USDA gearing up to conduct 2012 Census of Agriculture

first_imgNACS is required by law as part of the U.S. Census of Agriculture.  By this same law, all information reported by individuals is kept confidential. NASS will mail the 2012 Census of Agriculture later this year and data will be collected into early 2013. Surveys are now arriving in mailboxes around the nation to help identify all active farms in the United States. The National Agricultural Classification Survey (NACS), which asks landowners whether or not they are farming and for basic farm information, is one of the most important early steps used to determine who should receive a 2012 Census of Agriculture report form.  The Census of Agriculture, conducted every five years by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), is a complete count of U.S. farms and ranches and the people who operate them. For more information about NACS, the Census of Agriculture, or to add your name to the Census mail list, visit is external).NASS provides accurate, timely, useful and objective statistics in service to U.S. agriculture. You are invited to provide feedback on their products and services. Sign up at is external) and look for ‘NASS Data User Community.’ United States Department of Agriculture. 2.10.2012 ‘The Census is the leading source of facts about American agriculture and the only source of agricultural statistics that is comparable for each county in the nation. Farm organizations, businesses, government decision-makers, commodity market analysts, news media, researchers and others use Census data to inform their work,’ he said.center_img ‘The NACS survey is the first step in getting a complete count, so we ask everyone who receives a survey to complete and return it,’ said Picanso. ‘The Census is a valuable way for producers and rural America to show their strength ‘ in numbers.’ ‘We are asking everyone who receives the NACS to respond even if they are not farming so that we build the most accurate and comprehensive mailing list to account for all of U.S. agriculture in the Census,’ said NASS’s Census and Survey Director, Renee Picanso.last_img read more

Pat Moulton Powden leaving state development job for Brattleboro post

first_imgPat Moulton Powden announced this week that she is leaving her state job to take a position with the Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation. The BDCC is the Regional Development Corporation for southeastern Vermont. Powden will first head up workforce development before becoming executive director when Jeff Lewis retires at the end of 2013. Pat Moulton Powden with another now former Shumlin Administration offical, Bill Lofy, in 2010.Powden is leaving her current post  as Deputy Secretary of the Agency of Commerce & Community Development in February 2013. In this position she has been the Shumlin Administrations lead job creator. She has held several economic development posts in and out of state government, including in Springfield and the Northeast Kingdom, as well as being Labor Department Commissioner under Governor Douglas.The Brattleboro area has suffered perhaps more than any other since the recession of the early 1990s. With the uncertain future of Vermont Yankee, an aging population, fewer high-wage jobs and a general economic malaise, Powden has a significant task ahead of her.”Part of the solution, and the work I will be doing initially,” Powden told Vermont Business Magazine, “is in the area of workforce development. Identifying what are barriers to growth for the employers in the region and marshalling the resources to assure we are filling those needs. This includes short term and long term strategies.”Powden knows the area well. Her father, Elbert Al Moulton, was an economic development specialist for the state under Governors Snelling and Kunin and held leading business development positions in Brattleboro on two occasions. Powden still has family in Windham County and herself lives in Londonderry.last_img read more

Vermont agricultural land use planning guide available for local and regional planners

first_imgA series of agricultural land use planning modules are now available as a resource for land use planners on such topics as farmland conservation, farm and property taxes, commercial composting, agritourism, and food system planning. The planning guide is a project of the Vermont Farm to Plate Initiative’s Agricultural Land Use Planning Task Force(link is external). Municipal officials, local and regional planning commissions, and agriculture advocates will be able to use the modules to guide land use planning for farmland, including ways to update zoning regulations that can sustain and spark more agricultural economic activity in Vermont communities.Two years ago the task force identified the need to update the well-known planning guide, Sustaining Agriculture, published by the Vermont Agency of Agriculture in 1994. “As Vermont’s local food movement quickened the pace of agri-preneurial development, it became clear there was a need for an update to the original guide that expanded on the topics covered in the original 1994 print guide. The new modules demonstrate how the entire food system can be incorporated into town planning by addressing issues in agriculture that have to date not been extensively covered like commercial composting and food system planning, while giving detailed guidance on historically important issues like farmland conservation, farmland and taxes, and land use regulations,” states Peg Elmer, chair of the Farm to Plate Agricultural Land Use Planning Task Force and principal of is external).The Farm to Plate Agricultural Land Use Planning Task Force is comprised of the Central Vermont Regional Planning Commission,, Composting Association of Vermont, Lamoille County Planning Commission, Northeastern Vermont Development Association, Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets, Vermont Housing and Conservation Board, Vermont Natural Resources Council, and several land planning consultants.The updated planning guide will pointedly help Vermont achieve the Farm to Plate Strategic Plan’s goal to ensure agricultural lands and soils will be available, affordable, and conserved for future generations of farmers while meeting the needs of Vermont’s food system.“Development pressure continues to put farmland in danger of being converted to non-agricultural uses and planners need to be equipped with the tools and knowledge to effect land-use patterns that strengthen and conserve Vermont’s agricultural resources,” says Jake Claro, Farm to Plate project manager. “Additionally, as farms diversify their operation, particularly events-based businesses like weddings or burger nights, local zoning regulations need to keep pace with these changes in a way that doesn’t stifle innovation, but adequately deals with public concerns.”The agricultural land use planning guide has been broken into five modules and each can be accessed and downloaded from the Farm to Plate website at: is external).Vermont Farm to Plate is the statewide initiative legislatively directed to increase economic development and jobs in Vermont’s farm and food sector and improve access to healthy local food for all Vermonters. The ten year Farm to Plate Strategic Plan to strengthen the working landscape, build the resilience of farms and food enterprises, improve environmental quality, and increase healthy, local food access for all Vermonters is being implemented by the Farm to Plate Network—over 350 farm and food sector organizations from across the state. Farm to Plate is coordinated by the Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund, a non-profit organization based in Montpelier, Vermont. Learn more at is external).last_img read more

