Blog

February 27, 2018

By Secretary Anson Tebbetts, Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets

February 27, 2017 / Montpelier, VT - As legislators move into the second half of the session, efforts to improve the quality of water in Vermont continue. On the tables of legislative committees, a series of proposals address everything from funding to emergency action. These are healthy discussions, and they are not confined to the Golden Dome.

The Agency of Agriculture is working with farmers and stakeholders on a host of issues. As the Legislature does its work, farmers and stakeholders are doing theirs. Many people are working through water quality, contemporaneously. We are making progress.

There is a water clean-up plan. It is in place. The plan is robust, and it is being followed – any suggestions to the contrary are false. At the same time, our team has continually provided detailed testimony to legislators on the action plan. We will continue providing lawmakers and others with the most accurate information as they continue their deliberations.

Just as decades of pollution have collected in Vermont waters over the years, addressing the issue will take time, but we are committed to the work.  For instance, Franklin’s Lake Carmi: all the players recognize the difficult situation faced by all people living and working in this watershed. Our water quality team, working with the team at the Agency of Natural Resources and the Vermont Water Quality Partnership, is in constant communication with residents, farmers, camp owners, and lawmakers, finding the best path forward.

At the same time, the talks we have had in the Legislature have been constructive. The discussions with the farm community have also been productive. Farmers working the land around Lake Carmi have stepped up and are willing to do more for water quality than they are legally obligated to do, during one of the most economically challenging periods farmers have faced in decades. 

You might hear noise, distractions or distortions. Some people will try to lay blame solely at the feet of farmers, treating them unfairly, hoping it will somehow magically clean up the lake. It won’t. How farmers manage the land – and the landscape itself – has changed.  Over 500 acres of land is no longer in agriculture in the Carmi watershed compared to  2009.  The Agency of Agriculture will continue to work collaboratively, with anyone, on a plan that gets Vermont to a better place for all those who love our beautiful state.

Change takes time. Meaningful change does not happen overnight.

From detailed land assessments to on-farm land management practices, Vermonters will soon see the work that is behind us, as well as the work that is before us. As the Legislature works - and farmers, the Agency, and stakeholders work - our collective work will make a difference in Vermont water quality.

Related Stories:

Secretary Tebbetts Op-Ed: Quality in Water and Farming

Farming with Water Quality in Mind: Holyoke Farm

 

February 26, 2018

 

 

AGENDA

 

6th Annual NEK Veterans Summit: Saturday, March 10, 2018 at Lyndon State College

 

7:00 to 8:00 am

Exhibitor Setup (Location: Stannard Gym)

 

 

8:00 to 9:00 am

Summit Check-in and Information Table: (Location: ATT Foyer)

Exhibitor Booths: OPEN (Location: Stannard Gym)

Hot Breakfast Buffet (Location: Stannard Gym)

 

 

9:00 to 9:05 am

Presentation of the Colors and the National Anthem (Location: ATT)

—Orleans County Military Honors Detail

—National Anthem performed by Miss Emma Strange

 

 

9:05 to 9:15 am

Welcome Remarks (Location: ATT)

—Thom Anderson, Advisor to the Veterans Club

—Elaine Collins, President, Northern Vermont University

 

9:15 to 9:25 am

Vermont State Colleges Welcome Address (Location: ATT)

—Jeb Spaulding, Chancellor, Vermont State Colleges

 

9:25 to 9:30 am

Governor’s Welcome

— Phil Scott, Governor of Vermont

 

9:30 to 9:40 am

Special Address

— Peter Welch, U.S. Congressman of Vermont

 

9:40 to 9:55 am

Keynote Address (Location: ATT)

Lt. Mark Fountain, Honor Flight New England

 

9:55 to 10:20 am

Summit Address (Location: ATT)

—Acting Director Matthew Mulcahy, WRJ VA Medical Center

 

10:20 to 10:45 am

Guest Veteran

Thomas WhorlMarine, Author, Student

 

10:45 to 11:10

Special Guest

Melissa JacksonCEO/Administrator, Vermont Veterans’ Home

 

 

 

 

 

11:30 to 12:20 pm

Morning Breakout Sessions

  • Homeless Veterans (Location: ACT T202)

  • Veteran Farming (Location: LAC 412)

  • Student Veterans (Location: LAC 342)

  • Veterans Employment Opportunities (Location LAC 343)

 

 

Employment Opportunities for Veterans—Vermont Veterans Employment Network

Please visit the Vermont Department of Labor booth located at booth number 55I and the ESGR (Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve) booth located at 41H, both located in the Stannard Gym. Information, resources, and private one on one meetings in LAC 343 are available to veterans looking for employment during the event.

