Blog

July 1, 2016

By Marcella Houghton, Salvation Farms

Salvation Farms recently received a $5,000 grant from the Merchants Bank in support of their work to advance gleaning in Vermont. Gleaning is the ancient practice of collecting quality crops, left in farmers' fields after they have been harvested or on fields where it is not economical to harvest.

Photo Caption: Pat Lemay of the Merchants Bank’s Hardwick branch presents check to James Hafferman of Salvation Farms at Riverside Farm in East Hardwick.

Salvation Farms will apply this grant to the Vermont Gleaning Collective website which serves as a volunteer recruitment platform for member organizations’ gleaning programs. Last year, the Collective gleaned more than 218,000 pounds of crops from 89 farms and distributed it to 70 recipient sites including the Vermont Foodbank which serves more than 220 additional agencies statewide.

Since the website’s launch in 2014, the website has registered more than 500 volunteers statewide. Included in its features is the ability to broadcast upcoming gleaning events and aggregate gleaning data, enabling analysis of data from year-to-year, season to season, and region to region to understand where and when to best mobilize volunteers and track how much farm surplus has been captured.

Theresa Snow, Salvation Farms’ founding director, says “We are grateful for the continued support of Merchants Bank. With this latest award we will be able to provide the Vermont Gleaning Collective a superior online tool to respond to the growing demand for gleaners in our state. These enhancements will help us continue serving Vermont farms, reduce food loss, increase the amount of fresh, wholesome, nutritious food available to our state’s most vulnerable populations, while creating increased efficiencies in engaging volunteers in experiential learning opportunities.”

Become a gleaner at www.vermontgleaningcollective.org.

About Merchants Bank

A Vermont-chartered commercial bank established in 1849, Merchants Bank is the largest Vermont-based bank. The bank’s business, municipal, consumer, and investment customers enjoy personalized relationships, sophisticated online and mobile banking options, with 31 branches in Vermont and 1 location in Massachusetts; operating as NUVO, A division of Merchants Bank. American Banker ranks Merchants Bank a "Top 200" in America among 851 peers. For more information, go to www.mbvt.com. Where do you want to grow? (Member FDIC, Equal Housing Lender, NASDAQ “MBVT”)

About Salvation Farms

Salvation Farms’ mission is to increase resilience in Vermont’s food system through agricultural surplus management. Visit www.salvationfarms.org or call 802-888-4360 for more information.

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June 29, 2016

Effort to Reduce Food Waste and Energy Use Has Cows Providing Cream and Electricity for Cabot Butter

By Laura Hardie, New England Dairy & Food Council and New England Dairy Promotion Board

Cabot Creamery Cooperative has been recognized with a 2016 U.S. Dairy Sustainability Award for Outstanding Dairy Processing & Manufacturing Sustainability. The cooperative was selected for its Real Farm Power™ program which is the latest in a series of sustainability projects pioneered by the 1,200 dairy-farm families of Agri-Mark dairy cooperative, owner of Cabot Creamery Cooperative. The program takes a closed-loop approach, recycling cow manure, food scraps and food processing by-products to produce renewable energy on a Massachusetts dairy farm.

Photo: Members of Cabot Creamery Cooperative accept the 2016 U.S. Dairy Sustainability Award for Outstanding Dairy Processing & Manufacturing Sustainability in Chicago, Illinois on May 11, 2016. From Left to right: Amanda Freund of Freund’s Farm Market and Bakery, Ann Hoogenboom of Cabot Creamery Cooperative, Steven Barstow II of Barstow’s Longview Farm, Phil Lempert journalist and the Supermarket Guru, Caroline Barstow of Barstow’s Longview Farm, Jed Davis of Cabot Cooperative Creamery, Marie and Eugene Audet of Blue Spruce Farm, and Bob Foster of Foster Brothers Farm.

The Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy®, established under the leadership of dairy farmers, announced its fifth annual U.S. Dairy Sustainability Awards during a ceremony May 11 in Chicago. The program recognizes dairy farms, businesses and partnerships whose sustainable practices positively impact the health and well-being of consumers, communities, animals and the environment.

Real Farm Power™ reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 5,680 tons annually while generating 2,200 megawatt hours (MWh) of clean, renewable energy per year to offset the power needed to make Cabot™ butter. The $2.8 million project is expected to have a six-year payback, and it offers a blueprint for scaling anaerobic digester technology to small- and medium-sized dairy farms.

