Ah, Vermont–“The Anything Goes State”. I know it used to be known as “The Green Mountain State”, but its new moniker is much more appropriate. I saw this article a couple of weeks ago in The Wall Street Journal and forgot to comment. Apparently, according to the Journal, dairy farmers in Vermont are being offered $135 an acre if they will harvest their hay before June 2 or after July 17 in order to allow birds that nest in hay fields, like meadow larks and bob-o-links, an opportunity to build nests and hatch and raise their young undisturbed by haybines and balers.
I wish I were making this up, but I’m not. I grew up on the other side of Lake Champlain from Vermont on a dairy farm. Hay for dairy cattle has little nutritional value before June 2 or after July 17. In order for a farmer to maximize dairy production through the use of high quality feed, they must harvest their hay between June 15 and July 10, clearly within the dates set forth by the Vermont legislature. I truly fail to see the logic.
First, I could be wrong, but I don’t think that meadow larks and bob-o-links are on the endangered species list. Second, a cost-benefit analysis would suggest that the lost opportunity cost of lower milk production is not offset by the legislative generosity. Finally, why is it that the same people that are concerned with the reproductive lives of birds are the first to terminate an unwanted human pregnancy? Animals are more important than people? Yikes!