National Life Group switches on newly built 500 kw solar power arrays

first_imgNational Life Group,Electricity began flowing this afternoon from National Life Group’s newly built solar energy project. The 500 kilowatt project is made up of more than 2,000 panels arrayed on about 4 acres just south of the company’s Montpelier headquarters. The electricity will feed into the regional power grid. Combined with a 73 kilowatt solar project built in 2008, National Life Group will generate more than 15 percent of its own electricity demand.“This project makes great financial sense to us as a company,” said Mehran Assadi, president and CEO. “We’re also proud to say it makes great environmental sense and moves both our company and the city of Montpelier closer to our mutual goal of energy independence and sustainability.”National Life Group General Counsel Gregory Woodworth, left, and President and CEO Mehran Assadi throw the switch to power the solar panels. Derek Moretz of Encore Development is behind them. Courtesy National Life.The project complements the goals of Net Zero Montpelier(link is external), whose goal is to make the city of Montpelier the first “net zero” state capital in the country. That would mean that all of the energy consumed in Montpelier for electricity, thermal and transportation purposes would be produced or offset within the city.The 10,000 megawatts per year that National Life Group’s two solar systems will produce represents about 3 percent of the 82,256 megawatts per year of power demand in the entire city of Montpelier.Fact Sheet500 kilowatt solar array725,000 kilowatt hours of electricity157 Northfield St., MontpelierOwned and operated by National Life GroupSits on 4.5 acres of 250-acre campus2,090 stationary panels on 95 ground-mounted racksBegan producing power Dec. 15, 2014A separate 70 kilowatt solar array on the building’s roof went into operation in 2008National Life Group’s annual electricity use is 10,000 megawattsCombined, the two solar projects will produce 1,500 megawatts per year, or about 15 percent of the campus’ powerMontpelier’s total residential and commercial and industrial electricity use is 82,256 megawatts per year (2011 figure)National Life Group’s solar projects will produce 3 percent of that demand.National Life Group was established with the chartering of National Life Insurance Co. on Nov. 13, 1848. The company occupies a 525,000-square-foot headquarters building on a 250-acre campus. Roughly 2,000 people work on the campus, including employees of National Life Group, the state, and others.The company’s building is LEED certified, with a Silver Certification in the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, Existing Building, program. The heating plant is powered with renewable, locally sourced wood chips. Employees are encouraged to use alternative transportation and National Life Group subsidizes regular commuter bus service to its campus.In addition to its Vermont operations, National Life Group employs close to 200 people in Addison, Texas, outside Dallas.Source: National Life 12.15.2014. The companies of National Life Group(link is external) offer a broad range of financial products, including life insurance, annuities, and investments, and financial solutions in the form of estate, business succession and retirement planning strategies. They are a leading provider of 403(b) and 457(b) tax-deferred retirement plans, primarily in the K-12 school marketplace.last_img read more

