January 8, 2018


                     Questionnaires sent in to Vermont farmers and over 3 million U.S. producers

Every five years brings an important event for Vermont farmers and the agricultural community across the country. Delivered to mailboxes in Vermont in December was the start of the 2017 Census of Agriculture. Conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), the census aims to get a complete and accurate picture of American agriculture. The census results are then used by farmers, ranchers, trade associations, researchers, policymakers, and many others to help make decisions in community planning, farm assistance programs, technology development, farm advocacy, agribusiness setup, rural development, and more.

As you read this, the deadline for completing the census form is fast approaching. February 5th of 2018 is the last day allowed for submitting the census form. You can fill out the census online by visiting Responding to the Census of Agriculture is required by law and requires NASS to keep all identities and information confidential, and to use the data only for statistical purposes. NASS will release the results of the census in February 2019.

Who should participate in the census?

Any farm operation that produced and sold $1,000 or more of agricultural product in 2017. With your participation, the census becomes the only source of uniform, comprehensive, and impartial agricultural data for every state and county in the nation.

What’s in it for you?

“The Census is an important tool in our efforts to support every farmer in Vermont,” Secretary of Agriculture Anson Tebbetts said. “It is one of the resources we use to understand the needs of the smallest producer right up to the largest farms, and how they each fit and interact with the broader agriculture picture in the United States. I encourage all farmers and producers in the state to share your story through the census.”

The 2017 Census of Agriculture is also used to document changes and emerging trends in the industry. Changes to the census questions from 2012 include a new question about military veteran status, expanded questions about food marketing practices, and questions about on-farm decision making to help better capture the roles and contributions of beginning farmers, women farmers, and others involved in running a farm enterprise.

If you need assistance with accessing the census, or questions about the census itself, please call the Vermont Agency of Agriculture at 802-782-3388 or send an email to Sylvia Jensen at

For more information about the 2017 Census of Agriculture, you can also visit the USDA website or call (800) 727-9540.

January 4, 2018

Ten Vermont counties now eligible for federal aid for damage suffered during October wind storm

Montpelier, Vt. – Governor Phil Scott today announced that President Donald Trump has signed a major disaster declaration for Addison, Chittenden, Essex, Franklin, Grand Isle, Lamoille, Orange, Orleans, Washington, and Windham counties. Those counties suffered substantial damage during wind and rain storms on October 29 and 30.

A Preliminary Damage Assessment (PDA) by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) identified $3.7 million in public infrastructure damage statewide far exceeding the $1 million minimum Vermont must show to be considered for a disaster declaration. That estimate only accounts for enough identified damage to qualify for federal Public Assistance funding.

Addison, Chittenden, Essex, Franklin, Grand Isle, Lamoille, Orange, Orleans, Washington, and Windham counties each exceeded the $3.68 per capita threshold needed to qualify communities and public utilities in those counties for assistance. A preponderance of the damage involved power restoration: line work, power pole replacement, and contractor assistance.

The Public Assistance disaster declaration allows communities and public utilities in those counties to receive 75 percent federal reimbursement for storm response and recovery. Those costs include power restoration, debris removal, and repairs to public roads, bridges, and other infrastructure with damage resulting from the storm.

Vermont Emergency Management will soon announce multiple applicant briefings, which Town leaders should attend to start the process for seeking federal assistance. The briefings will outline the requirements for receiving federal awards and maximizing eligibility of repairs. Vermont Emergency Management, Agency of Transportation District personnel, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will guide them through the application process.

The declaration also includes funds from the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) for towns, state agencies, and approved non-profit organizations statewide. This program provides funding for a variety of mitigation activities, including home buyouts, structural elevations, flood proofing and public infrastructure upgrades for roads, bridges and culverts in vulnerable locations.

More information on the Public Assistance process can be found at

January 3, 2018

The Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets would like to recognize Steve Volk for completing the Food and Drug Administration training, standardization and certification as a Milk Sanitation Rating Officer.

For five years, Volk has performed inspection duties as part of the Agency’s oversight of the dairy industry in Vermont. Volk has provided inspection services and technical assistance to processing plants in throughout Vermont to assure that sanitation standards are followed, minimizing the risk of unsafe products entering the marketplace.

Vermont Agency of Agriculture Dairy Section Chief E.B. Flory had the chance to join Volk at the Agri-Mark/Cabot plant in Middlebury to see firsthand his skills and knowledge at work. 

“The best part of the day for me was to see Steven interact and work with numerous employees with many different roles at this plant,” Flory said. “To say they respect and trust Steven is an understatement. I had one employee tell me getting to work with Steven on any pasteurizer testing day were highlight work days for him and that he learns something new from Steven every time he works with him.”

Volk has been able to balance enforcing regulations with also being approachable and educating those that he works with. This helps the Agency maintain substantial compliance, while also being a positive group to work with for any farm or plant in Vermont.

