Author Archives: Mollie

FDA releases updated proposals to improve food safety and help prevent foodborne illness in response to public comments

September 19, 2014
Full Press Release

Based on extensive outreach and public comment, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration today proposed revisions to four proposed rules designed to help prevent food-borne illness. When finalized, the proposed rules will implement portions of the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), which aims to strengthen food safety by shifting the focus to preventing food safety problems rather than responding to problems after the fact.

Since FSMA was signed into law in January 2011, the FDA has proposed seven rules to implement FSMA. The four updated proposed rules include: produce-safety; preventive controls for human food; preventive controls for animal food; and the foreign supplier verification program.

The FDA is making changes to key provisions of the four proposed rules based on feedback received from the public during meetings and thousands of comments submitted to the agency on the proposed rules.

In response to public comments, the FDA is proposing to revise the water quality testing provisions in the proposed produce safety rule to account for natural variations in water sources and to adjust its approach to manure and compost used in crop production pending further research on this issue.

The FDA also is proposing, based on feedback received to date, a new definition of which farms would be subject to the produce-safety rule. The proposed rule would not apply to farms with $25,000 or less in produce sales, rather than setting the threshold based on sales of all foods produced on the farm. The updated proposed rules also propose to simplify which entities are covered by the produce safety rule and which would be covered by the preventive controls rules.

The revisions also address the issue of the use of spent grains, which are by-products of alcoholic beverage brewing and distilling that are commonly used as animal food. Concerns were raised that the proposed rules would require brewers and distillers to comply with the full human food and animal food rules if they made their wet spent grains available for animal feed. The updated proposed rule would clarify that human food processors that create by-products used as animal food and are already complying with FDA human food safety requirements — such as producers of wet spent grains — would not need to comply with the full animal food rule if they are already complying with the human-food rule.

Revisions to the foreign-supplier verification proposed rule give importers more flexibility to determine appropriate supplier verification measures based on risk and previous experience with their suppliers.

The FDA will accept comments on the proposed revisions of the four proposed rules for 75 days while continuing to review comments already received on the sections of the proposed rules that are staying the same. The agency will consider both sets of comments before issuing final rules in 2015.

The FDA, an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, protects the public health by assuring the safety, effectiveness, and security of human and veterinary drugs, vaccines and other biological products for human use, and medical devices. The agency also is responsible for the safety and security of our nation’s food supply, cosmetics, dietary supplements, products that give off electronic radiation, and for regulating tobacco products.

How to comment

To comment on the proposed revisions of the four proposed rules,

  1. Read the proposed revisions (see Proposed Revisions to FSMA Proposed Rules below).
  2. Starting Monday, Sept. 29, 2014, go to Regulations.gov to submit comments.

VT Digger: In This State: Vermont’s largest fresh foods network is flavored with strong principles

Andrew Nemethy
Sep. 14 2014
Full Article

Mark Curran was a ski bum “banging nails” and sliding the slopes of Okemo in the freewheeling 1970s when he and fellow ski bum Steve Birge had an offbeat epiphany – inspired by iceberg lettuce, wilted broccoli and canned peas.

“People in Ludlow were always complaining about the vegetables in the supermarket,” he recalls. Though it was the heyday of the back-to-the-land movement and whole-grain was the chewy buzzword, mesclun and fresh spinach were a far-off dream in produce aisles, and heritage tomatoes, chioggia beets and fresh snap peas were decades away from appearing on restaurant menus.

Cue the vision thing.

Curran and Birge decided to start a produce market by making runs to Boston to get fresh fruits and vegetables. With total capital of $600, they bought – what else – a used VW bus, painted the slogan “Give Peas A Chance” on it, and in 1978 started taking turns schlepping to Boston’s big wholesale market. To help fill the van, they got five chefs at local restaurants to agree to take some produce as well.

They had no intention then of entering the wholesale fresh- food business and running the huge company they now co-own, Black River Produce, let alone evolving into an essential cog in sustaining and fostering Vermont’s localvore, artisanal, farm-fresh cachet.

