February 15, 2018

For Immediate Release:  February 15, 2018 

Media Contacts:  Col. Jason Batchelder, 802-828-1529; Sgt. Chad Barrett, 802-224-6324; Warden Jason Dukette 802-334-2904

WESTFIELD, Vt. –  A Westfield man has been charged with a wildlife violation after a water monitor lizard and a dwarf caiman were found on his property.  Raymond J. Barlow, 29, was charged with illegally importing wildlife and faces fines up to $722.

Vermont State Game Wardens received a Facebook photo from a member of the public alerting them to the presence of the illegal reptiles at Barlow’s residence.  They executed a search warrant and seized the reptiles and turned their care over to Rainforest Reptiles, an education and wildlife rehabilitation facility in Massachusetts.

Dwarf caimans are similar to crocodiles and can grow over five feet in length, with heavily armored skin and powerful jaws. Water monitors are the second largest lizard in the world behind the closely-related Komodo dragon. They can weigh over 100 pounds and grow to over six feet in length.  The bite of a water monitor produces rapid and painful swelling.

“Vermont’s wildlife importation laws are in place to protect our local ecosystems and our people,” said Sgt. Chad Barrett, Vermont’s exotic species specialist.  “Exotic species can sometimes quickly establish themselves in a new area, which can devastate local plants and animals that are not used to their presence and are often unable to compete with them.  Additionally, a dangerous species could potentially harm someone if it got loose.”  

Limiting the species that can be imported into Vermont also helps prevent them from being stolen out of the wild and their conservation status being threatened by the illegal pet trade. Barrett also cites the movement of exotic species as a source for disease transmission among wildlife populations.  For example, snakes in some parts of New England have been suffering from a newly discovered condition called snake fungal disease, which can infect multiple snake species. 

February 14, 2018

The USDA Risk Management Agency (RMA) wants to remind producers about upcoming Sales Closing Dates for crop insurance coverage. Sales closing dates vary by crop, state, and county, but in Vermont, most spring-planted crops have a sales closing date of March 15, 2018. The deadline for growers of nursery crops is May 1.

Federal crop insurance is critical to the farm safety net. It helps to mitigate the inherent risks farmers and ranchers face, from natural disasters to market related challenges. In order for producers to obtain coverage, they must to apply for coverage by the Sales Closing Date for the production year. Producers should contact their crop insurance agent soon to discuss dates and new options available. 

For more information, visit the USDA Risk Management Agency web site at:

Jake Jacobs

UVM Ag Risk Management and Crop Insurance Education program

Morrill Hall, University of Vermont

February 14, 2018

$8 Big E Tickets – Today Only!

This Valentine’s Day, Eastern States Exposition is offering a sweet deal -- $8 admission tickets (Reg. $15) sold online TODAY ONLY, Wednesday, February 14 from 8am to 8pm.

Gene Cassidy, president and CEO of Eastern States Exposition, said, “This one day rollback of our gate admission ticket price is our way of showing thanks to all our guests who helped make the 2017 Big E the biggest Fair in ESE history with attendance of 1,525,553.”

The 102nd Big E kicks off seven months from today, September 14, and runs through Sept. 30. Sign up for The Big E’s mailing list and connect on social media to be the first to get exclusive announcements on all events taking place at Eastern States Exposition.

Tickets can be purchased online only and there is a limit of eight tickets per order. Visit to get your tickets today.

February 13, 2018

Montpelier, Vt. – Every year, the 14th day of February is a chance to express love, affection and friendship to the people we care about most. Whether it’s sharing a taste of local whipped cream atop a sweet maple dessert with that special someone or a toast to good times aside a delicate backcountry wine crafted from rooted in Vermont grapes, a Vermont farmer is there for you.

To show gratitude on this Valentine’s Day, the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets is sharing 14 reasons why we love our farmers:

  1. Local food tastes great
  2. They preserve the rural landscape
  3. They provide Vermont with many types of jobs
  4. We love a cold glass of milk
  5. They work 7 days a week to put local food on our tables
  6. Food does not grow in the supermarket
  7. They work in acres, not hours
  8. We love great cheese
  9. We love a beautiful Vermont barn
  10. Mmmmmmmm, Maple
  11. Vermont hops make awesome Vermont beer
  12. We love apples, pumpkins, and a great corn maze
  13. My CSA produce is fresh from the field
  14. They’re our neighbors and friends

Why do you love our farmers? Let us know on FacebookTwitter and Instagram with the hashtag #VtFarmLove.

February 12, 2018

By Alissa White, UVM

Agricultural advisors have been advocating for the implementation of conservation buffers on farms in Vermont for decades, and this practice is now required by the new Required Agricultural Practices (RAPs).  You are probably familiar with the RAPs.  These regulations have been put into place to protect the waters of Vermont from nutrient-rich farm runoff.  Per the RAPs, all farms in Vermont are now required to establish and maintain vegetated buffer zones 25 feet from surface water and 10 feet from ditches.  These buffers can be mowed for hay, or planted with woody perennials, but they can’t be tilled or have manure applied to them. 

Plants in the buffer area will help catch nutrients like phosphorus and nitrogen from leaching through the soil to the waterways, and slow or stop soil from eroding directly into the river water. These are basic benefits that conservation buffers impart for environmental health, but there are many other reasons that farmers in Vermont have been planting and maintaining vegetated buffer areas on their farms.  It’s in the interest of farmers to keep nutrients and soil on farm, so protecting agricultural soils from erosion and leaching is one important benefit that buffers can offer farmland.  But that’s not all.  Conservation buffers planted with elderberry or other fruiting shrubs offer an additional harvest and product diversification to many Vermont farms.  When buffers are vegetated with a diversity of native plants, they offer habitat to birds and other animals and serve as critical wildlife corridors that Vermont’s animals use to travel from one wild place to another.  Along rivers, they contribute the crucial shade that many fish need to survive and thrive in Vermont’s waterways. Many studies have documented that buffers and hedges are also sanctuaries for pollinators and those beneficial insects which help keep many farm pests in balance.

From a resilience perspective, buffers help protect farmland from the impacts of climate change on Vermont farms.  Climate projections for Vermont indicate a dramatic increase in heavy rainfall events, more occurrence of drought, and increased overall temperatures.  The expected increase in heavy rainfall means that agricultural soils in Vermont will endure more erosion, leaching and flooding, and that’s a big reason to maintain conservation buffers, especially for farms in the floodplain.  Buffers have also helped some farmers avoid economic losses in flood-prone soils, simply because they didn’t make and investment into crops which would have been damaged.  This is an important consideration for vegetable farmers who grow high-value crops. 

Buffers planted with trees and woody shrubs, or even just vegetative grass, significantly slow flood waters, protecting farmland from the erosive forces of heavy rainfall and fast moving flood waters.

The use of conservation buffers along waterways are one practice which has been identified to offer resilience benefits to farmers, but there are many more ways which farmers in Vermont and the Northeast are actively adapting to the impacts of a volatile, changing climate.  The USDA Northeast Climate Hub delivers and connects resources across the region to help producers build agricultural resilience to climate change.  Find more information how farmers are adapting to weather variability and explore tools and information:

The AgBufferBuilder tool was created to customize buffers that maximize nutrient and soil retention for the specific soil and geographic features of your farm.  This is a great resource for learning more about the site specific vulnerabilities of your land to flooding and erosion.  For more information contact Joshua Faulkner, the Farming & Climate Change Program Coordinator for the UVM Extension Center for Sustainable Agriculture at 802- 656-3495. 

Most UVM Extension agents are familiar with resources for farmers who want to proactively address these challenges.