Vermont farm family still facing million-dollar fine for removing trees from own property

Photo by Lou Varricchio

Vermont dairy farmer Gerard Vorsteveld: “I didn’t think I was living in Russia.” (Photo by Lou Varricchio/TNR)

FERRISBURGH, Vt. — A family of Vermont dairy farmers are dealing with a potential million-dollar environmental fine and court appearance after more than two dozen neighbors complained about the clearing of 2,000 trees and brush from the family’s own property.

Members of the Vorsteveld Farm removed the brush along Arnold Bay Road on the Ferrisburgh-Panton town line in western Addison County to better improve the drainage of their land.

Some Ferrisburgh town officials, apparently at the encouragement of Tree Warden Clifton Mix, would like to fine the Vorstevelds more than $1 million for cutting their own vegetation. Based on state law, such a fine may be illegal.

The hard-working Vorstevelds, made up of the families of brothers Hans, Rudy and Gerard Vorsteveld, operate one of Addison County’s largest dairy farms. Since spring, the three brothers have removed a dense tangle of trees, shrubs, wild parsnip, sumac, poison ivy and other weeds along one side of Arnold Bay Road to improve drainage and make the land more productive for growing high-yield feed corn.

The brothers, along with family members and hired hands, milk 1,000 cows. Their 2,400-acre farm straddles the towns of Ferrisburgh and Panton, within sight of Lake Champlain. The families inherited the land after their father, Lolke “Lou” Vorsteveld, died last year at the age of 81.

The Vorsteveld family arrived in Vermont from Emmen, Netherlands, in 1979. At that time, patriarch Lou Vorsteveld left the northern European nation because of excessive government restrictions —  he presided over a national government that became increasingly more intrusive in farming. He chose Vermont’s Addison County because of the many industrious Dutch-American families working the land there. Now his sons are scratching their heads over both the possible fine and the angry neighbors who don’t seem to understand the requirements of farming.

“Too much government — that’s what brought my father to Vermont,” Gerard Vorsteveld told True North in an intervew. “Too many damned regulations, too many bureaucrats, too many asinine rules. They even had a milk quota over there.”

Although born in Holland, Gerard Vorsteveld has been living in Vermont since age 5. The dairy farmer said the family operation took a turn when the neighbors called the tree warden about the clearing away of trees and brush.

“I didn’t think I was living in Russia,” Gerard Vorsteveld said. “The tree warden thinks he has jurisdiction over this. I don’t think he has the authority. Yes, the town and power company have the right to clean trees out, since it’s a right of way. But we own the land to the middle of the road. We own the land, we own the trees,” he said.

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While the farm sits on the Ferrisburgh-Panton town line, only the neighbors in Ferrisburgh have complained about the tree clearing. Residents on the Panton side of Arnold Bay Road have stayed out of the matter.

“It’s Ferrisburgh that’s bitching. I guess the tree warden is trying to do a really good job,” Vorsetveld said facetiously. “We haven’t done anything; we told them what we’re doing (to improve the land).”

Now that the town of Ferrisburgh has hired a lawyer, Vorsetveld said his family could be facing a fine.

The feud goes back a few years ago when the Vorstevelds bought the former Lowenstein Farm. They cleared a large amount of the roadside brush and trees to make way for neater, more productive farming practices. Similar tree clearing has been done on a large tract of farmland in Middlebury, sandwiched between U.S. Route 7 and Halladay Road — albeit not on a public right-of-way.

The controversy brings Vermont’s highway statutes into sharp focus. Who has the right to tell the landowner not to clear-cut trees on private property along a road? Clearly, Ferrisburgh’s legal counsel believes town government has the authority. The Vorstevelds see the law differently.

Vermont Statutes Title 19 regarding “Highways,” which concerns repairs, maintenance and improvements to (or along) public roads, contains the following statement: “A person, other than the abutting landowner, shall not cut, trim, remove or otherwise damage any grasses, shrubs, vines or trees growing within the limits of a state or town highway without first having obtained the consent of the Agency of State highways or the selectman for town highways.”

On first reading, the statute sounds simple enough: The property-taxpaying Vostervelds, the landowners, have the right to clear their own vegetation. But the statute also stipulates the penalty for violations: “Violation of Section 901 of this title shall be fined not more than $100 nor less than $10 for each offense.”

