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February 14, 2018

$8 Big E Tickets – Today Only!

This Valentine’s Day, Eastern States Exposition is offering a sweet deal -- $8 admission tickets (Reg. $15) sold online TODAY ONLY, Wednesday, February 14 from 8am to 8pm.

Gene Cassidy, president and CEO of Eastern States Exposition, said, “This one day rollback of our gate admission ticket price is our way of showing thanks to all our guests who helped make the 2017 Big E the biggest Fair in ESE history with attendance of 1,525,553.”

The 102nd Big E kicks off seven months from today, September 14, and runs through Sept. 30. Sign up for The Big E’s mailing list and connect on social media to be the first to get exclusive announcements on all events taking place at Eastern States Exposition.

Tickets can be purchased online only and there is a limit of eight tickets per order. Visit Flash.TheBigE.com to get your tickets today.

February 13, 2018

Montpelier, Vt. – Every year, the 14th day of February is a chance to express love, affection and friendship to the people we care about most. Whether it’s sharing a taste of local whipped cream atop a sweet maple dessert with that special someone or a toast to good times aside a delicate backcountry wine crafted from rooted in Vermont grapes, a Vermont farmer is there for you.

To show gratitude on this Valentine’s Day, the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets is sharing 14 reasons why we love our farmers:

  1. Local food tastes great
  2. They preserve the rural landscape
  3. They provide Vermont with many types of jobs
  4. We love a cold glass of milk
  5. They work 7 days a week to put local food on our tables
  6. Food does not grow in the supermarket
  7. They work in acres, not hours
  8. We love great cheese
  9. We love a beautiful Vermont barn
  10. Mmmmmmmm, Maple
  11. Vermont hops make awesome Vermont beer
  12. We love apples, pumpkins, and a great corn maze
  13. My CSA produce is fresh from the field
  14. They’re our neighbors and friends

Why do you love our farmers? Let us know on FacebookTwitter and Instagram with the hashtag #VtFarmLove.

February 12, 2018

By Alissa White, UVM

Agricultural advisors have been advocating for the implementation of conservation buffers on farms in Vermont for decades, and this practice is now required by the new Required Agricultural Practices (RAPs).  You are probably familiar with the RAPs.  These regulations have been put into place to protect the waters of Vermont from nutrient-rich farm runoff.  Per the RAPs, all farms in Vermont are now required to establish and maintain vegetated buffer zones 25 feet from surface water and 10 feet from ditches.  These buffers can be mowed for hay, or planted with woody perennials, but they can’t be tilled or have manure applied to them. 

Plants in the buffer area will help catch nutrients like phosphorus and nitrogen from leaching through the soil to the waterways, and slow or stop soil from eroding directly into the river water. These are basic benefits that conservation buffers impart for environmental health, but there are many other reasons that farmers in Vermont have been planting and maintaining vegetated buffer areas on their farms.  It’s in the interest of farmers to keep nutrients and soil on farm, so protecting agricultural soils from erosion and leaching is one important benefit that buffers can offer farmland.  But that’s not all.  Conservation buffers planted with elderberry or other fruiting shrubs offer an additional harvest and product diversification to many Vermont farms.  When buffers are vegetated with a diversity of native plants, they offer habitat to birds and other animals and serve as critical wildlife corridors that Vermont’s animals use to travel from one wild place to another.  Along rivers, they contribute the crucial shade that many fish need to survive and thrive in Vermont’s waterways. Many studies have documented that buffers and hedges are also sanctuaries for pollinators and those beneficial insects which help keep many farm pests in balance.

From a resilience perspective, buffers help protect farmland from the impacts of climate change on Vermont farms.  Climate projections for Vermont indicate a dramatic increase in heavy rainfall events, more occurrence of drought, and increased overall temperatures.  The expected increase in heavy rainfall means that agricultural soils in Vermont will endure more erosion, leaching and flooding, and that’s a big reason to maintain conservation buffers, especially for farms in the floodplain.  Buffers have also helped some farmers avoid economic losses in flood-prone soils, simply because they didn’t make and investment into crops which would have been damaged.  This is an important consideration for vegetable farmers who grow high-value crops. 

Buffers planted with trees and woody shrubs, or even just vegetative grass, significantly slow flood waters, protecting farmland from the erosive forces of heavy rainfall and fast moving flood waters.

The use of conservation buffers along waterways are one practice which has been identified to offer resilience benefits to farmers, but there are many more ways which farmers in Vermont and the Northeast are actively adapting to the impacts of a volatile, changing climate.  The USDA Northeast Climate Hub delivers and connects resources across the region to help producers build agricultural resilience to climate change.  Find more information how farmers are adapting to weather variability and explore tools and information: https://www.climatehubs.oce.usda.gov/northeast

The AgBufferBuilder tool was created to customize buffers that maximize nutrient and soil retention for the specific soil and geographic features of your farm.  This is a great resource for learning more about the site specific vulnerabilities of your land to flooding and erosion.  For more information contact Joshua Faulkner, the Farming & Climate Change Program Coordinator for the UVM Extension Center for Sustainable Agriculture at 802- 656-3495. 

Most UVM Extension agents are familiar with resources for farmers who want to proactively address these challenges.

