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


December 11, 2015

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

December 18, 2015 is the Deadline for Public Comment on Draft Required Agricultural Practices Rules

Montpelier, Vermont—The deadline to submit public comment to the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets (VAAFM) regarding the draft Required Agricultural Practices (RAP) rules is December 18th, 2015.  Public Comment can be submitted via e-mail to or mailed directly to VAAFM at 116 State Street, Montpelier, Vermont 05620.

Draft RAP Rules Public Meeting Summary

VAAFM released a draft copy of the Required Agricultural Practices (RAPs) on October 20th 2015 for a period of public comment which will run through December 18, 2015.  This is a pre-filing period which will afford the opportunity for all interested stakeholders to review the Draft RAPs and provide initial comment before VAAFM revises the draft this winter and then enters into the formal rulemaking process in the spring of 2016.  Additional public comment periods will follow both the draft rewrite in January 2016 as well as the formal rulemaking period in Spring of 2016.

VAAFM has held ten public meetings across the state to help facilitate the comment and input process—over 530 farmers and citizens have attended these events.  These public meetings included a detailed presentation the Draft RAPs followed by a question and answer session.  VAAFM has also participated in over 20 additional focus groups, at the request of interested organizations and stakeholders, to review the draft rules in detail.

VAAFM was directed by the Legislature to draft the RAPs pursuant to Act 64, signed into law on June 16, 2015.  Act 64 amended and enacted multiple requirements related to water quality in the State.  The “Accepted Agricultural Practices (AAPs)” were rewritten to a higher level of performance and renamed the “Required Agricultural Practices (RAPs).”  VAAFM was charged with revising the RAPs by rule on or before July 1, 2016.  Act 64 requires that the revised RAPs include requirements for: small farm certification, nutrient storage, soil health, buffer zones, livestock exclusion, and nutrient management.

New Outreach Material Available Summarizing Draft Rules

To help meet the scheduling challenges of farmers and the public, VAAFM has made available a recording of the St. Albans RAP Public Meeting.  The recording includes an Introduction from Secretary of Agriculture Chuck Ross and a presentation from ARM Deputy Director Laura DiPietro.  The forty-minute video provides an introduction to the water quality challenges of the State as well as a detailed overview of the top changes included in the Draft RAPs.  VAAFM can prepare DVDs to share with individuals who do not have access to broadband internet; please call the Agency for a copy.

Downloadable Documents & Helpful Links

A link to the streaming video can be found here:

A copy of the PowerPoint Presentation used in this video can be downloaded here:

VAAFMs informational RAP website, which contains copies of all the links included in the release, can be accessed here:

Please submit public comment to VAAFM (e-mail) here:

VAAFMs RAP Farm Size Definition Fact-Sheet (.pdf) can be found here:

A Draft RAP Highlighted Regulations Fact Sheet (.pdf) can be found here:

A complete draft of the Required Agricultural Practices Document (pdf) can be found here:


December 9, 2015

EVENT:                 Vermont Agency of Agriculture Hosts FDA for December Meeting on Food 
Safety Modernization Act Final Rules

DATE:                   Monday, December 14, 2015

TIME:                    9:30 AM to 4:30 PM

LOCATION:          Latchis Theatre, 50 Main Street, Brattleboro, VT 05301

On Monday, December 14, 2015, join the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets (VAAFM) and U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) subject matter experts for an overview of three final Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Rules:

  • Produce Safety
  • Preventive Controls for Human Food
  • Preventive Controls for Animal Food

FDA subject matter experts will provide information on what the new rules cover and who must comply, as well as major requirements of the rules. All stakeholders throughout the Northeast are invited to attend this informational event and will have opportunities to ask questions of FDA subject matter experts.

Signed into law in 2011, the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) represents the largest update to the Federal Food, Drug & Cosmetic Act since 1938, requiring FDA to set new food safety standards for food production both in facilities and on farms. Since FDA published the proposed rules in January 2013, VAAFM has worked to establish strong partnerships with the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) and FDA in order to ensure the perspectives and experiences of New England producers have been accurately represented throughout the rulemaking process.

The Produce Safety, Preventive Controls for Human Food, and Preventive Controls for Animal Food rules are now final and will be implemented throughout the United States over the next one to five years. VAAFM, along with other state departments and agencies of agriculture, will continue to work closely with NASDA, FDA and other national partners as FSMA rules are finalized and throughout the implementation process.

This informational event is free, open to the public, and accessible to people with disabilities. No registration is required. For more information or to request accommodations such as seating, interpreting, etc., call (802) 522-7811 or email in advance of the event.

For updates and more information, visit VAAFM’s Food Safety Modernization Act page at To access the final FSMA rules, visit FDA’s FSMA page at


Meeting Agenda

9:30–10:00 AM: Reception (Refreshments provided.)

10:00–10:40 AM: Welcome & Opening Remarks

  • Chuck Ross, Vermont Secretary of Agriculture
  • Walter Whitcomb, Maine Commissioner of Agriculture & Northeast Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NEASDA) President
  • Mike Taylor, FDA Deputy Commissioner for Foods & Veterinary Medicine

10:40 AM–12:00 PM: FSMA Preventive Controls for Human Food

  • Final Rule Overview with Question & Answer Session
  • Presenter: Jenny Scott, Senior Advisor, Center for Food Safety & Applied Nutrition

12:00–1:30 PM: Break (Lunch will not be provided.)

1:30–2:50 PM: FSMA Produce Safety Rule

  • Final Rule Overview with Question & Answer Session
  • Presenter: Samir Assar, Director, Office of Produce Safety, Center for Food Safety & Applied Nutrition

2:50–3:00 PM: Break

3:00–4:20 PM: FSMA Preventive Controls for Animal Food

  • Final Rule Overview with Question & Answer Session
  • Presenter: Dan McChesney, Director, Office of Surveillance & Compliance, Center for Veterinary Medicine

4:20–4:30 PM: Closing Remarks