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June 19, 2018

A new cash crop is on the horizon in Vermont. Nearly 2,000 acres of hemp will be grown across the Green Mountain State during the 2018 growing season. If you're a farmer looking to grow hemp, register with the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets, http://agriculture.vermont.gov/plant_pest/plant_weed/hemp

And to learn more about UVM Extension’s Industrial Hemp Research Program, visit http://www.uvm.edu/extension/cropsoil/hemp

June 19, 2018

                                             

Roadside plant can cause burns, rash

BURLINGTON – State Health and Agriculture officials want Vermonters to steer clear of a common weed often seen along Vermont roadsides. The so-called “poison parsnip” packs a punch that can leave you with the equivalent of a second-degree burn.

Formally known as wild parsnip, these plants grow along roadsides and unmaintained areas throughout Vermont, with flowers that look like a yellow version of Queen Anne’s lace.

The plant produces a sap that contains chemicals called psoralens that react to sunlight. Skin that comes in contact with the sap becomes hyper-sensitive to ultraviolet light, and can result in redness, burns similar to a second-degree sunburn, painful rashes and raised blisters. Reactions to the sap and sunlight usually begin 24 to 48 hours after contact.

Wild parsnip is the same plant as the common garden parsnip we eat in soups and stews. The flower heads are the second-year growth from the carrot-like roots. The plant is a close relative of carrots, parsley, angelica and giant hogweed, all of which can cause similar skin reactions in sensitive individuals.

The good news is that in order for a reaction to occur, your skin has to come into direct contact with the sap. This is different than plants such as poison ivy or stinging nettles, which can spread their chemical defenses on you just by your brushing up against the plant itself.

If you get wild parsnip sap on your skin:

  • Wash the skin thoroughly with soap and water as soon as possible.
  • Protect the exposed skin from sunlight for at least 48 hours.
  • If you experience a skin reaction, call your health care provider.

If you need to work with or among the plants:

  • Wear clothing that covers your arms and legs.
  • Be careful of exposure when mowing or weed whacking.
  • Work with the plant on cloudy days.
  • Wash your skin immediately if you come in contact with the sap.
  • Wash clothes that may have been exposed to the sap.

For more information about wild/poison parsnip:

http://www.healthvermont.gov/health-environment/environmental-chemicals-pollutants/wild-poison-parsnip

June 14, 2018

On June 14, 2018, the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets sent official comment to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on The Declaration of Added Sugar on Honey, Maple Syrup, and Certain Cranberry Products: Draft Guidance for Industry.  The letter was signed by Secretary Anson Tebbetts, and clearly stated the Agency's concern that, if implemented, the "added sugar" guidance could have an adverse impact on Vermont pure product producers:

"The confusing and potentially misleading implications of thie declaration for 100% pure single-ingredient products, like maple and honey, is a concern to Vermont's maple and honey industries.  We ask that FDA amend its proposed guidance on the rule, for an "added sugar" declaration on products to which no sugar has been added, in response to the legitimate concerns raised by producers of pure maple syrup and honey products."

Please read the entire letter below.

 

 

June 14, 2018

 

Farming, it’s a way of life in Franklin County.

“We’re just farmers at heart, we love farming, you know, we didn’t do it because we had to, we chose to do it,” said Garry.

It’s a family tradition…

“We both farmed with our parents or fathers,” said Garry.

“When I grew up everyone went to the barn, everybody had a chore to do, you just graduated with age to the next thing, so it’s been a pretty comfortable life for us,” said Eileen.

It’s a life that has evolved over time.

In 1945, The Trudell family began farming land in the hills of East Fairfield. Garry took over the operation from his father in 1983, acquiring neighboring land along the way to milk a herd of 300 cows.

 “Prices were pretty good back in the 80’s, you know if you worked hard, you did what you were supposed to do, you could make a living,” said Garry.

But as milk prices continued to fall through the late 80’s and early 90’s, the Trudells realized something about their line of work

 “Change is inevitable,” said Eileen.

In 2006, the Trudell Family Farm became one of the first dairies in the area to transition to organic, stable milk prices and a better fit for their farm.