Putney Family Healthcare expanding facility and service

first_imgPutney Family Healthcare, a BMH Physician Group member, is undergoing renovations to expand its 79 Main Street facility. Practice officials state that this expansion is in response to a growing demand for medical care in the service area, which includes Putney, Dummerston, Westminster and Saxtons River.GPI Construction began work on the expansion in November, which will create four additional exam rooms as well as increase office space for administrative staff. BMH Director of Plant Services Rob Prohaska is working with Joe Fortier of GPI to manage the project, which is expected to be completed March 1, 2015.Upon completion, John Todd, APRN-FNP, a family nurse practitioner who is currently working part-time in the Putney office, will join Richard Fletcher, APRN and Kari Dickey, DO as a full-time member of the Putney Family Healthcare medical staff.”We are excited to have John join our group full-time. He is a great addition and will complement both Richard Fletcher and Kari Dickey,” says Practice Manager Debbie Hebert. “With all three providers here full time, we should be better able to accommodate our growing population of patients.”Hebert adds that three providers will be on staff Mondays and Fridays, while two providers will be available Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays once the expansion is complete. New patients should call the Centralized Scheduling Department at 844-258-8777 to find an available provider.BMH Physician Group is a multispecialty group practice with more than 40 board-certified clinicians providing a range care from 12 different offices in Brattleboro and Putney, including pediatrics, internal medicine, general surgery, family medicine, cardiac care, orthopaedics, OB/GYN and post-acute care services.BMH has provided healthcare services for over one hundred years. A licensed, 61-bed, not-for-profit community hospital located in southeastern Vermont, it serves a rural population of about 55,000 people in 22 towns in Vermont, New Hampshire and Massachusetts. The medical staff includes 137 board-certified physicians, both primary care and many specialists, and its 572 employees enjoy the help of over 110 active volunteers.Source: BRATTLEBORO, VT – (January 8, 2014) — Putney Family Healthcarelast_img read more

Jericho and RPC to develop town’s Stormwater Master Plan

first_imgVermont Business Magazine Through a grant provided by the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) as part of the State’s Clean Water Initiative, the Town of Jericho and the Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission (CCRPC) will develop a Stormwater Master Plan for the Town. This type of planning is needed now as the 2016 Jericho Comprehensive Town Plan predicts a 5% increase in population by 2030, with new development concentrated in the town’s three state-designated village centers.The grant will be used to hire a consultant to develop the Plan in consultation with Town staff and boards. The scope of work includes a review of pre-existing data, on-the-ground-assessment of problem areas, a detailed identification of recommended projects and, for six of those projects, the preparation of conceptual plans and budget estimates. The Plan will focus on village centers that are substantially developed with mixed uses along the busy roads of VT Route 15 and Browns Trace Road.  Most of this area is fairly developed and the plan may look for green stormwater infrastructure retrofits for the older subdivisions, particularly off of Route 15.  These techniques focus on infiltrating rain runoff rather than, for example, capturing and diverting it into pipes and ponds.  Additionally, over the years small scale subdivisions have occurred along rural roads with little to no attention paid to stormwater runoff.  As a result, runoff from properties outside of the road right of way has been a major cause of increased road erosion/ditch erosion. Completion of the Stormwater Master Plan is anticipated in the spring of 2017. Projects recommended by the Plan will be considered by the Town for action as well as forwarded to the Vermont DEC for possible inclusion in both the Lamoille River and Winooski River Tactical Basin Plan.Source: CCRPC 8.2.2016last_img read more

Milne calls out Leahy for debate and campaign finance ‘hypocrisy’

