MONTPELIER — Public meetings are planned this week on a sticky issue — a proposed change to Vermont’s grading system for maple syrup.
The change would unify the classification system across the United States and Canada.
Vermont’s syrup would go from Grade A Fancy to “Golden Delicate.” Grade A Medium Amber would be called “Amber Rich.”
Supporters say the new standards would give consumers a better description of what they’re buying.
The meetings are planned for Tuesday at the Middlebury American Legion, Wednesday at the South Woodstock Fire Station and Thursday at the Lamoille Union Tech Center in Hyde Park. The meetings start at 7 p.m.
NORTH TROY — A farm run by two brothers who’ve worked together for decades has been named the 2012 Vermont Dairy Farm of the Year.
The Chaput Family Farms, in North Troy, near the Canadian border, was honored for its “sound management practices, outstanding herd performance and strong commitment to agriculture,” organizers said Thursday.
The University of Vermont Extension and the Vermont Dairy Industry Association in cooperation with the New England Green Pastures Program present the honor, called the Green Pasture Award. They call Chaput Family Farms “an exemplary dairy farm.”
The 1,800-acre farm is owned by brothers Reg and Michael Chaput, who’ve worked together for 30 years.
The brothers milk 830 cows three times a day and this spring bought their own milk truck and tanks so they can haul their milk to Dairylea Cooperative, a cost-saving measure they believe will give them more control over milk quality, the award organizers said. The brothers have won several milk quality awards including Dairylea’s Special Gold Award, its highest milk quality honor, three years in a row.
The Chaputs were among the first Vermont dairy farmers to install a methane digester, which captures the gas from animal waste and uses it to generate electricity. They produce enough electricity to power about 300 homes.
The brothers were honored at the Eastern States Exposition in West Springfield, Mass., in September and will be honored again at the Vermont Dairy Industry Association banquet at the Vermont Farm Show in Essex Junction in January.
The Green Pasture Award program began in the 1940s as a friendly wager among New England governors about whose state had the greenest pasture. Each year, a dairy farm from each New England state is honored.
RANDOLPH — U.S. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis is scheduled to tour a dairy farm at Vermont Technical College in Randolph as part of a visit to the state designed to highlight a training program to support agricultural businesses.
Vermont Tech is getting a $3.4 million federal grant for training programs for state industries that support agriculture, food production, waste disposal and energy production.
Officials say the grant will allow Vermont Tech to improve its degree and college-level certificates and help meet trade employment needs throughout the state.
Solis will be joined for the tour on Tuesday by Gov. Peter Shumlin and members of Vermont’s congressional delegation.
MONTPELIER — Vermont U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders is joining colleagues from Maine and Minnesota in calling for a review of minimum federal dairy price supports, given sharply increasing expenses on the farm.
Sanders joined Sens. Olympia Snow and Susan Collins of Maine, as well as Al Franken of Minnesota in asking the U.S. Department of Agriculture to review its floor price for raw milk.
The senators point to rising production costs on the farm, including sharply higher prices for the corn that goes into animal feed. Corn reserves are at a 15 -year low, which is attributed to drought conditions in many areas.
The letter questions whether farmers can stay in business under such conditions.
Albert J. Marro photo
Radley Billings, left, and Roger Billings load hay into the barn at the family farm on Creek Road in Rutland Town Saturday. The brothers were happy to get the job over because it was going to be the last time haying this season.
WALPOLE, N.H. — A U.S. Department of Agriculture official is visiting farms in Vermont and New Hampshire to discuss how the growing agricultural economy is helping to create jobs and expand local and regional food systems.
Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan starts in Vermont on Tuesday, where she’ll tour the Brattleboro Food Co-op, which has grown from a tiny warehouse storefront in 1979 into a $17 million operation.
In New Hampshire, Merrigan will visit the Stonewall Farm in Walpole, a nonprofit working farm and educational center. She also will tour the site of the new Monadnock Community Market Co-op, which is scheduled to open in early 2013 and will provide farmers the opportunity to sell their food locally.
Merrigan also is expected to meet with students and faculty at Keene State College.
Rep. Peter Welch has signed a letter requesting the EPA director drop the requirement that ethanol be added to gasoline after a severe drought has impacted the country’s corn crop.
Here’s a release about Welch’s signing the letter: Continue reading
SHELBURNE — Some Vermont farmers say they’ve been motivated to grow more peaches due to changing weather patterns.
Bill Suhr of Champlain Orchard in Shoreham has invested in three acres of peach trees over the last three years, leading up to his orchard’s first full crop this summer. He sells them at his farmstand and at the Intervale Food Hub and retail outlets.
Suhr tells The Burlington Free Press he hoped to bring in some summer cash flow before the apple season. He also was encouraged by the increasing availability of hardy varieties that withstand colder climates.
Shelburne Orchards offers peaches from its 600 trees on a pick-your-own basis once a week — and the parking lot gets filled fast.