 “Because we were both in the barn, I enjoyed raising the heifers along with milking and Garry enjoyed managing the feed along with the milking It just was something we were able to do,” said Eileen.

With three daughters and a son off to college, starting careers, the Trudells were doing what they loved.

“It was exciting to get excited about milking cows again,” said Eileen.

They got excited about maple too. New technology was changing their maple sugaring business.

 “You could hire people to come in and put pipeline up for you… our first wet/dry line system in 2005, bought an RO in 2008…that’s when everybody started getting into it,” said Garry.

Maple was booming but dairy was challenging.

 “It’s tough when you have to borrow money to pay the grain bill, you don’t mind borrowing money for a new piece of equipment that’s going to help your efficiency,” said Garry.

In 2013 it was time to sell the milkers.

 “You know it was tough, but then again it wasn’t. we knew it was time,” said Garry.

“He looked at me one day and said, you know I don’t want to do this anymore do you,” said Eileen.

But that didn’t mean the Trudells left the dairy business. The next generation of dairy farmers needed help.

 “We were at a crossroads with in our career. We weren’t sure what we were going to do with our heifers,” said Brendan Schreindorfer, Windy Hill Farm.

The Trudells opened their barn doors.

 “It’s been a great relationship, it works great, they currently take care of our heifers and we’re able concentrate on making high-quality milk,” said Brendan.

Two other neighboring farms bring calves to the Trudell heifer barn. They arrive at 3-months-old and leave ready to produce milk.

 “It’s kind of a special relationship, “ said Eileen.

“Well, we do need farmers. We need these young people that are milking cows,” said Garry.

“We have three different farms and they’ve all got young people coming up through that are excited about agriculture,” said Eileen.

 “The thought of having one of my kids taking over the farm is definitely one of the reasons that does keep us going,” said Brendan.

From handling 11,000 taps, to updating nutrient management plans, cropping the fields, taking water samples, the Trudells exemplify how hard farmers work to protect Vermont’s landscape

 “I think they work as hard at being stewards of the land as anybody, they always have, you know they were conservationists before it was cool to be conservationists,” said Garry.

It’s a Vermont farming tradition that continues.

“And until our machinery gets old and we’re a little older, it’s a good way of life,” said Eileen.

Click here to WATCH more Fantastic Farners and make nominations.

June 13, 2018

 

Nearly 2 million Gallons of Vermont Maple Syrup Produced

June 13, 2018 / Montpelier VT – The 2018 sugaring season was a long and productive season for Vermont’s sugar makers. Once again Vermont led the nation in making maple syrup, producing nearly 2 million gallons of the sweet product. It means about half of the maple syrup produced in the United States is made in the Green Mountains.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Vermont maple syrup producers set 5.67 million maple taps in 2018, 5 percent more than during the 2017 season, and the largest number of taps since 1928 according to USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. It was also a long season with sugar makers in the woods on average 52 days. That’s nearly one week longer than in 2017.

Agriculture Secretary Anson Tebbetts said, “Vermont sugar makers continue to lead the nation. Their commitment to quality stands alone producing a natural product that’s beloved around the world.” 

Vermont maple syrup production in 2018 totaled 1.94 million gallons, down 2 percent from 2017.  Vermont has led the nation in maple taps since 1916, highlighting the depth and importance of the industry to Vermont’s economy and culture. 

“Basketball might consume the nation’s attention during March Madness, but here in Vermont its Maple Madness, a much tastier option,” said Commissioner of Tourism and Marketing Wendy Knight. “Our top standing in maple production makes Vermont a delicious destination to sample maple products and sip inspired beverages.”

Other maple statistics released by USDA:

  • Yield per tap is estimated to be 0.342 gallon, down 7 percent from the previous season.
  • The earliest 2018 Vermont sap flow reported was January 12. 
  • On average, the 2018 season lasted 52 days, compared with 46 days in 2017. 
  • Vermont typically tapped between 5.5 and 6 million trees prior to 1935 but declined to around 1.5 million in the 1960’s.
  • In 2003 Vermont tapped 2.12 million trees and has been steadily increasing that number to the 5.67 million in 2018.
  • Since 2003 Vermont’s maple syrup production has increased from around 500,000 gallons to almost 2 million gallons.

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