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September 1, 2018

Tile Drain Animation

VAAFM Files Final Proposed Subsurface Tile Drainage Water Quality Rule

Final Step in Public Rulemaking Process Ongoing Since February, 2018

August 31, 2018 / Montpelier, VT - On Tuesday, August 21, 2018, the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets (VAAFM) filed the final proposed rule amendment to the Required Agricultural Practices (RAPs) with the Legislative Committee on Administrative Rules (LCAR) and the Secretary of State (SOS).  The amendment includes requirements for reducing nutrient contribution to waters of the State from subsurface tile drainage on agricultural fields. 

The formal rule amendment process began in January of this year with recommended changes provided by the Interagency Committee on Administrative Rules (ICAR) during the process.  VAAFM made several amendments and formally filed the proposed rule on February 28, 2018.  In farming, a tile drain system removes excess water from agricultural soils below the surface, usually through a system of plastic piping.  For more information on agricultural subsurface tile drainage, please see the Vermont Subsurface Agricultural Tile Drain Report prepared by VAAFM and the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources: http://agriculture.vermont.gov/sites/ag/files/pdf/water_quality/Research/TD-Report/Vermont-Subsurface-Agricultural-Tile-Drain-Report-01312017.pdf

Prior to initiating the formal rule amendment process, the Agency was engaged in various discussions and nine meetings to gather feedback pertaining to the content of the amendment, involving 190 attendees that provided insight as the rule amendment process began. Following the filing of the proposed rule , the Agency held a public comment period which ran from February 28, 2018 through April 20, 2018. During this time frame, the Agency held three public hearings in St. Albans, Montpelier, and Middlebury to gather additional feedback on the final proposed rule, in which 33 interested individuals attended. Overall, the Agency received over 50 written and emailed comments on the proposed rule amendment.

The proposed rule amendment, an updated RAP Rule Draft, the responsiveness summary to public comments received, and other pertinent information can be found at: http://agriculture.vermont.gov/rap-tile-rule

Please direct any questions regarding the proposed amendment or the RAPs to agr.waterquality@vermont.gov or call (802) 272-0323

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Contact:

Ryan Patch

Water Quality Division Deputy Director

Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets

(802) 272-0323

ryan.patch@vermont.gov

 

August 28, 2018

Working Lands Grants Available for Vermont Food, Forestry and Wood Products Ventures

$700K grants available for investment in FY 2019

August 24, 2018 / Montpelier, VT - The Working Lands Enterprise Board announces the 2019 Service Provider request for application release dates. Types of technical assistance provided for Service Providers may include: Market development, marketing plans, and sales; Business and financial planning; Succession planning; Access to capital; Manufacturing efficiencies or process flow; research and development; and/or pilot programs.

  • Request for Applications Released: September 4, 2018
  • Letters of Intent Due: September 27, 2018  
  • Applicant Notification of Acceptance/Denial (Letter of Intent): October 19, 2018
  • Invited Applications Due: January 3, 2018
  • Applicant Notification: End of January 2019
  • Estimated Project Start Date: February-March 2019

FY 2019 Program Year

This year, approximately $700,000 is available for investment into farm, food systems, forestry, and forest products enterprises. Funds will be disbursed in (2) investment areas: Business Grants and Service Provider Grants.

The Working Lands Enterprise Board( WLEB) has decided to allocate larger grants, up to $150k, for low grade wood or dairy projects that show significant value chain improvements. The lower tier for Business grants has now increased to  $25,000 or less, vs. $20,000 or less, as in previous years.

 

Of the current $825K available for Working Lands investments, WLEB in this current fiscal year will aim to deploy approximately:

- Service Provider Funding Total: $230-280K

- Business Funding Total: $525-575K

- Trade Show Assistance Grants: $20K

History of Success to Date 

The WLEB began operations in August 2012 and today has awarded over $5.4 million in grant funds to 184 grantees, leveraging an additional over $8 million of matching and other funds. For a list of previously funded projects, visit http://workinglands.vermont.gov/projects.

The Working Lands Enterprise Initiative is administered by the Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets in partnership with the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks & Recreation, and the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development. The initiative is led by the Working Lands Enterprise Board, made up of public and private sector members involved in agriculture, food, forestry, and wood products.

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Working Lands Contact:

Lynn Ellen Schimoler

Agricultural Business Development / Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food, and Markets

802-622-4477

LynnEllen.Schimoler@vermont.gov

 

August 8, 2018

MONTPELIER – Eight Vermont agriculture, food, beverage, forest, and fiber product associations that provide support to the development of Vermont’s economy and the viability of our working landscape businesses will implement marketing projects with $2,000 grant awards.