If the farmers are somehow found liable for removing their own wild vegetation, a fine of $1,088,000 may be imposed for the clearing of 306 trees with large trunks and 1,870 trees and shrubs with trunks six inches in diameter or less, according to some reports.

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The non-profit Vermont Institute for Government, based in Middlesex, has written extensively about public right-of-ways, farmers and other landowners. In a recent pamphlet about Vermont highway law, the group’s Paul Gillies wrote: “The road in front of your house is probably public highway, (but) most likely the town doesn’t own the land under the highway; probably you own the land to the middle of the road. … The town has a duty to use its right-of-way responsibly.”

Considering the long battle, it’s clear that Vermont farmers and other landowners need a better understanding of what can, and cannot, be cut on their own land.

After a June 20 closed-door session attended by Ferrisburgh Selectboard members, the Vorstevelds and neighbors of Arnold Bay Road, the town attorney, James Carroll, indicated interest in reaching a settlement. However, he did not rule out the possibility of court action if common ground couldn’t be found.

True North was unable to reach Town Clerk Gloria Warden, Town Counsel James Carroll, and Tree Warden Clifton Mix in time for publication.

Lou Varricchio is a freelance reporter for True North Reports. Send him news tips at lvinvt@gmx.com.

83 thoughts on “Vermont farm family still facing million-dollar fine for removing trees from own property

  1. Seems that I remember that Howard Dean cut a lot of trees on property that he owns before the law went into effect.

  2. Sell all the cows and replace with hogs. If they think it’s bad now the stink from the hogs will really piss them off.

  3. I would contest that the Farmers own the land. A survey was recently completed on a nearby property in Panton that had road frontage. The survey showed that the land was owned by the Town. The Iron Posts verified by the survey for the property were about 25 ft from each side of the centerline of the road. The calculated area of the property they pay taxes on did not include the town road.

    The use of the word Right of Way, while common, is a misnomer.

  4. They had to clear land for every home you live in.
    Should these laws be retroactive, and fine you for your home?

  5. First, I want to thank my old friend Lou for linking to one of my stories in the Addison Independent on this situation. Of course, it might have been more helpful to you all if he didn’t link to something behind the pay wall, or linked to the story in which I interviewed Hans Vorsteveld and gave the farm’s side of the story. But such as it is, Lou did not cite all of the relevant laws. Here’s from the story I wrote:
    “According to Vermont law, landowners may not cut trees in a town right-of-way without first receiving permission from a town tree warden, and the fine is up to $500 per tree for ‘any person who willfully critically injures or cuts down a public shade tree without written permission of a tree warden or legislative body of the municipality.'”
    So the law is pretty, pardon the phrase, clear-cut, really. That said, Arnold Bay Road as a finished product looks pretty good, as one can tell of the pictures I took of it, and the entire stretch of road in question cannot be seen from any neighboring homes. Nor do I see lake pollution as a real issue once their improved drainage system is in place. One hopes the town and the Vorstevelds can reach a reasonable solution.
    Andy Kirkaldy, Addison Independent.

    • This is exactly the type of people that will be bitching when we rely on food from other countries!!!! Step up and help your fellow farmer out without them you go hungry because most people today aren’t smart enough to grow their own food!!!!

  6. The Voorsteveldtes circumvented the permitting process.The right of way is law .Because you are a dairy farmer does not excuse or give you special rights. This article is very biased, and intelligently posted .

    • Haha! I love how you go to bash the article saying it’s “biased”, but then you completely make yourself look like a contradicting ‘simple minded’ a– by saying it’s “intelligently posted” right after that, great job.

      With that being said, if you “own” property (I quoted own because if you own it you should be allowed to do with it as you please, but you can’t, therefore it feels more “rented” than anything) you should be allowed to do what you please with it, so long as it’s not endangering anyone/causing environmental issues. It’s not like the farmers cut down a bunch of endangered plants or ruined the ecosystem somehow.

      Sounds like some neighbors that have nothing to do but peek through their blinds all day and cause drama throughout the neighborhood. They should get a hobby, hell maybe even a job, since you’ve got so much free time to complain about other hardworking citizens.

      • I agree that property owners have every right to do with there property what they want as long as they follow all the rules .This Article speaks for itself,it is a call to polarize the community.The point here is the right of way regulation ,which was circumvented.

