Blog

June 14, 2017

Be alert. Be patient. Be kind. 
 
That’s the message state officials are sending to Vermont drivers this season, as farmers return to the roads with tractors and heavy equipment.
 
The Agencies of Agriculture, Transportation, and Department of Public Safety have teamed up to create a new public safety message that reminds Vermonters to take extra care on the roads. They are sharing the PSA with Vermonters on social media, in an effort to build awareness for rural road safety.   
 
“Farmers are working hard to grow our economy, and keep Vermont beautiful,” according to Anson Tebbetts, Vermont’s Secretary of Agriculture. “Sometimes they need a little extra patience and care from fellow drivers – let’s give it to them.”
 
“Living in Vermont means living among our beautiful farms. Farmers are our neighbors, friends and co-workers,” added Tom Anderson, Commissioner of Public Safety. “We’re asking all motorists to put safety first. Slow down, be patient and courteous, and enjoy the scenery.”
 
Ryan Carabeau is a farmer from Richmond who worked with the state to produce the PSA. He says he understands drivers can feel frustrated and confused when they encounter tractors on the road. He hopes the PSA will serve as a reminder to Vermont motorists to be careful.
 
“I’ve had a few close calls over the years with impatient and distracted drivers,” he says. “It can be scary.”
 
“Attention, patience, and kindness are key to living and driving in rural communities,” says Tebbetts. 
 
Here are some specific actions motorists should take when they approach a tractor on the road: 
 
1) Slow down
The first thing you should do is slow down. Remember, the top speed for most tractors is 20mph. Slow down and give yourself the time and space to assess the situation.
 
2) Pay close attention
You should always give the road 100% of your attention – especially when approaching farm equipment.
 
3) Don’t get too close
Give the farmer some space. Do not tailgate – it causes stress and distraction.
 
4) Don’t pass until it is safe
Wait for a safe opportunity to pass. When it’s all clear, it’s OK to pass a tractor, as long as you do so safely!
 
5) Be alert for turns
Looks for turn indicators, like hand signals and blinkers from the drivers. Farm machinery makes wide turns. Sometimes tractors will turn directly into fields - no driveway needed. Be especially alert for left hand turns.  The left-turn collision is the most common type of farm machinery collision on public roads. It happens when the farm vehicle is about to make a left turn; meanwhile, the motorist behind the farm vehicle decides to pass.
 
 
 
June 1, 2017

In response to forty-seven separate price scanner violations, the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food, and Markers has issued more than $210,000 in penalties to Vermont Dollar General stores since 2013, including $24,000 in penalties this year. Agency inspectors have observed repeated pricing inaccuracies which could shortchange consumers, such as discrepancies between the posted shelf price and the price charged at the register.

By enforcing weights and measures standards at retail stores, the Agency’s Consumer Protection Section works to make sure Vermonters get what they pay for. Inspectors are on the look-out for faulty price scanners and inaccurate scales – errors that cost shoppers money. For the first violation, the Agency issues an official notice. The store must send back a corrective action report detailing how it will correct the problem. If there are continued problems, the Agency may issue administrative penalties and take other action, including referral to the Vermont Attorney General’s Office.

“The Agency of Agriculture has levied increasing monetary penalties against Dollar General over the past four years,” said Dr. Kristin Haas, head of the Agency’s Food Safety and Consumer Protection Division. “We feel it is important that consumers are aware of these inaccuracies, so they can take an active role in ensuring they are charged accurately, by checking their receipts and paying close attention in the store.”

“We are working towards helping Vermonters have a better experience when they shop at Dollar General,” said Consumer Protection Chief, Henry Marckres.

To see a list of the current Consumer Protection violations, visit http://agriculture.vermont.gov/food_safety_consumer_protection/consumer_protection/violations

For more information, contact Henry Marckres, Consumer Protection Chief, 802-828-3458

 

 

April 28, 2017

by Alison Kosakowski, Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets

Editors: Hi-Res photos are available at https://goo.gl/photos/L1AimpVUv97VL9AW9

As hunters across Vermont gear up for the 2017 turkey season, Vermont’s Ag Secretary and Fish and Wildlife Commissioner are praising the many farmers and hunters, who work together the steward Vermont’s land.

