Blog

March 1, 2018

 

March 1, 2017 / Montpelier VT – Today marks the beginning of National Weights and Measures Week, a time to recognize the important role of weights and measures regulatory programs 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 Weights & Measures Metrology lab managed by a Metrologist and a corresponding field inspection component. The Metrologist manages the program’s laboratory.  The metrology lab maintains the state’s weights and measures standards, conducts calibrations on weighing and measuring artifacts, and advises both the program staff and private industry regarding 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 commerce.   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.  This work promotes consumer protection by ensuring that these devices are accurate and correct and by also monitoring pricing integrity and weighing and measuring practices where commercial transactions occur.    

A top priority of the section is responding to consumer concerns, the most common being: short measure on gas pumps, oil truck meters, beer, and firewood, as well as issues regarding retail pricing accuracy and fuel quality.  

The National Conference on Weights and Measures (NCWM) has announced that this year’s theme is  Back to the Basics as we Arrive in the Cloud.  The theme expresses the dynamic challenges faced by regulatory jurisdictions across the country.   Gasoline stations and supermarkets employ state of the art weighing and measuring equipment. Inspectors need to understand software in the documentation, inspection, and investigation process. Technology is changing so rapidly that inspection staff are often playing catch up to significant changes in how commerce takes place.  Discounts can now be taken at gas stations using I-Phones, transportation systems such as UBER now employ GPS based measurement systems that charge consumers not based on a traditional physical taxi meter but from sources not physically connected to the vehicle. Theft at the gas pump is now taking place by the use of skimmers that are illegally installed in the pump and steal consumers credit and debit card information. 

                 

Weights and Measures jurisdictions often face many unique challenges. In the future, one issue that could potentially affect the state of Vermont Weights and Measures program is that of the sale of recreational Cannabis. Due to the high unit price of cannabis special requirements would need to take place.  Issues of appropriate higher-class scales, higher level of test weights, package and labeling, method of sale, and moisture loss are all issues that other states have had to define in implementing a cannabis inspection program.     

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_protection/violations

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

February 27, 2018

February 27, 2018 / Montpelier VT - The Vermont Department of Forests, Parks & Recreation (VTFPR) and the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Foods & Markets (VAAFM) report that emerald ash borer (EAB), a destructive forest insect from Asia, has been detected in Vermont. Officials with the USDA Animal & Plant Health and Inspection Service (APHIS) have confirmed the identification of a beetle recently found in northern Orange County, Vermont. The insect was reported through the vtinvasives.org website.

EAB overwinter as larvae under the bark of ash trees where they feed on the inner bark tissue. Once infested, ash trees rapidly decline and are killed in 3-5 years. This pest is known to be established in 32 states and three Canadian provinces, and is responsible for widespread decline and mortality of hundreds of millions of ash trees in North America.

Ash trees comprise approximately 5% of Vermont forests and are also a very common and important urban tree. EAB threatens white ash, green ash and black ash in Vermont and could have significant ecological and economic impacts. There are no proven means to control EAB in forested areas, though individual trees can sometimes be effectively treated.

State and federal forest health officials have convened and are preparing to implement an emergency action plan in response to the recent EAB detection in Vermont. A multi-agency delineation survey effort, including personnel from VAAFM, VTFPR, APHIS, US Forest Service and the University of Vermont Extension, will be launched in the upcoming days to determine the extent of the EAB infestation. Results of the survey will inform subsequent management recommendations and quarantine decisions and will be released to the public.

Slowing the spread of EAB is very important. While adult EAB are capable of flying short distances, humans have accelerated spread by moving infested material, particularly firewood, long distances. Residents and visitors are reminded to protect Vermont’s forests by buying and burning local firewood.

Landowners with questions are encouraged to contact their county forester. You can find county foresters on this website: http://fpr.vermont.gov/forest/your_woods/county_forest/who_where.

A public information meeting is being planned and details will be announced shortly.

For questions please contact:

Barbara Schultz, Forest Health Program Manager

VT Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation

802-777-2082

barbara.schultz@vermont.gov

Emilie Inoue, State Pest Survey Coordinator

VT Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets

802-505-0217

emilie.inoue@vermont.gov

More information is available at: http://vtinvasives.org/

February 27, 2018

(Vermont Agency of Agriculture, UVM Extension, and New Hampshire representatives are participating in the Produce Safety Alliance Water Summit remotely on February 27 and 28, 2018.)

The Produce Safety Alliance (PSA) Water Summit is taking place today and tomorrow in Covington, KY. Due to high demand, there are also 28 remote sessions taking place across the country feeding into the Summit in real time, including a session organized by University of Vermont Extension in Barre, Vt. The PSA Water Summit centers on Subpart E—Agricultural Water of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Produce Safety Rule (PSR) There have been many questions, concerns, and debates surrounding the PSR’s Agricultural Water standards, and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) seeks feedback from Summit participants so they can work to make the requirements practical, economical, and less burdensome for produce growers.

Objectives of the PSA Water Summit are as follows:

  • Discuss the diverse ways that water is being used in farms across the country as well as challenges and concerns related to current standards for water quality and testing.
  • Discuss and develop minimum standards, practices, or approaches to identify challenges and concerns with existing PSR requirements to control water quality hazards. These should be practical for the production of fruits and vegetables.
  • Recommend actionable next steps related to the standards, practices or approaches that address these challenges and concerns, including 1) the scientific basis for standards, practices, or approaches, 2) implementation support, including recommended partnerships and timelines, and 3) a process to review and validate scientific data or information collected to support the use of minimum standards, practices, or approaches to meet the requirements of the PSR.

During the FDA Welcome at the Summit, Dr. Stephen Ostroff, Deputy FDA Commissioner for Food & Veterinary Medicine, made it clear that the standards in Subpart E are not set in stone and noted that “all options are on the table, including reopening the rule.” This Summit is an important opportunity for produce growers, state, extension, and other industry stakeholders to provide feedback to FDA on the Agricultural Water standards so that FDA can take all aspects into consideration as they move forward in considering revisions to the standard.

A live one-way audio and video stream is available and free to the public. If you are interested in listening to the Produce Safety Alliance Water Summit please visit https://producesafetyalliance.cornell.edu/water-summit and follow the instructions under “Public Zoom Webinar Links.”

The Vermont Produce Program at the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food, & Markets will be providing growers with updates regarding Subpart E as final requirements and compliance dates are determined. To stay up to date on the Produce Safety Rule, partner with the Vermont Produce Program by enrolling your farm in the Vermont Produce Portal at http://agriculture.vermont.gov/produceprogram. You will receive updates on the PSR and produce safety requirements and can work directly with program staff to determine if your farm is subject to the FSMA Produce Safety Rule.

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

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

 

 

 

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/

 

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