Those freewheeling days have provided Curran with tales to tell, which he unspools with relish. There’s the day he came into the farmstand to find a “40-pound raccoon” feasting on their supply of bananas (which they picked over and sold anyway). Or how the ramshackle barn had shaky old wiring and a scavenged décor. Or how produce trips south were always an adventure with “old dilapidated trucks whose drive shafts would fall out on the way.”

Fast-forward 38 years. That rickety bus has morphed into 50 refrigerated trucks distributing Vermont produce, cheeses, yogurt and meats, as well as vegetables and fruits, flowers and seafood that the company hauls from regional out-of-state markets. The partners often call their company “the FedEx of fresh food.”

Today, Black River Produce has some 180 employees and is on track to count $70 million in revenue. And the vision thing? In some ways it’s even more impressive. Black River Produce has become a critical behind-the-scenes hub bringing together around 200 Vermont producers with around 3,000 wholesale customers. Think of the company as the state’s prime farm-to-table enabler, the folks who get everything from Vermont blueberries and kale to coffee and quail, grass-fed beef and succulent pork to your plate, food tray, or co-op shelf.

For almost every Vermont college or university, for hospitals and big institutions, myriad restaurants and small grocers, Black River serves as “your fresh connection,” the motto emblazoned on its trucks.

That’s why Curran was just honored at Shelburne Farms by Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility with its Terry Ehrich Award for excellence, an award based on a commitment to “the environment, workplace, progressive public policy and community.”

Curran says the award belongs just as much to his partner, Birge, and to his adopted state.

“Vermont is a special place. Nobody moves to Vermont to make a lot of money,” he says. “I think what Steve and I are most proud of, is we have 180-190 people, and they all have good jobs and benefits and are able to support their families.”

Touring the Black River headquarters in North Springfield with Curran is a head-spinning and mind-bending foray into a 24/7 operation whose extensive scope and impact few people in Vermont comprehend. The building is a classic example of green renovation and reuse, converted from an existing 63,000-square-foot former Idlenot dairy plant. Inside are four refrigerated warehouses, each with temperature zones specially tailored for what they house.

It’s a beehive of bustle on late-night shifts as employees load delivery trucks that depart at 6 a.m. Behind the plant and on every inch of roof are solar panels that can provide up to 80 percent of the plant’s energy. Buyers work their headsets and computers, arranging sales and pickups and taking hundreds of orders a day.

Up the road, Curran drives his visitor to a new $9 million investment in Vermont’s future, another green reuse, this time a derelict former Ben & Jerry’s Peace Pops plant totaling 40,000 square feet. Inside is a state-of-the-art FDA-inspected, humanely designed slaughterhouse that will greatly expand the market for raisers of local beef, pork, lamb and who knows what else in the future.

Already it provides the meat for gourmet prosciutto and salami, says Curran, and three smokers are now being installed in the new plant. It will handle as many as 80 beef cattle or 150 hogs a day, easing a critical bottleneck that will further Vermont’s farm-to-table meat industry.

Curran’s mind offers a never-ending brainstorm of what-if, value-added-for-Vermont possibilities and synergies. Watching through windows as the black hide of a hanging Angus is stripped, he wonders if sustainably raised and environmentally processed leather from Vermont might be a cachet or marketable item for car seats, the biggest market for leather.

He mentions how he’s working to entice farmers to boost hog production by connecting farmers with Vermont Creamery, whose booming yogurt production in Brattleboro produces a lot of whey byproduct – which could feed a lot of Vermont-grown hogs.

“We see the whole picture,” he explains. “… We have that sort of 50,000-foot view of things.”

At 60, is he thinking of retiring? Curran laughs. “We’re finally pretty good at this! Why quit now?” he asks.


09/17 Update: Welcoming the Harvest

September 17, 2014
Greetings Members & Friends:

I hope this finds you with a bountiful harvest – knowing that with its goodness comes lots of work!

