January 5, 2016

By Reg Godin

The Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets (VAAFM) is now accepting proposals from Vermont businesses and organizations for vending and exhibiting space in the Vermont Building at the 2016 Eastern States Exposition (“The Big E”) in West Springfield, Massachusetts.  The 2016 fair dates are September 16th – October 2nd. Approximately 1 million patrons passed through the Vermont Building during the 2015 Big E, spending nearly $1.7 million on Vermont products.  Learn more about the Big E on their website:

“The Vermont Building at The Big E, part of the Agency’s Domestic Export Program, is a unique opportunity for Vermont businesses to connect with consumers throughout the region,” said Secretary Chuck Ross. “More than one million shoppers visit the Vermont Building each year, providing vendors with a tremendous sales opportunity, as well as the chance to create lasting connections with customers interested in high-quality, authentic Vermont products.”

The Big E is located in The Pioneer Valley of Western Massachusetts and is billed as “New England’s Great State Fair.”  This year, The Eastern States Exposition will celebrate its centennial anniversary.   Founded in 1916 by Joshua Brooks, The Big E is the largest agricultural event on the eastern seaboard and the fifth-largest fair in the nation. The Big E is inclusive of all six of the New England states: Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont. Each of the New England states is prominently represented at the fair in its own building, located along the “Avenue of the States.” 

The 2015 Vermont vendors at The Big E included Ben and Jerry’s, American Flatbread, Vermont Maple Sugar Makers’ Association, Cold Hollow Cider, Champlain Orchards, Danforth Pewter, Vermont Teddy Bear Company, and Vermont Flannel, among others.  The application deadline for 2016 is Monday, January 25th by 5 p.m. Vendors will be chosen in a competitive process and reviewed by an independent committee.

Watch this video to learn more about the Vermont Building at the Big E, and the benefits of becoming a vendor:

To apply for exhibition space in The Vermont Building at The Big E, visit:

For more information, please contact Reg Godin, Senior Market Development Specialist at the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets at 802-522-3648 or


December 30, 2015

More Than 6,000 Acres of Cover Crops Planted by Champlain Valley Farmer Coalition Farms

By Kristin Workman, UVM Extension

MIDDLEBURY, VERMONT—Champlain Valley Farmer Coalition (CVFC) members planted 6,735 acres of winter cover crops on farmland in Addison, Chittenden and Rutland counties to help protect water quality, improve soil health and increase next year’s crop yields.

A cover crop is a crop that is planted for the primary purpose of covering the soil to protect fields from erosion and nutrient loss while building soil health when a cash crop is not growing.  These cover crops will hold the soil and reduce nutrient runoff and leaching through the fall, winter and spring, when soil and water quality is most vulnerable.  The 36 CVFC farms that reported growing cover crops this year planted acreage that ranged from eight (8) acres to 800 acres from as far north as Milton to as far south as Danby.  These cover crops were planted many different ways and included a diversity of plant species such as winter cereal rye, annual ryegrass, oats, clover, vetch and even radish and turnip. 

Many CVFC farms also participated in ongoing research and demonstration projects in conjunction with the UVM Extension Champlain Valley Crop, Soil & Pasture Team based out of Middlebury; and hosted field days on their farms to help other farmers learn more about the art of cover cropping on different soil types, in different cropping systems and with different equipment.  This fall, CVFC member Foster Brothers Farm were the host site for a UVM Extension Soil Health Workshop and Field Day that welcomed nationally renowned soil health advocate, Ray Archuleta, to share exciting soil health concepts followed by a field day in one of the Foster’s corn fields to show 16 different combinations of cover crops.  The event was attended by more than 80 people, including 40 farmers from around the region.

There are many resources available to farmers interested in planting and learning more about cover crops.  UVM Extension, USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service, and the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets all have technical and/or financial resources available to people who want to implement this best management practice on their farms.

Champlain Valley Farmer Coalition is a non-profit corporation made up of Vermont farmers of all kinds (dairy, beef, field crops, vegetables) and supporting organizations and individuals.  They are committed to working together to protect water quality in Lake Champlain and to support a thriving agricultural economy in Vermont. With more than 50 members that include farmers, agricultural businesses and support organizations, they demonstrate the many ways farms can accomplish both goals and share that with other farmers, the public and policy makers.


