Clean Water Grant Dollars available! RFP due January 10, 2018

The Agency of Ag Reminds Farmers of New Manure Stacking Requirements

In late November the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets (VAAFM)  announced the opening of the Request for Proposal (RFP) period for at least $1 million in grant funding associated with the Ag Clean Water Initiative Program (Ag-CWIP).  This grant program is made possible and supported by the Clean Water Fund—a fund created by Act 64 of 2015, Vermont’s Clean Water Act. 

 VAAFM’s Ag-CWIP will provide new opportunities for farmers and partner organizations to undertake projects that will achieve reductions in nutrient runoff from agricultural lands, with a focus on projects which reduce phosphorus losses in priority watersheds.  Please visit http://Agriculture.Vermont.gov/WQ-RFP for the complete RFP documents.

 “Farmers and their partners are focused on improving the environment.  These funds are an important part of improving water quality,” said Secretary Anson Tebbetts. 

 These local and statewide partners support farmers to identify, plan and implement management, agronomic and structural best practices to improve water quality.  Implementation efforts are further supported by an additional $3M in available funding from VAAFM’s Best Management Practices program for 2018.

 VAAFM is requesting agricultural water quality program proposals that address the following priority outcomes to improve water quality in Vermont:

 Regulatory compliance with the RAPs and agricultural non-point source pollution reduction; and Economic and environmental viability on Vermont farms.

 VAAFM will be prioritizing funding based on need, meaning it will consider those areas of the state identified through water quality monitoring and Tactical Basin Planning efforts to have the greatest reduction targets for agriculture.

 The Request for Proposals applications are due by 4:00 p.m. on January 10, 2018.  Eligible applicants include farmers, non-profit organizations, educational institutions, and local government entities.

 For the complete Request for Proposals, program details, and additional information, please visit http://Agriculture.Vermont.gov/WQ-RFP, call the Agency at (802) 828-2431, or email: AGR.WaterQuality@Vermont.gov.


Vermont’s Winter Manure Spreading Ban Begins December 15th

The Agency of Ag Reminds Farmers of New Manure Stacking Requirements

The Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets’ (VAAFM) newly effective Required Agricultural Practices Rule will continue a 20-year winter management requirement for all farms: between December 15 and April 1, no manure or other agricultural wastes (compost, spoiled feed, other wastes) may be spread on fields throughout Vermont.

This annual ban is part of an overall strategy to protect our working landscape and natural resources, as outlined in Vermont’s Required Agricultural Practices (RAPs). The Agency works closely with farmers across the state to ensure the RAPs are understood and enforced.  Manure spreading is a common practice in Vermont agriculture which enriches the soil for production and helps manage animal waste.

The winter manure spreading ban is a regulation that has been in place since 1995 under the old Accepted Agricultural Practices Rule.  The newly revised RAP Rule continues the 20-year old winter manure spreading ban while providing several new standards for manure spreading.  Farms throughout Vermont will need to be aware of these new standards in order to appropriately site manure stacking sites this winter and to meet new manure spreading requirements for the 2017 field season and beyond.

For this winter’s manure spreading ban, farmers must either have a storage structure that is capable of holding all manure produced from December 15th to April 1st, which is 107 days, or they must be able to stack all manure produced in a way that will not lead to adverse water quality impacts.

When field stacking manure, the RAPs require that stacking sites be located at least 200 feet from private wells and 100 feet from property boundaries.  In addition, manure cannot be stacked within 200 feet of surface water, 100 feet of a ditch, or on land that is subject to annual overflow from adjacent waters.  In all these situations, however, farmers have the opportunity to demonstrate to the Secretary of Agriculture that no alternative sites exist and request a variance.

Exemptions for winter manure spreading are available only for emergency situations, such as structural failure of a waste storage facility.  If a farmer anticipates having an issue meeting the winter manure spreading ban restrictions, please contact VAAFM for assistance with planning winter manure management.

If you have any questions about the manure spreading ban, or if you would like assistance in the selection of appropriate manure stacking sites, please call the Agency of Agriculture at (802) 828-3475.

For additional information regarding the newly effective RAPs, please visit the Agency’s website: http://agriculture.vermont.gov/water-quality/regulations/rap


Highlights of Vermont Farm Bureau's 102nd Annual Meeting

Vermont Farm Bureau celebrated 102 years of grassroots discussion and policy making at their Annual Meeting on November 3-4 at the Taconic Hotel in Manchester, Vermont. 


Thank you Annual  Meeting Sponsors for Your Generous Support!

Please visit a list of our annual meeting sponsors at  http://vtfb.org/vermont-farm-bureau-ARC-Resource-Center.php


Carlene Hellus Elected  Treasurer of Vermont Farm Bureau

Carlene Hellus of Windham County Farm Bureau was elected Treasurer. Hellus will replace Dr. Bruce Shields of Lamoille County who has served Vermont Farm Bureau for the past 25 years. Carlene and her husband Chip own and operate Fowl Mountain Farm in Dummerston, Vermont.  They offer  farm fresh eggs, chicken, pheasant as well as Thanksgiving Turkeys. Everything is raised and processed on the farm and offered for sale in the Brattleboro area.