Here in the Rural Vermont office we’re doing our own brand of harvesting with a growing schedule of community events where we will be visiting to talk with people about our work on behalf of family farms and the people they feed, and also about our goal of growing to “1000 members strong” for our 30th Anniversary in 2015.

We’re also hoping to reap a good crop of candidates for the Organizer/Advocate position we’re seeking to fill. As you know, Robb Kidd, who was Rural Vermont’s Organizer for four years, moved on to a new position at the beginning of the summer. We’ve spent some time looking closely at our staffing needs and the result is this new position. Please help us spread the word by sharing the job posting with any appropriate networks you’re connected to as well as any individuals you know who would be interested. I can attest to the fact that Rural Vermont is a great place to work!

I hope to see you at one of the upcoming events and here’s to the turning of the seasons!

Best wishes,

Andrea

“As autumn returns to earth’s northern hemisphere,
and day and night are briefly,
but perfectly,
balanced at the equinox,
may we remember anew how fragile life is —-
human life, surely,
but also the lives of all other creatures,
trees and plants,
waters and winds.
May we make wise choices in how and what we harvest,
may earth’s weather turn kinder,
may there be enough food for all creatures,
may the diminishing light in our daytime skies
be met by an increasing compassion and tolerance
in our hearts.”

by Kathleen Jenks,
Autumn Lore

RURAL VERMONT ISSUES IN THE NEWS:

WHERE YOU CAN FIND US IN THE WEEKS AHEAD & OTHER EVENTS OF INTEREST:

-Traditional Food Symposium, Shelburne Farms, Sept 26-27

-Jay & Newport

Farmers’ Markets, Oct 11

For a complete list of the MANY other upcoming events of interest please visit our Events Page.

Rural Vermont is Hiring! Join Our Team!
JobPostRural Vermont Seeks a Community Organizer/Advocate to join our team.

If you have a passion for helping to build equitable and prosperous community-based food systems, Rural Vermont would like to hear from you. We seek a multi-talented individual who shares our values and would thrive as part of our team.

Essential skills/knowledge are: Excellent in-person, verbal and written communication with ability to address diverse audiences; understanding and experience with grassroots community/political organizing and campaign planning; familiarity with public policy advocacy; self-directed and collaborative; comfortable using/learning office and communications technology.

Our ideal candidate is a flexible, curious, creative problem solver who wants to make a significant contribution to a mission-driven non-profit that works on behalf of family farms. Rural Vermont is a non-hierarchical, consensus-based organization. We’re on a mission and that means that everyone on our team is ready and willing to pitch in wherever and whenever needed.

This position will start at 30-35 hours per week with potential to increase to full-time. Schedule is flexible and will routinely require some evening and weekend work. Reliable transportation needed for regular in-state travel. Equitable hourly wage based on experience and qualifications, monthly health care benefit, four weeks paid vacation and opportunities for professional development. Desired start date is Nov. 3 or sooner, position will remain open until filled.

A Complete job description and more information is available at  www.ruralvermont.org. To apply, please send a letter of interest, resume and references to: work@ruralvermont.org or to Rural Vermont 15 Barre Street, Suite 2, Montpelier, VT 05602

2014 is the International Year of Family Farming

Participants Still Needed for Survey of Current and Former Family Farmers

2014 is the International Year of Family Farming, and in honor of this, all current and former family farmers are invited to take a brief survey. They are seeking responses from the following types of folks:

1) Those who were raised on family farms and become farmers themselves;
2) Those who were raised on family farms but chose a different profession; and
3) Those who were NOT raised on a farm but decided to enter into the farming profession.

The results of the survey will be used to aid the advocacy and awareness efforts of the United Nation’s Food & Ag organization. This year World Food Day on October 16 is dedicated to family farming.

This Weekend!

