Dear Friends and Neighbors-

 

I hope you spent time outside with loved ones on Memorial Day weekend and took a moment to reflect on those who served our nation’s interests and lost their lives due to their service.

 

Vermont’s Attorney General has notified debt collectors, creditors, and financial institutions that federal stimulus money is protected from garnishment or collection. The A.G. also urged the banking community to voluntarily suspend collection activity for overdrafts or other administrative fees that could otherwise jeopardize the receipt, reallocation, and circulation of stimulus monies issued to Vermonters as a result of COVID-19.

 

In Committee we have heard proposals for spending some of the CARES Act funds in both Forest, Parks & Rec as well as Fish & Wildlife agencies. Our trails, woods and waters have been used far more than usual during Covid-19’s stay-home time. These agencies will have to spend additional money to adjust facilities and procedure. This runs the span from renting RV housing for staff, buying more cleaners and PPE and signage, nurse station renovations, additional access area maintenance, and renting portable toilets. The portable toilets will need to be cleaned more often and comprise the largest anticipated expense.

 

To see Federal and state moneys expected to be spent in Vermont due to Covid-19, please visit: https://auditor.vermont.gov/content/covid-19-federal-and-state-expenditures-0

In May, we lost 5 more dairy farms. The USDA has $16 million available to dairy farmers. Assistance is based on 1st quarter production. Apply through your local SFA office.

We have heard the Agency of Agriculture’s proposal for using CARES Act funds to support Dairy farmers and value-added dairy processors. The Agency asks for $40 million for dairy farms to be distributed based on size of the farming operation with help ranging in amount from $42k - $110k. Ten million dollars would be allotted to supporting value added processors (think cheese and yogurt) and would be awarded based on the amount of milk they process each day from $56.5k - $185k. Frozen dessert makers would qualify for $56.5k. Qualifications include a drop in price paid for your product or additional expenses due to Covid-19. Vermont’s House, Senate and Governor must all pass this measure before it is available. It is estimated that about 760 dairy farms and 140 value added processors would qualify.

 

The Agency of Administration is focusing on farm workers’ challenges. Farm and Field Days have all been cancelled for 2020 and may qualify for grants under the Agency of Commerce and Community Development. Fairground capitol projects can still move forward and smaller events can be held on the properties.

 

Some people have expressed concern that additional EBT cards are being automatically distributed to families who’s children qualify for free school meals, not because of the family’s income but because their school has expanded the program to include all students. This is a federal project, not a state decision.

 

If you need assistance or have concerns, please reach out to me at cfegard@leg.state.vt.us or 848-7303.

 

Take care and be good to each other,

Rep Charen Fegard

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