Agency of Agriculture

Farmers stand for the Pledge of Allegiance at their annual banquet at the 2019 Vermont Farm Show.
John Dillon / VPR

After four years of low milk prices — which has led to the loss of dozens of Vermont dairy farms — experts say to expect little improvement in 2019. As the downward spiral continues, policymakers are increasingly looking for ways to control the milk supply to stop the price freefall.

Vermont's dairy farms and co-ops are among the industries affected when Congress failed to reauthorize the federal Farm Bill in September. The programs and provisions in the bill could result in tens of thousands of dollars in income for dairy farmers.
Tom Remp / Billings Farm & Museum

The massive piece of federal legislation known as the Farm Bill covers everything from commodity price supports to federal food assistance, and when Congress failed to pass an updated version by Sept. 30, it left many agriculture-related programs in limbo. We're looking at the politics and substance of the failure, so far, to pass a Farm Bill.

Courtesy of Butterworks Farm.

Dairy farmers in the Northeast say they're ready to talk about something that's been almost off limits for decades: how to manage the milk supply to stop overproduction.

A cow looking through a fence.
Angela Evancie / VPR

On Tuesday, the Trump administration announced a $12 billion aid package for farmers hurt by the administration's trade policy. But details on the plan remain scarce, and Vermont officials are waiting to see what impact it will have on the state's agriculture sector.

Auditor Doug Hoffer says it's hard to tell which Agriculture Agency programs are most effective at cutting phosphorus pollution from farms.
Jane Lindholm / VPR

Vermont’s state auditor says a taxpayer-funded program to reduce phosphorus pollution from farms needs better monitoring and data collection to show what measures are most effective.

Auditor Doug Hoffer says it's hard to tell which Agriculture Agency programs are most effective at cutting phosphorus pollution from farms.
Jane Lindholm / VPR

A June 1 deadline is nearing for dairy farmers to sign up for a safety net insurance program that could help as milk prices remain low.

The cows and equipment were auctioned off at Nordic Farms in Charlotte last week. The farm was the first in Vermont to get robotic milking equipment and hosts many agircultural research projects.
Melody Bodette / VPR

Dairy farms around Vermont are struggling amid low milk prices that are in some cases well below the cost of production. The result is that an increasing number of farms are starting to go out of business. Last week, the iconic Nordic Farms in Charlotte auctioned off its cows and machinery.

Lisa Kaiman's Jersey Girls Dairy in Chester has been producing dairy prodcuts, veal, and other value-added products since 1999.
Ric Cengeri / VPR

Lisa Kaiman operates Jersey Girls Dairy in Chester, and the farm comes by its name honestly: Kaiman is originally from New Jersey, and she tends a herd of Jersey cows. Like many small dairy farmers, she says the job isn't easy. But she also says Vermont's dairy regulations don't make it any easier.

Michael Colby, right, of Regeneration Vermont, testifies about what he says is lax state oversight of large dairy farms.
John Dillon / VPR

One of the largest farm businesses in the state expanded its operation and constructed a manure pit in Franklin County last summer — without a permit or state oversight.

We got questions and comments from many of you after our discussion of Ben & Jerry's social mission with Will Allen. Here's some of what we found out.
Kathleen Masterson / VPR/file

Back in August, Vermont Edition had a discussion about whether Ben & Jerry's is fulfilling its social mission. We got a lot of feedback on that show, and a lot of it was critical specifically of some of the statements made by one of our guests, Will Allen.

Green Mountain CBD's hemp farm in Hardwick. Since this photos the hemp plants seen here have more than doubled in size.
Jon Kalish / For VPR

More than 80 Vermonters registered with the Agency of Agriculture to grow industrial hemp in 2017, the third growing season since legalization in 2013. And while more than four times the number of people who signed up last year are growing in 2017, experienced growers have had a range of experiences.

The Agency of Agriculture has reached a settlement agreement with a Springfield slaughterhouse that violated federal livestock handling standards.

Kathleen Masterson / VPR

A new study led by a University of Vermont researcher finds that the majority of farmers say the cost of health insurance is a top concern for the viability of their business.

Howard Weisss-Tisman / VPR

Vermont grass-fed beef is in high demand, and if the market wants to continue to grow, there will have to be better collaboration in the industry.

Environmental watchdogs say they’re heartened by Governor-elect Phil Scott’s pick to lead the Agency of Natural Resources, but that it’s too early to discern whether the incoming Republican administration is serious about cleaning up Lake Champlain and tackling some of the other major environmental issues facing Vermont.

Vermont's secretary of agriculture says some farmers here may be eligible for federal disaster aid due to the ongoing drought that's hit elsewhere in New England.

Melody Bodette / VPR

New state water quality rules could soon apply to all of Vermont's farms. The rules will cover not just dairy farms, but also other livestock operations, as well as vegetable and crop farms.

Peter Hirschfeld / VPR

Vermont has became the first state in the nation to require special labeling for foods made with genetically modified ingredients. But even as lawmakers enact new GMO regulations, this state’s agriculture sector is wholeheartedly embracing the use of GMO crops. And a new report suggests that the use of herbicides has gone up drastically as a result.

JByard / iStock.com

Many Vermont dairy farms are experiencing a tough summer, receiving very low prices for their milk while they’re dealing with high production expenses. The situation has gotten worse, because a financial settlement of a key lawsuit against a national dairy cooperative has been appealed. 

fotoguy22 / iStock

The Agency of Agriculture is holding public hearings on its final proposed new rules required under Vermont's new water quality law, Act 64.

The rules are expected to take effect in September 15, but some farmers are still concerned about some of the provisions.

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