The 6th Annual  Autumnal Equinox Celebration

Sunday, September 21st – 11am-3pm

at the intersection of Routes 103 & 10 CHESTER, VT
featuring: Raw Milk Rally and Rural Vermont Membership Drive

The leaves are turning and the cooler temps are here – must be time for the annual Equinox Celebration at Jersey Girls Farm Cafe & Market in Chester! This popular event with lots of local flavor is in its sixth year, and offers plenty of fall festive fun – good food, lots of vendors, live music by Chris Kleeman, kids’ activities, and more.

Image by Phil Herbison

This year’s event will go beyond pumpkins and apples, and put the focus on raw milk! If the fair treatment of dairy farmers and access to raw milk is important to you, then you won’t want to miss the RAW MILK RALLY and RURAL VERMONT MEMBERSHIP DRIVE. Come out and show your support for the raw milk movement and Rural Vermont!In anticipation of Rural Vermont’s 30th anniversary in 2015, our goals are to reach the 1000 member mark and raise $60K in new money. More people and additional funds means more credibility, more capacity, more power, and ultimately more success! If you care about fairness for farmers and access for all, but you can’t come to Sunday’s event, make a contribution online here. Note “Equinox” in the “How Did You Hear about RV” section.

This year’s Equinox Celebration vendors will include American Pie Pizza, Penny’s Pantry, Jamie Townshend and his cider press, Champlain Orchards, Blackwatch Farm, Gringo Jack’s, CMC Mushrooms, Cavendish Game Birds, Woodcock Farm, and Finale Kimchi. Many of these vendors will be sampling their goods, and all will be selling what they’ve got. Bring your checkbook, bring your bags, and plan to stock your pantry and freezer with the end-of-season bounty.

ALSO! Each of these vendors will be graciously donating proceeds from the sale of one designated product to Rural Vermont, so keep an eye out for these special items.

And then of course, our generous host Lisa Kaiman and the rest of the fine folks behind Jersey Girls Farm Market & Café will be cooking up a variety of hot lunch options on the grill featuring,

RSVP on the Facebook event page, and please share widely. See you Sunday!

Artwork by Jamie Townsend and on display at
Jersey Girls Farm Market & Cafe.

Thanks to Ryan Hayes for designing this invitation to become a Rural Vermont member. Look for this ad in the next edition of Edible Green Mountains.

USFSA: U.S. FARMWORKERS AND PALESTINIAN FARMERS SHARE 2014 FOOD SOVEREIGNTY PRIZE

Read the PDF here.


VPR: A New Network For Investing In Vermont’s Food Economy

Purchasing a CSA isn’t the only way for individuals to invest in Vermont’s food economy. Or, it won’t be, when Slow Money Vermont gets off the ground.

The new network, an offshoot of the national movement that aims to “bring money back down to earth,” will connect local entrepreneurs with investors in an effort to contribute to the state’s sustainable food economy.

“The idea is really about creating a community of investors that have a shared vision of supporting the local economy and the local food system by putting their money where their mouths are,” according to Eric Becker, chief investment officer at The Clean Yield, an investment advisory firm in Norwich, and one of the organizers of Slow Money Vermont.

The network will serve both traditional investors and “the main street investor,” Becker said in a phone interview Friday. That investor, in his mind, is someone who has between $1,000 and $5,000 that she’s looking to put to use.

“We want to address the full spectrum,” Becker said. “Vermont already has a robust support system for food and farm businesses, as embodied in the Vermont Farm to Plate Network, but the gap that Slow Money will address here is that there hasn’t been a good way for individuals to participate by putting their investment dollars into this area. So they can join a CSA or whatnot, but this is a way for them to actually to take the next step of perhaps taking their money out of Wall Street and putting it into the local community and into the local food system.”

Slow Money Vermont is being incubated by a task force within the Vermont Farm to Plate Network, according to a release from the Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund.

Becker says the network will work with existing organizations to host events that bring together individual investors and food entrepreneurs. Slow Money networks in Boston and Maine are helping “move not just financial capital, but also social capital,” Becker says. “There’s a lot of relationships being built that pay off in ways beyond just finding that next investment dollar.”