December 28, 2017

Celebrate Vermont Agriculture at the 7th Annual Consumer Night at the Vermont Farm Show

A time to try and buy some of Vermont’s best agricultural products—and watch your state senators and representatives compete in the Capital Cook-Off!

There are still a few spots left for the Winter Buy Local Market to be held during Consumer Night at the Vermont Farm Show, so we areextending the deadline for Vendor Applications to January 10, 2018. To participate in the 2018 Buy Local Market, please complete the application (link below) and submit a Certificate of Insurance (COI).  

Application link:

January 31, 2018
4:00 – 7:00 PM
Blue Ribbon Pavilion, Champlain Valley Expo
105 Pearl Street, Essex Junction

Winter Buy Local Market

The Winter Buy Local Market, located in the Blue Ribbon Pavilion, will feature over 50 Vermont farmers and producers of local cheese, meat, fruits and vegetables, milk, maple syrup, jams, culinary oils, honey, wine, beer, spirits, wool, and handmade crafts as well as ready-to-eat prepared foods such as bacon hot dogs and ice cream cones. Click HERE for a full list of vendors. 

Consumer Night Raffle 

For every purchase of $5 or more, enter the Consumer Night raffle to win a prize package from Ski Vermont, a family membership to Shelburne Farms, tickets to the Vermont Cheesemakers Festival, or another great prize! 

Capitol Cook-Off

Beginning at 5:15 PM, watch Vermont State Representatives, State Senators and Agency of Agriculture staff battle in a contest to showcase local foods in the Capital Cook-Off, an Iron Chef-style cooking challenge. The evening’s surprise local ingredient will be unveiled before the cooking begins, and teams will shop the Buy Local Market for unique products to craft their perfect local dish in just one hour. This year, the Vermont Agency of Agriculture will defend its 2017 championship title after wowing last year’s judges with wild venison sliders braised in cranberry hard cider with oyster mushrooms, herbs and cheese curds

Public Pick

At 6:30 PM, sample the Capital Cook-Off teams' dishes and vote your favorite! 

Consumer Night Schedule 

Buy Local Market Capital Cook-Off
4:00 pm – Market opens 5:15 pm – Secret ingredient revealed
6:45 pm – Raffle winners announced!      5:30 pm – Teams begin cooking
7:00 pm – Market closes 6:30 pm – Teams stop cooking and present dishes to judges
  6:55 pm – Judges announce Capital Cook-Off winners!

Free Admission & Parking

There is no fee for admission to Consumer Night or for parking during the Farm Show; however, non-perishable food donations to support the Vermont Foodbank are highly encouraged. Don’t miss this opportunity to sample and learn about great Vermont products in person—and perhaps even win one of the Consumer Night raffle prizes!


For more information about Consumer Night, contact:

Alissa Matthews
(802) 505-1661

Faith Raymond
(802) 828-1619 

December 28, 2017

MONTPELIER, Vt.- Farm First is lending a helping hand to Vermont farm owners and their families. Farm First provides free and confidential business and personal service for Vermonters working in agriculture. The Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets has teamed up with the Agency of Human Services, INVEST Employee Assistance Program and UVM Extension to create Farm First to ensure that Vermont farm owners and family members living on the farm are provided with the same support and resources available to all Vermont workplaces.

What does Farm First offer?

Professional, confidential consulting and /or counseling and resources to help with ANY personal, family or farm management problem, such as

  • Family communication issues, marriage, kids, siblings
  • Challenges with managing hired help; communication issues, stress
  • Personal supportive counseling services for any issue: lack of sleep, depression, anxiety or persistent worry, grief or loss, substance abuse, parenting worries, caring for your elders….
  • Legal and financial stress
  • If you have an injury or a disability, our partner, VocRehab Vermont can assist you to get adaptations on your equipment, possible respite farm labor and other supports.
  • Business management concerns

Who is Eligible?

  • The owners and family members of Vermont farms or agricultural producers earning a minimum of $10,000 gross income from farming: dairy, maple, tree, grass, fruit or vegetable, beef, goat, equine, pork, poultry, honey, etc.
  • No sign up required, no copays, no forms.  All Vermont farm owners and their families have access to all Farm First services now 

How do I Contact Farm First?

  • Call 1-877-493-6216
  • Online at  you can link to the comprehensive content of our parent organization’s website, There you'll find useful information on many topics; health, legal, financial and six self-assessment tools for depression, anxiety, alcohol, anger, relationships, and gambling.

What Happens When I Call?

  • A Farm First counselor will speak with you to assess your needs, find out your location and how we can help you.  They will then give your information to the Farm First counselor in your area who will follow up with you to get you what you need to reduce your stress and take care of your concerns.

Farm First is YOUR HELPING HAND. It is FREE and Confidential and available 24/7.