The state of Vermont is working together to implement the Farm to Plate Strategic Plan and will be comprised of 25 goals to strengthen the working landscape, improve the profitability of farms and food enterprises, maintain environmental resilience, and increase local food access for all Vermonters. Currently in its fourth year out of ten, Vermont’s food system plan is being implemented by a collective impact approach where businesses, government, and non-profits form a common agenda to solve a complex social problem—in Vermont’s case, to relocalize the food system.
The 2014 Farm to Plate Annual Report reveals how Vermont’s farmers and food enterprises are increasing food production which is leading to economic development and jobs in the farm and food sector and how the charitable food system is increasing the amount of local food available to Vermonters at all income levels—the key components of the Vermont Farm to Plate Legislation passed in 2009.
From 2007 to 2012, the food system economic output expanded 24% from $6.9 billion to $8.6 billion, which means Vermont’s farm and food economy is growing. The number of food manufacturing jobs increased by 1,596 between 2009-2013. Vermont’s 34.5% increase grew at a faster rate than other New England states (MA=21%, NH=4.2%, CT=3.6%, RI=–1.5%, ME=–8.5%), according to the report.
The report states that crop and livestock sales are on the rise, job creation is strong with a 7.2% increase and Vermont’s entrepreneurs are creating new businesses.
“Because of our small size, when we work together towards a shared goal, such as strengthening our local food economy, we can really make things happen. We see the fruit of our hard work, and so do others around the country — Wisconsin, New Mexico, Washington, Florida, Maryland, as well as the other New England states – who all inquire about the ‘secret sauce’ here in Vermont and look to Farm to Plate as a model for statewide food system development,” says Ellen Kahler, executive director of the Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund which administers Farm to Plate.