In 2019, leaders worked to forge a coalition of dairy farmer-leaders and representatives from Vermont conservation and environmental organizations…. They came together to address the twin challenges of water quality degradation and a dairy economy in distress. The group developed rapport, together with the beginnings of a shared vision for Vermont’s farm-and-environment future.
But obstacles prevented the group from mobilizing as a coalition, namely, power dynamics–the NGO community has the greater political leverage to engineer policy change in Vermont; and an imbalance of risk–farmers have everything at stake in water quality debates.
Before pressing forward to tackle these obstacles, four concerned Vermonters – farmers, environmentalists and facilitators – committed themselves to developing a better understanding of leadership within the dairy community, obstacles that such leaders face, and how the dairy community could be better placed at the center of dairy economy and water quality policy, as well as systems development. This report shares their findings from a process of interviews in 2020 and 2021.