Blog

January 26, 2016

By Alison Kosakowski, VAAFM

Winter requires farmers to operate with extra care.

 

Be Prepared for Inclement Weather

The Agency suggests farmers consider the following precautions this winter to deal with inclement weather...

  • Be prepared for power outages. A back-up generator with sufficient fuel to run should be in place prior to the beginning of the storm.
  • To prevent slips and falls, apply sand or gravel to walkways used by workers or livestock.
  • Charge cellphones. Keep flashlights, with batteries, handy.
  • Pump and store adequate supplies of drinking water for humans and animals in case of power outages.
  • Be prepared for delays on the road, including obstructed roadways, which may delay deliveries from suppliers .
  • If milk trucks are unable to reach farms, dairy farmers may exceed their holding capacity for stored milk.  If this is the case, be prepared to dispose of your excess milk in a suitable location.  Make sure to record the volume of milk.
  • The weight of ice on trees and branches may cause them to break off and fall onto buildings and equipment. Take steps in advance to mitigate the impact, if possible.
  • Consider how you will manage is the inclement weather is prolonged. Do you have enough feed and water on-hand to care for your livestock for several days? Will you need to move your animals to a safer location?
  • If it is safe to do so, shovel the snow off barn and house roofs.  If you cannot safely shovel your roof, contact a professional.  The weight of ice or rain added to the weight of the snow currently on roofs may exceed the capacity of the structure and lead to a roof collapse.

Safety first! 

January 21, 2016

The Agency's annual report for 2015 is now available online.

Over the course of the past 12 months, the Agency accomplished a vast scope of work, addressed many challenges, and continued to advance its mission.

Vermont Agriculture has grown and thrived over the past year! We invite you to review our annual report and read about the many ways in which the Agency of Agriculture has worked to support this our Agricultural Economy and Working Landscape! 

Click here to view our 2015 Annual Report

January 21, 2016

WHAT:

  • Winter Buy Local Market: A seasonal farmers market featuring farmers and producers of local cheese, meat, fruits and vegetables, ice cream, maple syrup, honey, wine, beer, spirits, and handmade crafts as well as ready-to-eat prepared foods.
  • Capitol Cook-Off: An Iron Chef-style competition celebrating Vermont food as members of the Vermont House of Representatives, Senate, and Agency of Agriculture compete to prepare the best local dish featuring an exciting secret ingredient and judged by a team of Vermont food celebrities and Lt. Governor Phil Scott. 
  • Universal Recycling Demonstrations: Consumer Night attendees may participate in Vermont’s Universal Recycling and Composting Initiative. Meet staff from the Agency of Natural Resources and Chittenden Solid Waste District Waste Warrior volunteers to learn how to keep recyclables and food scraps out of the trash.

WHO:    Members of the Vermont House of Representatives & Senate; Vermont Agency of Agriculture staff, Vermont Agency of Natural Resources staff,  Vermont food and agriculture professionals, and Lt. Governor Phil Scott. Vermont Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Diane Bothfeld will MC the event.

WHEN: Wednesday, January 27 from 4:00–7:00 PM.

WHERE: Blue Ribbon Pavilion, Champlain Valley Exposition, 105 Pearl St, Essex Junction, VT 05452

Champlain Valley Exposition Grounds Map: http://www.cvexpo.org/GroundsMap.html

For more information, visit VAAFM’s Consumer Night page at http://go.usa.gov/cjU84 and Buy Local Markets page at http://go.usa.gov/cBC9e

For information about Vermont’s Universal Recycling and Composting Initiative, visit www.recycle.vt.gov

 

January 21, 2016

By Jackie Folsom, Farm Show Manager

The Vermont Farm Show, the state's annual winter event showcasing the state's most important industry, will open its three day stand on Tuesday, January 26, at 9:00 a.m.  Over 150 vendors will be on hand to promote new technology and information to visitors of all ages.  The Miller Buildings on the Champlain Valley Fairgrounds – as well as outside space – will be full of a variety of exhibits that include 3 different sizes of robotic milkers,  16 agricultural associations, 4 insurance companies, 4 lending institutions and a variety of large and small equipment dealers.  Forestry and solar companies will also be in attendance!  This show absolutely has something for everyone!