Kimball Brook Farm in North Ferrisburgh has already benefited from the Slow Money model; farm co-owner Cheryl Devos participated in a national Slow Money event at Shelburne Farms in 2010.

“I pitched … the idea of a creamery in front of an audience, and then eventually came up with investors, partially through that event,” Devos said Friday.

Kimball Brook Farm now has 25 investors, 24 of which are in Vermont, Devos says. “They’ve been fantastic supporters of our business in the ups and downs of getting it started and getting it running.”

“Start-up businesses often don’t have capital that they can get through banks or the usual lenders, and these Slow Money investors help businesses like ours get up and running,” Devos says.

Slow Money Vermont is just taking root, and will grow in the direction that participants train it. For now, Eric Becker says the network is planning to put on a series of events around the state.

A network launch event will take place on September 16 on the campus of the Vermont College of Fine Arts in Montpelier.


Burlington Free Press: Vt. Technical College is future site for state lab

Nancy Remsen
September 5, 2014
Full Article

Vermont Technical College received unanimous endorsement Friday as the future site for a new laboratory operated by the state agencies of agricultural and natural resources. The college in Randolph was one of 19 sites state officials evaluated.

After an hour of questions, the Legislature’s Joint Fiscal Committee gave the Department of Buildings the green light to move to the next phase of planning the laboratory project. The new lab would replace twin facilities destroyed when Tropical Storm Irene inundated the Waterbury Office Complex in 2011.

The dual mission guiding the services offered by the two labs is to protect human, animal and environmental health and foster commerce. Some recent laboratory work has included testing 1,000 samples from homes to determine if a dangerous pesticide had been used to eradicate bedbugs and testing of animal feed after Tropical Storm Irene flooded thousands of acres of cropland.

Since Irene, the two agencies have operated with reduced laboratory capabilities in five rented spaces, with the bulk of their work carried out in the Hills Building owned by the University of Vermont. The lease runs out in 2017 — which led state officials to focus new attention on finding a location and constructing a new building.

The charge for the two labs is to protect human and animal health, environmental health and foster commerce. Some recent laboratory work has included testing 1,000 samples from homes to determine if a dangerous pesticide had been used to eradicate bedbugs and testing of animal feed after Tropical Storm Irene flooded thousands of acres of cropland.

Several lawmakers on the oversight panel noted that details of the laboratory’s relationship with the college had yet to be negotiated. Despite the nominal lease, they worried the state might be stuck with some unexpected “overhead” expense.

“What is the financial arrangement?” asked Sen. Jane Kitchel, D-Caledonia.

“We don’t view this as a revenue generator,” assured Dan Smith, interim president of Vermont Technical College. He said locating the lab at the college would offer myriad opportunities for students and faculty to collaborate with lab staff and for lab staff to utilize college classrooms and other spaces.

“This is not just another building on a college campus to us,” Smith wrote in a letter shared with lawmakers in advance of Friday’s meeting. “This is an opportunity to maximize the state’s limited resources in a way that serves the most Vermonters and will benefit generations of Vermonters to come.”

Agriculture Secretary Chuck Ross said talks with the college about ways to collaborate could begin next week — if lawmakers selected the technical college site. Buildings department officials also said talks would get underway on property management issues such as plowing, shared heating and cleaning.

State officials had made replacing the twin labs a lower priority compared to constructing a new state psychiatric hospital and replacing the office space lost in Waterbury. The hospital opened this summer and the new office complex is under construction.

Legislators also asked the state to research whether the laboratory services could be provided privately.

The study, delivered last winter, recommended the state continue to operate its own laboratory program. The report also said the two agencies should operate a consolidated laboratory.

Justin Johnson, deputy secretary of the Agency of Natural Resources, said the plan is for the laboratory to “sit in Agriculture” and for some laboratory personnel now in ANR to transfer to the agriculture agency. “The programs in the Department of Environmental Conservation would be customers of the lab,” he said. There would be a board with representatives from both agencies to oversee the collaboration.

