What is Vermont’s Newest Agricultural Crop?

It’s not milk or maple syrup. It’s not apples or honey. Vermont farmers are learning that one of the best ways to generate on-farm profit is by “growing” electricity.

In fact, energy experts suggest that by 2030, Vermont’s working landscape of forests, pastures and cropland, could be producing more than 50% of our State’s electrical energy needs. For farmers that have had to struggle with volatile milk prices and ever-rising costs for fuel, animal feed, fertilizers and labor, producing a crop that doesn’t require daily feeding, seasonal plowing or annual investments in infrastructure is almost too good to be true. At the same time, the rest of us get to help preserve Vermont’s working landscape by purchasing electricity from Vermont’s farmers at below market prices.

Vermont residents currently pay almost $100 million dollars each year to keep the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant limping along. If we use that money to instead purchase electricity from Vermont farmers who are generating power from wind, solar, biomass or methane, we could keep all of our energy expenditures circulating right within Vermont.

Want to learn more? Read my article, which will be appearing in an upcoming edition of the Vermont Natural Resources Council’s member newsletter. You may also be interested in learning about the Vermont Council on Rural Development’s Working Landscape Partnership.

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