Stories of our connected and rapidly changing region.

cpb-logo

Bill Giving Citizens Right To Sue Over Water Pollution Has Financially Strapped Farmers On Edge

Sheldon dairy farmer Bill Rowell was in the Statehouse recently working against a provision that would allow the public to sue farmers over environmental violations. Photo by John Dillon for VPR

Sheldon dairy farmer Bill Rowell was in the Statehouse recently working against a provision that would allow the public to sue farmers over environmental violations. Photo by John Dillon for VPR

A bill that would allow citizens to go to court to enforce state water pollution laws is facing fierce opposition from Vermont farmers.

The farm community says now is not the time to expose farmers to more financial or legal risk.

Sheldon dairy farmer Bill Rowell is waiting for his fields to dry out so he traveled last week from Franklin County to Montpelier for a little lunch and lobbying under the golden dome.

“Things are great, really, except for the getting paid part,” said Rowell, as he summed up his life and work these days. “And then you have some disingenuous business in the Statehouse from time to time that you have to come and tend to.”

The getting paid part is a familiar story for farmers facing another year of low milk prices, a financial squeeze that led to 16 farms closing in April.

The “disingenuous” business Rowell is working on in the Statehouse is legislation that would allow citizens to sue polluters under state clean water law.

Visit VPR for the full story.