 

Lunch 12:20– 12:55 pm

Lunch by voucher at the StevensDining Hall. Vouchers included with name tag. Lunch is available from 11:30 am to 1:30 pm.

 

OPEN: Exhibitor Booths, Stand Down,and Mobile Vet Center in the Stannard Gym and Circular Drive

 

1:00 pm to 1:50 pm

Afternoon Breakout Sessions

  • Women Veterans (women only) (Location: LAC 400)

  • Mental Health Awareness for Veterans and their Families (Location: ACT T202)

  • Sierra Club Military Outdoors (LAC 342)

  • Veterans Employment Opportunities (Location LAC 343)

2:00 pm to 3:00 pm

Public Concert (Location: ATT)

—Vermont’s Own 40th Army Band

 

Ongoing

Coffee Break with Veteran Service Organizations and Exhibitors. The Mobile Vet Center, and veteran service organization booths will be on hand throughout the day to provide key information and resources important to the veteran community, including a “Stand Down” hosted by the VA. Exhibitor Booths and the VA Stand Down are located in the Stannard Gym. The Mobile Vet Center is located in the Circular Drive near the ATT Theater.

5th Annual Ian Muller Rail Jam at Burke Mountain Resort Saturday, March 10, 2018

Location: The Shelburne Base Lodge at Burke Mountain, 223 Sherburne Lodge Road, East Burke, VT

Time: Post Summit

Tribute to Ian Muller and other fallen heroes, Scholarship Ceremony, Cash Bar, and Live Entertainment

Post-Summit Event at Burke Mountain, Sunday, March 11, 2018 Free Lift Tickets for Veterans and their Immediate Family Members Proof of Service Required

Location: Burke Mountain, 223 Sherburne Lodge Road, East Burke, VT

Sunday 3/11 9:00 am to 4:00 pm

Free Lift Tickets for Veterans and their Immediate Family Members (Proof of Service Required)

SAVE THE DATE: 7TH Annual Northern Vermont Veterans Summit March 9, 2019 at Northern Vermont University—Johnson Campus

WiFi Instructions: Choose “NVU” under the wireless options and then enter the following:

Username: veterans - Password: veterans2018

Note: Presenters using our teacher stations will log-in with the same username and password

 

The Burke Mountain Hotel and Conference Center is offering a lodging package at a deeply discounted rate for anyone attending the Summit. The hotel has a heated outdoor pool (year round) and hot tub, fitness center, free Wi-Fi, and the View Pub with excellent views. Two people can stay from $155/night plus tax in a studio suite. To make reservations, please contact the reservation desk at

866-966-4820 and use PROMO CODE: “MJAM” to receive the lodging discount. http://skiburke.com/

 

February 26, 2018

(Pete’s Greens of Craftsbury was one of eight large-scale Vermont produce farms to recieve state grants in round one to help comply with a federal food safety regulations.)

Get Ready to Apply for Vt. Produce Safety Improvement Grants – Round Two

Montpelier, Vt. – The Vermont Produce Safety Improvement Grant program will begin accepting applications on Wednesday, February 28 at 9:00 AM. The Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food, & Markets (VAAFM) offers Produce Safety Improvement Grants to help Vermont produce growers prevent or reduce produce safety risks on their farms. Round One grants were awarded in December 2017.

Program staff are eager to learn about projects to improve produce safety submitted during the second round. “Projects granted in the first round had a few common themes—all with the same goal to reduce on-farm produce safety risks. Upgrading equipment to have easy-to-clean surfaces, improving wash/pack facilities, and installing additional coolers were the focus of most projects,” said Abbey Willard, Agricultural Development Director at VAAFM.

Approximately $74,000 in funding will be available in the second round of the grant, and funds will be awarded on a first-come, first-served basis to eligible applicants. Applicants must grow, harvest, pack, or hold “covered produce” as defined by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration’s Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Produce Safety Rule and have average annual produce sales of greater than $25,000 over the past three years.

The Agency expects funding to be allocated quickly, as round one funds were completely allocated within hours. To prepare for the second-round opening, applicants should:

Questions related to the Produce Safety Improvement Grants or the FSMA Produce Safety Rule should be directed to (802) 522-3132 or AGR.FSMA@vermont.gov.

