Agriculture

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under the organic label are from birds raised under healthy living conditions, including access to outdoors, has been withdrawn by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.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.

Randolph Center farmer David Silloway offers free milk samples at the annual Farm Show. An oversupply or organic milk has stalled Silloway's plans to earn a higher price for his product.
John Dillon / VPR

Organic dairy farmers are getting paid less because of an oversupply of their milk, a market glut that’s led one major organic buyer to delay signing on new farmers.

For dairy farms in New England, the outlook for milk prices is not good this year. The stress has been tied to suicides among dairy farmers.

Secretary of Natural Resources Julie Moore, left, says a federal rollback of fuel efficiency standards for vehicles sold in Vermont could thwart the state's push to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
John Dillon / VPR file

Phosphorus is a basic building block of life. It’s in our bones, and it helps plants grow. But too much of this good thing is bad for places like Lake Champlain, where the nutrient fuels toxic algae blooms.

'Vermont Edition' is broadcasting live Thursday from the 2018 Vermont Farm Show.
Matthew Smith / VPR

The Champlain Valley Expo is hosting more than 150 exhibitors over three days for this year's Vermont Farm Show, and Vermont Edition will be there too, broadcasting live. We'll talk to some of the folks there about what they do - farmers, exhibitors, and whomever else we find.

Workers pick through salad greens at Pete's Greens in Craftsbury. Pete's Greens is one of the large farms in the state that will have to comply with new food safety rules this year.
Howard Weiss-TIsman / VPR

Congress passed the Food Safety Modernization Act back in 2011 to cut down on foodborne illnesses in the produce industry, and the law just went into effect on Vermont's larger farms on Jan. 26.

Dairy cows eat at the Sweet Farm in Fletcher earlier this month.
Melody Bodette / VPR

Talk to any dairy farmer and ask what worries them these days and they all say the same thing: it's the low price of milk. But it's not just conventional dairy farmers who are feeling the economic pinch. Organic milk prices are also down.

As the story goes, Henry Schwartz's grandfather bought a herd of cows in Manhattan in the early 1900s and walked them across the Williamsburg Bridge all the way to the family farm in Elmurst, a neighborhood in Queens. By 1919, Schwartz's father, Max, and uncle, Arthur, were bottling milk under the name Elmhurst Dairy. By the 21st century, Elmhurst's milk could be found across New York City, from elementary schools to Starbucks.

Will Lambek, left, and Enrique Balcazar, with Migrant Justice, say the new fair and impartial policing policy opens to door to increased collaboration between local police and federal immigration authorities.
Peter Hirschfeld / VPR

Migrant farmworkers say a new policy to encourage bias-free policing in Vermont could actually end up increasing cooperation between state law enforcement agencies and federal immigration authorities.

This 19th-century barn is located near Pittsford's town center. Baird and Betsy Morgan bought the barn, farmhouse and 20 acres of land last year and want to turn it into a community center.
Nina Keck / VPR

What if 20 picturesque acres of land in the center of your town became available, and you and your neighbors got to decide what to do with it?

Well that’s the question being asked in Pittsford, a town that straddles Route 7 between Rutland and Brandon.

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