February 14, 2010

Dairy Daze in Vermont

I had the dubious pleasure of sitting in the front row in Burlington, Vermont yesterday at a town hall type meeting with Sec'y Vilsack, Senators Leahy and Sanders, and Representative Welch. The topic at hand was the dairy crisis. After an hour and a half of speeching by grand poobahs, and pleas of help by the peons and subsidy takers, Senator Sanders said they were out of time for questions. 
There was a moment of quiet as gears shifted, so I, being me, leapt to my feet and said, "Mr. Vilsack, I want to thank you for stopping the National Animal Identification System." He was looking in my direction until I said that and then his eyes dropped to some important work he had left unfinished, I guess, because he started writing. He never looked at me again, nor lifted his eyes as he said, "Yes, we have decided to leave those folks who want to raise a few chickens out of the equation." "You mean that fastest growing segment of agriculture," I asked him, "those who make less than $10,000 a year?" He had spoken earlier about the NASS survey and how that segment is growing faster than any other segment in agriculture. Maybe he read or heard Doreen [See Easter Bunny Reports NAIS is Dead!] recently...heh...

Bernie Sanders was looking at me though, giving me 'grandpa winks', you know, high fives with the eyes. He was so approving of me.

I was wearing the last "Know Your Chicken" button, and so, me being me, began to unfasten it from my sweater with an American flag on the front, and said, "This is a historical button and I'd like to give it to you. I wore it at every NAIS meeting I went to." He still did not look at me as I stepped forward and placed it on the podium. "It says, Know Your Chicken." Some of my friends in the audience laughed, and then everyone laughed. I sat down. He still wouldn't look at me.

Bernie Sanders stopped giving me 'grandpa winks' then. His face turned bright red, even his ears.

People were shuffling around trying to either exit or get closer to the Men. I noticed that Mr. Vilsack had not picked up the button, so I went up to a large, linebacker sized black man who seemed to be in charge of Mr. Vilsack. I said to him, "If Mr. Vilsack isn't going to take that button, I want it back. It is historical." "I'll make sure he takes it," he said. He gave me one of his business cards asking me if I would email him my name, etc. I found his name to be quite interesting...Malcolm X.

Some of the other stuff I noticed: Leaky Leahy called Vilsack Secretary Obey. Bernie Sanders said that no other Sec'y of Ag had come to Vermont before. Leaky Leahy said that 3 others had. Vilsack said that we export more than we import. Leahy said, "
So many of you that I talk with on the phone or my office does, you have all had that opportunity to be, to have that connection. That means a lot to just see you here." I video'd most of the event and I transcribed it right off the raw video.

As for the dairy industry in Vermont or anywhere, they're sunk. As one dairyman put it, "We've had a hundred of these meetings and nothing changes."

[Update 15 Feb. 2010]

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