About Us

VAAFM facilitates, supports and encourages the growth and viability of agriculture in Vermont while protecting the working landscape, human health, animal health, plant health, consumers and the environment.

The VAAFM is organized into four divisions:

  • The Division of Administration oversees and coordinates agency policy and promotes interests of consumers and producers.
  • The Division of Agricultural Development provides a role in developing local, regional, national and global markets for Vermont's agricultural products.
  • The Division of Agricultural Resource Management (ARM) regulates pesticides, feed, seed and fertilizers. The division administers Vermont's agricultural water quality programs and enforcement of environmental and safety laws.
  • The Division of Food Safety and Consumer Protection is organized into the following sections providing oversight in the areas of: livestock heath, consumer safety and protection, dairy inspection, and meat inspection.

Agency Leadership

Secretary, Chuck Ross

Chuck Ross was appointed as the Secretary of the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food, and Markets by Governor Peter Shumlin and took office in January of 2011.  Prior to his current role as Secretary, he served as U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy’s State Director for 16 years. Before joining Leahy’s staff, Ross was a farmer and legislator from Hinesburg, Vermont.

During his six years in the Vermont State Legislature, Ross served as Chair of the House Natural Resource and Energy Committee. He has served on the Board of Directors at Shelburne Farms; on the Advisory Board of the Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources at the University of Vermont; as an advisory member of the Vermont Council on Rural Development; and as Vermont’s National Democratic Committeeman. Ross formerly served as a trustee at Fletcher Allen Health Care; a trustee at the University of Vermont; a member of the Hinesburg Planning Commission; and a member of the Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission.

Born in Burlington, Vermont, he graduated from the University of Vermont with a B.A. in Geography in 1978 and from the University of Washington with an M.A. in Geography in 1982. He resides in Hinesburg.

Deputy Secretary, Jolinda LaClair

Jolinda serves as Deputy Secretary for Administration for the Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets. Previously, she was State Director of USDA Rural Development (RD) for Vermont and New Hampshire. She directed over 40 community and economic development programs aimed at rural development including agriculture.

Jolinda currently serves on the boards of Vermont Works for Women, and the VT Agriculture Innovation Center.  She is past Chair of the Board of Directors for the Vermont Council on Rural Development, and served as a board member for the Vermont Community Foundation, Housing Vermont, as well as a member of a regional initiative to create a four-state economic development strategy for the Northern Forest region. She is a former State Advisor for the University of Vermont Extension.

Jolinda has a B.A. in Sociology from the University of Vermont. She resides in Middlesex.

 

Deputy Secretary, Diane Bothfeld

Diane serves as Deputy Secretary for Dairy Policy, Director of Administrative Services and Agricultural Development for the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets. Diane was raised on a dairy farm in Cabot, Vermont, and has not strayed from her dairy roots throughout her career.

Diane got her professional start as an assistant professor with the University of Vermont Extension system. From there, she joined the management team of the St. Albans Cooperative Creamery, Inc., as the Cooperative Relations Manager.

After 10 years of dairy advocacy at St. Albans Co-op, Diane took a leadership position at the Vermont Agency of Agriculture that allows her to continue her work on behalf of dairy farmers and the dairy industry. Diane’s leadership has been instrumental in establishing an effective Vermont Dairy Task Force, involvement in the Northeast Dairy Leadership Team and as liaison to the Vermont Cheese Council.

Diane graduated from the University of Vermont with a Masters Degree in Ruminant Nutrition. She resides in Burlington.