Vermont’s New Lieutenant Governor is an Organic Vegetable Grower

David Zuckerman and his wife run Full Moon Farm, which has been in operation since 1999.

David Zuckerman first ran for office while he was still a student in 1994, losing by 59 votes. Two years later, while working on an organic farm and a few years before starting his own, he ran again for the Vermont House, this time winning. He served in the House until 2011. In 2012, he ran for the State Senate and held that seat until last year, when he ran and won the position of Lieutenant Governor. In both the House and Senate, he served on the Agriculture Committee, serving as Chairman in the House.

Owning a farm can be all consuming. So can being a politician. We asked Zuckerman why in the world he chose to pursue both. Here’s what he had to say:

“I just really enjoy the act of producing food, of juggling a lot of different crops. It was while I was in school that I got inspired by this guy named Bernie Sanders back in 1992 — maybe you’ve heard of him now? His incredible passion for justice and focus on issues versus the sort of high school nit pickiness of party politics, both were very inspirational for me. I felt issues are so much more important than the gutter ball that seems to go on between parties. The importance of parties over issues for some people is very frustrating.

“So seeing you could serve without being that kind of politician, that inspired me,” he says.

How He Manages Two Careers

When asked about juggling the two careers, Zuckerman pointed out the Vermont legislature is a seasonal job, from January through late April or early or mid May. It’s common in Vermont for members to hold other jobs.

“Where it started to more difficult for me was 10 or 12 years in, as my political clout grew, which also meant more issues and more responsibility and more people looking to me to help lead on different things,” Zuckerman says.

These higher demands coincided with the farm expanding.

“That’s when I really began hitting some of the challenges of the juggle. But I still love them both.”

Politics and Farming Have a Lot in Common

Farming and politics have a surprising number of parallels, Zuckerman points out. In politics, you plant ideas like seeds, which need patience to grow.
“Not everyone is ready to accept it, and you don’t usually introduce an idea and have it come to fruition at the snap of a finger. It takes time,” he says.
Another parallel is how quickly all your hard work can be upended.

“Either one can be completely disrupted, whether it be from a massive storm that destroys your plants about two weeks before you’re ready to harvest it, or whether there’s a some type of terrorist attack, or something outside of politics goes poorly, or a new idea gets tainted by some old action somebody else does.

“So you can have a lot of solid work destroyed. But you can also have a lot of hard work be rewarded over the long haul. Some bills I introduced took 10, 12 years to come to fruition,” Zuckerman says.

“So I think working with the land, and having the patience for how long it takes, and how much work it takes to succeed in producing a product is a really strong experience parallel and benefitting my political work.”

Zuckerman’s Views on FSMA and Other Hot Issues

Zuckerman has a unique perspective on issues like food safety, being both a grower affected by them, and a politician shaping laws.

“When it then comes to things like FSMA, or some of these laws around food safety, I probably have a little broader perspective of where the general public is coming from,” Zuckerman says. “Or I’m more used to that push happening, even if I don’t think it is right, and because I have a larger political voice, I can also push back a little more than the average farmer.”

But, he says, growers have a stronger, more respected voice than they realize.

“Their collective farmer voice, whether it be on the Farm Bureau kind of scale, or whether it’s in the more grassroots scale, farmers and their perspectives are pretty highly respected and valued by the general society. I mean, farmers and doctors — for very different reasons — tend to have pretty high level of respect from the community.”

But like all growers, he’s worried about the direction farm-related laws are heading.

“I do have a hard time, because I think that as more of the consuming public gets farther from the farm, the more we’re going to see these constrictive agriculture laws that push us toward a more industrial and sterile food environment. Which I don’t think is good for the land or the farmer. Or the consumer.”

Watch for a full profile of Zuckerman, Nevitt, and their farm Full Moon Farm, later this month.

