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.


December 26, 2017

Half of All VAST Trails Cross Vermont Farmland

Winter is back, and Vermonters are ready to play in the snow once more!

It’s no secret that Vermonters love snowmobiling, but did you know that more than 2,400 miles of VAST (Vermont Association of Snow Travelers) Trails cross Vermont farmland? That’s more than half of all the VAST trails, statewide.

“Without farmers, the VAST trail system as we know it would not exist,” according to Matt Tetreault, VAST’s Trails Administrator, who oversees VAST’s statewide network of 4700 miles of trails. “VAST relies on the generosity of private landowners who allow the trail system to cross their property. We are especially grateful to the farmers who make their land available in wintertime, for our club members to enjoy.”

In fact, 64% of all the private land in the VAST trail network is farmland. (Private land accounts for about 80% of the total VAST trail network.)

According to the USDA Census of Agriculture, there are more than 7300 farms in Vermont, encompassing over 1.25 million acres.

“Farms add to the beauty and character of Vermont’s landscape, and many provide fun recreational opportunities for Vermonters, too” according to Ag Secretary Anson Tebbetts. “Thanks farmers, for all you do!”

“Be safe, enjoy the snow, and have some fun,” he added.

December 21, 2017

By Shelley Mehlenbacher, Assistant State Veterinarian, Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets

During the 2017 legislative session, state lawmakers modernized Vermont laws that regulate livestock movement in the State. The information in this letter will inform you of these regulatory changes and provide you with contact information and other resources necessary to effectively implement the new requirements.  As with any new law or rule, the Vermont Agency of Agriculture (VAAFM) will spend considerable time educating and providing technical assistance to farmers and licensed dealers/transporters regarding these statutory updates, which became effective on July 1, 2017, prior to taking any enforcement action against violators of the new language. 

These statutory changes are contained in Act 30, which can be viewed at the following link:

What are the requirements?

  • Act 30 requires all livestock being transported within the State to satisfy the requirements for

official identification for interstate movement under the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal Disease Traceability rule, 9 C.F.R. part 86 prior to leaving the property of origin, regardless of the reason for movement or duration of absence from the property. Livestock include dairy and beef cattle, sheep, goats, pigs and camelids. Examples of livestock movement within the state that this requirement applies to include transport from the farm of origin to a slaughter facility, movement to a new farm location, and transport to a fair or exhibit.

  • There is already an existing requirement for animals to be officially identified for movement between states. Animal disease traceability, or knowing where diseased and at-risk animals are, where they've been, and when, is very important to ensure a rapid response when animal disease events occur. An efficient and accurate animal disease traceability system helps reduce the number of animals involved in an investigation, reduces the time needed to respond, and decreases the cost to producers and the government.

Any exceptions to the intrastate identification requirement?

  • Livestock transported from the property of origin for purposes of receiving veterinary care at a hospital in Vermont are exempt from the ID requirements, provided that the livestock are returned to the property of origin immediately following the conclusion of veterinary care.

What is official identification?

  • The definition of official identification does not include back tags.
  • Official identification is defined as a nationally unique number that is permanently associated with an animal or group of animals and that adheres to one of the following systems:

1) National Uniform Eartagging System (NUES). NUES ear tags are generally metal and begin with an official state number followed by three letters and then four numbers. The official state number for Vermont is ’13’.

(2) Animal Identification Number (AIN). AIN ear tags begin with an official country code followed by an additional 12 digit for 15 digits in total. The official U.S. country code is ‘840’.

(3) Location-based number system.

(4) Flock-based number system.

What official identification methods are used in Vermont and how do I obtain official ear tags?

  • Metal ear tags (NUES tags) and 840 ear tags (AIN tags) are commonly used in Vermont by livestock owners. For many years, VAAFM has provided metal NUES tags at no charge to farmers, veterinarians, and livestock dealers. Please call the Animal Health Section at (802) 828-2421 to request tags.
  • AIN 840 tags may be purchased from most ear tag distributors.

What are the next steps?

  • VAAFM strongly encourages all livestock farmers, dealers, transporters, market personnel and other industry partners to review Act 30 and contact the VAAFM Animal Health Office with any questions.
  • VAAFM Animal Health staff will be working with impacted businesses and farms to ensure proper implementation of these new ID requirements for intrastate livestock movement.
  • VAAFM staff can assist farmers with obtaining ear tags and answer questions about the requirements and official identification.

What resources are available?

December 20, 2017

When the snow comes down heavy and hard, it’s time for farmers to start thinking about barn roof safety.

Heavy snow can put barn roofs at risk, but snow removal must be performed carefully. Removing snow without the proper approach can actually cause more damage, by creating an unbalanced load. Remember, your number one priority must to be protect your own safety!

Farmers are encouraged to consider these safety tips, provided by Cornell University, when considering snow removal from a barn roof.


  • DO consider a systematic approach. You need a plan! For a diagram of the best way to remove snow from your barn structure, see this tip sheet from Cornell.
  • DO listen for creaking or moaning – if your barn is built from wood, unusual sounds may indicate there’s trouble afoot
  • DO look for bending or bowing rafters, headers, or columns. There are often visual cues to be found, if you look carefully at the structure.
  • DO ask for help. You can’t do this alone. Who is your back up? Is there anyone in your community with expertise or equipment, who might be willing to help?


  • DON'T remove snow unequally from the roof. Unbalanced loads can create even more problems.. 
  • DON’T pile snow atop the roof. Do not simply move the snow from one area of the roof to another. 
  • DON’T attempt to clear the snow yourself! Make sure there are others nearby, helping and watching, in the event of a problem. 

Most importantly, DO NOT PUT YOUR OWN SAFETY AT RISK. For a full overview of the best way to remove snow from a barn roof, visit

Vermont farmers are critical to our landscape, heritage, economy, and communities. We have NONE TO SPARE! Be safe!