Vermont Farm Safety Program Open to All Producers

By Louise Waterman, VAAFM

The Vermont Farm Safety Program provides ways to strengthen and improve your on-farm safety program, including bilingual tools to support your needs. 

The program is open to all farmers, and provides participants with the tools they need to develop a farm safety program.

Applications for this year-long program are being accepted now and there is limited space available; contact Louise Waterman at the VT Agency of Agriculture, (802) 373-3352 or for an application or more information.

Participation in the Vermont Farm Safety Program requirements:

  • $90.00 program registration fee
  • Attend the Vermont Farm Safety Program orientation meeting on November 12, 2015 at the UVM Extension office in Berlin VT and at least one additional meeting via phone conference call or webinar
  • Agree to a farm safety check/audit on your farm during November or December
  • Follow through on recommendations for ‘hazard reduction’ from the audit
  • Identify a farm ‘Safety Manager’
  • Develop and implement an individualized Farm Safety Plan
  • Conduct monthly on-farm employee safety trainings

The Vermont Farm Safety Program was developed by the Vermont Agency of Agriculture in conjunction with UVM Extension, the Vermont Department of Labor and Co-operative Insurance. The Vermont Farm Safety Program is a voluntary program and all information is confidential.

This program will help farmers understand Vermont Occupational Safety and Health Administration ((V)OSHA) regulations. (V) OSHA has clarified what is, and is not, exempt from inspections under the small farm and farming enforcement policy. Farms with 10 or fewer employees and without a temporary labor camp are exempt from (V)OSHA inspection.  (V)OSHA’s new policy states that all food manufacturing that takes place on farms, regardless of size, is subject to (V)OSHA inspection.  For example, an apple orchard may be exempt from (V)OSHA inspections; however, if they turn their apples into cider onsite, the cider-making operation would be non-exempt; subject to OSHA inspections. This program will help farmers understand OSHA rules.

It is important to note that even though farms with 10 or fewer employees are exempt from OSHA inspection; they are not exempt from OSHA regulations.  Every farm needs to have a written safety program in place.

“Participating in the Vermont Farm Safety Program has been an extremely positive and successful experience.  Being able to tap into the program team’s guidance, expertise and support has been invaluable and we look forward to a long relationship with them.” Bill Suhr, Champlain Orchards

Numerous farms that have participated in the farm safety program have received discounts on their workers’ compensation and property insurance premiums.

“It is important to recognize that farms in Vermont are working hard to create a culture of safety on their farms. This program helps producers develop and/or strengthen that culture and create safe working environments on the farm.” Chuck Ross, Vermont’s Secretary of Agriculture.