All exhibits – inside and outside – are open all three days, as well as the following events:

  • January 26 will be a busy day for Christmas Tree Growers, Beekeepers and Sugarmakers, as all three of those associations will host their annual meetings.  Buildings will be open from 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
  • January 27 will welcome over 200 FFA students for competitions as well as meetings for the Beef Producers, Organic Farmers and the ever popular Consumer Night.  Doors will open at 10:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m., with Consumer Night and the Legislative CookOff featured from 4:00 – 7:00 in the Blue Ribbon Pavilion.
  • January 28 is focused on dairy, as the Dairy Issues Meeting hosted by Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Diane Bothfeld kicks off the morning, followed by the Dairy Banquet at noon.  The VT Sheep and Goat Association Annual Meeting is also on Thursday.  Doors open at 9:00 a.m.; the show closes at 4:00 p.m.

Parking and admission are free, but again this year we are partnering with the Vermont FoodBank and the Chittenden Emergency Food Shelf, so please plan on bringing a canned or boxed donation; cash offerings will be gladly accepted, too! Contests have changed this year, so please look for entries and winners in the following booths: Vermont Beekeepers, Vermont Maple SugarMakers, Vermont Sheep and Goat Association and the UVM Hay and Silage Display.  Christmas Tree entries will be displayed in the entryway to the Miller Building.

Please check our website – www.vtfarmshow.com – for a listing of events and vendors as well as links for information on contests. See below for information about Consumer Night. See you at the 2016 Vermont Farm Show, January 26-28, at Champlain Valley Exposition, Essex Junction Vermont!

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January 20, 2016

By Ryan Patch, Vermont Agnecy of Agriculture, Food and Markets

Over the past four months, Vermont’s Agency of Agriculture, Food, and Markets (VAAFM) has embarked on an extensive outreach effort to solicit feedback on the new draft Required Agricultural Practices (RAPs). The response from the farming community and the public-at-large has been significant. Nearly 800 people attended more than 30 meetings across the state to voice their opinions, and 169 Vermonters submitted written comments. The Agency is now in the process of consolidating this feedback and re-drafting the RAPs to reflect the community’s input.

The RAPs are an updated version of the Accepted Agricultural Practices (AAPs), the laws which regulate farms in order to protect water quality, re-written to a higher level of performance. As part of Act 64—the Clean Water Act—signed into law in July 2015, the Agency of Agriculture was tasked with updating these regulations to further reduce the impact of agriculture on water quality across the state. The Agency sought public input on its first draft of the new regulations, to ensure the draft RAPs reflected the realities of farming and the legislative intent of Act 64.

“The feedback we received over the past few months is now being incorporated into a second draft, which we will present to the legislature and the public in February,” according to Jim Leland, VAAFM’s Director of Ag Resource Management. “From February to March, we will continue to be open for informal public comment at our AGR.RAP@vermont.gov e-mail address.  We will file a final draft of the RAPs with the Secretary of State in mid-March, which will kick off the formal rulemaking process.” 

The public will then have the opportunity to comment formally and attend public meetings during this process.  Act 64 specifies that the RAPs will be finalized by rule before July 1, 2016.

“We are very pleased to have received so much constructive feedback,” said Vermont’s Ag Secretary, Chuck Ross. “This is a clear indication that Vermonters, particularly farmers, care very deeply about water quality and getting this right. When the RAPs are eventually finalized and signed into law, I know they will be stronger and more effective, as a result of all the input we received.”

A wide range of Vermonters contributed feedback, including lakefront camp owners, environmentalists, and farmers. Based on the sign-in sheets, 54% of the attendees at the public meetings were farmers. Respondents shared a wide range of opinions on issues ranging from the definition of “small farms” to the standards associated with manure spreading and stacking, to the proposed requirements for cover cropping on fields subject to flooding.

“We are currently making significant changes to the draft, based on the feedback we’ve received,” said Leland. “For instance, we now know we need to make changes to the small farm definition, and revise the proposed standards around manure application and stacking – among other changes. We look forward to finalizing the second draft, and sharing it next month.”

In addition to sharing the second draft of the RAPs, VAAFM will make available all written public comments received before Jan 1, 2016.  The Agency will simultaneously publish an abridged responsiveness summary, outlining major themes of public comments. The anticipated delivery date for the second draft of the RAPs was originally scheduled for mid-January, but due to the vast volume of feedback, the deadline has been extended. The second draft of the RAPs, the responsiveness summary, and the public comments will be available to the public on the Agency’s website in early February.

For more information about the RAPs, and the Agency’s efforts to implement Act 64, visit http://agriculture.vermont.gov/water-quality/regulations/rap

Questions and comment about the RAPs can be directed to AGR.RAP@Vermont.gov

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