June 23, 2016

By Diane Bothfeld

The Vermont Farm Show has announced it will support the Farm and Agricultural Resource Management Stewards (FARMS) 2+2 Scholarship program for the next 4 years.  The Farm Show has committed $43,000 to the FARMS 2+2 Scholarship program, which provides scholarships to young Vermonters who are pursuing dairy careers.

Founded in 2001, the  FARMS 2+2 scholarship funds half tuitions for two years of study at Vermont Technical College (VTC) and full tuition for two subsequent years at the University of Vermont (UVM).  The fund is administered by the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, and the student recipients are selected by VTC and UVM.  The program also includes semesters at Vermont Tech Diary Farm and Teaching Lab in Norwich, Vermont and the Miner Agriculture Research Institute in Chazy, New York. Over 65 2+2 scholars have graduated in the past 15 years and are now active in agribusiness industries and on farms across Vermont.

“The FARMS 2+2 program provides a broad educational base for Vermont’s future dairy leaders,” said Chuck Ross, Vermont’s Secretary of Agriculture.  “The support from the Vermont Farm Show will enrich this important program, and provide a strong link between students and the industry,” he added.

The Vermont Farm Show is the premier venue for farmers to interact with the ag related businesses that keep the industry strong.  Several years ago, Farm Show vendors suggested a scholarship to assist young people interested in continuing their education in the agricultural sector.  Due to strong exhibitor support over the years, the Vermont Farm Show is in a position to do so. 

"The FARMS 2+2 Scholarship Program is a great investment in young agriculturalists and Vermont agriculture," said Dave Martin, Vermont Farm Show President.  "We are also going to offer our exhibitors an opportunity to support this program."

The Vermont Farm Show has been the state’s unofficial trade show for agriculture for over 80 years.  In 2012, the Show moved from Barre to Essex Junction and has grown into a three day event attended by more than 14,000 guests, featuring over 145 vendors and 15 organization meetings.  Always scheduled for the last week in January, the Show's visitors have also donated almost 2 tons of food and several hundred dollars to area food shelves in lieu of an entry fee since moving to the Champlain Valley fairgrounds.


June 23, 2016

By Ryan Patch

The Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets (VAAFM) will host six public hearings on the Required Agricultural Practices (RAPs) Proposed Rule on June 21 in St. Albans, June 22 in Brandon, June 23 in South Royalton, June 27 in Manchester, June 28 in Newport, and June 29 in Brattleboro.

WHAT:  VAAFM will host six public hearings throughout Vermont for farmers, stakeholders and the public to provide testimony and comment on the RAP Proposed Rule.  A public comment period on the RAP Proposed Rule is open until July 7, 2016.  The RAP Proposed Rule is available on the Agency website:

As a result of Act 64—the Vermont Clean Water Act—signed into law in June 2015, the Agency of Agriculture was tasked with updating the Accepted Agricultural Practices (AAPs) to further reduce the impact of agriculture on water quality across the state. The RAPs are an updated version of the AAPs, the rules in place since 1995 which regulate farms in order to protect water quality, re-written to a higher level of performance.

To date, VAAFM has held more than 80 small stakeholder and large public meetings on the RAPs to solicit feedback from farmers, stakeholders and the public.  Over 1800 constituents have attended these meetings since October, 2015.  Summary outreach materials, including the recording of a webinar explaining the RAP Proposed Rule in detail, are available on the Agency website:

These public hearings open to the public.  A print copy of the RAP Proposed Rule can be requested by e-mail, phone or in writing.  Email or call (802) 828-2431 for more information.

Written public comment can be submitted to the Agency’s RAP e-mail inbox at or by mailing comment to the Agency of Agriculture at 116 State Street, Montpelier, VT 05620.

WHO: Farmers, stakeholders and the general public can attend these public hearings to learn more about the RAP Proposed Rule and to share testimony and comment.

VAAFM was directed by the Legislature to draft the RAPs pursuant to Act 64, signed into law on June 16, 2015.  Act 64 of 2015 amended and enacted multiple requirements related to water quality in the State.  Act 64 requires that the revised RAPs include requirements for: small farm certification, nutrient storage, soil health, buffer zones, livestock exclusion, and nutrient management.

