Organic Valley to Open New Market for Organic Family Farms

March 8, 2022 | Montpelier, VT
- The Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets (VAAFM) is delighted that Organic Valley has stepped up to help nearly 80 family farms in Vermont and the Northeast, who, until today, were to lose their market for their milk this summer.

When the news that Horizon intended to leave the Northeast market in summer 2022 reached Vermont, many farmers in the Northeast were facing the reality they would have nowhere to ship their milk. Now, Organic Valley, a farmer-owned cooperative, has announced through a letter of intent that it is offering 80 Northeast organic family farms a market for their milk.

Among the 80 farms are dozens of small Vermont family-run farms. “This is a significant development, and we are grateful to Organic Valley for stepping up to offer this option to family farms in Vermont,” said Anson Tebbetts, Vermont Secretary of Agriculture.

Find more information on the VAAFM website here. 

Governor Scott Celebrates Vermont Maple and the 75th Anniversary of the Proctor Maple Research Center

By Scott Waterman,  VT Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets

Framed by the Green Mountains blanketed in winter snow and the maple wood of Underhill, Governor Phil Scott kicked off the 2022 Vermont Maple Season by tapping the unofficial “first” maple tree at the University of Vermont Proctor Maple Research Center (PMRC). 

While Vermont’s maple industry is celebrated for its world-renowned quality, taste and nationwide leading annual production, the event also celebrated the important contributions of the Underhill facility to Vermont’s maple producers over the past 75 years.  From growing the ability to tap trees and boil maple sap utilizing leading-edge technology to studying the potential impacts of climate change on the state’s maple trees, the Research Center is widely recognized in the industry as playing an important role in the cultural growth and economic importance of the traditional agricultural crop.

“Our maple industry leads the nation, supports our economy and strengthens the Vermont brand, while the Proctor Maple Research Center at UVM reinforces that,” said Governor Scott. “With the strong brand recognition of Vermont Maple comes a responsibility to keep our standards at the highest level, and our maple producers have been doing that for decades with the help of the Proctor Maple Research Center.”

Established in 1947, PMRC is renowned as an international leader in basic and applied research on maple trees and maple production. Throughout its history, UVM maple scientists have worked in the lab, the sugarhouse and around the state to understand the issues facing maple producers and help advance the science to solve them.

"We are proud of our long history in maple research, demonstration and outreach at the University of Vermont and pioneering contributions of UVM maple scientists," said Leslie Parise, dean of the UVM College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, home to PMRC. "We look forward to continuing to better understand the most pressing issues facing Vermont maple producers and advancing the science to address them."

“Vermont continues to lead the nation in maple syrup production, with nearly half of the country’s maple syrup coming from our state’s family farms,” Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets Secretary Anson Tebbetts said. 

“Vermont Maple has expanded its reach past pancakes and waffles. We are seeing it infused in barbeque sauces, hot sauces, spirits and beers, and is even considered a healthy alternative to cane sugar as a natural sweetener,” said Cory Ayotte, Communications Director of the Vermont Maple Sugar Makers Association.  “Vermont's sugar makers continue to produce the most maple syrup in the United States and have more than doubled their tap count since 2008.”

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USDA Announces $20 Million Funding to
NE-DBIC for Dairy Improvement Grants 

By Scott Waterman, VT Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets

The Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets (VAAFM) is excited to announce a new fund from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) augmenting the Northeast Dairy Business Innovation Center (NE-DBIC) and the region’s dairy businesses. Vermont’s and our regions dairies will now have the opportunity to submit additional proposals for up to $20 million in American Rescue Plan funds to further support processing capacity expansion, on-farm improvements, and technical assistance to producers as part of an additional overall investment of $80 million in the Dairy Business Innovation (DBI) Initiatives (DBI) from USDA.

