Archive - Oct 2, 2008
By KATHRYN FLAGG
ADDISON COUNTY — Local dairy farmers could soon be producing milk at a loss, with high production costs — driven by expensive fuel, feed and fertilizer — and falling milk prices pushing many farmers toward tighter, and in some cases negative, profit margins.
With milk prices hovering around $16 or $17 per hundredweight for most farmers, according to President of the Addison County Farm Bureau Bill Scott, even the best managers are going to have trouble making ends meet.
“Farmers tend to be an optimistic group,” Scott said. “I think they love what they’re doing, and they’ll keep sharpening their pencil to find ways to save money.”
That said, Scott predicted that falling revenues and skyrocketing expenses — he pointed to fuel and fertilizer prices that have doubled in the last year — will mean that the county could see the “marginal” farms go under.
The latest drop in milk prices comes after a spike that occurred a little over a year ago, explained Glenn Rogers, a farm business management specialist with the University of Vermont Extension in St. Albans. Prices stayed high through the spring and early summer — with a July blend price of $20.61 per hundredweight for milk, according to figures from the AgriMark dairy cooperative — but are tapering off now.
Rogers said he anticipates that milk prices will continue to “drift downward” and stay low over the next six months, and AgriMark projections for this winter show blend prices around $17.50 per hundredweight. Individual farmers could receive anywhere between roughly $14 and $20 per hundredweight of their milk, depending on the quality of their product.
AgriMark’s prices reflect the price paid for milk in Boston. Vermont farmers can expect to see slightly lower rates than AgriMark’s figures because of additional transportation costs.
By JOHN FLOWERS
MIDDLEBURY — The Middlebury Police Department will assign one of its officers to East Middlebury in the wake of a recent convenience store robbery that has sparked concerns about public safety in that neighborhood.
Middlebury police Chief Tom Hanley stressed that the officer will not be solely dedicated to East Middlebury, but would rather act as a liaison, or familiar face, to work with the community in addressing public safety concerns.
Those concerns are particularly high right now, in the aftermath of the Sept. 16 armed robbery of Mac’s Convenience Store. The masked culprit made off with a few hundred dollars and has yet to be caught.
Some members of East Middlebury’s Neighborhood Watch group attended Tuesday’s Middlebury selectboard meeting to voice their concerns. Those concerns were somewhat defused by the announcement that new Middlebury police officer Russell O’Dell would be assigned as the liaison to East Middlebury. He is expected to be on the job, full time, by early November.
“The reason I came here, before I talked to Chief Hanley, was to plead and beg for an officer,” East Middlebury Neighborhood Watch member Katherine Windham told selectmen. “But now we have one. We are so pleased with that, and we will go forward with the crime watch.”
Windham said the group will soon send out a letter to fellow residents informing them “we are stepping up the program.” Moreover, the group will host a community meeting on Monday, Oct. 20, at 7 p.m. at the Methodist Church in East Middlebury, to learn more from police on how the neighborhood can better protect itself.
By KATHRYN FLAGG
NEW HAVEN — For a few days this fall, at least, the Beeman Elementary School gymnasium is home not to bouncing basketballs and flying jump ropes but instead the smells of sizzling onions and the happy chatter of young gourmets-in-training.
In a project headed up by Beeman health and physical education teacher Patty Whittemore, all of the New Haven elementary school’s 162 students have taken to the kitchen, spending a few hours every week whipping up chowders and zucchini pizzas and fresh pesto.
The cooking project, which will culminate in a harvest dinner for families at Beeman’s open house on next Wednesday, is part of a “place-based” learning approach that the school is integrating into its classrooms. The place-based philosophy promotes integrating communities into the classroom — which, in Beeman’s case, means putting down roots in its own backyard garden and reaching out to neighbors to celebrate New Haven’s local produce.
“It’s kind of a cool, community thing,” said Whittemore, The project emphasizes cooperative learning, service to the community and the basics of good nutrition —
Last week, students were hard at work on a bright, crisp Tuesday, readying ingredients for the open house meal. Earlier in the morning, younger students had made the base for a zucchini pizza — they identified zucchinis on a table heaped with produce provided by local families, cleaned the vegetables and set to work on the preparation.
Fifth- and sixth-grade students clattered into the gymnasium, where Whittemore told them that they’d be making corn chowder for the open house.
The meal is being made over the course of several weeks and frozen, and Whittemore hopes that student volunteers will be on hand for a few hours on the night of the open house to put finishing touches on the meal.