Vermont’s Agriculture Agency stands ready to assist farmers after devastating statewide flooding
July 14, 2023 | Montpelier, VT – As we all watched Vermont communities become inundated with flood waters after an unprecedented rainfall on Monday and Tuesday, our thoughts are with all Vermonters and their families who are recovering from this devastating event. The Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets (VAAFM) has assembled important guidance and resources for the state’s agricultural members and communities to facilitate recovery.
“Our little state is hurting, but we are going to figure this out,” said Anson Tebbetts, Vermont Secretary of Agriculture. “Vermonters have a history of getting things done during difficult times. I am confident we can again, but it will take hard work, creativity, and good will from all of us pulling in the same direction.”
When Governor Phil Scott declared a State of Emergency in Vermont on July 9, 2023 due to heavy rainfall, many farmers across the state were watching rising flood waters begin to cover farm fields, crops, bee hives and threaten animals. While the top priority is and will be the life and safety of our citizens, the recovery of our farms and food supplies is critical to the full recovery of the state. At the request of Governor Scott, President Biden has declared that an emergency exists in the State of Vermont and ordered Federal assistance to supplement State and local response efforts. The President’s action authorizes the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to deploy assistance and resources to Vermont. Read the full Vermont Emergency Declaration. At this time the Agency is working to understand how these declarations will respond to agriculture issues.
To assist our farms and farmers with these processes, Secretary Tebbetts has directed all VAAFM Divisions and Programs to focus on recovery efforts and information. Below are highlights from the VAAFM Flood Recovery Resource website at https://agriculture.vermont.gov/flood.
- If you need immediate support, please dial 2-1-1, or visit Vermont 2-1-1 to connect to a Community Resource Specialist.
- Vermont is working with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) on a disaster declaration. Once it is safe to do so, farms should document property damage and crop or livestock loss. It is unknown at this time what aid programs may come available in the coming weeks, but documentation of loss will be needed. Farmers should assess damages field by field and crop by crop. If you have questions you can reach out to your local Farm Service Agency (FSA) County Office.
- Farms without crop insurance can still report losses at their local FSA Office.
- If you are interested in volunteering to assist with recovery efforts, you can register for the State of Vermont Volunteer organization.
- Everyone is encouraged to check 511 or for the most up to date information on road conditions and route selection and register for a Vermont Alert (VT-ALERT) account to help keep you up to date on emergency situations in your area. Additional information regarding road closures can be found here.
- For specific questions about how produce crops or fields may be affected by flooding, please contact the Vermont Produce Program Team at AGR.Produce@vermont.gov or 802-622-4412. Under U.S. law, crops where the edible portion of the plant has contacted flood waters are considered adulterated and cannot be sold for human consumption. For more information, please review the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) Resources for Human and Animal Food Producers Affected by Flooding.
Due to flooding road closures and washouts, many milk haulers are not able to reach all farms to pick up milk. Additionally, some milk processing plants may not be operating at full capacity due to staffing availability and access to processing plants. Below is guidance for all farms, co-ops, and haulers if this is a situation that they are experiencing.
- If you are required to dump your own milk or are accepting a load of milk from another farm operation, a manure pit is the best location to dump milk, assuming there is adequate pit capacity and freeboard requirements are maintained. Please ensure to maintain accurate records.
- If you are a co-op or a waste hauler looking to dispose of milk or other non-sewage waste at a farm operation into a manure pit or a digester, please contact Jessa Mason with the Non-Sewage Waste Program at 802-595-4726 or Jessica.Mason@vermont.gov
If there is an emergency where a farm does not have a manure pit and is required to find another alternative for milk dumping and is seeking assistance to identify an appropriate location, please contact Nate Sands at 802-224-6850 or Nathaniel.Sands@vermont.gov.
We recognize that recovery from this emergency will take significant time, energy, and resources. The Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets is here to help. Other state agricultural organizations can also help, including Farm First. They can assist farmers and their families with access to resources including technical, legal, or financial assistance as well as to a counselor or trained peer.
Scott Waterman | VAAFM Director of Communications and Policy | 802-622-4662 | Scott.Waterman@vermont.gov
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