Small Farm Day at the Statehouse – This Thursday 5/7

“Small Farm Day” at the Vermont Statehouse
hosted by Rural Vermont & the Young Farmers’ Coalition
THIS THURSDAY, May 7th
10am-2pm

Statehouse, Montpelier

There’s been a lot of talk at the State House this year about “small farms” –  especially in the debate over how to improve water quality in our state.

Rural Vermont and the VT Chapter of the Young Farmers’ Coalition are partnering to host a day that will put a face on the “small farmer” and highlight the crucial role they are playing in the future of Vermont agriculture! Join us and introduce your farms and the practices and values that guide your farming work and support water quality and a stronger community.

On Small Farm Day, Rural Vermont will offer a briefing on issues and legislation affecting small farms and the people who support them, advocacy training, and we’ll help arrange opportunities for you to talk with your legislators. This will also be a great day to network with other farmers and learn more about how you can play a role in shaping public policy.

Here’s the schedule for the day:

10-11:00 – Issue briefing and advocacy training – Room 10

11:15-11:45 – Press Conference in the Cedar Creek Room

11:45-1:15 – Conversations with your legislators – Cafeteria & Committee Rooms

1:15 – 2:00 – Report back on what you heard and learned – Room 10

2:00-3:00 – Social Gathering at the Three Penny Taproom in Montpelier

* Our good friends at the Three Penny Taproom will be donating 10% of bar proceeds to Rural Vermont all day Thursday! So invite all your customers, friends, and neighbors – meet up, drink up, and support Rural Vermont!

RSVP with your full contact info to lucy@ruralvermont.orgSee you at the People’s House!

Find more info about Rural Vermont and its 30 year history of amplifying the voices of farmers and advocating for a fair food system, visit and join at www.ruralvermont.org.

The VT Young Farmers’ Coalition was created by and for young Vermont farmers. Their areas of focus include policy change, network building, and farmer development. Find them on Facebook.

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Vermont Produce Safety Survey & Interactive FSMA Resource

Who? All Vermont farmers who grow, harvest, pack, or hold fresh produce—even if primarily engaged in another type of farming—should take this survey.

What? The Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets (VAAFM) designed this survey to help farmers determine if they will be impacted by FDA’s Produce Safety Rule, understand their requirements under the rule, and learn about compliance timelines. The Produce Safety Rule, a rule under the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), will be finalized in October 2015 and implemented over the next 2 to 5 years.

Why? Information collected through this survey will help VAAFM understand how farms in Vermont will be impacted by the Produce Safety Rule and better assist farmers in preparing for implementation of the rule.

How? In order to complete this survey, you will need estimates of your farm, business, or organization’s annual sales of (a) produce and (b) all food—including animal feed. You will also need general knowledge of your farm, business, or organization’s food safety practices.

Survey Information

This survey will take approximately 8-10 minutes to complete and is divided into two sections. Section I will help to determine whether you may be subject to Produce Safety Rule, and Section II asks about your farm’s food safety practices and certifications so that we may better understand how market demand for produce safety impacts farms in Vermont.

Contact

Kristina Sweet at kristina.sweet@state.vt.us or (802) 522-7811with comments or questions about this survey.

To learn more about the Food Safety Modernization Act and Produce Safety at VAAFM, visit http://bit.ly/vaafm_fsma and http://bit.ly/vaafm_produce.

Learn About Vermont’s Changing Water Quality Legislation

* Why is this legislation happening? * Who is being affected? * What is changing for agriculture? *

Come and meet with representatives from: Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets * Agency of Natural Resources * Local Legislators

Join an active discussion of Vermont Bills H.35 and S.49

  • Date: Monday, April 20th
  • Time: 11:00 – 2:00 
  • Location: GMC Bentley House, Poultney VT (orange and tan house)

For more information & to RSVP contact:

  • Hilary Solomon – PMNRCD District Manager – pmnrcd@gmail.com – 802.287.8339
  • Jennifer Alexander – Agronomist – acap.Jennifer@gmail.com – 802.558.6470

A light lunch will be provided by PMNRCD.   Please RSVP if possible.

FSMA Comment Deadline December 15

Just a reminder that the deadline to submit comments to the FDA about the proposed draft of the Food Safety Modernization Act is this coming Monday, December 15!

Here’s a link to some of Vern Grubinger’s thoughts on the draft rules:

http://www.uvm.edu/vtvegandberry/factsheets/FourFlawsFSMA.pdf

For instructions on how to submit comments to the FDA see:

http://www.fda.gov/Food/GuidanceRegulation/FSMA/ucm261689.htm

 

FSMA Listening Session – November 17th

Food safety regulations will affect farmers and food processors throughout the country, and NOFA Vermont has been one of many voices calling for these regulations to be amended to be appropriate for organic and small-scale farms. We hope that concerned farmers, processors, and consumers will continue to make their voices heard, as well. This announcement comes from the Vermont Agency of Agriculture.

The Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food, and Markets (VAAFM), in conjunction with the Northeast Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NEASDA), will host an open Listening Session on November 17th, 2014, to offer farmers and food processors an opportunity to provide comment on new supplemental rules proposed by the federal Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).

Attendees will have an opportunity to pose questions to and seek clarification from a panel of subject matter experts from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that will be present at the meeting. The listening session will take place from 9:00am – 1:00pm in the Chase Center located at the Vermont Law School in South Royalton, VT. While oriented towards regional farmers and food processors specifically, this listening session is open to all interested parties from across the northeast.

