August 31, 2016
The Department of Agriculture has announced primary agricultural disaster designations for counties in New Hampshire.  Under this disaster designation, contiguous counties in the State of Vermont are also available for benefits. The list of counties is in the letter below sent to the State of New Hampshire.

The Honorable Maggie Hassan
State of New Hampshire
Concord, New Hampshire 03301

Dear Governor Hassan:

USDA United States - Department of Agriculture Office of the Secretary Washington, D.C. 20250 This is an additional response to your letter of May 13, 2016, requesting a disaster designation for New Hampshire counties that suffered losses due to freeze and unseasonably warm temperatures that occurred from February 1 through April30, 2016. Those counties are:

Belknap                Cheshire              Grafton                Hillsborough                      
Merrimack             Rockingham         Strafford              Sullivan

On June 16, 2016, I informed you that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) was unable to make a complete and accurate determination of production losses for the current crop year. Therefore, a decision to designate those counties as primary natural disaster areas was deferred. On August 4, 2016, the New Hampshire State Farm Service Agency (FSA) Office notified the National Office that all Loss Assessment Reports were complete.

USDA reviewed the Loss Assessment Reports and determined that there were sufficient production losses to warrant a Secretarial natural disaster designation. Therefore, I am designating all eight New Hampshire counties named above as primary natural disaster areas.

In accordance with section 321(a) of the Consolidated Farm and Rural Development Act, Carroll and Coos Counties, New Hampshire, are named as contiguous disaster counties.

In addition, in accordance with section 321(a) of the Consolidated Farm and Rural Development Act, counties in adjacent states are named as contiguous disaster areas. Those states, counties, and numbers are:

Contiguous Counties in Adjacent States:

Maine (1)                       1. York

Massachusetts (4)            1. Essex     2. Franklin      3. Middlesex      4. Worcester

Vermont (5)       1. Caledonia        2. Orange       3. Windsor         4. Essex       5. Windham

A Secretarial disaster designation makes farm operators in primary counties and those counties contiguous to such primary counties eligible to be considered for certain assistance from FSA, provided eligibility requirements are met. This assistance includes FSA emergency loans. Farmers in eligible counties have 8 months from the date of a Secretarial disaster declaration to apply for emergency loans. FSA considers each emergency loan application on its own merits, taking into account the extent of production losses on the farm, and the security and repayment ability of the operator.

Local FSA offices can provide affected farmers with further information.


Thomas J. Vilsack



Review the USDA Emergency Loan Program Fact Sheet below or download PDF:  



August 31, 2016


By Ally Piper, A. Piper Creative & Hannah Reid, VAAFM

Registration is now open for the Vermont Farm to School Conference taking place November 2-3 at Lake Morey Resort in Fairlee. The Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets (VAAFM) and Vermont FEED in partnership with the VT Farm to School Network will be orchestrating this exciting two-day event designed to “Grow the Movement” by gathering all members of the Vermont Farm to School community to share knowledge, ideas, and inspiration.  For more information and to register visit:  

Wednesday evening’s dinner celebration will include a creative and delicious menu of local foods including dishes prepared using Vermont grown beans!  Betti Wiggins, Executive Director, Detroit Public Schools Office of School Nutrition, a 25+ year school nutrition veteran will present “How F2S Made Me a Triple A Threat” that evening.

The conference is one of 74 projects spanning 39 states receiving support this year through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Farm to School Program, an effort to better connect school cafeterias and students with local farmers and ranchers.

“Farm to school programs work—for schools, for producers, and for communities,” said U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Secretary Vilsack. “By serving nutritious and locally grown foods, engaging students in hands-on lessons, and involving parents and community members, these programs provide children with a holistic experience that sets them up for a lifetime of healthy eating. With results from our Farm to School Census indicating schools across the nation invested $785million in local products, farm to school also provides a significant and reliable market for local farmers and ranchers.”

Studies have revealed a wealth of benefits from Farm to School activities. Most notably, students are choosing healthier food options both at school and at home and have a new appreciation and understanding of our agriculture system.  Local farmers benefit from the increased demand for their product, thus enriching the local economy and reducing the carbon footprint of food transportation.

“Farm to School programs are a vital tool we can use to promote agricultural literacy in schools so that, from an early age, students understand the value of nutrition, develop healthy eating habits, and appreciate where their food comes from,” said Vermont Secretary of Agriculture, Chuck Ross. “This state-wide conference is an exciting opportunity for all members of Vermont’s Farm to School network to put our heads together and find new, innovative ways to foster healthier and more resilient children, communities, and farms throughout Vermont via Farm to School connections." 

 “Vermont is a leader in the national Farm to School movement with innovative programs across the state supporting youth to eat healthier and to connect with where their food comes from,” said Betsy Rosenbluth, Project Director of Vermont VEED. “We are working towards healthier kids, more viable farms and stronger community connections. The conference is a chance to share our best practices and to spread farm to school to every VT community.”

