On February 9, 2018 the US senate voted overwhelmingly, with bi-partisan support, to authorize a continuing resolution to avoid a federal shut down. This bill contained several provisions important to both parties, including key changes to an important agricultural program for dairy which will likely bring more than $5 million in relief to Vermont’s struggling dairy farms this year.
A handful of senators voted against the bill. Among them was Bernie Sanders.
You read that correctly, Senator Sanders ditched Vermont dairy farms in their time of need. Unbelievably he later declared his “deep concern” for farmers in his recent constituent newsletter and praised the importance of a program he voted against. Most Vermonters don’t have the time to look up Sanders’ record, so it has been quite easy for us to believe these deceptions.
The Margin Protection Program for Dairy has turned out to be an important lifeline for Vermont’s small and mid-size farms during this time of very low milk prices. Changes to the program resulted in much needed payments for the farms. The state legislature also approved state financial support to enhance the federal program.
The bill had many other positive aspects aside from agriculture including: funding for HUD to continue the revitalization of distressed neighborhoods, funding for the staffing of newly opened or expanded Native American Health Service facilities, and authority for new construction starts for projects associated with the F-35A program for the Air Force. The list goes on.
While we cannot begin to guess what part of this widely supported bill offended the Socialist Senator, we assume it was an ideological signal to the left. Sanders position as a US Senator has given him the springboard to run for president in 2016 and likely again in 2020. It is truly unfortunate that his “No” vote marginalized the very people who put him into office. Vermont and other US voters should take note that the needs of citizens, and especially our farmers, are now a lesser priority than Senator Sanders’ quest for the national spotlight.