Did you know that the Food Safety Consumer Protection (FSCP) Division engages in many emergency preparedness, response and recovery activities in support of farmers and agricultural businesses? It’s true. And it is not just the FSCP team; every work unit in the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets contributes to protecting and ensuring the resiliency of Vermont's most critical infrastructure. In addition to ensuring safe food and fair markets during peacetime, we ramp up during less peaceful times in ways that may surprise you. Here are some examples and ways to learn more:
- We conduct foreign animal disease investigations during high consequence animal disease outbreaks that can wreak havoc on animal health, food prices, and Vermont's general economy. Our response throughout the ongoing high pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) outbreak, in partnership with wildlife and public health colleagues, is one example where early disease detection and prevention of spread has been critical. To learn more about how to protect your birds from HPAI or to become a "flock defender", visit https://www.aphis.usda.gov/aphis/ourfocus/animalhealth/animal-disease-information/avian/defend-the-flock-program/dtf-resources/dtf-resources
- The Agency of Agriculture employs a carcass management specialist. Farmers who have experienced livestock mortality emergencies who can benefit from assistance with composting and other methods of disposal can utilize this expertise. If you ever find yourself in need of help in this department, please contact us. These are certainly difficult circumstances to manage, but the Agency can help.
- The Agency supplies a member to the Vermont Drought Task Force to be the voice of farmers. Two primary responsibilities of the Task Force are to gather the information necessary to assess the impact of dry conditions and to make recommendations to the Governor or agencies responsible for responding to drought or drought related impacts on Vermont agriculture.
- Along with other Agency colleagues, the FSCP Division supports the State Emergency Operations Plan by ensuring when the State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC) is activated, it is staffed with an agricultural voice, in support of you. Staff deployed to the SEOC during emergencies like flooding, power outages, and natural disasters triage incoming calls related to agriculture and ensure they are routed to the Agency subject matter experts who can help. During past emergencies, the FSCP Division has activated the Vermont Disaster Animal Response Team to assist with pet-friendly sheltering for Vermonters; coordinated assistance for trapped or stranded livestock; assisted farmers during barn roof collapses and fires; completed impact assessments on agricultural commodities; provided assistance to farmers who have experienced crop flooding; and collaborated with partners to respond to technological emergencies.
Whether the agricultural emergency is large or small, it is likely that the Agency of Agriculture either has the expertise to provide direct assistance or can route you to the most appropriate resources to address the circumstances at hand.