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Dairy farmers push for control of milk supply

Vermont has lost more than 400 dairy farms since 2008

JAY, Vt. (AP) — Some dairy farmers advocated Tuesday for controlling the supply of milk to increase prices as producers and officials discussed how to support the struggling industry at a two-day summit.

Dairy farmers are in their fifth year of low milk prices. Vermont has lost more than 400 dairy farms since 2008, with the total dropping from 1,100 11 years ago to 694 last month. Wisconsin lost 691 dairy farms last year alone.

“There is so much at stake if we don’t turn this around for our rural communities,” said Vermont Agriculture Secretary Anson Tebbetts.

About 240 people attended the summit in Jay, Vermont, including 125 farmers and the New York agriculture commissioner.

The presentations from farmers and industry experts included how to run a dairy in a global market, how to diversify dairy operations, and how local dairies affect local economies.

“They buy supplies,” said Tebbetts of the farmers, “they support stores, they’re on the fire department, they are the EMTs, they’re people who volunteering, they’re on select boards, school boards and when a farm leaves some of that goes away.”

Some farmers created a petition seeking support for a national milk supply management program to disseminate at the conference.

The details of the program have not been determined, but it would set a base level of production for each farm and create incentives for farmers not to overproduce, Kara O’Connor of the Wisconsin Farmers Union. That could be met with opposition since it could raise the price of milk for consumers — even if only a small amount.

“We’re inviting people to consider whether consumers might pay a few cents more for a gallon of milk in exchange for saving hundreds of dairy farms per year and paying less in taxes for government dairy programs,” said O’Connor, who spoke at the event.

Other groups suggested compensation for farmers for their environmental stewardship; educating consumers about farms, possibly through television segments featuring farmers talking about their operations; and subsidizing farms with tourism dollars.

“We have a huge tourism industry,” said farmer Leon Corse. “We need to somehow take some of those tourism dollars to subsidize dairy to get us through this issue that we’re having now because if dairy dies in 20 years we’re going to wish that we had saved it because tourism is going to die, too.”

                                                           –By LISA RATHKE Associated Press



VHCB awards $1.9 million for housing, farmland, forestland and water


Tue, 03/26/2019 - 1:12pm --Vermont Business Magazine At a meeting on March 15, the Vermont Housing & Conservation Board awarded $731,500 in VHCB funding, $127,500 in federal funds, and $1,130,000 in Housing Revenue Bond funds for the development of 24 new homes in St Albans, predevelopment work on a neighborhood revitalization project in Windsor, and a pilot program to support the development of accessory apartments in Burlington. Additionally, 250 acres of farmland will be conserved in Orange and Chittenden Counties, and 287 acres of forestland in Dummerston with public access for hunting and walking will be conserved.

Gus Seelig, VHCB Executive Director, said, “With these awards, the Board is supporting community based groups around the state that are working to improve and increase housing opportunities and to conserve land for agricultural use and facilitate farm transfer, expansion, and diversification, to protect wildlife habitat and water quality, and to provide public access for recreational uses.”  CLICK HERE for the full article


Saffron ~ Vegetable gold in the cold


by Courtney Llewellyn

Saffron’s flavor has been described as “metallic honey with grassy notes” or “hay-like and sweet.” It is an extremely subtle and fragrant spice, difficult to describe in taste but immediately recognizable in a dish. It has been associated with the Mediterranean and Middle East for centuries, but recently, it has been taking root somewhere somewhat unexpected – Vermont.

“We had a grad student working on IPM in our lab from Iran and her husband asked why we didn’t grow saffron here, and I thought about it,” said Margaret Skinner of the North American Center for Saffron Research and Development, which is headquartered at the University of Vermont. “We do a lot of work with high tunnel growers, and we had this assumption it would not survive the cold temperatures outside.”

The person that suggested growing saffron in New England was Arash Ghalehgolabbehbahani, who now runs the center with Skinner.  

   CLICK HERE to read the entire article


Clean Water Lecture Series to Highlight Vermont’s Clean Water Act Implementation

The Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) just announced its Spring 2019 Clean Water Lectures series schedule. The lecture series is open to the public and offers a glimpse into DEC's clean water efforts to protect public health; support fishing, swimming, boating, and other recreational uses; and provide critical wildlife habitat.

The four upcoming lectures, held in Montpelier and via Skype, will cover a variety of water quality topics. Attendees can learn about the recent clean water projects related to Vermont's Clean Water Act, including new tools for tactical basin planning, innovative natural resources restoration financing, new stormwater regulations, and lake monitoring and assessment. 

The Clean Water Lecture Series is open to all. Anyone who is interested can join in person or online via https://tiny.cc/lecture-series.

                      To attend in person, please RSVP to anr.cleanwatervt@vermont.gov

CLICK HERE for more information on Clean Water Lecture Series, or the upcoming presentations.




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