Meghan Sheradin, Executive Director from the Vermont Grass Farmers’ Association (VGFA), said: “these grants are really helpful because they support the consumer education marketing efforts we need to engage in, but have difficulty finding funding to support”

On a recent site visit by the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food, and Markets (VAAFM), Highgate grass-fed, organic dairy farmer, Matt Choiniere of Choiniere Family Farms spoke of his appreciation for VGFA’s commitment to provide critical support to the development of Vermont’s economy and the viability of its working landscape, by educating consumers about the benefits of grass-fed products.

“VGFA helps the general public understand why farmers like us chose to use a grass-based livestock system, helping them make more informed choices in the marketplace,” said Choiniere.

VAAFM began accepting grant applications for the Vermont Producer Association Grant Program on Thursday, May 3, 2018, on a first come, first serve basis for eligible applicants. Eligible applicants must be Vermont-based non-profit organizations that represent and promote Vermont agriculture, food, beverage, forest, and/or fiber products. A total of $16,000 in grants funds were available and all eight $2,000 grants were awarded within 4 days of the grant opening.

These grants are one of the many ways VAAFM facilitates, supports, and encourages the growth and viability of agriculture.

The following organizations were awarded $2,000 Producer Association Grants:

  • Vermont Farmers’ Market Association
  • Vermont Fresh Network
  • Vermont Grass Farmers' Association
  • Vermont Maple Sugar Makers Association
  • Vermont Organic Farmers
  • Vermont Specialty Foods Association
  • Vermont Tree Fruit Growers’ Association
  • Vermont Wood Manufacturers

Questions related to the Vermont Producer Association Grant Program should be directed at (802) 505-1822 or alexandra.zipparo@vermont.gov

August 3, 2018

It’s peak season, enjoy the wide variety of products and live music at your local farmers market!

MONTPELIER – Vermont joins states across the country in celebrating National Farmers Market Week from August 5-11. Featuring blueberry festivals and other events with live music and kid friendly “Power of Produce” activities, there’s something special for everyone at your local farmers market this harvest season!

Vermont currently has around 70 farmers markets with vendors selling fresh picked fruits and vegetables, a variety of meats and cheeses, sweet and savory baked goods and other value-added products, unique crafts, beautiful plants, cut flower bouquets and more! To find a farmers market near you, visit http://agriculture.vermont.gov/farmersmarkets.

“Farmers markets play a vital role not just in generating real income for farmers, but in forming a healthy, prosperous food system,” says Jen Cheek, Executive Director of the Farmers Market Coalition.

“By providing the opportunity for farmers to connect directly with consumers, markets serve as education centers. Vendors are teaching customers about agriculture and sharing recipes and new foods with their neighbors. Markets are making people and communities stronger and healthier, “ says Cheek,

For more information contact: Alissa Matthews, Agriculture Development Division (802) 505-1661, alissa.matthews@vermont.gov

July 31, 2018

Public Invited to Comment on the Report

MONTPELIER, Vt. - The Vermont Climate Action Commission delivered a final report containing 53 recommendations to the Governor for his consideration today. The commission was formed last year by Governor Scott, to bring together 21 business, civic, nonprofit, and state agency leaders with the goal of developing concrete recommendations to reduce Vermont’s greenhouse gas emissions and spur economic growth.

The Commission’s recommendations cover five core areas that touch Vermonters’ everyday lives: homes and workplaces, getting around, communities and landscapes, carbon sequestration, and jobs and the economy.  The report includes recommendations to advance low income weatherization, vehicle electrification, advanced wood heat, agricultural soil carbon storage, and Vermont climate businesses, among many other topic areas.

“I am deeply grateful to the Commission members for committing a significant amount of time, expertise, and resolve to help move Vermont forward to achieving our climate change goals by developing climate strategies that collectively provide solutions for all Vermonters to reduce their carbon impact,” said Peter Walke, Commission Chair and Deputy Secretary for the Agency of Natural Resources. “I also want to thank the hundreds of Vermonters who have engaged with the Commission over the past year.”

Governor Scott also invites the public to review and provide additional input on the report over the next two months.  Information on how to comment can be found below.  Following the informal public comment period, the Governor will review the public’s input alongside the report as he determines how to move forward.

The Commission’s work was informed by public listening sessions held around the state in the fall of 2017.  The Commission held monthly public meetings and received support from subject matter experts as it explored topics that were important to reach Vermont’s climate change goals.

For Vermonters who would like to provide their input for the Governor, the report and a web-based form to comment on the report can be found at the Commission’s website.  Comments can also be emailed to ANR.VCAC@vermont.gov or mailed to the following address:

 

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