  7. lol people with nothing else to do but be nosey. Maybe they should of bought the land and paid taxes on it . Or better just stay home and mind your own business

    • Yes sir Jeff,you are bigtime right.People just have to stick their nose right in where it don’t belong.You can bet yet last dollar,if these nosebags had someone jump into their bizz,the sheet would hut the fan.The good ol days are gone.I hope the farmers win out and sue some if those no-good trouble makers..

  8. It is a sad day when a land owner can not even cut his own trees…..interesting in Derby a couple of years ago the town wanted to widen a road…in order to do this they would have to remove a number of older maple trees that were part of a local farmers maple orchard – the land owner put up such a stink and hired a lawyer the town back off.

  9. Hoping all sides can learn about the challenges and impacts any decision regarding Mother earth has on us all so that the best decision is made.

    While I am sure it feels like overstepping bounds and it certainly must feel horrible to have someone tell you what you can do with your own property, we must realize we are indeed all connected.

    If there is a way to have the farmers get what they need without harming the environment that would be the best outcome. I suspect rules were put into place to help rather than hurt but “man” hasn’t been known for reaching across the aisle to help, they have been known for enforcing portions of the law under their jurisdiction.

    I am reminded of a quote I read long ago, “”Once I was in Victoria, and I saw a very large house. They told me it was a bank and that the white men place their money there to be taken care of, and that by and by they got it back with interest. We are Indians and we have no such bank; but when we have plenty of money or blankets, we give them away to other chiefs and people, and by and by they return them with interest, and our hearts feel good. Our way of giving is our bank.” – Chief Maquinna, Nootka”

    We need to allow for the enjoyment of all and a land that will be usable for the next generations.

    I hope these farming individuals are able to continue to provide for their families and I hope the neighbors can help find solutions that work for everyone and the lake will be strengthened byt our protection.

    • If the state wants to care for their paved road… I’d like them to buy the land underneath it and quit taxing me for their use. Why do my neighbors think they can move in and tell me what to do with my land? Furthermore, who gets to decide the “best use” of someone else’s land?

  10. Million dollar fine? I would call that excessive for damage done. After all it was a judgment call. Who gets the fine? All about the money.

    • How many trees in which town? Also, they should be paid for clearing poisonous plants – especially invasive plants!

  11. Maybe the complainers would have been happier if the Lowensteins sold the land to developers. And their view today was a bunch of condos.
    Get a hobby, stop paying attention to and dictating what others do on their own land.

    • I do not see why they cannot do what they want on their own land……. Why does the Government have to always have their head stuck up everyones butt? They have also explained why the did what they did…. not to hurt anything but to make it better to farm corn. whish could be what they need to do to live……. Leave them alone. They own this land not the Damn Government.’

  12. There was a day that it was admired to fully clean fields and pastures back to the walls and roads. A tradition that goes back to hand mowing and horse drawn equipment. Now we’re surrounded by FUJIGM’s who want to dictate the use of everyone else’s property to the detriment of that property. (all in the name of aesthetics?)

  13. This pisses me off to no end. Farmers are being targeted for no reason, more and more everyday! The people doing this have no clue how much we NEED farmers!! It’s getting to the point where you’ll have to ask your neighbors if it’s ok to mow your lawn!

  14. The U.S. EPA has come down hard on the State of Vermont for not doing more to prevent farm-based
    pollution of the lake. The onus for preventive action is on Local towns and the State of Vermont to do whatever it takes to meet federal requirements to prevent pollution of a lake that belongs to all tax payers.
    re: Dutch regulations – having lived in the Netherlands, regulations there were necessary to prevent gross pollution of the environment by industry and farmers – something that would benefit the entire society and the world.
    It is not a question of the right to cut trees – it is a question of what is necessary and responsible to minimize pollution of the adjacent lake.

    • Hear, hear — your last sentence sums this up perfectly, to me. It’s about taking responsibility for your impact on the lake’s water quality, because that impacts every single taxpayer in the state, not just your neighbors.