 “These resources will help those who make their living off the land,” Vermont Governor Phil Scott said.  “Dairy farmers are the backbone of our rural economy, and these dollars will provide much needed support for our hard-working dairy farmers who are feeding us. We thank Secretary Vilsack and his team at USDA and our Congressional delegation for their leadership and their commitment to Vermont Agriculture.”

In November 2021, DBI awarded $18.4 million to three current Initiatives at University of Tennessee, the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets and University of Wisconsin, and $1.8 million to a new initiative at California State University Fresno. Under the existing DBI program, which was previously announced through a FY21 Request for Applications (RFA), each initiative will now have the opportunity to submit additional proposals for up to $20 million in American Rescue Plan funds to further support processing capacity expansion, on-farm improvements, and technical assistance to producers.”

“This allocation of $20 million dollars to the Northeast Dairy Business Innovation Center (NE-DBIC) at the Vermont Agency of Agriculture is great news for dairy farmers,” Vermont Agriculture Secretary Anson Tebbetts said.  “These funds will help build more markets for family farms, improve dairy processing, create new dairy products and make it more affordable for farmers while growing their businesses. We thank USDA and Secretary Vilsack for their leadership on this important issue for Vermonters and the Northeast.”

Since its inception in 2019, DBI initiatives have provided valuable technical assistance and sub-grants to dairy farmers and businesses across their regions, assisting them with business plan development, marketing and branding, as well as, increasing access to innovative production and processing techniques to support the development of value-added products. Separate from this supplemental ARP funding, AMS plans to announce a new DBI Request for Applications later in FY22 contingent upon appropriations.

 Laura Ginsburg, the Northeast Dairy Business Innovation Center lead, said the funds come at a critical time for our region’s organic dairies.  “The additional funding provided by the USDA is a catalytic investment in our regional dairy system and will allow us to support farmers who have lost their market while also investing funds into the dairy supply chain,” Ginsburg said.  “The Northeast Dairy Business Innovation Center is built around regional collaboration and we look forward to working with our partners in other states to develop the highest and best use of this money. Using the forward thinking approach the NE-DBIC brings to all opportunities, we will work to ensure that we are not just solving the problems of the present moment but positioning our region for a stronger and more resilient future.”

USDA Undersecretary Jenny Lester Moffitt visited Vermont and held a press conference in Montpelier today to discuss this news and her visit alongside VAAFM Secretary Anson Tebbetts.  To view a recording of the press conference visit the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets’ Facebook page

For more information about the Northeast Dairy Business Innovation Center, please visit:

More April 2022 Edition Articles
Apiary Update - Time to Check your Hives!

By Brooke Decker, VT Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets 

Spring is in the air! As elements of nature begin to wake up from the long winter slumber, beekeepers  too are itching to get out into the field to check on their colonies. It’s an exciting time, sometimes full of delight and sometimes full of despair. Either way, spring is the time to assess the successes and failures of the previous season’s management decisions and to plan for the upcoming season.

While the temps may hit 50s during the day in April, beekeepers can be tempted to perform management tasks like splits and reversing. Splitting the cluster too early can set the colony back or worse, destroy the vitality of the colony, essentially making the beekeeper’s hard work all for naught.  Day and nighttime temperatures, colony strength and floral resources are important to consider when making spring management decisions. Experienced beekeepers in Vermont use the dandelion bloom as an indicator of the ideal environmental conditions for colony splits and reversing. Nighttime temperatures should be above freezing, and colonies should have sufficient population, brood, and nutrition to increase the likelihood of spring colony split successes. 

When purchasing bees, always ask the seller for a state-issued health certificate. In Vermont, a health inspection is required prior to the sale of bees. A state issued seller’s certificate will be provided to the beekeeper upon completion of the inspection. If purchasing bees from out of state, an import permit accompanied by a valid health certificate from the state-of-origin is required. This includes packaged bees shipped through the mail as well as nucs, colonies, or packages purchased from neighboring states.

Additional information can be found on the Agency’s Apiary web page

You may also send questions and requests for information by contacting, Brooke Decker through email or by phone 802.272.6688.

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