Native Vermonter, CALS Grad is Voice for Vermont Farming
In just a decade, Diane Bothfeld Worked Her Way to Deputy Secretary of Agriculture
- By Cheryl Dorschner
Diane Bothfeld was raised on a dairy farm in Cabot and has not strayed far from the barn. She lives and works in Montpelier.
However, today, she communicates agricultural policy with, and on behalf of, the highest level of state government.
“She also advocates for the Vermont agricultural community and well represents the University of Vermont and its College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) as a member of several boards and committees and an active alumnus,” said Tom Vogelmann, CALS dean in presenting her with a 2011 Outstanding Alumnus Award on May 14. She was one of three Outstanding Alumni Award winners during the College’s annual alumni awards dinner at UVM’s Davis Center. Others were Dakin Farm founder and maple industry leader Sam Cutting III and plant propagation expert and professor Frank Blazich. Four others received alumni awards at the event.
After earning her UVM bachelor’s and master’s degrees in animal science in 1987 and 1990, she worked with UVM Extension’s sustainable agriculture programs. In 1995, she left to join the St Albans Cooperative Creamery, where she managed membership, public relations and on-farm quality assurance. She led its Young Cooperator youth dairy leadership program.
Her boss there, General Manager Leo Berthiaume called Bothfeld “a voice for all Vermont Agriculture.”
After a decade in this role, she was tapped by the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, first as dairy policy administrator and now as a deputy secretary. In her fifth year, she collaborates on policy, leads multi-state initiatives and manages a $15 million budget. She led the formation of an effective Vermont Dairy Task Force, is a champion of the Keep Local Farms program, served on the Vermont Dairy Industry Association board, is a former president of the Vermont Campaign to End Childhood Hunger.
Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin sent a letter read during the ceremony that remarked that Bothfeld, “demonstrated a tremendous commitment to the dairy industry and a strong awareness of its role in Vermont’s economy. Your vision and commitment make a real difference to Vermont’s agriculture and dairy industry.”
Bothfeld continues to serve CALS as an advisor to its Dairy Center of Excellence, collaborates in the promotion of local, “place-based” foods. With Keep Local Farms, she engaged UVM and other New England college students to raise funds for farmers through on-campus milk purchases. And her work with CALS community development and applied economics research on consumer perception of Vermont’s seal of quality, resulted in temporary suspension of the use of the seal due to lack of standards.
It bodes well that as a graduate student, Bothfeld served on the search committee that brought John Bramley to UVM as an animal science professor.
John returned the favor when he said that, “her well known and respected farm family gave her “farm cred” starting out, but Diane earned every bit of the astronomically high regard in which she is held through her own abilities and efforts.”
Her expertise has grown from dairying and forages to dairy foods, processing marketing, policy, politics and regulations. John Bramley added, “seemingly calm and unflappable, Diane is respected, courteous and a great organizer who pays attention to detail. She is straightforward and of the highest personal integrity, and she has unbridled passion for Vermont’s land, farm communities and well being.”