      • Then anyone owning property near any lake, pond, river, stream in VT should get a hefty property appraisal reduction since they no longer have full use and control of their own land, right? Farmers and non-farmers both. That would need to apply to any parcel of land affected by environmental laws like no run-off. This family bought a building and land to farm, then later are told they can’t cut the trees to clear the land to farm it. They are owed something back. Protecting the environment, with which I wholeheartedly agree, should not have the effect of intruding on the use or value property. The hidden costs of environmental protection, as in this example, should be passed along to all taxpayers in the town(s) and state. Yes, the farmers should have checked first, but the result would have been the same. No, you can’t cut your trees. A million dollar fine is ludicrous considering how valuable our remaining farms are in VT. Farmers are providing priceless value to VT not even considering crop value or food production.

    • Bull – trees or no trees, everything on a farm washes down hill and ends up in a lake somewhere.

  15. Mot Yellamo’s right on. Vermont elected the likes of Sanders and Leahy so what would you expect. Vermont is supposed to be the dairy state, and when a dairy farmer removes trees to improve his dairy output the world comes to an end. Interesting that a great deal is made of the fact that the farmer was not Vermont born and bread. I’ll bet dollars to donuts that if the land was clear cut to install a solar farm there would be all kinds of praises because that’s the Vermont way.

    • Your reading comprehension isn’t so good is it? The article is clearly in favor of the farmer. It doesn’t even present any details on why people are upset about what they have done. The family information provided was an attempt at a diss on VT and their stricter policies on farmers. I agree it was a weak attempt but you could at least try keeping things in the right context.

    • It may just end up a solar farm,take a look at Panton. The point of this whole mess is the permitting process that was circumvented. Only the right of way. That is the point.

  16. The article is very imbalanced and you can’t even get a feel for why the complaints were made. How is a reasonable person able to make an informed opinion about an issue like this with such imbalanced reporting? Perhaps Lou should think about going back to journalism school (if “back” is even the correct characterization?)

    I am a farmer and I would be pissed if the town said I couldn’t cut my trees on my own property. But I am a farmer who is also being subjected to rules and regulations that have been brought on as the result of Vermont’s huge dairy farms who are polluting the lake. Why should small farms be penalized because a few of the states large dairy farmers seem to care so little for the environment?

    I don’t understand why so many people fall back on a position of bipartisan politics and then just make disparaging comments about “liberals”. There are plenty of us who don’t agree with the far left liberal agenda and would like less government. But less government means people have to comport themselves with compassion, care for each other, our community and our land…when it’s every man for himself, we end up with government stepping in to ensure the safety of workers, minorities, disenfranchised peoples and our environment so we don’t have more “silent springs”. I can’t understand why people who hate government so much have no trouble accepting government handouts. The dairy industry receives substantial welfare from the state and federal government in the form of subsidies, low interest loans, tax breaks for everything from the purchase of machinery & equipment, farm supplies as well as worker’s comp, unemployment insurance and income taxes. That is the GOVERNMENT AT WORK! It feels like a very hypocritical point of view if you ask me to attack the government and yet accept all the tax breaks afforded by the rule of law.

    • Very well said, this is about the right of way violation and circumventing the permitting process, which was done .The Vorsteveldes happen to be dairy farmers that is all that it has to do with dairy farms.The law stands for all landowners.It is common knowledge that if you need to put in a driveway any town in Vermont you need to go through the permitting process.

      • Every person who works ,no matter the place should be proud of being a productive part of society. Go Julia

    • I would too. Maybe thats why he is such a prick. Many people with these ‘made-up’ ridiculous government jobs, that do nothing but waste taxpayer money, feel they have to be a prick – it makes them feel more important than they actually are

  17. State law mentions abutting landowner, the article did not state if this is the families land or perhaps leased land from other landowner. It is a fact that most of the town roads are a ROW – right of way. If the land on both side are owned by the same landowner the landowner own the entire road and a ROW for passage and to maintain has been granted to the town. The landowner continues to pay the taxes on the land under the road. If two different property owners own land on apposing sides, then the property line is in the center and both parties pay taxes under the road. The case should be dismissed.

    • They own both sides of the road. That’s land they bought from the previous farmer, Lowenstein.

