Governor Phil Scott officially kicked off Vermont’s maple season today at Silloway Maple in Randolph Center. The Governor joined the Silloway family, Ag Secretary Anson Tebbetts, members of the Randolph Center community, and the Orange County Sugarmakers to tap a tree and celebrate the importance of the maple industry to Vermont’s economy, landscape, and heritage.
Vermont makes more maple syrup than any state in the country – a whopping 47.3% of all the maple syrup in the nation comes from Vermont! The 2016 maple season was Vermont’s best yet, with a total of 1.99 million gallons of syrup produced. That’s 4.85 million taps!
“It’s no secret that Vermont’s maple syrup is world-famous. It’s an important part of our brand and economy, and it draws tourists to Vermont,” said Governor Scott. “I could not be more proud of our maple industry. The hard work and ingenuity of those who support the industry represents what Vermont is all about.”
The sun was shining and the sap was running as the Silloways hosted a fun-filled event for the whole community. They opened their sugaring operation to the public for a day of tours, tastings, and fun.
The maple business is a family affair for the Silloways. In 1940, Paul and Louise Silloway began their dairy operation in Randolph Center as newlyweds, and soon after, began tapping trees. Today, the dairy and maple tradition lives on through their children and grandchildren. Grandsons Paul and David Lambert run the sugaring operation, while another grandson, John, keeps the dairy tradition alive.
“Maple and dairy - it does not get more Vermont than this,” said Ag Secretary, Anson Tebbetts. “This family business is creating opportunities in the community, and providing the next generation with a chance to stay on the land and make a living. Truly wonderful!”
Silloway Maple holds tradition close, while also embracing innovation. In 2014, a new sugarhouse was designed and built, set facing the south, with a narrow northern roof, and a large southern exposure to accommodate seventy solar panels. Even a cold day, the system can output just over 15,000 watts, according to the Silloways. Averaging throughout the year, this energy supplies the sugarhouse, and also about half of the power used on the family dairy farm, just down the road.
Of course, no maple event would be complete without some authentic maple cooking. The Orange County Sugarmakers offered a delicious, maple-inspired lunch for guests to enjoy, and the Silloways served sugar on snow. As a special treat, the Silloways sorganized a maple cooking contest, and encouraged members of the community to enter. Students from NECI judged the competition, and after much deliberation, choose Barbara Warren’s Maple Angel Food Cake as the winner in the adult competition. Joey Ferris took top honors in the kid competition with his Maple Snickerdoodles.
“Of course, my family members have many wonderful maple recipes,” said host Bette Lambert, daughter of the founders, Paul and Louise Silloway. “But we thought we’d give the rest of the community a chance,” she added, with a smile. Bette was at the helm of the event today, serving as the main organizer among a large crew of Silloways and Lamberts.
“Thank you, Silloway family, for hosting this terrific event,” said Governor Scott. “And thank you to all Vermont sugarmakers, for creating jobs, keeping our landscape in production, building the Vermont brand, and making the very best syrup in the world!”
By Anson Tebbetts, Vermont Secretary of Agriculture
February. I really start to think about Spring. The seed catalogs are stacked up. I start to think about ordering my seeds. What will I try this year? When I walk in the woods, I hear the mating call of the chickadees and the owls are hooting early in the morning. They are in the midst of “making more owls.” When I walk to the barn each morning, I wonder if the ewes have had their lambs? Spring is near.
As we think about a new season, we are in the midst of listening and learning from you. Thanks to all those who met with us at the annual farm show in Essex. We did hear a few themes from our farmers. We heard you continue to want our help with issues. Finding qualified labor to do the work on the farm, in the fields and on the road was one consistent concern we heard from those making a living from Agriculture. We heard you value the technical assistance we provide to new and growing businesses as you work your way through federal and state regulations. We heard from our maple industry about “fake” versus “real.” Our sugar makers told us some of our big food companies are using the word maple loosely and it’s hurting their industry. We will continue to learn more about this important consumer assurance issue.
Keep the feedback coming. We are serious about customer service. We are also serious about growing the Vermont economy. We are serious about making Vermont more affordable. We are also serious about taking care of those who need our help. The Governor has challenged all of us to be “bold” and break down the silos in state government. Agriculture is talking with the Agency of Commerce. Agriculture is working with the Agency of Transportations. Agriculture is communicating with Labor. Agriculture is staying close to public safety. We can all help each other make Vermont a better place to live and work.
Governor Scott and the legislature are both committed to growing the rural economy. Agriculture will play a large role in that effort, and we will continue to work closely with the Governor’s office and the legislature to address the issues that are most important to all of you. Keep the ideas coming. Thanks for your warm welcome and continued leadership.
Now back to those seed catalogs.
By Marc Paquette, VAAFM Weights and Measures Specialist, Consumer Protection
March 1-7 is National Weights and Measures Week, a time to recognize the important role of weights and measures inspectors across the country.
The date of this year’s Weights and Measures Week is significant as it marks the signing of the first Weights and Measures law by John Adams on March 2, 1799. Throughout the country, thousands of weights and measures inspectors work diligently to enforce laws designed to not only protect consumers but to also develop a level playing field in commerce wherever a weight or measure is involved.
