Agriculture

Sonny Brown, 86, of East Dover, Vermont.
Ric Cengeri / VPR

Over the last couple of months, we have been in the search for the most interesting Vermonters. We've met a 106-year-old from Townshend and a man in Charlotte who grows and gives away 10,000 roses every year.

Doug Brown and his brother Roger, right, operate Slopeside Syrup in Richmond. They're challenging a proposed federal label that would say maple syrup has "added sugar."
John Dillon / VPR

Maple syrup producers take pride in their pure, natural product. So when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration proposed new labels to say maple syrup contains “added sugar,” producers fought back.

The state says changes made to a federal safety net program should make it more beneficial to small and medium-sized dairy 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 winter temperatures seem to have finally abated, so it's time to get planting with help from gardening expert Charlie Nardozzi.
KenWiedemann / iStock

It's been a long cold winter followed by a funky spring. And your trees and shrubs really felt the effects. Luckily, we have gardening expert Charlie Nardozzi to help us segue successfully into summer with our gardens intact.

Senator Maggie Hassan met with employees of New Hampshire-based organic yogurt-maker Stonyfield Farm Monday. The company voiced concerns over the FCC's decision to end ‘net neutrality’ rules.

Representatives from Stonyfield are worried, among other things, that Internet Service Providers could start charging more for access to some websites and services.

The federal office that sets milk prices for the Northeast recently allowed milk to be dumped at the farm.
VPR/Ric Cengeri

In yet another sign of the chronic milk glut that’s forced down prices paid to farmers, the federal government has allowed Northeast dairy co-ops to dump milk if they can’t find a market.

Sheldon dairy farmer Bill Rowell was in the Statehouse recently working against a provision that would allow the public to sue farmers over environmental violations.
John Dillon / VPR

A bill that would allow citizens to go to court to enforce state water pollution laws is facing fierce opposition from Vermont farmers.

The farm community says now is not the time to expose farmers to more financial or legal risk.

Angela Evancie / VPR

The U.S. Department of Agriculture this week released its draft rules for labeling genetically modified ingredients that are included in packaged foods.

Daria Bishop / VPR

When it comes to the dairy industry in Vermont, there are a lot of questions and myriad answers. We get a lot of both as we listen to a recent "News & Brews" event held at VPR that explored the relationship between agriculture and the environment.

Blue-green algae blooms, like this one photographed in the summer of 2014 in Lake Champlain, have many in the state concerned. A new draft plan proposes funding sources for water cleanup efforts.
Taylor Dobbs / VPR FILE

Vermont’s phosphorus pollution problem is almost a century in the making and persists today, as the nutrient contained in fertilizer and animal feed continues to accumulate in watersheds.

Howard Weiss-Tisman / VPR

A group of Upper Valley residents has taken up the call to “bring the cows, back” to Norwich Farm.

Jacques Rainville farmed in Highgate Center but low milk prices forced him out of business.
John Dillon / VPR

While Vermont dairy farmers are experiencing some of the hardest times in recent memory, their counterparts in Quebec are thriving. The reason is a complex system that regulates the supply of milk  and sets the price farmers receive.

Rosina Wallace, center, and her brother K. Alan Wallace are pictured here on Monday at their family's dairy farm, following Sunday's destructive fire at the farm.
Lisa Rathke / Associated Press

The Wallace Farm, which has been in the same family for more than 150 years, was destroyed by a fire Sunday.

A rally in Thetford two years ago criticized the USDA's move to allow vegetables raised hydroponically to be labeled as "organic."
Rebecca Sananes / VPR File

For a group of farmers and consumers around the country, the term "organic" just doesn't go far enough. They say the U.S. Department of Agriculture has weakened standards for food that is supposed to be raised organically.

Layers walk around by the "egg mobile" at the Papineau Family Farm in Highgate.
Peter Hirschfeld / VPR

A rule designed to insure poultry and their eggs sold under the organic label are from birds raised under healthy living conditions, including access to outdoors, has been withdrawn by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

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.

Syrup producer David Hall stands outside near Lac Brome, Québec.
Lorne Matalon / For VPR

While Vermont is by far the highest producing maple syrup state in the United States, 70 percent of the world's maple syrup is made in Québec.

And that's where the benchmark global price for bulk maple syrup — the price paid by processors to Vermont's maple syrup producers — is set each year by a powerful, but legal, cartel.

UVM Plant Biologist Eric Bishop von Wettberg displays the domestic and the wild chickpea.
Joshua Brown / UVM

You probably don't often think of chickpeas — sometimes called garbanzo beans — even when you're digging into some humus. And you likely think of the wild chickpea even less. But it's the primary source of protein for about one in five people around the globe, which is why one UVM biologist is turning to wild strains of the legume to keep the chickpea population healthy.

courtesy, UVM

When VPR needed to discuss the workings of the Vermont dairy industry — there was no better source than Bob Parsons, extension economist with the Department of Community Development and Applied Economics at the University of Vermont.

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