FSMA, the most sweeping reform of our nation’s food safety laws in more than 70 years, was signed into law by President Obama on January 4, 2011. FSMA aims to ensure the safety of the U.S. food supply by shifting the focus from responding to contamination to preventing it. On September 29th, 2014, the FDA released proposed supplemental rules to four of the seven existing rules, largely the result of an unprecedented level of comments and valuable input received from farmers and others directly affected by these regulations.

The November 17th, 2014, the Vermont-NEASDA hosted listening session will focus on the following three supplemental rules:

1. The Standards for the Growing, Harvesting, Packing, and Holding of Produce rule proposes enforceable safety standards for the production and harvesting of produce on farms. Changes include:

  • More flexible criteria for determining the safety of agricultural water for certain uses and a tiered approach to water testing.
  • A commitment to conduct extensive research on the safe use of raw manure in growing areas and complete a risk assessment. Pending those actions, FDA is deferring its decision on an appropriate time interval between the application of raw manure, the harvesting of a crop, and removing the nine-month interval originally proposed.
  • The FDA proposes eliminating the 45-day minimum application interval for composted manure that meets proposed microbial standards and application requirements.

2.  The Current Good Manufacturing Practices and Hazard Analysis and Risk-Based Preventive Controls for Human Food rule would require makers of food to be sold in the United States, whether produced at a foreign- or domestic-based facility, to develop a formal plan for preventing food products from causing food borne illness.

3.  Current Good Manufacturing Practice and Hazard Analysis and Risk-Based Preventive Controls for Food for Animals would require facilities producing animal food (pet food, animal feed, and raw materials) to have written plans that identify hazards and specify steps to prevent those hazards. Changes include:

  • Requirements that human and animal food facilities, when appropriate, test products and the food facility’s environment, as well as implement certain supplier controls.

A full copy of the proposed supplemental rules is available for viewing through the following links:

All growers, manufacturers, and anyone interested in fresh produce safety and manufacturing of human and animal food are encouraged to comment on the supplemental proposed rules. The comment period will remain open for 75 days until December 15th, 2014. There are two ways to officially submit comments to FDA:

  1. Comment electronically at:
    1. Produce:https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2014/09/29/2014-22447/standards-for-the-growing-harvesting-packing-and-holding-of-produce-for-human-consumption
    2. Human Food:https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2014/09/29/2014-22446/current-good-manufacturing-practice-and-hazard-analysis-and-risk-based-preventive-controls-for-human
    3. Animal Feed:https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2014/09/29/2014-22445/current-good-manufacturing-practice-and-hazard-analysis-and-risk-based-preventive-controls-for-food

Manure Application Survey Responses Needed!

Ginger Nickerson of UVM Extensions is conducting a survey to gather information to influence policy about manure application to fields of all sorts.

Here is the policy background motivating this survey:

The FDA has deferred the decision re: interval of applications of raw manure to certain crops for some years while they do more research for a few years.   They are still saying that they do ultimately want to have a quantitative (rather than qualitative) standard for application of raw manure.  For the meantime, they are accepting the NOP standards of 90 and 120 days, and wanting to encourage farmers to transition from the use of raw manure to composted manure.  In their request for public comment, they have specifically asked for information on the use and prevalence of raw manure, especially on small farms, and information on barriers to transitioning from raw manure to compost.

And here is the call for survey participants:

RAW MANURE SURVEY

If you grow fruits or vegetables for sale and apply raw manure OR graze livestock or poultry in fruit or vegetable production areas, please take a few minutes to answer this brief survey.

https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/rawmanure

The FDA has decided to defer extending the interval between application of raw manure to certain vegetable crops and harvest time, until they can conduct scientific research and a risk assessment- including gathering more input from stakeholders. Your responses to the survey can make a difference!  Your responses will be used to help UVM Extension providers understand current practices in Vermont, and provide comments to the FDA on appropriate manure application intervals for the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).

Questions? Ginger Nickerson, gnickers@uvm.edu or (802) 505-8189.

Rutland County Farm Bureau Annual Meeting 10/2

The Rutland County Farm Bureau is trying to get a broad diversity of farms to attend their meeting next week so that they can generate policy resolutions that reflect the entire farm population of our county.  Details about the evening are below.

Thursday October 2, 2014 at the Fair Haven American Legion Rte 22A Fair Haven, VT

Directions: Turn South off Route 4 Exit 2 (Fair Haven).  The Legion is located 1/2 mile south of Fair Haven village on 22A.

BUSINESS MEETING AGENDA 2014

  • HAPPY HOUR @ 7, DINNER @ 7:30
  • CALL TO ORDER, WELCOME DINNER
  • MINUTES OF LAST ANNUAL MEETING
  • SECRETARY/TREASURER’S REPORT MEMBERSHIP REPORT
  • STATE PRESIDENT’S REPORT
  • NOMINATING COMMITTEE REPORT
  • ELECTION OF OFFICERS, DELEGATES TO THE STATE ANNUAL MEETING AND STATE BOARD REPRESENTATIVE
  • RESOLUTIONS COMMITTEE REPORT DISCUSSION AND VOTE
  • LEGISLATOR REPORTS
  • DOOR PRIZES ADJOURNMENT

If you would like to eat dinner at the meeting, the cost is $14 and you need to RSVP to Carol at 265-4589 by September 28.