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To The Editor:
It's with great appreciation that I write this. The recent documentary Hill Farming in the Mad River Valley: Past, Present and Future was a winner, especially for those of us who grew up in farm country, and I thank Big Picture Theater and the many local people who made it possible. (I've never seen the theater so packed!) It was also a reminder to many of us of what can be lost.
I grew up in New York's Hudson Valley in northern Dutchess County, about 50 miles south of Albany, known for its dairy farms. Though we had a chicken farm, we always had cows as "neighbors." However, since we were about 100 miles north of New York City and in beautiful mountain country, over time things began to change.
After college, living and working in Europe, working in NYC and teaching, I joined classmates (and still do) at our annual get-togethers. After all that, however, I couldn't face going by the farm which was on a then-busy state highway. Finally I did, and as expected, I was devastated. Our fields and neighboring pastures were more like suburbia and several wonderful local stores were replaced by chain stores.
One of Vermont's saviors is our Current Use, in which 25 acres or more can be kept in their natural state, with tax breaks which make it desirable. What worries me, however, is the possibility of owners' ability, over time, to sell it off in parcels which have tremendously increased in value for those who wish to live in such beautiful countryside. I understand that there's a bill in the works to strengthen the penalty for pulling property out of Current Use, H.329. I so hope that it'll pass and help to keep what was so beautifully portrayed in the film.
Judy Larson DiMario