Registration rates will increase October 8. To register and receive early rates, visit



August 31, 2016

A Day of Community Ag Service

By Chuck Ross, Secretary Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets

A couple of weeks ago, a group of VAAFM staff members spent a sunny afternoon engaged in community ag service, providing hands-on assistance to the Farm at Vermont Youth Conservation Corps (VYCC) Health Care Share (HCS) program in Richmond. HCS provides food-insecure Vermonters with nutritional education, medical care, and local farm-fresh food. Each week of the growing season, 300 families (1,000 individuals) receive a share of fruit, vegetables, herbs, and pasture-raised poultry from the Farm at VYCC. Our VAAFM staffers helped VYCC crew members and leaders pack nearly 300 produce share boxes destined for patients of Central Vermont Medical Center, University of Vermont Medical Center, and other local health centers. The Health Care Shares are delivered to participating medical sites for pick-up by patients who have been identified as food insecure or with medical conditions which can be exacerbated by diet deficiencies.

VYCC’s innovative Health Care Shares program model not only delivers fresh, locally grown produce and meats to Vermonters in need of wholesome, healing foods, but also supports the local ag economy by partnering with local farms to expand Health Care Share product offerings and diversity. I am eager to watch how this program evolves over time and continues to work towards improving community health and economic growth throughout Vermont.

A big thanks to our team of VAAFM volunteers for a job well done.  I am proud of our Agency’s continued commitment to community service days that not only support important programs like Health Care Share, but also provide us with critical opportunities to meet and connect with a wide variety of folks from different corners of Vermont’s agricultural community. 

To learn more about VYCC Health Care Share program, visit:!health-care-share/cr43


August 31, 2016

By Hannah Reid, VAAFM

Vermont cheesemakers did our state proud once again, bringing 34 ribbons home from the 33rd annual American Cheese Society competition that took place in Des Moines, Iowa, July 27th through the 30th.

Since its founding in 1983, The American Cheese Society (ACS) proudly hosts North America’s foremost annual educational conference and world-renowned cheese judging and competition. The ACS Conference & Competition – a gathering of cheesemakers, merchandisers, retailers, distributors, academicians, food writers, and enthusiasts from the U.S., Canada, Mexico, and Europe – celebrates American artisan, farmstead, and specialty cheese.

Twenty-eight Vermont cheesemakers submitted a wide variety of cheeses to be judged against 1,685 entries from 248 cheese companies from across North America, including cloth bound cheddar, Crème Fraiche and everything in between.  Fifteen Vermont cheeses won first place in their class, 9 cheeses came in second place, 10 in third, and the creamy Greensward, a cheese created by Murray's Cheese in partnership with Jasper Hill Farm of Greensboro, VT, was recognized as the #1 Soft-Ripened Washed Rind Cheese and took 3rd place overall in the prestigious Best of Show category.

Vermont cheeses are an economic power house within the Vermont dairy industry, generating approximately $650 million in sales every year - more than fluid milk sales and ice cream sales combined.  Our unique and delicious cheeses are essential to the Vermont brand and our state’s growing reputation as a food destination, one of the many reasons over 13.5 million people visit our state every year. 

Three cheers for Vermont cheese!


2016 Cheese Competition Winners by Maker:

Vermont Creamery – Websterville, VT

  • Mascarpone & Cream Cheese from Cow’s Milk
    • Mascarpone – 2nd Place – Vermont Creamery Cheesemakers Team
  • Fromage Blanc, Fromage Frais, & Quark made from cow’s milk
    • Quark – 2nd Place – Vermont Creamery Cheesemakers Team
  • Open Category – American Made/International Style – made from goat’s milk
    • Bijou – 1st Place – Vermont Creamery Aged Cheese Team
  • Feta – made from Goat’s milk
    • Feta – 1st Place – Vermont Creamery Cheesemakers Team
  • Butter with Flavor Added – all milks
    • Cultured Butter blended with Sea Salt & Maple – 2nd Place – Vermont Creamery Butter Team
  • Fresh goat’s milk cheese aged 0-30 days (hand shaped, formed or molded into pyramid, disc, drum, crottin, basket or other shape)
    •  Fresh Crottin – 2nd Place – Vermont Creamery Aged Cheese Team
  • Crème Fraiche and Sour Cream Products – made from cow’s milk
    • Crème Fraiche – 1st Place – Vermont Creamery Cheesemakers Team
  • Open Category Cold Pack Style – all milks
    • Spreadable Goat Cheese Classic – 3rd Place – Vermont Creamery Fresh Cheese Team
  • American Originals – Original Recipe/Open Category – made from goat’s milk
    • Bonne Bouche – 2nd Place – Vermont Creamer Aged Cheese Team