WHEN/WHERE: Required Agricultural Practices Proposed Rule Public Hearing

June 21, 2016 | 12:30–3:30 PM

St Albans Historical Museum | 9 Church Street, St. Albans City, VT 05478

Required Agricultural Practices Proposed Rule Public Hearing

June 22, 2016 | 12:30–3:30 PM

Brandon American Legion | 590 Franklin St., Brandon, VT 05733

Required Agricultural Practices Proposed Rule Public Hearing

June 23, 2016 | 12:30–3:30 PM

Vermont Law School | 164 Chelsea St., South Royalton, VT 05068

Required Agricultural Practices Proposed Rule Public Hearing

June 27, 2016 | 12:30–3:30 PM

Fraternal Order of Eagles | 2282 VT-11, Manchester Center, VT 05255

Required Agricultural Practices Proposed Rule Public Hearing

June 28, 2016 | 12:30–3:30 PM

Newport American Legion | 160 Freeman St., Newport, VT 05855

Required Agricultural Practices Proposed Rule Public Hearing

June 29, 2016 | 12:30–3:30 PM

Brattleboro American Legion | 32 Linden St., Brattleboro, VT 05301

For more information about the RAPs, and the Agency’s efforts to implement Act 64 of 2015, please visit or contact the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets at (802) 828-2431.


May 31, 2016

Shoppers pose for a photo in front of Green Mountain Girls Farm Stand in Northfield, VT

By Hailee May & Abbey Willard, VAAFM

A new on-line directory of Vermont farm stands is now available on the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets (VAAFM) website to help facilitate connections between the producers and consumers of local Vermont products, and to support Vermont shoppers in making informed decisions about their food purchases.  Utilizing recent data collected in a 2015 farm stand survey conducted by the VAAFM’s Food System team, the new farm stand directory will allow consumers to search for farm stands by name, location, season, product, organic/non-organic certification, pick your own, and EBT availability.  The new directory also includes a map feature that will allow consumers to search for farm stands in a particular area.  The new directory can be accessed on the VAAFM website here:

In November of 2015, the VAAFM developed a Vermont Farm Stand survey to not only assess the number of farm stands currently operating in Vermont, but also collect data on farm stand product offerings, hours of operation, as well as location and payment options.  According to the survey results, there are over 98 operating farm stands geographically distributed across Vermont, which collectively served over 6,000 customers daily during 2015’s peak season.

While Vermont food and farm businesses produce a vast diversity of products, the farm stand survey results showed that fruits, vegetables, berries, eggs, honey, maple syrup, and flowers were the most popular items available at farm stands.  Although some farm stand operators reported offering products made by other producers, and in a few cases, other states, 95% of reported sales at Vermont farm stands were derived from products produced on their own farms.

The Farm Stand Survey responses also demonstrated a 4% increase in customer visits between 2014 and 2015, from 212,000 to 220,000 visitors, and a 7% increase in farm stands sales, from $2,268,449 to $2,431,342 over the same time period.  While historical farm stand data is limited, the growth trends in both customers and sales over the last two years suggests expanding market opportunities for the promotion and sales of local products via farm stands. 

Going forward, the VAAFM’s Food System team will work to ensure the accuracy and utility of the Farm Stand Directory by maintaining strong partnerships with Vermont farm stand operators to keep data up-to-date and add additional information and features over time.

The Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont (NOFA-VT) is partnering with VAAFM to conduct similar surveys of Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farms and farmers’ markets with the intent of sharing the results in both a comprehensive online directory at VAAFM and a listing of organic and NOFA-VT membership operations at Later this summer, consumers can expect to see the addition of CSA and farmers’ market data to the Farm Stand Directory, creating a comprehensive source of direct to consumer local product marketing opportunities.

If you operate a farm stand that is not currently listed on our directory and you would like to be listed, please complete this brief survey and you will be added to the website:

For more information about the Vermont Farm Stand Directory and the VAAFM’s food system and market access programs, please visit:


May 31, 2016

By Hannah Reid, VAAFM

Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets (VAAFM) Consumer Protection Chief and resident maple expert, Henry Marckres was inducted into the North American Maple Hall of Fame by the North American Maple Syrup Council on Saturday May, 14th, 2016, in a special ceremony conducted at the American Maple Museum in Croghan, N.Y. 

