By Marc Paquette, VT Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets
March 1, 2023 | Montpelier, VT - State and local jurisdictions throughout the country are celebrating Weights and Measures Week which takes place the first seven days of March every year. The date for Weights and Measures Week commemorates the signing of the first United States weights and measures law by President John Adams on March 2, 1799. The evolution of a uniform system of weights and measures has had a profound and necessary impact on society and government. It provides uniformity and confidence in the marketplace for both consumers and businesses. All participants in an economy are more likely to engage openly in trade if they are assured of fairness in transactions. Weights and Measures programs contribute greatly to economic development by promoting equity in the marketplace to all stakeholders.
Vermont’s Weights and Measures Section is located in the Vermont Agency of Agriculture Food and Markets. Many consumers are surprised to learn that weights and measures programs are part of many agencies of agriculture nationwide. This is true in Vermont, where much of the state’s early economy was based on agricultural products produced on tens of thousands of farms. Historically, commodities produced in Vermont like milk, meat, grains, feed, corn, and maple were sold by weight or measure, therefore the inspection program was placed in the Agency of Agriculture.
The inspections conducted by field staff provide equity in the marketplace and consumer protection by testing and inspecting commercial devices used in trade. Each year the Vermont program inspects over 6,000 gas pumps, 425 fuel oil and 225 propane truck meters, thousands of scales, and packages. Inspectors conduct hundreds of price verification inspections, testing the accuracy of laser scanning systems in retail outlets. This work promotes consumer protection by ensuring that these devices are accurate and correct and by also monitoring pricing integrity and weighing and measuring practices where transactions occur.
Changes in the marketplace and technology continue to require additional training and program evaluation. The increase in electric vehicles on Vermont’s roads and the accompanying EV Charging meters is an area the program may be expanding into. There are specific requirements for commercial EV Charging meters as relates to weights & measures. These meters are measuring devices where purchases occur when charging an EV. Requirements to charge by the kilowatt hour exist and this will require education to EV Meter owners/operators as well as to consumers.
Weights and Measures Week serves as a reminder of the great value consumers receive from weights and measures inspection programs. The next time you purchase gas, take a trip to the grocery store, or receive a delivery of fuel at your home, remember that staff from the Weights and Measures Section is working diligently to ensure accuracy, fairness, and protection to all parties.
For more information about the Agency of Agriculture’s Weights and Measures Program, contact Marc Paquette, Weights and Measures Chief, Marc.Paquette@vermont.gov 802-828-2426.