Sen. Tim Ashe, D/P Chittenden, asked why the University of Vermont failed to score well as a potential site, given it, too, had potential to offer student and faculty collaboration. UVM proposed two possible locations.

“There was a very large flaw with both sites — the amount of room available,” explained Sandra Vitzthum, project manager with the Department of Buildings.

Ashe also asked if there would be workforce problems by choosing a more rural location rather than one in Washington or Chittenden counties.

Ross argued that it was more important to locate the lab in the best place to achieve its public mission rather than try to accommodate workers’ preferences based on their commutes.

Lawmakers also voiced concern that the design of the laboratory could boost future operating costs. That was what happened with the new state psychiatric hospital.

“I would put that forward as something to pay attention to,” Kitchel told state officials.

Assured that the Legislature would have future opportunities to reject the site or tweak the project as it unfolds, the committee voted 9-0 to select the Vermont Technical College site.


“Open Barn Day” Recap by Rural Vermont Intern Alison Urhlass

The sun was shining warmly upon the happy guests at the Farm of Milk & Honey at Sunday’s Open Barn Party. Kids and adults alike could not resist the delicious combination of homemade cookies, some brought by guests, and the cause of celebration: farm fresh raw milk. The milk was such a hit that at least 4 gallons were sampled, with many people coming back for seconds! The milk samples were in such high demand that if you arrived past 3pm you may have missed a chance to try some, and it was no surprise that eventually the Farm of Milk and Honey sold out of milk to purchase. This Open Barn Party was surely the place to be on a beautiful September afternoon—according to a neighbor, “Doyle Road has never seen so many cars!”

Visitors from as far as the Burlington area and even Montreal (!!) came to the farm to celebrate raw milk and the recent law that allows raw milk delivery to farmers’ markets. The attendance of 80+ people at the event stands to show how important this issue is among Vermonters. Rural Vermont’s Director Andrea Stander spoke to the crowd about the “unique role Rural Vermont plays in helping farmers have a voice in policies that are affecting them.” In addition to sampling milk and cookies and purchasing raw milk, guests also had the opportunity to peruse a mini farmers’ market – beyond the Farm of Milk & Honey, this included Tunbridge’s Mountain Home Farm and their value-added dairy products, South Barre’s Bear Roots Farm and their veggies, and Berlin’s Burelli Farm and their meat and poultry. Everyone was invited to enter a free raffle of meat, dairy, and vegetable baskets; these items were donated by the farms participating in the mini market. The lucky winners were Diane DesBois, Karen Mikkelsen, and Taylor Katz.

10511597_10153156640877971_6501161700535225554_oFollowing countless requests for host farmers Susan and Ryan Hayes to lead a tour, a large group of visitors accompanied them on a walk around the beautiful property. The cows and pigs were glad to meet visitors and the feathery friends on the farm were particularly delighted to visit with kids offering “chicken treats” provided by the Farm of Milk & Honey.

Along with the lively music of John Holland moving through the breeze, children’s laughter could be heard all around. Visitors stocked up on fresh foods at the market, chatted with old friends, and became acquainted with some new ones. We are surely looking forward to the next Open Barn Party and hope that you’ll be able to join us for another great time!


08/05 Alert: Taking on the Absurdities

September 5, 2014
Greetings Members & Friends:

I’m in a bind. The continuing summer weather has me longing to catch another swim in the lake and maybe grab a long weekend of camping out. But the calendar now says “September” and ever since I was 6 years old that has meant it’s time to get back to “work.”

Don’t get me wrong, I am very excited about everything that we’re up to at Rural Vermont right now. The advent of our 30th Anniversary in 2015 has sparked all kinds of creative energy throughout our community. I do regret I did not get out and about as much this summer as I had originally planned. However, it has been very invigorating to spend time carefully analyzing what we have achieved, what still needs to be done, and how to chart our path to building community-based food systems that can truly thrive.

