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Letter to the editor: Fund working lands program

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2014-12-09

Published in the Times Argus: http://www.timesargus.com/article/20141209/OPINION02/712099926

The Working Lands Enterprise Fund, an innovative and imaginative idea, was created in 2012 by Act 142. Its purpose is “to stimulate a concerted economic development effort on behalf of Vermont’s agriculture and forest product sectors by systematically advancing entrepreneurism, business development, and job creation.”

For two years, the WLEF has supported our working lands enterprises, with great results. As the governor and his administration are building the budget for next year, I strongly recommend that they continue to fund this important economic initiative at $1.5 million.

Although this is a time of budget austerity, it would be short-sighted indeed to eliminate funding for this program. Why? Because, at worst, this is a temporary expense that will pay major economic dividends as an investment in Vermont’s future! Agriculture and the forest products industry are two major cogs in our state’s economy, and funding from WLEF fosters new and improved opportunities for businesses in these areas. Further, enhancement of our working farm and forest economy is a boon to Vermont’s vital tourist industry.

The Working Lands Enterprise initiative is the most exciting economic development in Vermont at the present time. I urge Gov. Shumlin and his administration to continue supporting it with sufficient funding.

Warner Shedd, East Calais