“Every year in the U.S. it’s estimated that up to 40 percent of all the food produced is thrown away — that’s 133 billion pounds of food,” said Jed Davis, Sustainability Director at Cabot Creamery Cooperative. “In partnerships with our farmers we’ve found a way to keep resources, like food byproducts, in a continuous cycle of re-use for as long as possible toward a goal of zero-waste-to-landfill.”

An example of the Real Farm Power™ program begins with Geissler’s Supermarket stores in Connecticut where food scraps are collected and delivered to Barstow’s Longview Farm, in Hadley, Mass.

At the farm, the organic material is put into an anaerobic digester that blends it with the farm’s cow manure and food processing byproducts from dairy processing, citrus processing, vegetable canning, breweries, sugar production and more.

In partnership with Vanguard Renewables, the renewable energy produced by the anaerobic digester is sent in the form of energy credits to the Cabot facility in West Springfield Mass., where the farm’s milk is processed, and offsets all of the energy needed to make Cabot butter.

“This process is the ultimate closed-loop recycling model – the food waste from the grocery store goes to Barstow’s Farm and is converted into power and natural fertilizer to make more food that ultimately returns to the grocery store, completing a full-circle cycle,” Davis said.

In total, the farm’s carbon footprint reduction is 5,680 tons per year, which more than offsets their emissions.

The farm receives 14,000 tons of organic food waste in total each year from 15 different food companies and the process is catching on with other manufacturers – a revolutionary step forward in recycling and re-using food waste in the U.S.

U.S. Dairy Sustainability Award winners were evaluated based on their economic, environmental and community impact, also known as triple-bottom-line success. The independent judging panel — including experts working with and throughout the dairy community — also looked for learning, innovation, improvement, scalability and replicability.

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About Cabot Creamery Cooperative:

Cabot Creamery Cooperative has been in continuous operation since 1919, and makes a full line of cheeses, yogurt, sour cream, cottage cheese and butter. Widely known as makers of “The World’s Best Cheddar,” Cabot is owned by the 1200 dairy farm families of Agri-Mark, the Northeast’s premier dairy cooperative, with farms located throughout New England and upstate New York. For more information on Cabot, visit: http://www.cabotcheese.coop.

Cabot Creamery Cooperative is the world’s first cheese maker and dairy cooperative to achieve B Corporation Certification, a validation of its attention to environmental and social impacts on stakeholders.

About New England Dairy Promotion Board:

The New England Dairy Promotion Board (NEDPB) directs advertising, sales promotions and marketing programs on behalf of local dairy farmers in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont. Offices are located in Boston, MA and Winooski, VT.

 

Photo: Barstow Family of Hadley,  MA. The Barstow’s Longview Farm in Hadley, MA receives 14,000 tons of organic food waste in total each year from 15 different food companies. The farm was recognized on May 11 in Chicago with a national U.S. Dairy sustainability award for their part in the Real Farm Power™ Program.

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June 29, 2016

The Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food, and Markets (VAAFM) has announced its adjusted fee schedule, which has been approved by the legislature and will go into effect July 1, 2016. The new fee schedule is available online at http://agriculture.vermont.gov/licensing-registration/fees

VAAFM manages more than 50 fee-based programs.  These services provide value to Vermonters, in accordance with the Agency’s mission: to support the growth and viability of agriculture in Vermont while protecting the working landscape, human health, animal health, plant health, consumers and the environment. 

Fee rates are considered every three years, and must be approved by the legislature. The fee schedule is based on the cost of running each respective regulatory program. VAAFM also reviews comparable programs in neighboring states, to ensure Vermont’s programs are aligned with regional standards.

Examples of fee-based programs managed by VAAFM include…

  • Weights and measures inspections: grocery scanners, deli scales, and gas pumps are inspected to ensure accuracy so Vermonters “get what they pay for.” Store owners pay this fee.
  • Animal feed registration: packaged livestock and pet food is registered and inspected to ensure the quality and composition (protein, energy). Feed dealers pay this fee.
  • Dairy processor inspections: facilities are inspected and licensed to ensure food safety. Licensing also allows processors to access out-of-state markets. Processors pay this fee.
  • Pesticide registration: products are inspected to ensure they are properly labeled and meet the state laws associated with pesticide use. Pesticide manufacturers pay this fee.