      • Lowenstien was not a farmer – rather a farm owner. I believe he was an extremely successful NYC lawyer. Vorsteveld Farm Llp has received $619,000 of tax payer subsidy between 1994 and 2014 (more since 2014), to prop up and sustain their business source – https://farm.ewg.org/persondetail.php?custnumber=A10932493. They received a significant additional subsidy last year for the largest solar project in VT on their land – hundreds of thousands of $ over 20 years. They could have easily checked with the town regarding cutting within the ROW. Of note, they are NOT taxed for the land within the ROW – they are taxed on the land to the edge of the 3-rod ROW. As noted above, one cannot bitch about being fined for not following the government laws, and at the same time using government money to become multi-millionaires. They messed up, pay the fine.

        • Wow. What on earth made you such a bitter person? What does these “supposed” subsidies have to do with this? Are you angry, because you feel that someone has gotten “better” treatment than you? Why would they check with the town, for cutting trees on their own land? Think about what you are writing. Think about why you are so angry. Do you live in Panton or Ferrisburgh? Are you happy with your property taxes? What would those taxes be if the Panton/Ferrisburgh farmers disappeared? Pay a million dollars, because they cut trees on their own land? JameS, look in the mirror. Where’s the anger coming from?

          • Did you not read comments in article? Main actor clearly compares town enforcement as being “like Russia” – assuming he is referring to a communist system, where govt. controls all business (and funds those businesses). All these mega farms in VT (and elsewhere) are heavily subsidized by the govt/tax payers money, so it is hard to litsten to a family made fabously wealthy by many govt. subsidized programs offered here b— about government enforcement of existing rules. BTW, this farm is also enrolled in Current Use program, and pay a significant less amount in tax rate than individual home owners – tax revenue from houses on own lots provide most of the towns funding. Tax payers also fund the large nature pit construction and implementation and other Best Practices, as well as provide low rate loans for land purchase, and many other programs. So much govt. free money, hard to listen to complaining when govt enforces a rule you don’t agree with.

  18. A “Tree Warden” ? This sounds like something the Sierra Club and like minded nuts thought up.
    I had to get rid of some trees on my property last year and they are in a big pile that I am getting ready to burn. I do call and get a burn permit which cost nothing.
    I will pray for the Vorsteveld family that justice will be done.

    • By your own admission they prob should have checked if they needed permits prior to doing this and then there wouldn’t be a problem. Is it the Vermont way to act first and think second?

  19. Just Maybe, the town of Ferrisburg should remember, NO FARMS, NO FOOD!!! Maybe also , the Vorstevelds should convert to a Hog Farm or some other odious enterprise.

  20. “A government big enough to give you everything you want is a government big enough to take away everything that you have.”.
    Here is a picture of the tyranny that can come out of socialism. The ones who feel it first, feel it hardest. I am sorry that the Vorsteveld family has to be submitted to this harassment.

  21. When Government becomes too big & a few Liberal idiots dictate what people can do with their own land…it’s time to step back. “Tree Warden”?? This sounds like the most ridiculous, as well as useless, job title in the world. What possessed Ferrisburgh to come up with this s—.
    The Vorsteveld family (I’m sure) is no stranger to land management. In the Netherlands EVERY inch of land is precious to succeed in farming and EVERY Penny is hard earned.
    Back off Ferrisburgh. There are less than 800 working farms left in Vermont so let’s NOT decrease that number!

    • Every town has a tree warden. It is an elected position required by statute but is basically just a title. Most of these types of elected offices are not active but still must be filled

      • In my town, the position is called Surveyor of Wood, Bark, and Lumber. Been an elected town position way back into town history.

  22. Why do we continue to let the Vorstevelds destroy the lake with their corn fields. They clear-cut the entire headgerow for $1000 more corn yield RIGHT next to the lake. These Dutch idiots need to go back to destroying the Netherlands and quit farming. They are a horrible example of dairy mismanagement and “land abuse”. When I saw what they did I was appalled and I am 5th generation Dairy Farmer in Addison County. This article is very biased.

    • It’s private property. So unless the usa has suddenly become a dictatorship your an idiot.

      • You can’t do whatever you want just because it’s your property. Try building a new house without getting a permit and see what happens and then come back and tell us who the idiot is. Just because you don’t like the laws doesn’t mean you should just ignore them.