“There’s a strong tradition of partnership between Vermont’s farming and hunting communities, who share a natural appreciation for the rural beauty of our state, and a strong conservation ethic,” according to Vermont’s Ag Secretary, Anson Tebbetts, who is both a farmer, and a sportsman.  “We have more than 1.25 million acres of farmland here in Vermont. Many of those acres have been opened to hunters, thanks to the special relationships many hunters and farmers have formed over time.”

“Private landowners play an important role in the hunting community, by fostering habitat and opening their land,” according to Fish & Wildlife Commissioner, Louis Porter. “As some of the largest landowners in the state, farmers are in a unique position to help Vermont’s hunting community thrive.”

When hunters and farmers work together, both benefit, according to Tebbetts.

“We often hear farmers say that they appreciate the hunters, who keep an eye on their land for them,” said Tebbetts. “The deal is even sweeter when the hunter shares some of their bounty.”

Turkey biologists believe the ideal turkey habitat contains 10-50% open, non-forested lands. Crop land, and the surrounding areas, can be very attractive to hungry gobblers.

“Some of my favorite hunting experiences have taken place on Vermont farmland, from waiting for deer on the edge of a cornfield to calling in a turkey on a back meadow,” added Porter.

When asked to elaborate on the exact location of his favorite hunting spot, Commissioner Porter was a bit more evasive.

“It is indeed a farm, and it is indeed a great spot for hunting turkeys,” said Porter. “Beyond that, I have no comment.”

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April 21, 2017

If you are doing business in Vermont, you may need to be licensed with the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets. 

The Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets (VAAFM) is responsible for licensing a variety of items found in retail stores you might not connect with agriculture. There are many retailers not aware of the requirement to license in order to sell these items, or use certain devices. 

Please review our Fact Sheet to determine if your business is impacted. 

For a full listing of the Agency's licensing and registration programs, please visit our Licensing and Registration web page. 

If you have questions, we are here to help. Please contact the Agency's Licensing & Registration Section at (802) 828-2436 or via e-mail at AGR.Licensing@vermont.gov.

 
April 21, 2017

 

On April 22, 2017, millions of people around the globe will gather to promote awareness of the environment by celebrating Earth Day.  The Working Lands Enterprise Initiative values environmental stewardship and, in recognition of Earth Day, would like to recognize Vermont Tree Goods, a 2015 recipient of a Working Lands Grant, for the work it does to celebrate Earth Day, every day.

Vermont Tree Goods mills planks and creates furniture from recycled heirloom trees that have reached the end of their growing years. In 2015, the company received a $20,000 Working Lands Enterprise Fund grant for equipment capable of milling larger lumber at twice the rate. Due to this grant, Founder John Monks’ dream of creating natural furniture with sustainable building materials was realized.

“Our work is driven by a desire to create a better ending for the oldest of Vermont’s trees rather than seeing them discarded because they are too big and ‘misshapen,’” says Monks.  “For every tree that we recycle, at least one healthy tree will not need to be taken from the forest and the important role it fills there.”

On November 1, 2016, Vermont Tree Goods oversaw the taking down of a historical tree—the tree believed to be the largest Slippery Elm in the northeast—in Charlotte, VT.  The elm had died from Dutch Elm Disease and was reportedly 19 feet, 4 inches in diameter and 109 feet tall. At its sawmill in Bristol, Vermont Tree Goods milled the elm logs into planks which were kiln dried and brought to life once more in distinctive furniture.

“We have developed a milling technique that not only allows us to cut the largest of trees, but also uses far less energy to do so. The carbon footprint of our furniture is smaller than that of all others. With our focus on efficiency and sustainability, we are the epitome of a “green” business. To us this is just being conscious in all that we do. For you it means loving your furniture and your planet – smart,” says Monks.

Although Monks is passionate about the environment and keeping trees alive through his furniture, he is equally passionate about the work being done by Nature Conservancy’s Elm Restoration Program to develop elm trees resistant to Dutch elm disease. 

“It is more than just saving the species.  The Elm also plays a huge role in flood control and maintaining our water quality.  That’s why the Nature Conservancy is planting them along the Connecticut River.  The way I see it, it is a Win-Win-Win situation for all parties involved,” says Monk. 

And because he believes in the cause, Monks is donating a portion of sales from each item made from the Slippery Elm Restoration Program so the Nature Conservancy can continue its important work.

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