Maplebrook Farm – Bennington, VT

  • Ricotta – made from cow’s milk
    • Ricotta Alta– 1st Place – Maplebrook Farm
  • Burrata – Fresh Mozzarella encasing a distinctly separate, softer curd and cream or other soft cheese, core – all milks
    • Burrata – 1st Place – Maplebrook Farm
  • Feta – made from cow’s milk
    • Whole Milk Block Feta – 1st Place – Maplebrook Farm
  • Smoked Italian Styles – all milks
    • Smoked Handmade Mozzarella – 3rd Place – Maplebrook Farm

Cellars at Jasper Hill – Greensboro, VT

  • Open Category – Soft-Ripended Cheeses – made from cow’s milk
    • Harbison – 1st Place – Mateo Kehler
    • Moses Sleeper – 1st Place – Mateo Kehler
  • Cheddar wrapped in cloth/linen – aged up to 12 months – all milks
    • Cabot Clothbound Cheddar – 3rd Place – Marcel Gravel/Mateo & Andy Kehler
  • Soft-Ripened Washed Rind – high moisture over 42% - all milks
    • Greensward – Murray’s Cheese –1st Place – Jasper Hill =  TIED 3RD PLACE FOR BEST IN SHOW
  • Farmstead Category aged 60 days or more – 39% or higher moisture – made from cow’s milk
    • Winnimere – 1st Place – Mateo Kehler

Sweet Rowen Farmstead – Glover, VT

  • Open Category – Soft-Ripended Cheeses – made from cow’s milk
    • Mountain Ash – 1st Place – Blair Johnson

Cabot Creamery Cooperative – Waitsfield, VT

  • Mature Cheddar – aged over 24  and up to 48 months – all milks
    • Cabot 3 Year Old Cheddar – 3rd Place – Robert Willoughby
  • Mature Cheddar – aged over 48 months – all milks
    • Cabot Old School Cheddar – 1st Place – Todd Shuttleworth
  • Reduced Fat Cheese with flavor added – all milks
    • Cabot Jalapeno Light Cheddar – 3rd Place – Dennis Dwinell
  • Crème Fraiche and Sour Cream Products – made from cow’s milk
    • Cabot Crème Fraiche – 3rd Place – Bruce Roy

Shelburne Farms – Shelburne, VT

  • Mature Cheddar – aged over 24  and up to 48 months – all milks
    • Farmhouse 2 Year Extra Sharp Cheddar – 3rd Place – Shelburne Farms
  • Smoked Cheddars – all milks
    • Farmhouse Smoked Cheddar – 2nd Place – Shelburne Farms

Von Trapp Farmstead – Waitsfield, VT

  • Blue -veined with a rind or external coating – made from cow’s milk
    • Mad River Blue – 2nd Place – Sebastian von Trapp

Farms for City Kids Foundation/Spring Brook Farm – Reading, VT

  • Raclette-style – aged over 45 days
    • Reading – 1st Place – Spring Brook Farm Team
  • Farmstead Category aged 60 days or more – less than 39% moisture – made from cow’s milk
    • Tarentaise – 2nd Place – Spring Brook Farm Team

Consider Bardwell Farm - West Pawlet, VT

  • Open Category – Washed Rind Cheeses – aged more than 60 days – up to 42% moisture – cow’s milk
    • Rupert – 3rd Place – Leslie Goff
  • Goat’s Milk Cheese aged over 60 days
    • Danby – 3rd Place – Leslie Goff
  • Farmstead Category aged 60 days or more – made from goat’s milk
    • Manchester – 3rd Place – Leslie Goff

Boston Post Dairy - Enosburg Falls, VT

  • Open Category – Washed Rind Cheeses – aged more than 60 days – up to 42% moisture – sheep’s, mixed or other milks
    • Gisele – 2nd Place – Anne Doe
  • Farmstead Category aged 60 days or more – made from goat’s milk
    • Tres Bonne – 1st Place – Anne Doe

Parish Hill Creamery – Westminster, VT

  • Pasta Filata types – all milks
    • Kashar – 1st Place – Peter Dixon, Rachel Fritz Schaal, Alex Schaal

Sage Farm Goat Dairy – Stowe, VT

  • Fresh goat’s milk cheese aged 0-30 days (black ash coating permitted)
    • Fresh Chevre – 1st Place – Molly Pindell

Fairy Tale Farm – Bridport, VT

  • Farmstead Category aged 60 days or more – less than 39% moisture – made from cow’s milk
    • Tomte – 3rd Place – Alissa Shethar


August 30, 2016

The Worker Protection Standard rules have been revised and will go into effect January 2, 2017. New regulations and training materials will be available here as they are developed Revised Worker Protection Standard.  For further info please contact Anne Macmillan 828-3479 or