Nationwide Agent Awards

 Nationwide Board of Director member Terry McClure assisted Vermont Farm Bureau President Joe Tisbert in recognizing Nationwide Agencies. Mary Cobb and Roy Folsom of the Fewer Agency in Barre were awarded  Nationwide Top Farm Premium Producer and Most Farm Bureau Memberships Enrolled. Stuart Farnham of the Frazer Agency in Windsor and the Mullen Agency in St. Albans tied for second place for the  Nationwide Top Farm Premium Producer.



Wallace Award

Bruce Templeton of Templeton Farm in East Montpelier, VT received  the Wallace Award.   He was nominated by Washington County Farm Bureau for his outstanding service to agriculture. He had a 35 year career with SCS/NRCS where he assisted thousands of landowners and farmers with a host of soil and water issues on their farms. He is also an active farmer with grass fed beef and a thriving maple operation. This past spring farm he handed over the farm to his sons, Ryan and Seth and continues to be involved and is living "the dream".


Bruce Templeton receives the Wallace Award.


Representative Harvey Smith Receives President's Award

Harvey Smith, Addison County Representative and former Addison County Farm Bureau president, received the President's Award following "The Uniting the Future of Agriculture"  dinner on Friday evening.  The President’s Award recognizes a person or organization that works on behalf of Vermont Agriculture and has listened to the concerns of Vermont Farm Bureau. This is Harvey's third Vermont Farm Bureau Award. He received the Award for Young Farmer of the Year in 1975 and Farmer of the Year in 1992. Congratulations Harvey! 


Daughter Sara Smith, President's Award winner Harvey Smith and Grand daughter AnnaJo Smith in front of the Taconic Hotel. 


Windsor County Farm Bureau Wins Packard Award for Best Annual Meeting

Fifty or so members and legislators attended Windsor County Farm Bureau's Annual Meeting. Attendees were treated to Prime Rib, mashed potatoes and gravy which was cooked and served by the Frazer Agency of Windsor. This was followed by an assortment of homemade pies that included; apple, raspberry, blueberry, chocolate and more. The business meeting followed with some lively discussions about the upcoming legislative season. David ran a tight meeting and got business done in short order.

Slices of homemade pie from the Windsor County Farm Bureau's Annual Meeting.


Social Media Workshops

 The afternoon Social Media workshops led by Johnna Miller, Director of Advocacy & Media Training for American Farm Bureau Federation® were well attended as she guided  participants through the workings of facebook, twitter and other platforms. 

Photo of Vermont Farm Bureau Vice President Tim Buskey with Johnna Miller.


Do I have to Certify My Small Farm? Starting July 1, 2017 Annual Self-Certification Required

Farming operations that meet the threshold of a Certified Small Farm will be required to self-certify their operation with the Agency of Agriculture annually. The first certification form is due between July 1, 2017 and January 31, 2018. Small farms that meet the criteria to be considered a Certified Small Farm Operation (CSFO) will need to annually certify compliance with the RAPs as well as develop and implement nutrient management plans. Visit http://agriculture.vermont.gov/sfo  and click on the green button that says, "Do I have to Certify?" for a detailed diagram to help determine your farm classification size.


Required Agricultural Practices pass in Montpelier

On Thursday November 17, 2016 the Legislative Committee on Administrative Rules, “LCAR”, met for the third time to discuss the Required Agricultural Practices Rules (“RAPs”) submitted by the Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets.  LCAR had also previously discussed and taken testimony on the proposed rules on October 20th, and November 3rd .  On this final day of discussion they also agreed unanimously to send a letter with attachments to the committees of jurisdiction outlining residual concerns they have about enforcement, funding and definitions.

Vermont Farm Bureau President, Joseph Tisbert, was present at all three meetings and testified on behalf of Vermont Farm Bureau members.  He testified that a state funding mechanism should be in place before the rules were finalized, because compliance may cause economic hardship for some farmers.     

Members of LCAR spoke highly of Vermont farmers willingness to improve the water quality of Lake Champlain.  Everyone was thanked for their hard work in getting the rules done as it has been an ongoing process over the last several years. Participants were also thanked for their testimony to ensure that the rules were fair to all and comprehensible. 

After the rules being finalized, Tisbert said "It is now time for farmers to work together toward understanding the rules fully and learning how to apply them to their farming practices. Vermont Farm Bureau will work hard to ensure its members apply for and obtain funding. We intend to work with the Secretary of Agriculture, Food and Markets,  Phil Scott and the legislature, to ensure that the rules are clear, and easy to follow.  Farmers should bring any implementation issues of the RAP's to the Vermont Farm Bureau Office, so our Lobbyist, Lyn Desmarais, and I can bring them immediately to our legislatures attention." Final copy of the RAP's 


Help American Farm Bureau Shape the 2018 Farm Bill 

Fill out their survey. Leadership on both the House and Senate Agriculture Committees have indicated that they plan to begin working on the 2018 Farm Bill early next year.  Farm Bureau members need to be ready to answer a few very basic questions if we are going to continue to try and shape farm policy to meet our risk management needs for the future. To fill out the survey at http://www.fb.org/farmbillworkinggroup/docs/

American Farm Bureau has posted an 8 minute video detailing budget issues for the upcoming  Farm Bill Debate by Mary Kay Thatcher -