Contact:
Dominique Giroux
Education and Outreach Coordinator (Produce Safety)
Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food, & Markets

(802) 522-3132
Dominique.Giroux@vermont.gov

February 23, 2018

 

By Alissa Matthews, VT Agency of Ag

According to Small Farm Central’s CSA Farming Annual Report, the most popular time to join a CSA each year is at the end of February. To promote this important time for farmers, CSA Day was coined, and each year it falls on the last Friday in February. It’s an entire day dedicated to the celebration of community-supported agriculture, and CSA farmers enjoy an influx of sign-ups from members, which gives them revenue when they need it most for the growing season.

Farms all across Vermont are invited to join other farms from around the country for the 4th annual CSA Day on February 23, 2018. A Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program allows people to pay for a season’s worth of local produce, meats, eggs and/or other specialty products (a membership) in advance, providing working capital so that farmers can get ready for the growing season.  The CSA member then receives a box of local goods throughout the harvest season. CSA members enjoy the convenience and quality of locally grown and raised food, while supporting their local farmer.

Getting food from a CSA is different from going to a farmers’ market or using a grocery delivery service. As a CSA member, you make a seasonal commitment to a small farmer in your area, and you pick it up at the farm or a local community space. CSA members take pleasure in knowing where and how their food is grown, and typically have an open line of communication with their farmer.

“Community-supported agriculture is all about relationships and feeding families,” said Simon Huntley, CEO of Small Farm Central, a company that provides marketing support for small farms and started CSA Day. “CSA farmers typically teach members what’s in season throughout the year, and help them appreciate and cook food to which they may not otherwise be exposed.”

Visit http://csaday.info to stay up to date on news and updates about CSA Day and use the hashtag #CSAday through your social media channels to join the online conversation.

February 21, 2018

(Dr. Heather Darby speaking at the UVM Extension Northwest Crops & Soils Annual Field Day in July 2017, an event that provided approved Water Quality Training to attending farmers.)

By Kaitlin Hayes, VT Agency of Ag             

When the Required Agricultural Practices (RAPs) were enacted on December 5, 2017, they included many changes for farmers. One of these changes requires farmers and custom applicators to obtain Agricultural Water Quality Training.

Water Quality Training requires operators of Certified Small Farms and permitted Medium or Large Farms to obtain four hours water quality training every five years.

The training hours must be approved by the Secretary and cover the follow topics:

  • Prevention of Discharges
  • Mitigation or Management of Stormwater Runoff
  • Statutory or Regulatory Requirements for Operation of a Certified Small, Medium, or Large Farm Operations
  • Financial Resources Available to Assist Farming Operations
  • Mechanical Application of Manure or Nutrients
  • Methods or Techniques Used to Minimize Runoff of Applied Manure or Nutrients to Waters of the State
  • Weather and Soil Conditions That Increase the Risk of Runoff of Manure or Nutrients to Waters of the State
  • Standards for Nutrient Management Including Nutrient Management Planning

Training offered by other entities and partners can be approved to fulfill this requirement, as long as all events are approved by the Secretary. Sign-In sheets are provided at these events for farmers; the sheets are then submitted to the Agency, so farmer attendance and training hours can be logged.

Many ongoing or current events count for Water Quality Training Credits, all farmers should make sure to check in with event organizers regarding opportunities for receiving credits. Some events that fulfill Training requirements are: Nutrient Management Plan Classes, Soil Health Field Days, Precision Agriculture Forums, Innovative Agriculture Discussions, Educational RAP Presentations or Classes, as well as many other events.

The requirement for Water Quality Training Credits became effective July 1, 2017. The Agency will use Sign-In sheets to track the credits earned by farmers, and to recognize those farmers that have gone above and beyond to learn about agricultural impacts on water quality and have earned the most credits:

  • Distinction in Water Quality Knowledge Award: Annually awarded to the farm operation or operator that has earned the most credits for the timespan of July 1, 2017 – July 1, 2018
  • 5 Years of Excellence in Water Quality Knowledge Award: Awarded to the farm operation or operator that has earned the most Water Quality Training Credits throughout the duration of the 5-year cycle spanning July 1, 2017 – July 1, 2022

The Agency encourages partners to submit Event Applications, to increase opportunities for farmers to earn Credit hours.

Make sure to check the Agriview Calendar or the Agency’s Calendar online for upcoming events

For more information on Water Quality Training requirements or to ask other questions, please email AGR.WaterQuality@vermont.gov or call (802) 828-2431.

For partners and organizers - to find an Event Application, please visit: http://agriculture.vermont.gov/sites/ag/files/WQ_Training_Event_Application_Final.pdf

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