Topics: ,

Leave a Reply

Vegetables Stories
Agritainment
Citrus
August 15, 2017
New Conference to Shine Spotlight on Central Florida Agritourism
Education and interaction part of UF/IFAS-led agenda. Read More
Crop Protection
August 11, 2017
Do Fungicide- and Insecticide-Treated Seeds Boost Weeds?
The University of New Hampshire has received half a million dollars to investigate if seed treatments inadvertently protect weed seeds from its usual predators. Read More
Citrus
August 11, 2017
Field Scouting Guide: Common Lambsquarters
Take a look at these tips for identifying and treating this pervasive weed. Read More
Farm Management
August 11, 2017
Vegetable Growers’ Food Safety Vigilance Is Paying Off (Opinion)
When you hear about recalls, the horror stories come to mind first. That’s understandable, considering the human cost involved with Read More
tomato juice glass and tomatoes
Tomatoes
August 10, 2017
Getting to the Bottom of Better-Tasting Tomato Juice
Examining the essence of the problem, University of Florida scientists are seeking to squeeze more flavor into popular beverage. Read More
Farm Management
August 10, 2017
Climate Change Drives New Healthy Soils Program
California offers farmers grants to improve soil health; new program is funded by cap-and-trade auction revenue. Read More
Jose Dubeux and Mack Glass talk farming in a Florida forage field
Citrus
August 9, 2017
Florida Farming and University Extension Grow Hand in Hand [Opinion]
Learning is a two-way street to success in the field and the lab. Read More
Vegetables
August 9, 2017
Want to Tour Vegetable Field Trials in California? Here’s What You Need to Know
If you want to pack in a lot of vegetable trials in a short time, head to California. With the Read More
Production
August 9, 2017
Greenhouse Vegetable Production Systems for Every Grower
From fully automated deepwater culture to vertical growing systems, growers and manufacturers weigh in on tools for producing top-quality vegetables and greens. Read More
Crop Protection
August 9, 2017
Why Some of the Most Dangerous Potato Diseases are Successful
If you understand the role oxygen, and its lack, plays in potato diseases, you'll be better equipped to battle them. Read More
Citrus
August 9, 2017
Traceability Products to Help You Track Produce
One way to ease the process of a food safety recall is by having detailed records of where each crop has been and who has touched it. Look over these traceability products using the latest technology to help you stay on top of your records. Read More
Flooded farm field in Florida
Citrus
August 8, 2017
Drought-Busted Sunshine State Still on the Dry Side
Despite prolific periods of precipitation, parts of Florida remain under water shortage warning order. Read More
Fruits
August 7, 2017
Inaugural Organic Grower Summit Attendee Registration Now Open
Only 22 booths remain for exhibitors at the trade show, which is scheduled for Dec. 13 and 14 in Monterey, CA. Read More
Citrus
August 7, 2017
New Funding Available for Agricultural Technology
USDA announces $400,000 to support ag science entrepreneurs. Read More
Fruits
August 6, 2017
Western Growers Supports U.S. Appeals Court’s Chlorpyrifos Decision
Organization says original decision was based on sound science and applicable regulatory procedures. Read More
The Latest
Citrus
August 19, 2017
More Grants Distributed in Honor of Nati…
National forage program is scattering seeds from New York to California to celebrate pollinators. Read More
Citrus
August 17, 2017
How Wicked Will Winter 2018 Be in the U.…
The 200th edition of the Farmers’ Almanac reveals wide-ranging weather patterns and events that would require everything from shovels to shorts. Read More
More Vegetables
August 16, 2017
Variety Specs | Production Tips: Broccol…
'Eastern Crown' is an outstanding variety for the East Coast and warm regions throughout the U.S. Read More
Citrus
August 15, 2017
New Conference to Shine Spotlight on Cen…
Education and interaction part of UF/IFAS-led agenda. Read More
Crop Protection
August 11, 2017
Do Fungicide- and Insecticide-Treated Se…
The University of New Hampshire has received half a million dollars to investigate if seed treatments inadvertently protect weed seeds from its usual predators. Read More
Citrus
August 11, 2017
Field Scouting Guide: Common Lambsquarte…
Take a look at these tips for identifying and treating this pervasive weed. Read More
Farm Management
August 11, 2017
Vegetable Growers’ Food Safety Vigilance…
When you hear about recalls, the horror stories come to mind first. That’s understandable, considering the human cost involved with Read More
Farm Management
August 10, 2017
Climate Change Drives New Healthy Soils …
California offers farmers grants to improve soil health; new program is funded by cap-and-trade auction revenue. Read More
Citrus
August 9, 2017
Florida Farming and University Extension…
Learning is a two-way street to success in the field and the lab. Read More
Vegetables
August 9, 2017
Want to Tour Vegetable Field Trials in C…
If you want to pack in a lot of vegetable trials in a short time, head to California. With the Read More
Production
August 9, 2017
Greenhouse Vegetable Production Systems …
From fully automated deepwater culture to vertical growing systems, growers and manufacturers weigh in on tools for producing top-quality vegetables and greens. Read More
Crop Protection
August 9, 2017
Why Some of the Most Dangerous Potato Di…
If you understand the role oxygen, and its lack, plays in potato diseases, you'll be better equipped to battle them. Read More
Citrus
August 9, 2017
Traceability Products to Help You Track …
One way to ease the process of a food safety recall is by having detailed records of where each crop has been and who has touched it. Look over these traceability products using the latest technology to help you stay on top of your records. Read More
Citrus
August 8, 2017
Drought-Busted Sunshine State Still on t…
Despite prolific periods of precipitation, parts of Florida remain under water shortage warning order. Read More
Fruits
August 7, 2017
Inaugural Organic Grower Summit Attendee…
Only 22 booths remain for exhibitors at the trade show, which is scheduled for Dec. 13 and 14 in Monterey, CA. Read More
Citrus
August 7, 2017
New Funding Available for Agricultural T…
USDA announces $400,000 to support ag science entrepreneurs. Read More
Fruits
August 6, 2017
Western Growers Supports U.S. Appeals Co…
Organization says original decision was based on sound science and applicable regulatory procedures. Read More
Citrus
August 2, 2017
Recalls Happen. Here’s What You Ca…
Follow this 10-Step plan to protect the public — and your farm. As a bonus, see how Duda Farms runs its mock recalls. Read More