Here’s a short tour of the pots we’ve got cooking:

> We’re developing a dynamic and ambitious plan for reaching our 1000 Member Strong goal as part of our 30th Anniversary. We are already making good progress and have been inspired by the number of our current members who are eager to help us build our strength by reaching out to their networks and communities. If you are interested in getting involved in this effort, please contact Mollie.

> With participation from our our Board, members, activists and volunteers, and with help from some communications professionals at Place Creative Company, we are taking a critical look at how we tell the wider world about who we are and what we are committed to accomplishing. Our goal in this process is to remain staunchly true to our long-held values and successful ways of working while stepping up to the challenge of being clearly seen, heard and understood in an increasingly crowded landscape of organizations, issues, and events.

> We’re gearing up to take on the absurdities that are endemic in our state government’s approach to regulating family farms, community-scale food producers and other land and resource-based enterprises. We are gathering the stories and the evidence to make our case that if Vermont is going to feed itself and preserve our working landscape, we need to insist on a different set of priorities and a radically different culture among those who wield power and make decisions affecting our lives.

If you have a story to share or can provide evidence to support our cause or, if you just want to help, please contact me or anyone on our staff or board.

I look forward to hearing from you!

Best,

Andrea

P.S. Check out the events listed on the right where you will find Rural Vermont staff, board members and our new intern Alison eager to talk with you!

RAW MILK CAMPAIGN UPDATE

Changes in Agriculture Agency Policy Threaten Growth Among Tier 2 Farms and Access for Customers

The good news is that, due in part to the amendments to the Raw Milk Law that we were able to achieve during the 2014 legislative session (allowing delivery to farmers’ markets and changing from a daily to a weekly average sales limit) there are now 7 registered Tier 2 producers with a couple more in the pipeline. That’s a more than 300% increase since last spring!

However, since late in June, Rural Vermont and our Raw Milk Leadership Team have been trying to influence a proposed change in policy by the Agency of Ag that would impose new and, in our assessment, unfair and unjustified additional requirements on already heavily regulated Tier 2 Raw Milk producers. This new policy also carries harsher consequences and potentially economically damaging penalties for not meeting the new requirements.

Because of the sensitive information involved in this work, we will be sharing more details on this issue soon.

In the meantime, if you are a raw milk producer or a customer and you would like more information about the proposed change in policy, please contact Rural Vermont or call our office at 802-223-7222. All communication is kept strictly confidential.


The weather forecast is looking perfect, the cookies are practically in the oven, and Bella, Pappy and the rest of the girls are gearing up to show off their rich and creamy, smooth and sweet raw milk.

The Farm of Milk & Honey‘s Susan, Ryan, and four year old Milo Hayes, along with their extended family of critters, look forward to welcoming everyone to their Open Barn Party this Sunday from 1-4 pm. The farm is located at 663 Doyle Road in Washington.

We’re getting together to celebrate the goodness of raw milk and the small victory that now enables farmers to deliver raw milk to farmers’ markets. To help us celebrate, we’ll have live music by John Holland, homemade cookies to accompany raw milk samples, self-guided tours of the farm, plenty of room for the kiddos to run and jump and play, and a mini farmers’ market featuring Bear Roots Farm of S. Barre, Mountain Home Farm of Tunbridge, and Burelli Farm of Berlin. Try, buy, and WIN the incredible, wholesome food being produced by these fine farmers.

We’ll be offering a FREE raffle with three prizes generously donated by the Farm of Milk & Honey, Bear Roots Farm, Mountain Home Farm, and Burelli Farm. Three lucky winners will be treated to either a meat medley, veggie basket, or dairy sampler.

The Hayes have been making raw milk home deliveries to the Barre-Montpelier area, as well as to the Chelsea and Barre farmers’ markets. Before you can sign up for raw milk delivery, the law requires a farm visit – Sunday is the day to get it done!