    • Farmer Jed and the complaining neighbors should go back to Mass. The democrats need to leave the Vorstevelds alone. The Vorstevelds should charge the town for road and drainage improvement. We should be grateful for the Vorstevelds generosity, their ability to work the land and produce dairy products for the nation. Thank god for the Vorstevelds. We need more people like the Vorstevelds. At a time when the nations of Europe are fending off the Muslim invasion. The people of Vermont should be thanking god we have good people like the Vorstevelds that love this country. They have assimilated and worked the land for 5 generations. The Vorstevelds pay more taxes than the neighbors. They take nothing from the town. The low life language comes from the dirty mouths of the Democrats.Continue this and your neighbors will be Muslim. If you are a Muslim, you will abide by the American constitution and the law of the land. Should you break this law you will be tried and convicted as a criminal. Sharia Law will never be law in America. A practicing Muslim is unfit to be an American citizen. A good practicing Muslim knows the Koran, Sharia Law and the Hadith all require complete submission to Islam, which is antithetical to the US government, the Constitution, and the Republic. All Muslims who attest that the Koran is their life’s guiding principal subscribe to submission to Islam and its form of government and no other. The freedom of speech should allow the truth to come out as an education for the American people to see and hopefully understand the Muslim threat to the American people and the American core beliefs..Think twice before inviting a Muslim into your heart and the community. The Muslim agenda is to push the Sharia Law on the American people and make demands that allow only the Muslims to be above the American law. This is part of the Muslim creed. Be thank full we have the Vorstevelds.

      • And you sir are a dimwitted bigot pulling out the false equivalency flag and waving it madly because that’s all you’ve got to offer.

      • I agree with you eagle nest leave them alone farmers are our food source you would think that people would be happy on improves to the land must be ferrisburgh needs more money that why there going after this hard working farm family

      • You sound insane. What do muslims have to do with a dairy farm bitching because they failed to follow the law and get permission before cutting trees in the town right of way? You truly sound like a raving lunatic. If you were on a video with a black mask right now, I wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between you and those monsters who kill people in the name of Sharia law. You forget sir, that there are plenty of muslims who DO NOT agree with radical Islam. Just like there are many of us Christians who don’t believe in the racist, bigoted, homophobic, misogynistic rants of so called Christians in this country. As a Christian, it saddens me that Christian values have come to = hate in this country.

    • Thank you. The story manages to miss the salient points of their environmental degradation that effects everyone.

      Their entire operation is a lesson in how Not to farm in Vermont.

    • You, Mr. Farmer Jed, are obviously uneducated on the process of true farming! And to call them names does not help your credibility one bit! You may be the 5th generation but not the most intelligent! I think you need to research how farming in the Netherlands is done. Maybe you could learn a few things and make your farm and your farming techniques better!! If any country knows about water and land management, it is the DUTCH! Do your research before you make such idiotic and degrading comments! Regarding this issue with the Vorstevelds, I think this is shameful on the part of Vermont. Private Property and proper land management.. the state has no case!! If the state wins, then we have all lost!! Beginning to really wonder why I live here. Might just have to go back to the Netherlands (yes I am one of those ‘dutch’ people that take land and water management (and the law) very seriously!) ….won’t that make you happy Mr. Farmer Jed.

      • Right On Sis. “Farmer Jed” is clueless (& probably owns a very mismanaged farm)

    • Farmer Jed – I became disinterested in hearing your side when I got to the words “Dutch idiots.”

    • Well farmer Jed, you sound like a really nice non-opinionated neighbor. As a Fourth Generation farmer from Franklin County Vt. I am glad you live down wind of me so I do not have to smell your prejudice. You may feel different about pollution when the state rolls out their manure test that can track your manure in the lake back to the exact cow that produced it and brings the EPA with them for your very own Million Dollar fine. Have a very nice week and keep your eyes out; for they are coming to see you.

  23. After numerous visits to the court room & over 60k$ in lawyers fees, I’ve come to realize the laws & regs are written to encourage not just your neighbors, but with the “interested party” statue, any Vermonter passing by to complain about what YOU are doing on YOUR land… this controlling type of government that discourages disturbing your land, BUT encourages large scale solar farms on prime agricultural lands and ignores complaints in regards to them is a hypocritical farce.. This is what you get with a liberal mentality running your state..

  24. Can you say political bull. If your not a farmer stay out of it. Work your fingers to the bone and then ridiculed doing so. Government has there hand in every cookie jar out there. Their control is not needed or warranted.

    • Then say no to all the gov’t handouts that you as a farmer receive. (I am a farmer by the way).