For more information, call (802) 388-4969 x348 or e-mail


December 30, 2015

By Ryan Patch, VAAFM

The manure spreading ban once again took effect December 15.

This annual ban is part of an overall strategy to protect our working landscape and natural resources, as outlined in Vermont’s Accepted Agricultural Practices (AAPs). The Agency works closely with farmers across the state to ensure the AAPs are enforced. 

Manure spreading is a common practice in Vermont agriculture which enriches the soil for production and helps manage animal waste.

The manure spreading ban is a regulation that has been in place since 1995 under the Accepted Agricultural Practice rules. Vermont was a leading state in developing such a ban. In recent years several other states have considered adopting, or have adopted, the idea. Research has shown that manure applications on frozen ground can increase the runoff potential. Vermont chose to select a ban period from December 15th to April 1st each year to protect water quality; however the Agency has discretion with those dates to accommodate unusual circumstances. 

During the ban, farmers must either have a storage structure that is capable of holding all manure produced from December 15th to April 1st, which is 107 days, or they must be able to stack all manure produced in a way that will not lead to water quality impacts.  Exemptions for winter manure spreading are available only for emergency situations, such as structural failure of a waste storage facility.  If a farmer anticipates having an issue meeting the winter manure spreading ban restrictions, please contact VAAFM for assistance with planning winter manure management.

When stacking manure, AAPs require that stacking sites be located more than 100 feet from private wells or property boundaries.  In addition, manure cannot be stacked on unimproved sites within 100 feet of surface water, or on land that is subject to annual overflow from adjacent waters.  In all these situations, however, farmers have the opportunity to demonstrate to the Secretary of Agriculture that no alternative sites exist to enable you to meet these restrictions.

If you have any questions about the manure spreading ban, or if you would like assistance in the selection of appropriate manure stacking sites, please call the Agency of Agriculture at (802) 828-3475.


December 30, 2015

By Hannah Reid, VAAFM

Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets (VAAFM) Consumer Protection Chief and resident maple expert, Henry Marckres has been elected to the North American Maple Hall of Fame by the North American Maple Syrup Council.

A maple specialist within VAAFM since 1989, 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 cofounded of the IMSI Maple Grading School, and has judged maple syrup contests in every maple producing state in the U.S. and four Canadian provinces.

Henry will be inducted into the Hall of Fame at the American Maple Museum in Crogan, N.Y. in May 2016. 



December 30, 2015

Food Donations Collected for Area Food Shelf

By: Laura Stebbins Hardie, New England Dairy Promotion Council


Caption: The Gervais Family Farm tractor decorated for the St. Albans Tractor Parade by dairy farmers, Larry Gervais and Delwin Lumbra and family of Bakersfield, Vermont. Photo: Laura Hardie

St. Albans, VT – From the farm fields to the city streets – dairy farmers decked out their tractors with lights and paraded through St. Albans last Friday for the second annual holiday tractor parade.

Thousands gathered to watch the 50 farm tractors roll through the town. The number of tractors, milk trucks and farm equipment almost doubled compared to last year's parade and were primarily from Franklin County dairy farms.

"The tractor parade celebrates the holiday season and is a way to give back to our local community. We raised money and food donations for Northwest Family Foods, a food shelf program serving Franklin and Grand Isle Counties," said Tom Gates from the St. Albans Cooperative Creamery.

Other family friendly activities included meeting Santa, face painting, a photo booth, and free hot chocolate. The parade is sponsored by the St. Albans Co-op as well as the dairy farmers of Franklin County. Organizers say the tractor parade is a way to thank Vermont's farmers for all they do and to get people in the holiday spirit too. 

"For the St. Albans Co-op and our area farmers, one of the things that's really important to us around this time of the year is to step back and to give thanks to the local community with a fun, free family event,” said Gates. “We also want to show our support for our farmers and the high quality, nutritious dairy products that they produce locally in Vermont.”

Caption: McDermott's Milk Truck covered with lights at the St. Albans Co-op for the second annual holiday tractor parade. Photo by: Laura Hardie

Caption: Machia & Sons Dairy Farm tractors decorated with lights roll down Main Street in St. Albans for the second annual holiday tractor parade. Photo by: Laura Hardie