January 26, 2018 marks the first major compliance date for farms covered by the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Produce Safety Rule. Farms that grow, harvest, pack, or hold produce with greater than $500,000 in annual produce sales must be in compliance with the rule’s standards for on-farm produce safety practices beginning Friday. To assist growers in making on-farm improvements that prevent or reduce produce safety risks, the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets (VAAFM) launched the Vermont Produce Safety Improvement Grant Program, which recently awarded eight grants of between $7,000 and $10,000 to Vermont growers to make on-farm food safety improvements. Growers will have another opportunity to apply for Produce Safety Improvement Grants beginning February 28, 2018 at 9:00 AM.
Your voice, your future, your opportunity. Data from the Census of Agriculture help develop and shape farm programs and services. Help spread the word.
Slow Food Vermont is looking to source some items to feature at the Young Farmer Meetup at the NOFA-VT Winter Conference. The Slow Food Ark of Taste features rare and endangered foods of cultural significance, and we'd like to feature some key New England items. We are hoping some of you amazing growers have some of these produce items in storage here in midwinter.
Farmers Market Legal Toolkit Provides Free Resources to Build Strong, Accessible Markets for Communities
The Center for Agriculture and Food Systems (CAFS) at Vermont Law School, Farmers Market Coalition (FMC), and Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont (NOFA-VT) today launched an onlineFarmers Market Legal Toolkit, a free resource to support building resilient and accessible markets throughout the United States. The toolkit, created with support from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), is available at farmersmarketlegaltoolkit.org.
The National Organic Coalition urges everyone to submit a unique comment to express your strong support for the organic animal welfare regulations before the deadline on January 17, 2018.
The state’s dairy farmers, both organic and conventional are in the poorhouse. Vermont’s iconic dairy industry has been in an economic pinch for some time. The prices farmers are paid for the milk they produce are well below the costs of production. Until recently, organic dairy production has been an economic lifeline for many producers, but for the first time ever, organic prices have dropped as much as six dollars per hundredweight in the last few months. Quotas have been imposed on organic milk production further lessening farmers’ income potential. Stress levels on dairy farms continue to increase as farmers find they cannot pay their bills.
This year, for the annual celebration of Vermont's farming heritage, Agricultural Literacy Week, NOFA-VT presented a new short documentary. "Vermont Farm Kids," was produced by Community Mentor Maria Reade and filmed by James Chandler.
Last week, at their fall meeting in Jacksonville, Florida, the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) voted to continue to allow hydroponic and aquaponic farming operations to bear the USDA organic label, against the wishes of many in the organic community. Read outgoing NOSB member Francis Thicke's poignant statements about the decision and what it could mean for the future of the organic movement.
The Vermont Farm & Forest Viability Program provides business planning, technical assistance and succession planning to Vermont farms, food businesses, forest products businesses, and forestland owners
From the Northeast Organic Farming Association Interstate Committee on Domestic Fair Trade
The Intervale’s beautiful early-fall landscape stretched out before me as my car rumbled down the dirt road.
For this year’s Agricultural Literacy Week, NOFA-VT is proud to present a new film, “Vermont Farm Kids” produced by Maria Reade and filmed by James Chandler. This short documentary depicts the unique and poignant stories of farm kids (ages 10-28) from across the state of Vermont. The film expresses the importance of what it means to each child to grow up on their own farm, and how their experiences have shaped their lives. This project has been made possible by sponsors from Farm Credit East: the Johnson Family Foundation, and Forrest and Frances Lattner Foundation.
Now is a great time to be proactive and see if farms are a good fit for organic, as it can take up to three years to transition - they can begin the process now and be ready for when the market opens up. This proactive planning process should include planning to assure that the land base (pasture and other crops), infrastructure and management of the farm are suitable for organic certification. It should also include financial planning and communication with potential milk buyers.
Kelly King was an amazing woman. Before brain cancer took her life prematurely, she lived absolutely whole-heartedly...touching so many people with her generous spirit and gifts of knowledge and ideas. She was a strong advocate for a sustainable local food system, and at her funeral (on September 23rd, 2017 in Jericho, Vermont), her dear friend Chris Sims (who is a supporting member of NOFA Vermont) gave a poignant eulogy that touched on Kelly's loving spirt, and zeal for all things wild and edible. This is an excerpt from Chris's speech.
Five factsheets are now available that present cost of production data aggregated from participating farms; these provide metrics to guide farmers’ crop and production planning for winter squash, potatoes, onions, carrots, and head lettuce. Supplemental factsheets present tips for cost of production analysis, crop profitability comparisons, and whole farm financial metrics. Using this combination of tools, resources, and available technical assistance, farmers can strategically increase the profitability of their farm businesses.