      • Then farmers should be paid MORE for their product..not the peanuts they now receive! then they would not have to receive subsides. Do you even know what a tractor costs? That alone is probably more than you earn in two years!!! Think before you comment!

        • As a matter of fact I do know what a tractor costs. I happen to own two. And yes, I agree 100% that people need to pay what food truly costs to produce. The subsidies and controlled milk prices have created a false pricing structure. I don’t know if you are saying that the gov’t should pay farmers more for their milk? Perhaps the Gov’t should stay out of it and let the prices balance themselves. But I am betting that dairy farmers want the Gov’t involved because otherwise they’d have to deal with the fluctuations in the prices that are brought on by supply and demand. I produce meat and plenty of people complain about the cost. That is because I don’t receive a single subsidy and I raise my animals sustainable and humanely. I benefit from certain tax breaks as I’ve noted elsewhere in this thread, but the cost to put a steak on someone’s plate when the animals are being raised humanely and sustainabley is much more than what it costs agro industrial farmers to raise meat animals on feed lots feeding them corn that is loaded with GMO’s and grown with subsidies from the federal gov’t. Follow the money. The people who truly benefit are the machinery & equipment manufacturers, chemical fertilizer manufacturers, big pharma, Monsanto and their ilk, and the seed manufacturers. The whole ag economy is about the rich corporations keeping their Gov’t subsidied welfare going and profiting off the backs of hard working farmers. The Gov’t is complicit in this through all the lobbying and big money that our corrupt politicians receive to pass laws which continue and expand corporate welfare. THIS NEEDS TO STOP. It doesn’t help anyone, least of all the farmers whose lands are being destroy by chemicals, mono-cropping/soil erosion, and seed patents and whose profits are sucked up by debt owed to these corporate pigs who suckle at the gov’t teat.

          • I stand corrected about your knowledge on the cost of equipment. Thank for you for clarifying. I agree about big corporations making it difficult all the way around for farming. No the Government should not be involved in regulating the costs paid to farmers but unfortunately, this is how it is.. what can be done to change it? That is the key question! But everyone knows it has to change! Kudos to you for raising your cattle humanely and sustainably. GMOs should be banned and I have supported this for a long time. Monsanto for one needs to be stopped world wide!! But it begins now with the people and how much they want to get involved! I would hope that the Vorsetvelds do take erosion into consideration and that there is a plan for taking down the invasive trees such as sumac etc. I have no doubts that the Vorstevelds know what they are doing and take all the issues with removal and replanting to achieve a better land use while avoiding negative effects on the lake in question. I do hope the end result of this case is not that hefty fine but to work with farmers all across Vermont to have a resolution to costs and doing business in the USA. We are losing too many farmers with how it is now. They just can’t survive.

  25. What its about is a bunch of rich yuppies in Ferrisburgh, who think they can dictate what you do with your own property. We had the same type thing happen in Cornwall, when a rich b— decided we couldn’t trim back trees and brush on OUR SIDE of a hedge row that was scratching our tractors. To make matters worse….town officials always seem to kiss these flatlanders asses….disgusting!!!

  26. Help me understand – you own your property you pay taxes and you cannot maintain or improve your property with out being fined (Why)? Gestapo tactics. Tree Warden!! True North was unable to reach Town Clerk Gloria Warden, Town Counsel James Carroll, Tree Warden Clifton Mix in time for publication. Did you think you were going to !! Maybe they should help pay the taxes on the farm.

    • Can you build whatever you want on your own property without getting permits? Do you have any idea how any of this works or are you just blathering angry nonsense?

      • I am well aware of the law. You cannot do ‘whatever you want’ on your property ( smelt lead ore / burn garbage / use pesticides /store toxic-hazardous materials without proper control to prevent collateral exposure and or pollution). 25 years experience as an investigator in the area of environmental and occupational medicine – visited thousands of sites around the world – has given me some insight into what constitutes responsible action (nice legal term) in preventing exposure /pollution.

          • Nature does have a way to reclaim. Trees will grow back.
            This is a simple fact here which most have overlooked. The tract of land in question belongs to the farm, correct? Do the words “Right of Way” mean anything? Hey folks wake up…a “Right of Way” does not infer ownership, it ONLY means usage. This means that the land owner still needs to pay taxes and maintain that property but it can also be used or taken by the Right of Way holder, if needed.

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