As we reflect back on 2023, we see it was a year of exciting achievements and formidable challenges for our community.
Here at the Farmer Coalition, we strengthened our conservation efforts to promote water quality, healthy soils, and climate smart farming; introduced a workforce development program with schools in Addison County; supported our young farmers through our Farmers Connect program; and deepened our engagement with Vermont’s other farmer watershed groups. All the while, we expanded our funding base, added new staff members to our team, enhanced our outreach to community partners, and diversified our board by adding three new next generation farmers.
At the same time, the year presented its fair share of obstacles that demanded resilience, perseverance, and reliance on one another. A late season frost followed by excessive rains and flooding throughout the summer disrupted on-farm practices such as chopping hay, spreading manure, and harvesting quality crops safe for human and livestock consumption. We were heartened to see farmers share their support and expertise with one another to weather these storms. We are grateful for the timely support state and federal agencies provided, as well as guidance from UVM Extension on adaptation strategies. If what we saw this year is the “new normal,” farmers will be in a much better position to deal with future weather events.
As we look to 2024 and beyond, it will be important to collaborate to solve some of the biggest challenges in agriculture and dairy, in particular, in Vermont. Improving access to markets, using technology for better on-farm decision-making, adapting to unpredictable and extreme weather conditions, promoting environmentally friendly practices, and creating a strong labor force are essential if agriculture is to thrive in the Champlain Valley for years to come.
The Farmer Coalition remains committed to our mission of supporting a vibrant and sustainable agricultural community. We thank our donors, sponsors, and partners for helping us fulfill this mission.
In that spirit, we invite you to read our 2023 Annual Report to understand how our collective work has made a difference in the agricultural community.