RSVP on the Farm of Milk & Honey’s Facebook page. Invite friends – and see you at the farm!

**************************************************************

And coming up next …

The 6th Annual
Autumnal Equinox Celebration
Sunday, September 21st – 11am-3pm
Jersey Girls Farm Cafe & Market at W.A.A.W.W.E
at the intersection of Routes 103 & 10 CHESTER, VT

Farmer Lisa Kaiman hosts her annual gathering of farmers and good-food-lovers to check out local artists, vendors and sample some great local foods.

SPECIAL EVENT: Raw Milk Rights Rally & Rural Vermont Membership drive!!

More details coming soon.

Artwork by Jamie Townsend and on display at
Jersey Girls Farm Market & Cafe.

RURAL VERMONT ISSUES IN THE NEWS:

WHERE YOU CAN FIND US IN THE WEEKS AHEAD & OTHER EVENTS OF INTEREST:

WELCOME OUR NEW INTERN – Alison Uhrlass

“My name is Alison and I’m excited to join Rural Vermont as an Organizing/Outreach Intern for the fall! I’m from Clintondale, NY and growing up in a rural area of the Hudson Valley Region gave me understanding and appreciation of how integral family farms are to a thriving community. I was drawn to Rural Vermont because of the support they give to farmers and how proactive they are on important issues. I’m happy to have the opportunity to work with the dedicated staff, board, and members.

 

I’m currently attending Vermont Law School as a Master of Environmental Law and Policy student with a focus in food and agriculture law and policy. After I graduate, I would like to pursue a career in an environmental non-profit organization. I have been a CSA work-share member with Luna Bleu Farm in S. Royalton since May and I’m always interested in gaining additional experience on farms through volunteering, to learn more of what farming is all about! In my free time, I enjoy hiking, playing Frisbee, cooking/baking, and reading.”

Look for Alison this fall at farmers’ markets, harvest fests, and farmer gatherings. If you want to be in touch or just welcome her to the Rural Vermont community, shoot her an email. She’d love to hear from you!

Thanks to Ryan Hayes for designing this invitation to become a Rural Vermont member. Look for this ad in the next edition of Edible Green Mountains.

Seven Days LTE: Raw Deal

8/20/14
By Andrea Stander
Full Letter to the Editor

[Re “The Rise of Micro-Dairy: A Longtime Dairyman Thinks Big — By Going Small” and “Milk Test,” August 6]: I appreciate Seven Days‘ coverage of raw milk and other food issues, but there are a couple of points I’d like to clear up:First, the author’s use of the word “trafficking” in reference to farmers who are selling raw milk perpetuates the idea that raw milk is some kind of radical, under-the-table commodity. The regulations are complex, but it is legal to sell raw milk in Vermont. In fact, generations of Vermonters were and continue to be raised on raw milk. Before milk became an industrial commodity rather than a food, most people in rural areas purchased their milk from their local farmer.

Second, if Vermont truly wants to have viable farms, there has to be room for small, grass-based, raw dairy operations, and the regulations that govern them must be reasonable and fair. As the potential customer quoted in the article said, “If all products were sold that way, I’d never buy anything.” What would happen to Vermont’s celebrated local food economy if everyone had to visit the farm before purchasing products at a farmers’ market? Or, what if all farmers had to waste precious time and fuel running around delivering their products to customers’ homes?

If you want to learn more about raw milk as a farm-fresh product or as an agricultural policy issue, please contact Rural Vermont. Visit ruralvermont.org or call 223-7222 for details.

Andrea Stander
Montpelier

Stander is executive director of Rural Vermont.


VAAFM New Milk Testing Protocol

Below are links to the documents mentioned in the 8/25/14 Milk Update.

If you have questions please contact the Rural Vermont office at (802) 223-7222 or email info[at]ruralvermont.org.

VAAFM Revised High Count Protocol for Tier 2 Raw Milk Producers

VAAFM Raw Milk Compliance Policy and Penalties