“I am honored to be nominated to the Maple Hall of Fame.” said Marckres. “Working with the international maple community has been a continuously rich experience - I think I’ve judged syrup from every single maple producing state and province!  I look forward to continuing to support the promotion and understanding of this unique and valuable product.”

The son of a buyer for a Maple Sugar Company, Marckres, has been tasting and grading Vermont maple syrup since the age of three.  A 30-year veteran of the VAAFM, Henry Marckres is one of the world’s foremost maple experts. In addition to serving on two international maple boards and winning numerous industry awards, including the 2014 Lynn Reynolds International Maple Syrup Industry Award for Leadership, Henry is also the cofounder of the IMSI Maple Grading Schools.  Alongside fellow maple expert Kathy Hopkins, of the University of Maine, Henry launched the educational and professional trainings known as “Maple Grading Schools” throughout maple-producing states in the U.S. and Canadian Provinces to help maple producers, packers and regulators accurately use the four basics of grading – color, clarity, density and flavor.  When he’s not teaching Grading School, or judging maple contests, Marckres utilizes his finely tuned “maple palate” to grade syrups, help producers identify and address “off-flavors”, and protect the integrity and reputation of Vermont’s signature agricultural crop.

“Henry has been a huge asset to our agency and to Vermont’s community of maple producers,” said Secretary of Agriculture, Chuck Ross.  “Henry is an accomplished maple judge, a dedicated educator, and considered by many to be the go-to expert for maple syrup grading.  Henry is a true leader in the international maple community, and this honor is well-deserved.”  

The American Maple Museum was founded in 1977 to preserve the history and evolution of the North American maple syrup industry. Every year, at the Museum’s opening ceremonies in May, two people are inducted into the American Maple Hall of Fame. Members in this select group are from both the U.S. and Canada and are nominated based on their achievements in research, development and leadership in the maple industry. Henry is the 86th inductee to the Maple Hall of Fame.

“Henry is very well known and highly regarded throughout the entire maple industry.” Says Timothy Perkins, director of the University of Vermont’s Proctor Maple Research Center.  “He is one of the first people to go to with questions or problems with maple syrup quality and off-flavors.  The maple grading classes Henry teaches are always well attended and rank among the best educational opportunities for maple producers around.”

Henry is currently a resident of Brookfield, formerly of Craftsbury, Vermont.

Congratulations Henry!!


May 31, 2016

By Chuck Ross

VAAFM Mission: to facilitate, support and encourage the growth and viability of agriculture in Vermont while protecting the working landscape, human health, animal health, plant health, consumers and the environment. 

VAAFM plays a critical role in both promoting and regulating agriculture in Vermont. The stories featured in this month’s issue demonstrate how the Agency effectively fulfills this mission. As you’ll see on the front page, this month the Working Lands Enterprise Initiative (administered by the Agency of Agriculture) awarded over $600,000 in grants to 44 businesses, to fuel Vermont’s farm and forest economy. These investments will create jobs and economic opportunity, while also keeping farms and forests in production, thus, preserving the landscape – a clear example of our support for Vermont’s ag economy.

Every day, we are working with Vermont producers to open new markets, help them tell their stories, and create new opportunities for them to showcase their outstanding products. Programs like our Domestic Export Program, our Trade Show Grant Program, and the many forms of technical assistance we provide, help farmers and producers grow, expand, and adapt.

We also have a clear regulatory role. This month we released a new draft of the Required Ag Practices (RAPs), the guidelines farmers must follow to ensure they are protecting our natural resources for future generations. While no business owner finds joy in being regulated, our farmers have been willing and eager partners in drafting these rules. They are deeply invested in the land and the culture of Vermont, and want to be sure future generations can enjoy the natural beauty that defines Vermont. They have worked hard to help us write rules that will be effective, realistic, and fair.

Regulation and promotion go hand in hand – in order to preserve the land, and our way of life, we must put parameters in place to ensure it is protected. When it comes to promoting Vermont, we have a great story to tell: green mountains, best in class agricultural products, clean water, and a pastoral, working landscape. Here at VAAFM, we are working hard to protect and promote these attributes, so they endure, for generations to come.