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Vermont's organic dairy farms are at a breaking point. Will help come?

A photo showing black and white cows in a pen, extending their neck under a metal railing to eat.
Ric Cengeri
/
Vermont Public File
This hour, Vermont Edition looks at potential solutions to the most pressing issues in the dairy industry, including saving struggling organic dairy farms.

Live call-in discussion: Vermont's dairy industry is at a critical juncture, with many organic dairy farms saying they are struggling. Last year, 18 organic dairies in the state shuttered, according to the Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont, and the organization is worried that without some type of relief, another 30 could stop operating by this summer.

The market pressures are compounding the stressful working conditions for many farmworkers, who are pushing for higher wages, safer working environments and affordable, livable housing. And on top of everything, a key player in the state's dairy industry is retiring.

Our guests are:

  • Anson Tebbetts, Vermont Secretary of Agriculture, Food & Markets
  • Diane Bothfeld, retiring director of administrative services at the Agency of Agriculture
  • Thelma Gómez, a former dairy worker and now organizer with Migrant Justice in Addison County
  • Mike Thresher, NOFA-VT board member, dairy feed specialist and consultant

Broadcast live on Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2023, at noon; rebroadcast at 7 p.m.

Have questions, comments or tips? Send us a message or tweet us @vermontedition.

Mikaela Lefrak joined Vermont Public in 2021 as co-host and senior producer of Vermont Edition. Her stories have aired nationally on Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Weekend Edition, Marketplace, The World and Here & Now. A seasoned local reporter, Mikaela has won two regional Edward R. Murrow awards and a Public Media Journalists Association award for her work.
Tedra joined Vermont Public as a producer for Vermont Edition in January 2022. Before moving to Vermont, she was a journalist in New York City for 20 years. She has a master’s degree in journalism from New York University.
Elodie is a reporter and producer for Vermont Public. She previously worked as a multimedia journalist at the Concord Monitor, the St. Albans Messenger and the Monadnock Ledger-Transcript, and she's freelanced for The Atlantic, the Christian Science Monitor, the Berkshire Eagle and the Bennington Banner. In 2019, she earned her MFA in creative nonfiction writing from Southern New Hampshire University.