If Ralston and Audet win Claire Ayer’s and Chris Bray’s senate seats, Vermont’s meager progress toward a clean environment will be set back by 40 years.
James H. Maroney, Jr.
Editor’s note: A CAFO is “a concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO),” as defined by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). It is “a farm in which animals are raised in confinement — that has over 1,000 ‘animal units’ confined for over 45 days a year.” In Vermont, the farm sizes may vary slightly, but the idea is that they are the larger dairy farms that operate at maximum efficiency and, like any larger operation, make it more economically difficult for smaller traditional dairy farms to survive. FMMO stands for “federal milk marketing orders.”

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