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Vt. Senate Passes 'Working Lands' Bill

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2012-05-04

The Vermont Senate has passed a bill designed to jump start farm and forestry projects. The "working lands" bill sets up a board that will oversee a fund to promote agriculture and forest ventures.

Senate President pro tem John Campbell says he considers it the most important economic development bill the Senate has passed this session.

Senate Natural Resources and Energy Chair Ginny Lyons says it's an important bill that brings forestry and forest products into a new era.

"For the first time we're going to have a board that's really dedicated to marketing and supporting the people who are in the working landscape in a new way, Lyons said Friday. "Not simply agriculture, but now in the arena of the forest products industry."

A House-Senate conference committee has worked out the details on the size of the board. The House had asked for 19 members and the Senate wanted 24.

The conference committee recommended 14 members, as well as the elimination of three other boards that Agriculture Secretary Chuck Ross said were no longer needed.

Senator Sarah Kittell says the board will support the forest industry.

"Not only the culture of the working land, but it's the serious business, the economic business of the working lands in Vermont and our families, and how important this will be to it," Kittell said.

The compromise bill still needs to be approved by the House.

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