JOE AND KATHLEEN Hescock run Elysian Fields, an organic dairy farm in Shoreham. “We’re at the point where if we don’t ship milk, it’s pretty hard to stay in business,” Joe Hescock said.
Photo by Glenn Russell/VTDigger
SHOREHAM — In 2017, Horizon Organic recognized Joe and Kathleen Hescock with an honorable mention for a national award praising their commitment to farming and their involvement in their community.
Last month, the Shoreham family, along with 88 other farmers in the Northeast, received a letter with news that Horizon’s parent company, Danone, plans to terminate their contracts on Aug. 31, 2022.
The Hescocks, who milk 325 cows at their farm, Elysian Fields, have been producing for Horizon since 1999. It’s been about a month since they received the letter, and the Hescocks don’t know what their...
Danone, a global food company and the owner of Horizon Organic, plans to terminate contracts next year with all of its organic dairy farmers in Vermont and other parts of the Northeast, leaving farmers without buyers for their milk.
Other buyers in the area, including Stonyfield Organic, Organic Valley and Upstate Niagara Cooperative, appear to have limited capacity to accept new producers.
More than two dozen of Vermont’s small- to medium-sized organic farmers received letters from Danone last week that say their contracts will end on Aug. 31, 2022.
“This is a regional decision,” said Anson...
VERMONT — While manure often gets a bad rap, it gives farmers who raise livestock a valuable resource to meet the nutrient needs of crops and supplies organic matter to the soil in a way unmatched by commercial fertilizers. Using manure effectively maximizes fertility, reduces runoff, and economizes spreading costs. Manure’s nutrient content varies with on multiple factors such as moisture, livestock, bedding, storage and feeding strategies. You should analyze manure annually to value these nutrients, including nitrogen (N).
Nitrogen in manure comes in two forms: organic and inorganic. The...
VERMONT — Although dairy plays a big part in Vermont agriculture, and indeed in the economy and character of the Green Mountain State, dairy in Vermont plays a small role in the nationwide picture for milk, butter and cheese production. That’s the word from King Whetstone, Regional Director of the Northeast Regional Field Office of the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, in a recent Northeast dairy products summary.
Whetstone’s statistics do show that Vermont is ahead of another state in the Northeast region — New Jersey — in production of cheese.
Total U.S. cheese production for...
MONUMENT FARMS DAIRY official Jon Rooney says there is no way farmers could pay property taxes based on development value for lands they keep open in agriculture.
VERMONT — With the release of a report detailing state spending to support the dairy industry and mitigate its environmental impacts between 2010 and 2019, the state auditor has offered a new angle on Vermont dairy that doesn’t entirely mesh with the industry’s promotional narratives, and the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets isn’t buying it.
The goal of the May 10 report, “Examining Vermont State Spending on the Dairy Industry from 2010 to 2019,” is “to inform policymakers, program managers, and the public as they consider the future of Vermont’s dairy industry and what role...
The Vermont State Auditor’s report, which tells us that the cost to taxpayers for supporting the Vermont dairy industry during the period 2010-2019 has been very high but stops short of saying largely ineffective, has already stimulated the predictable responses from the industry’s apologists: that “agriculture isn’t an optional industry, but rather a necessity for people’s collective survival,” that “our state would look significantly different if we were seeing strip malls instead of red barns and black-and-white cows,” that “agriculture is a multibillion-dollar economic driver in Vermont...
MONTPELIER — In the past decade, Vermont has spent $285 million supporting the dairy industry and mitigating its environmental impacts.
Those findings are from a new report by the Vermont State Auditor’s Office, which dove into what it called the “complex web” of state and federal policies and programs that regulate the dairy industry.
“Can we determine, through analysis, if we’re achieving our goals? Because it’s costing us a lot of money,” said state Auditor Doug Hoffer. “This can force policymakers to revisit decisions that were made 10 or 20 years ago, and ask if they’re still really...
Farmer Brad Thomas of Orwell walks his field in 2015. Independent file photo/Trent Campbell
VERMONT — Next week a special social media event will showcase a day in the life of Vermont farmers.
#Farm24VT runs from 5 a.m. on Wednesday, May 12, until 5 a.m. the following day. Farmers will share photos, videos and stories that provide a behind-the-scenes look at how local food gets to our tables.
“With field trips and farm visits suspended because of COVID, #Farm24VT is designed to forge new relationships between farmers and consumers,” said Fran Stoddard in a promotional video that can be found on Facebook here.
#Farm24VT content can be found by searching for the #Farm24VT hashtag on...
BURLINGTON — Curious about what a cow eats? Or how farmers use technology on the farm?
Students, ages 12-18, will have an opportunity to delve into these and other questions about dairy farming through “Exploring Vermont Dairy.” This free, five-part series will be offered via Zoom on consecutive Wednesdays from 3:30-4:30 p.m., beginning May 5 — that’s this coming Wednesday.
The University of Vermont (UVM) Extension 4-H program developed the series in cooperation with the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets. Each session will include a pre-lesson assignment. Students are encouraged...
VERMONT — The 2021 Online Dairy Education Series will provide farmers with the latest research and information on forage production, cow comfort and other dairy topics.
The University of Vermont (UVM) Extension Northwest Crops and Soils Program will host the free virtual program beginning next week. Farmers may sign up for one or more of the six sessions, although a separate registration is required for each session.
To register go to onlinedairyeducationseries.eventbrite.com. To request a disability-related accommodation, please call Susan Brouillette at 1-800-639-2130.
The series features...