For full details about Agency fees, please visit http://agriculture.vermont.gov/licensing-registration/fees.

If you have any questions about the impact of these fees, please contact VAAFM at 802-828-2430.

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June 29, 2016

By Alexandra Zipparo, VAAFM

Farmers and producers of Vermont agricultural products, including prepared and ready-to-eat foods as well as beer, wine and spirits, can now apply to participate in the second annual Summer Buy Local Market on the State House Lawn in Montpelier. The Summer Buy Local Market will be held on August 10 from 10 AM to 2 PM, rain or shine, and coincides with the United States Department of Agriculture’s 17th annual National Farmers Market Week.

To apply for free booth space at the market, visit our Buy Local Markets page at http://bit .ly/vtbuylo-calmarket and email your application to faith.raymond@vermont.gov by July 10 or mail it to Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets, Attn: Faith Raymond; 116 State St . Montpelier, VT 05602 (must be postmarked no later than July 7 to ensure delivery to Vermont Agency of Agriculture in time for review).

Last August, more than forty purveyors of local food and agri-cultural products convened on the State House lawn for the first ever Summer Buy Local Market. The event was organized by the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets as part of the state’s Local Food Wellness and Consumer Awareness Initiative, in partner-ship with the State of Vermont, Capital City Farmers’ Market and The Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont (NOFA-VT).

The market seeks to offer the same great quality, diversity, and freshness available at the weekend Montpelier farmers’ market to week-day shoppers, who might otherwise miss out. Downtown and state employees, Montpelier residents, and visitors can enjoy the opportunity to shop for local foods and handmade goods, such as wood products and yarn, as well as ready-to-eat foods for lunches and snacks, like fresh juice, hot dogs, sandwiches, and ice cream.

Market vendors can expect to meet new customers and the opportunity to share their products on the scenic State House lawn. The market will also feature a number of local nonprofits and other organizations to promote agricultural literacy and share information on recycling, composting, and programs to support agricultural producers.

The deadline for vendors apply for free both space is July 10. To learn more about the Vermont Agency of Agriculture’s Buy Local Markets, visit http://bit .ly/vtbuylocalmarket.

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June 29, 2016

By Chuck Ross, VAAFM

June is National Dairy Month.  In light of that fact, I’d like to take a moment to honor Vermont’s dedicated dairy farming families and highlight some of the many ways they help to shape our economy, our land, and our way of life.

In 2015, the Vermont Dairy Promotion Council commissioned an economic assessment of Vermont’s dairy industry in order to understand its true economic value to our state.  Concurrently, the Agency of Agriculture worked in partnership with the Castleton Polling Institute to survey Vermonters’ beliefs and attitudes towards the dairy industry.

Compiled in the final report, Milk Matters: The Role of Dairy in Vermont, the results of the economic study demonstrate that dairy remains at the heart of the Vermont economy--accounting for 70 percent of all agricultural sales in the state, providing thousands of jobs, and contributing to a vital working landscape.  Likewise, polling data revealed Vermonters’ views about dairy are overwhelmingly positive.  Over 90 percent of Vermonters polled in the 2014 “Dairy in Vermont” survey expressed a belief that dairy is “very important to Vermont’s future.” 

While the economic outlook for dairy remains strong, significant challenges lie ahead, including labor management, farm transitions, and environmental impact mitigation.  Protecting and preserving our state waters continues to be a top priority for the Agency of Ag as we work side-by-side with Vermont farmers to improve regulations, and provide technical and financial assistance. 

Thus far, more than 1800 individuals – many of them dairy farmers - have attended over 80 meetings hosted by VAAFM and our Water Quality Partners since October last year to participate and provide comments in the Required Agricultural Practices (RAPs) rule-making process.  A key component of Act 64, Vermont’s Clean Water Act signed into law in June of 2015, the RAPs are designed to further reduce the impact of agriculture on water quality across the state. Input from dairy farmers and community members has been invaluable to the VAAFM and our partners as we work to implement Act 64.

By working together, we can continue to expand the positive influence the dairy industry has on our state, and perpetuate the proud tradition of Vermont dairy farming for generations to come.  Please review the data highlights from the Milk Matters Report at www.vermontdairy.com and take a moment during National Dairy Month to appreciate Vermont dairy farmers and all they do for our special state.

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