first_imgFurthermore, in your 1998 VPR debate with Fred Tuttle, in response to an audience question about the influence of the defense industry in politics, you boasted that you had rejected PAC money and supported spending limits – the exact same thing I’m asking you to do today by agreeing to my clean campaign pledge. As a reminder of your prior position, I have included a transcript and link to video of the exchange here: Caller: I’m very dismayed at the amount of money being spent on campaigns. I think that’s part of the problem of true democracy in this country. I think that there’s a lot of lobbying by the defense industry which is helping keep our military budget at this level… My question to the Senator is where does this all end, and how can we ever get off of this addiction to military spending? … Bob Kinzel, VPR: Fletcher, let me just follow up. Are you concerned about not only the military spending, but also just campaign finance reform in general, or how those two issues are tied together? Caller: Yeah, I think they can be tied together. I think part of it is the incumbents will stay in office because of the amount of money that industry will spend on them to continue to keep them in office, keep them voting in favor of their interests. Kinzel: Okay, Senator Leahy? Leahy: Let me take the campaign finance reform. For the life of me I cannot understand why the leadership in the House and Senate blocked real campaign finance reform this year. You would think that people who have to go out and raise money would want real campaign finance reform. I’m the only person ever elected to federal office in Vermont who’s done it without taking PAC money. And I don’t. I’ve seen how the scramble for PAC money allows too many of the special interests to come in. But what we ought to do is have real campaign finance reform, and it could be done, and it could be done constitutionally, that would limit the amount of money that you spend. For one thing that would limit the influence of special interests. It would limit the time in campaigns. Some campaigns now go on for two or three years, for example, for a Senate seat. It would limit the amount of money. It would certainly cut out the negative ads, and there’d be a lot more interest in the campaign. What I’m hearing from all the national media, Fred, who come up here, they see the two of us going around to schools. Fred and I have been going around to grade schools asking kids to get their parents to take them to the voting booth the same way Fred’s parents did with him and my parents did with me when we were little. And they’re amazed to see a state with no negative ads, a state where people actually talk about issues. If we did that, whether it’s the military industrial complex or whether it’s any other, we would have a lot less interest – a lot less influence, rather. is external) Dear Senator Leahy, As occurs all too often with career politicians, it seems that after 42 years of living and working in Washington D.C., your campaign has substituted personal political ambition for the principles you claim to represent. I repeat my request for one-hour live debates on each of Vermont’s four television outlets. You can see how an observer who has heard you speak in these terms would be shocked by your startling reversal. It is particularly ironic in light of recent revelations by Seven Days that you acted on behalf of a major defense contractor to secure them a lucrative government contract and subsequently accepted nearly $10,000 in campaign contributions from their PAC. Senator, I also oppose the Citizens United decision, and would support a constitutional amendment to reverse it. It is clear that we differ in that I am willing to practice what I preach, and you are not. However, I also question whether you are actually averse to the “unchecked and unlimited money… by shadowy groups and individuals with agendas other than good government,” as your campaign manager Carolyn Dwyer characterized PAC money. After all, 18 years before Citizens United, you also rejected Jim Douglas’ challenge to reject PAC money. It seems your position on these issues has nothing to do with principle, and everything to do with your own political ambitions. It is this sort of hypocrisy and posturing that have caused Americans to lose faith in Washington, D.C. and its career politicians. It is central to our democracy that voters have maximum opportunity to hear directly from the candidates on the issues of the day. If we are to free ourselves from a system dominated by 30 second campaign ads funded by millions of dollars of special interest money, candidates must be willing to engage in vigorous public debate in front of the most possible constituents. You claim to support these ideals, but unfortunately you are engaging in the worst kind of cynical, Beltway politics – saying one thing, but doing another. I am deeply disappointed by your letter rejecting my debate proposal and clean campaign challenge. Vermont Business Magazine US Senate candidate Scott Milne sent the following letter to Senator Leahy today in response to Leahy’s rejection of his debate and clean campaign challenge. In it, Milne said it exposes Leahy’s hypocrisy on these issues by pointing to Leahy’s own words supporting the very proposals Milne has offered. Let us reject big moneyed special interests and embrace a real, grassroots-style campaign that gives Vermonters the cleanest opportunity to hear their candidates debate the issues of the day. This is the Vermont tradition that is truly at stake in this campaign. In their 2012 U.S. Senate race, Elizabeth Warren and Scott Brown demonstrated that voluntary agreements between candidates such as the one I have proposed do effectively prevent outside groups from interfering in an election. In this campaign, you and I do not require a constitutional amendment to govern our respective campaigns. If we believe what we say, we can voluntarily agree today to run the sort of campaigns you claim to support and that Vermonters can be proud of. You claim that Vermont “tradition” dictates a limit of three debates for the office of U.S. Senate. I found this ridiculous claim all the more disingenuous given you challenged Jim Douglas to six debates in 1992. Sincerely, Scott MilneSource: Pomfret, VT (August 29, 2016) – US Senate candidate Scott Milnelast_img read more

Vermont Gas Systems alerts customers to phone scam

first_imgVermont Business Magazine Vermont Gas is warning its 50,000 customers about a bill payment phone scam. In a wave of calls taking place over the last two days, customers received a call saying they have not paid their bill and they should call an 800-number to pay immediately or risk having their natural gas turned off. These calls are not from Vermont Gas and the number to call is not an authorized Vermont Gas number. Vermont Gas works with customers and does not demand credit card information over the phone. If a customer receives a call like this, they should call Vermont Gas at (802) 863-4511 and speak directly with one of our customer service representatives.Further, customers receiving such a call are encouraged to report this scam by contacting the Vermont Attorney General’s Office Consumer Assistance Program at 800.649.2424.About Vermont GasVermont Gas Systems is a leader in energy efficiency and innovation, offering a clean, safe, affordable choice for over 50,000 homes, businesses, and institutions in Franklin and Chittenden counties. The company plays an important role in Vermont’s clean energy future by displacing higher-emitting fuels and with its award-winning energy efficiency programs. For more information about Vermont Gas visit is external).last_img read more

