January 26, 2016

By Robynn Albert, VMEC

Vermont Manufacturing Extension Center (VMEC) will host an innovation seminar for Working Lands businesses at Vermont Technical College (VTC) in Randolph Feb 16 - Feb 17, 2016 from 8:00am - 5:00pm.

In two full days, Innovation Engineering Experience will help participants go from defining their strategic mission for innovation, to having a tested idea ready to pitch to new or existing customers. And, they will receive support and coaching following the event, to help complete a project. With grant support from the Working Lands Enterprise Initiative, the event cost is just $250 per person for both days, including breakfasts and lunches.

Ideas for new company products, services and business models will be created and tested as part of the event. Up to 150 participants, from 25 or more companies in the agricultural, food production, forest products and wood products businesses, will be able to participate in this high energy, fast-paced, learn-and-apply experience.

Innovation Engineering® is a proven, scientific system for never-ending innovation developed by Eureka! Ranch, the University of Maine, NIST MEP and the Innovation Engineering Network. Grounded in 27+ years of research and project work, it incorporates the systems thinking mindset of Dr. W. Edwards Deming through education, tools, coaching and mentoring to enable innovation by everyone, every day. VMEC is a founding member of the Innovation Engineering Network and has been assisting companies with Innovation Engineering projects since 2006.

Some Testimonials…

“Having been to a similar two and a half day event put on by VMEC along with most other RDC directors in the state, I can tell you first hand that the takeaways from attending and fully participating in this very intense training program are absorbing, eye-opening, mind-expanding and above all, enlightening beyond anything I expected at the time.” – John Mandeville, Executive Director, Lamoille Economic Development Corporation

“At first I was fairly skeptical of the 3-day commitment it would take for so many folks from our company. I can tell you it’s been transformational in our view of the importance of innovation and how it will affect our ability to deliver interesting new products and great marketing in the future.” – Joe Perrotto, President, Country Home Products, Inc.

Registration Details:
The discounted registration fee for this event, made possible through a Vermont Working Lands Enterprise Initiative grant for Vermont working lands sector companies (including agriculture, food production, forest products and wood products) is $250 per person, including breakfast and lunch. NOTE: The registration fee for non-Working Lands organizations is $895 per person; please visit to register. If possible, companies are strongly encouraged to bring 2-4 team members from their company. Seats are limited, so we encourage you to register early.

Visit  for more information


January 26, 2016

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

Over the past five years serving as Vermont’s Secretary of Agriculture, I have had the privilege of witnessing, first hand, the tremendous impact farming has on our state. It touches nearly every aspect of Vermont life – our communities, our economy, and our culture.

According to the USDA Ag census, sales of Vermont agricultural products exceed $776 million annually.
And that's just sales of agricultural products – the overall impact is much greater. For instance, when you count up all the ways our largest agricultural sector, the dairy industry, impacts our economy – from creating jobs, to supporting local businesses, to bringing in services providers, like veterinarians, to the region – the overall economic impact to the state exceeds $2.2 billion each year. The food and farming sectors continue to fuel job growth: according to recent data released by Farm to Plate, since 2011, the Vermont’s food system has added an additional 4,486 jobs.

Beyond the obvious economic impact, agriculture is key to our way of life. Farms represent about 18% of our total landscape in Vermont – keeping scenic land in use, and undeveloped. And though harder to measure, farms enrich our communities in countless ways - from the important role farmers’ markets play in connecting neighbors, to providing healthy, local food, to inspiring students through Farm-to-School programming.

Our industry is not without challenges. Anyone who visited the Missisquoi Bay last summer knows the issues facing Lake Champlain are real, and agriculture, like the development, transportation, and business sectors, has a big role to play in turning things around. In July, the legislature passed Act 64, the Vermont Clean Water Act, which requires the Agency of Agriculture to write the Accepted Agricultural Practices (AAPs) to a higher level of performance. The new rules will be known as the Required Agricultural Practices (RAPs).

Throughout the fall, we held 30 meetings across the state to share a preliminary draft of the RAPS and gather feedback from farmers and the public-at-large. The turn-out was tremendous – our farmers are eager to be engage and be part of the solution. Based on what we heard, we are now revising our draft, and will present a new version to the legislature this spring.

Our goal is to create a new set of rules farmers can realistically implement, and to help them every step of the way by providing both technical assistance, and access to financial resources. We understand the pressures farmers face, and want to put forth guidelines that are not only effective in restoring water quality, but also fair to the farming community.

The bottom line is, agriculture is critical to our state. And we owe it to future generations to preserve and restore the waters of our state. I believe both can thrive. If there was ever a group of people who rise to a challenge like this, it is Vermont’s hardworking farmers.

For more information about the impact of agriculture on Vermont’s economy, visit: 

To learn more about the Agency’s efforts to implement the Clean Water Act, visit:

Thank you for all you to do to support Vermont agriculture.


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


  • 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:

For more information, visit VAAFM’s Consumer Night page at and Buy Local Markets page at

For information about Vermont’s Universal Recycling and Composting Initiative, visit