February 9, 2018

 

By Dr. Kristin Haas – Agency of Ag

The Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets (VAAFM) is pleased to announce that five Vermont dairy farms have now achieved full certification in the Food Armor® HACCP for Proper Drug Use program, and a sixth is very close to completing the process.

In June 2017, the Agency launched a funding initiative to help offset the cost of dairy farm certification in the Food Armor® program. To become Food Armor® certified, six Vermont dairy farms have partnered with local Food Armor® Accredited veterinarians to develop Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) plans that meet the stringent requirements of the program. By becoming certified, these Vermont farms have gone above and beyond to show their commitment to responsible on-farm use of veterinary medications, food safety and livestock well-being.

Maintenance of certification requires each farm to adhere to a written Veterinarian-Client-Patient-Relationship (VCPR) agreement, to annually submit customized drug lists, standard operating procedures, protocols and related records to the Food Armor® Foundation for approval, and to undergo a third-party audit to verify that written documents translate to best practices in livestock management. Adhering to this gold standard helps ensure that market dairy cows and bob calves shipped to slaughter do not have violative drug residues.

“Food Armor® certification represents the culmination of a steadfast commitment to excellence made by the farms’ animal care and management teams in partnership with their herd veterinarians. The Vermont dairy industry has always taken the issue of judicious use of veterinary medications seriously, and the ability to provide these Food Armor® program tools to Vermont dairy farmers for the betterment of their on-farm practices in support of this goal is a rewarding privilege”, states Dr. Kristin Haas, Vermont State Veterinarian.

VAAFM has used a two-year federal grant to provide Food Armor® training opportunities for Vermont veterinarians, maintain a State Food Armor® program license and offset the professional and program costs associated with certification. There is funding available through August 31, 2018 to help farmers and veterinarians with Food Armor® certification costs. Since 2015, more than 50 food animal veterinarians have received Food Armor® training, approximately 70 Vermont farmers have participated in Food Armor orientation sessions, and a handful of farms interested in certification participated in day-long workshops.

At the time of this drafting, the following Vermont dairy farms have been through the certification process and are currently reaping the full benefit of the Food Armor® program: Gervais Family Farm, Inc., Duhamel Farms, Dalestead Farm and Maple, LLC., Parent Family Farm, and Glenview Jerseys.  Congratulations to these farms and their partner veterinarians on becoming certified. Other dairy farms are utilizing the components of the Food Armor® program that are the most worthwhile for their businesses. Please visit https://www.facebook.com/vtagencyofag/videos/10159617070160344/ to view the VAAFM informational video that highlights Gervais Family Farm and provides information about the investment that the Vermont dairy industry has made in the Food Armor® program.

There is sustained interest in the Food Armor® program on the part of Vermont dairy farmers, and Vermont producers continue to partner with Food Armor® trained veterinarians to utilize components of the Food Armor® program in their daily production practices. To learn more about the Food Armor® HACCP for Proper Drug Use program, visit www.foodarmor.org. If you are a farmer who is interested in receiving money to implement the Food Armor® program on your farm, please contact your herd veterinarian or the VAAFM Animal Health Office at (802)828-2421 or AGR.animalhealth@vermont.gov.

To review Food Armor® articles in prior issues of Agriview, please visit

http://agriculture.vermont.gov/news_media/agriview/archive

Agriview with Food Armor articles: Vol. 81, Number 2, Vol. 81, Number 3, Vol. 81, Number 5, Vol. 81, Number 6, Vol. 81, Number 7

February 8, 2018

 

When you #ThinkVT, you think about the great food, rolling farmland, and deep green forests. The businesses that make up these Working Lands are critical to the economy.

On Thursday, legislators, state officials and entrepreneurs at the forefront of Vermont’s Working Lands economy met under the Golden Dome to show how the Working Lands Enterprise Initiative (WLEI), an investment in Vermont’s rural economy, is paying off.

“The statistics are pretty staggering,” said Deputy Secretary Alyson Eastman, Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets.

Since the program’s inception in 2013, 149 projects were funded with $4.5M of grant funds, creating 485 new jobs. And on the whole grantees have returned over $26M to the Vermont economy through additional sales.

According to Ken Jones, a research analysts at the Agency of Commerce and Community Development, the program is leveraging one new job for approximately every $10,000 invested, that’s at par or better than any other federal or state job creation.

The program wouldn’t be successful without innovative and mindful grantees.

Katt Tolman from Sweet Rowen Farmstead in East Albany shared how Working Lands grant money has helped maintain and improve the quality of their working landscape while also creating jobs and enriching the community.

“I believe that were the second largest private employer in the town of Albany, we have six employees… so it’s small but significant.”

“The working lands economy is our most authentic lure to getting people here… we believe our working lands businesses have been and will continue to be one of the reasons new Vermonters chose to make Vermont their permanent home,” said Secretary Mike Schirling, Agency of Commerce and Community Development.

It’s investing in small businesses that pack a big punch.

Part of a grant Sweet Rowen is working on now is to create a community space on top of their creamery to host small gatherings and invite others to enjoy Vermont, the best way, on the farm.   

For more information about the Working Lands Enterprise Initiative, please visit:http://workinglands.vermont.gov/

To watch a video about the Working Lands Enterprise Initiative, click here.

Attached photo is courtesy of Farmers to You, LLC.

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