Breakfast on the Farm event happening Saturday in East Montpelier

first_imgVermont Business Magazine Vermont’s Breakfast on the Farm comes to Fairmont Farm this Saturday in East Montpelier. This free, public event includes a Vermont-style pancake breakfast featuring local products, self-guided tours of the farm including 15 educational stations, and a peek into the life and business of dairy farming in Vermont. Media are invited to see first-hand how the farm cares for their cows, their community, employees and the environment. And, even see a calf being born! A second 2017 Breakfast on the Farm event will be held on July 22 at Blue Spruce Farm in Bridport.WHO:            1,000 visitors expected, agricultural leaders, educators and industry representatives including:The Hall, Purchase and Ayer families, owners and operators of Fairmont Farm and their 30 employees interacting with the public.Anson Tebbetts, Secretary of the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and MarketsDr. Julie Smith, DVM, PhD, UVM Extension Department of Animal and Veterinary SciencesOver 100 volunteers from the agricultural communityWHEN:        Saturday, June 17th, 2017; 8:30 a.m. – 1 p.m.WHERE:Fairmont Farm95 Lyle Young Rd, East Montpelier, VT 05483VISUALS:Various aspects of the dairy farm will be open to visitors including:Cows housed in free-stall barns with sand beds for comfort.Maternity barn where calves are expected to be born during the farm tour. On average, five calves are born each day at the farm.Calf barn with calves as young as a few days old.Kids activities: smoothie bicycle, cow milking simulator, lego farm, scavenger hunt, and more.Tractors, a milk truck, and farm equipment including innovative manure injection systems.Rainfall simulator to demonstrate how cover crops protect water quality.Examples of what a cow eats including human food waste such as brewers’ grains and citrus pulp.BACKGROUND:    Vermont Breakfast on the Farm is coordinated by the Vermont Agency of Agriculture and the agricultural business community. Breakfast on the Farm provides a first-hand look at modern agriculture and the farm families who work hard to produce safe, wholesome food for Vermont communities and the world. A second 2017 Breakfast on the Farm event will be held on July 22nd, 2017 at Blue Spruce Farm in Bridport. Vermont Breakfast on the Farm was also held at two Vermont dairy farms in 2016 which drew a combined 2,000 visitors. Although this is a free event, tickets must be reserved in advance at is external)..Event sponsors include the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets, Poulin Grain, Cabot Creamery, Vermont Feed Dealers & Manufacturers Association, Casella Waste Systems, Vermont Smoke & Cure, High Mowing Organic Seeds, WOKO, Bourdeau Brothers, New England Dairy Promotion Board, and Vermont Farm Bureau.last_img read more

EPA: Up to $3 million available for locally-focused environmental ed grants

first_imgVermont Business Magazine EPA has announced $3 million in funding for locally-focused environmental education grants is now available under the 2018 EE Local Grant Program.  EPA will award three to four grants in each of EPA’s ten Regions, for no less than $50,000 and no more than $100,000 each, for a total of 30-35 grants nationwide. Proposals are due March 15, 2018. The Requests for Proposals is posted on is external).In addition to other environmental topics, the 2018 EE Local Grant Program includes support for projects that reflect the intersection of environmental issues with agricultural best-practices, conservation of natural resources, food waste management, and natural disaster preparedness. Funded projects will increase public awareness of those topics and help participants to develop the skills needed to make informed decisions. A Request for Proposals (also called a Solicitation Notice) containing details will be issued by each of the ten EPA Regions.”By recognizing these locally-based learning and awareness opportunities, the Environmental Protection Agency is taking both a local and national leadership role in promoting sound agricultural conservation practices, environmental disaster preparedness, adequate food waste management and other important environmental best-practices,” said Administrator Scott Pruitt. “Environmental education starts locally in our own backyards, classrooms and in the fields of farmers who work the land directly, and I’m proud to play a role in enhancing such learning opportunities.”Through this grant program, EPA intends to provide financial support for projects that design, demonstrate, and/or disseminate environmental education practices, methods, or techniques, as described in this notice, that will serve to increase environmental and conservation literacy and encourage behavior that will benefit the environment in the local community(ies) in which they are located.Since 1992, EPA has distributed between $2 and $3.5 million in grant funding per year under this program, supporting more than 3700 grants.More Information:Proposals are due by March 15, 2018. The full solicitation notices are available at is external) and at is external).Find background on the EE Grants Program and resources for applicants at is external).Source: EPA 1.22.2018,Yeslast_img read more