Jim Jeffords

Jacques Rainville farmed in Highgate Center but low milk prices forced him out of business.
John Dillon / VPR

While Vermont dairy farmers are experiencing some of the hardest times in recent memory, their counterparts in Quebec are thriving. The reason is a complex system that regulates the supply of milk  and sets the price farmers receive.

Toby Talbot / AP File Photo

Fifteen years ago today, a senator from Vermont triggered a political earthquake. Sen. Jim Jeffords declared his independence from the Republican party on May 24, 2001.

Toby Talbot / AP

The election in November 2000 put President George W. Bush in the White House, but it also created a peculiar set of circumstances in the U.S. Senate: it was the first time since 1881 that the Senate was evenly split between two parties. And then, on May 24, 2001, Vermont Sen. Jim Jeffords changed everything.

Nina Keck / VPR

Hundreds gathered at Rutland’s Grace Congregational Church today to say goodbye to Jim Jeffords, who died Monday at age 80.

Vermont’s Congressional delegation stood alongside family, friends and neighbors to celebrate Jeffords' political contributions, his military service and what nearly all described an extraordinary life of service.

Jeffords' flag draped coffin stood just in front of the altar surrounded by flowers and the voices of the Grace Church choir.

Toby Talbot / AP

Jim Jeffords was a GOP stalwart in Vermont, serving seven terms as a Republican in the House before moving to the Senate. Jeffords made headlines in 2001 when he renounced his Republican Party affiliation and became an Independent, caucusing with the Democrats. His decision shifted the balance of power in the Senate and made him a target of national devotion and disdain.

Toby Talbot / AP

Following the Monday morning death of former Vermont U.S. Senator Jim Jeffords, VPR dug into its archives for recordings of the pivotal moments in Jeffords' career – including his bombshell 2001 announcement that he would leave the Republican party.

We also dusted off the tape of Jeffords' announcement, in 2005, that he would retire from the Senate, re-digitized The Jeffords Effect, a five-part series we created in 2002, and collected photographs of Jeffords' time in Washington and Vermont.

Toby Talbot / AP File Photo

Former Vermont Senator Jim Jeffords has died. A lifelong moderate Republican, Jeffords earned national fame in May 2001 when he abandoned his party and became an independent, single-handedly shifting the balance of power in the Senate.