Vermont’s Weights and Measures program is located in the Vermont Agency of Agriculture Food and Market’s Consumer Protection Section. Many consumers are surprised to learn that weights and measures programs are part of many agencies of agriculture nationwide. This is true of Vermont, where much of the state’s early economy was based on agricultural products produced on tens of thousands of farms. Historically, commodities produced in Vermont like milk, meat, grains, feed, corn, and maple were sold by weight or measure, therefore the inspection program was placed in the Agency of Agriculture.
Vermont’s program consists of a Chief, Weights and Measures Specialist/Metrologist, and six field inspectors, many of whom are cross trained to conduct other types of inspection work as well.
The Metrologist manages the metrology lab, which maintains the state’s weights and measures standards, conducts calibrations on weighing and measuring artifacts, and advises both the program staff and private industry in regard to weights and measures laws, regulations, and best practices. Each year the laboratory tests thousands of hydrometers utilized by the maple industry, weights ranging in size from 1,000 lbs. to 0.001 lb. and numerous test measures used in the inspection and calibration of thousands of fuel pumps.
The inspections conducted by field staff provide equity in the marketplace and consumer protection by testing and inspecting commercial devices used in trade. Each year the Vermont program inspects over 6,000 gas pumps, 425 fuel oil truck meters, 225 propane truck meters, thousands of scales and packages. Inspectors conduct hundreds of price verification inspections, testing the accuracy of laser scanning systems in retail outlets.
A top priority of the section is responding to consumer concerns. During the last year, many concerns have been addressed such as: short measure on gas pumps, oil truck meters, beer, and firewood, as well as issues regarding retail pricing accuracy and fuel quality.
Today, quantities are determined in all business sectors using the latest technology. Gasoline stations and supermarkets employ state of the art weighing and measuring equipment. Inspectors need to have an understanding of software in the documentation, inspection, and investigation process. Some challenges that many jurisdictions, including Vermont, will be facing is that of alternative fuels. Evolving fuel and energy sources such as ethanol, biodiesel, bio butanol, natural gas, hydrogen, and electrical recharging for motor vehicles and developing inspection processes for these fuels will require new testing methods and added training.
Weights and Measures Week serves as a reminder of the great value consumers receive from weights and measures inspection programs. The Consumer Protection Section works to both regulate and educate the businesses they inspect. When violations are found, appropriate enforcement action is taken. Repeated violations may result in penalties being issued. A list of findings can now be found on the Vermont Agency of Agriculture website at: http://agriculture.vermont.gov/food_safety_consumer_protection/consumer_...
For more information about the Agency of Agriculture’s Weights and Measures program, contact Marc Paquette, Weights and Measures Specialist, Consumer Protection at 802-828-2426 Marc Paquette, VAAFM Weights and Measures Specialist, Consumer Protection Phone: Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
This Valentine’s Day, the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food, and Markets is taking a moment to proclaim its love for Vermont’s farmers.
“The Vermont we know and love simply would not exist without the hardworking women and men who dedicate their lives to agriculture,” says Vermont’s Ag Secretary, Anson Tebbetts. “Farmers provide food, create jobs, keep our landscape open, and support our local communities. Farmers deserve our adoration!”
Tebbetts thinks Valentine’s Day is the perfect occasion for Vermonters to profess their fond feelings for farmers.
“There are so many reasons to love Vermont agriculture, it’s nearly impossible to count the ways,” Tebbetts added.
But here’s a start…
Ten Reasons to Love Vermont Farmers
- There are over 7,300 farms in Vermont, and each is unique.
- Vermont is known for its dairy and maple industries, but our agriculture runs the gambit. Vermont farmers are raising and growing all the things you might expect on a farm, like chickens, hogs, pumpkins, and corn, and some unique things you might not – like saffron, emu, rabbits, and crickets.
- Maple syrup is our signature product, and we make more of it than any other state in the country – a whopping 47% of the country’s syrup is made right here in Vermont.
- Vermont is the leading agricultural state in New England, with more agricultural sales than any state in the region. Our Ag Economy is greater than Rhode Island’s, New Hampshire’s, and Massachusetts, combined.
- We have more farmers’ markets per capita than any other state.
- 94% of our schools serve local foods, grown close to home by Vermont farmers. That’s 80,000 students who “eat local” in their cafeterias.
- For a chilly state, we have a robust and growing wine industry. Marquette, Frontenac, and La Crescent grapes grow well in Vermont, and we have some very talented vintners making outstanding local wines.
- Vermont dairy farmers produce enough milk annually to fill 16,000 swimming pools – 321 million gallons. More than 67% of New England’s milk is made right here in Vermont.
- Vermont’s Ag Economy is growing – in the past ten years, sales of agricultural products in Vermont have increased by 64%.
- Collectively, Vermont farms encompass more than 1.25 million acres. Our farmers care for the land by implementing conservation practices, and keep our landscape open, green, and beautiful. Without farms, Vermont would look very different!
These are just a few reasons – there are so many more.
“Thank you, Vermont farmers, for all you do!” Tebbetts adds. “Wishing you and yours a Happy Valentine’s Day!”