Blog

March 16, 2017

by Alison Kosakowski

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…

  • 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

  • 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 http://blogs.cornell.edu/beefcattle/files/2014/11/SnowRemoval-1f9lq43.pdf

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

____________________________________________________________________________________

March 6, 2017

Governor Phil Scott officially kicked off Vermont’s maple season today at Silloway Maple in Randolph Center. The Governor joined the Silloway family, Ag Secretary Anson Tebbetts, members of the Randolph Center community, and the Orange County Sugarmakers to tap a tree and celebrate the importance of the maple industry to Vermont’s economy, landscape, and heritage.

Vermont makes more maple syrup than any state in the country – a whopping 47.3% of all the maple syrup in the nation comes from Vermont! The 2016 maple season was Vermont’s best yet, with a total of 1.99 million gallons of syrup produced. That’s 4.85 million taps!

“It’s no secret that Vermont’s maple syrup is world-famous. It’s an important part of our brand and economy, and it draws tourists to Vermont,” said Governor Scott. “I could not be more proud of our maple industry. The hard work and ingenuity of those who support the industry represents what Vermont is all about.”

The sun was shining and the sap was running as the Silloways hosted a fun-filled event for the whole community. They opened their sugaring operation to the public for a day of tours, tastings, and fun.

The maple business is a family affair for the Silloways. In 1940, Paul and Louise Silloway began their dairy operation in Randolph Center as newlyweds, and soon after, began tapping trees. Today, the dairy and maple tradition lives on through their children and grandchildren. Grandsons Paul and David Lambert run the sugaring operation, while another grandson, John, keeps the dairy tradition alive.

“Maple and dairy - it does not get more Vermont than this,” said Ag Secretary, Anson Tebbetts. “This family business is creating opportunities in the community, and providing the next generation with a chance to stay on the land and make a living. Truly wonderful!”

Silloway Maple holds tradition close, while also embracing innovation. In 2014, a new sugarhouse was designed and built, set facing the south, with a narrow northern roof, and a large southern exposure to accommodate seventy solar panels. Even a cold day, the system can output just over 15,000 watts, according to the Silloways. Averaging throughout the year, this energy supplies the sugarhouse, and also about half of the power used on the family dairy farm, just down the road.

Of course, no maple event would be complete without some authentic maple cooking. The Orange County Sugarmakers offered a delicious, maple-inspired lunch for guests to enjoy, and the Silloways served sugar on snow. As a special treat, the Silloways sorganized a maple cooking contest, and encouraged members of the community to enter. Students from NECI judged the competition, and after much deliberation, choose Barbara Warren’s Maple Angel Food Cake as the winner in the adult competition. Joey Ferris took top honors in the kid competition with his Maple Snickerdoodles.

“Of course, my family members have many wonderful maple recipes,” said host Bette Lambert, daughter of the founders, Paul and Louise Silloway. “But we thought we’d give the rest of the community a chance,” she added, with a smile. Bette was at the helm of the event today, serving as the main organizer among a large crew of Silloways and Lamberts.

“Thank you, Silloway family, for hosting this terrific event,” said Governor Scott. “And thank you to all Vermont sugarmakers, for creating jobs, keeping our landscape in production, building the Vermont brand, and making the very best syrup in the world!”

_______________________________________________________________________________

February 22, 2017

By Anson Tebbetts, Vermont Secretary of Agriculture

February. I really start to think about Spring. The seed catalogs are stacked up. I start to think about ordering my seeds. What will I try this year? When I walk in the woods, I hear the mating call of the chickadees and the owls are hooting early in the morning. They are in the midst of “making more owls.” When I walk to the barn each morning, I wonder if the ewes have had their lambs? Spring is near.

As we think about a new season, we are in the midst of listening and learning from you. Thanks to all those who met with us at the annual farm show in Essex. We did hear a few themes from our farmers. We heard you continue to want our help with issues.  Finding qualified labor to do the work on the farm, in the fields and on the road was one consistent concern we heard from those making a living from Agriculture. We heard you value the technical assistance we provide to new and growing businesses as you work your way through federal and state regulations. We heard from our maple industry about “fake” versus “real.” Our sugar makers told us some of our big food companies are using the word maple loosely and it’s hurting their industry. We will continue to learn more about this important consumer assurance issue.

Keep the feedback coming. We are serious about customer service. We are also serious about growing the Vermont economy. We are serious about making Vermont more affordable. We are also serious about taking care of those who need our help. The Governor has challenged all of us to be “bold” and break down the silos in state government. Agriculture is talking with the Agency of Commerce. Agriculture is working with the Agency of Transportations. Agriculture is communicating with Labor. Agriculture is staying close to public safety.  We can all help each other make Vermont a better place to live and work.

Governor Scott and the legislature are both committed to growing the rural economy. Agriculture will play a large role in that effort, and we will continue to work closely with the Governor’s office and the legislature to address the issues that are most important to all of you. Keep the ideas coming. Thanks for your warm welcome and continued leadership. 

Now back to those seed catalogs.

February 22, 2017

 By Marc Paquette, VAAFM Weights and Measures Specialist, Consumer Protection

March 1-7 is National Weights and Measures Week, a time to recognize the important role of weights and measures inspectors 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 Chief, Weights and Measures Specialist/Metrologist, and six field inspectors, many of whom are cross trained to conduct other types of inspection work as well.

The Metrologist manages the metrology lab, which maintains the state’s weights and measures standards, conducts calibrations on weighing and measuring artifacts, and advises both the program staff and private industry in regard to 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 trade. 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.

A top priority of the section is responding to consumer concerns. During the last year, many concerns have been addressed such as: short measure on gas pumps, oil truck meters, beer, and firewood, as well as issues regarding retail pricing accuracy and fuel quality.

Today, quantities are determined in all business sectors using the latest technology. Gasoline stations and supermarkets employ state of the art weighing and measuring equipment. Inspectors need to have an understanding of software in the documentation, inspection, and investigation process. Some challenges that many jurisdictions, including Vermont, will be facing is that of alternative fuels. Evolving fuel and energy sources such as ethanol, biodiesel, bio butanol, natural gas, hydrogen, and electrical recharging for motor vehicles and developing inspection processes for these fuels will require new testing methods and added training.

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_...

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 Marc Paquette, VAAFM Weights and Measures Specialist, Consumer Protection Phone: Email: marc.paquette@vermont.gov

February 16, 2017
Governor Phil Scott and Ag Secretary Anson Tebbetts will ceremonially kick-off Vermont’s 2017 Maple Season on February 28th in Randolph Center. Silloway Maple will host a fun-filled day to celebrate the importance of the maple industry to Vermont’s communities, economy, and heritage.
 
The Silloway family invites members of the community to come out from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. to sample maple treats and tour their sugaring operation. Governor Scott will arrive at 11:30 to tap a tree and offer remarks about the importance of this signature product for Vermont.
 
The Orange County Sugarmakers will be offering a delicious, maple-inspired lunch for guests to enjoy, and the Siloways will be serving sugar on snow. Aspiring epicures are invited to test their talents in the maple specialty food competition, which will be judged by students from the New England Culinary Institute.
 For more information about Silloway maple, or details about entering the specialty cooking contest, visit www.sillowaymaple.com
 
All are invited to attend this event! Hope to see you there!
 
Who: Governor Phil Scott and Secretary Anson Tebbetts, with the Siloway Family of Randolph Center
What: Kicking off the 2017 Vermont Maple Season
Where: 1303 Boudro Road, Randolph Center (Map)

Pages