Archive - May 5, 2008
By CYRUS LEVESQUE
ADDISON COUNTY — Conditions this spring have been a mixed blessing for Addison County farmers — milk prices are relatively high but so are the costs of feed and fuel.
But a deal to extend and expand a federal dairy price support program struck on Friday could be a big help.
After a marathon negotiating session, conferees from the U.S. Senate and House agriculture committees agreed on an extension of the Milk Income Loss Contract (MILC) Program in the U.S. Farm Bill at around 1 a.m. last Friday, according Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy. The Democrat is the senior member of the Senate agriculture committee.
The expansions to the program include incorporating the rising cost of feed, making base payments larger and making farms with larger herds available.
The MILC program, originally created in 2002, provides extra help for dairy farmers when the price of milk falls below a certain threshold. Under the current program, if the price of raw milk drops below $16.94 per hundredweight — about 12 gallons — extra payments for farmers are triggered. The payment is equal to the amount of milk a farmer sold in that month multiplied by 34 percent of the difference between $16.94 and the price that milk actually sold for.
Payments are capped after a farm has sold 2.4 million pounds of milk in a year.
The revised version in the program includes three significant changes.
First, the rising cost of feed will, for the first time, become a factor triggering payments under the program. When three major feed commodities — corn, hay alfalfa and soybeans — hit a certain price, payments will kick in. Rising feed costs, fueled especially by skyrocketing energy costs, are a growing strain on farmers.
By JOHN FLOWERS
MIDDLEBURY — Addison County residents are taking a lead role in organizing a major art exhibit that will tour through some major cities and venues next year celebrating Lake Champlain and the 400th anniversary of its naming by French explorer Samuel de Champlain.
Dubbed “Champlain’s Lake Rediscovered,” the exhibit will boast 50 works — primarily paintings — submitted exclusively by Vermont artists. In 2009, the collection will meander its way through the six major institutions: Shelburne Farms Coach Barn, the National Arts Club in New York City, the Boston Public Library, The Museum of Contemporary Art in Washington, D.C., the Chaffee Art Gallery in Rutland and the Southern Vermont Art Center in Manchester.
The show — the only visual arts feature from Vermont in next year’s quadricentennial celebration of Lake Champlain — is the brainchild of Middlebury artist Doug Lazarus. Lazarus is serving as curator of the exhibit, while Ripton-based artist Jean Cherouny is coordinating the endeavor.
The exhibit’s major sponsor is the nonprofit Willowell Foundation, an Addison County-based organization that supports projects connecting the arts, education and the environment.
“This is the first time, according to the Vermont Arts Council, that Vermont art has every traveled to major cities as ‘Vermont art,’” Lazarus said of the exhibit. “This (show) will declare that Vermont has a seriously competent art community in it.”
Lazarus conceived of the exhibit last year as a way to showcase Vermont artists, export images of the lake in this special anniversary, and provide an added incentive for tourists to come to the Green Mountain State.
By JOHN FLOWERS
FERRISBURGH — The Lake Champlain Maritime Museum (LCMM) is seeking $100,000 for the final studies it needs before recommending a preservation plan for the Revolutionary War-era gunboat Spitfire that remains docked in its watery grave at the bottom of the lake.
And one of the tools the LCMM will use to try and raise the needed funds will be a short film — currently in the final stages of production — that tells the history of the Spitfire and its 1997 discovery in the depths of Lake Champlain. Art Cohn, executive director of the LCMM, said plans call for the film to be aired on Vermont Public Television later this year.
“We’re trying to move this (preservation) plan forward,” Cohn said last week. Preservation options range from safeguarding the gunboat at its current undisclosed location, or undertaking the extraordinary task of raising it for eventual public display.
Museum officials have spent the past 11 years carefully crafting a plan for the Spitfire, one in a small fleet of gunboats commanded by Benedict Arnold during the Battle of Valcour Island on Oct. 11, 1776. All of Arnold’s boats, except the New York, were destroyed by the British, captured or scuttled by the Continental Army. While British forces won the battle, Arnold’s forces damaged the British fleet enough to send it back to Canada to regroup, thereby giving the Americans time to galvanize their own forces for a winning war effort.