2018 Summer Newsletter is Here!

Read the entire PDF here!

In this Issue:
Blog links:

Putting a Public Face on the Pursuits of Farming

By Kirsten Workman, Agronomy Outreach Professional

As seen in our Summer 2018 Newsletter – but including additional links below.

Farming is often a solitary pursuit. While it takes a team to make a farm  succeed, daily activities often happen in solitude. Whether it is in the milk house, greenhouse, fields, tractor, shop or office, very few people will
ever “see” you at work. While that is often viewed as a positive, it also leads to a disconnect between farmers and neighbors.

Why does this matter? Try to remember the last negative interaction with someone outside the farming industry. Was this a result of lack of knowledge and understanding? Misinformation? Perhaps partially your responsibility for not considering how farming endeavors impact a neighbor? Regardless, I have found that when the farming community
opens up to the nonfarming community, the results can be powerful.

Many neighbors have no idea what you do and may be too uncomfortable to ask. I have been at public farm tours where neighbors came into a dairy barn and said, “I drive by here every day and never knew there were cows in  these buildings.” People who drive by your farm often think bunker
silos are compost bins. Gone are the days when everyone’s grandparents or aunts and uncles were farmers. Folks no longer spend summer weekends helping family or neighbor bring in hay or crops. Seeing a tractor in
front of them on a state highway only makes them think about being late to an important appointment. Landlords who own your rented fields don’t always understand that manure is an organic fertilizer which makes their
hay field greener, replenishes nutrients, and builds soil health. Herbicides and insecticides, regardless of their form, are as taboo a topic as politics
or religion.

It is difficult to make time to share farming information and justify the hours away from “productive” pursuits. However, I argue that putting a face on farming is a worthwhile endeavor. It isn’t always comfortable or easy. Without a personal connection to a farm it is easy to lump you in with all the negative press and assume all farms are the problem. However, when these folks are invited to visit your farm, they learn just how much goes into
your daily farming pursuits and hopefully that will have a lasting effect.

Looking For Ways To Get Involved With The Public? Here Are A Few Examples:

Breakfast on the FarmDon’t be intimidated by the scale of this event.  It is well-organized and supported by hundreds of volunteers and experts who are there to represent you and the farming community well.  Want to learn more?  Volunteer on July 28 and see what it’s all about.

Social Media – A low impact way to share your farming endeavors.  Here are some great local examples:

Open Farm WeekA Dig In Vermont coordinated, week long event. For a small fee, any farm can participate and be promoted across the state. You must welcome visitors and host some sort of farm activity. However, technical assistance is available to help create a valuable on-farm experience for participants.

Crops Exhibit and Farm Product Contests – Join the competition at Addison County Field Days or Vermont Farm Show with hay, crops, honey, eggs and vegetables. Not only can you earn blue ribbons, premiums and bragging rights; you help us educate the public about farming in Vermont.

Cabot Open Farm SundayCabot Creamery and AgriMark Farms can participate in Cabot’s Open Farm Sunday in October.

Workshops/Field Days/Tours  – Volunteer!  The next time your friendly Extension Agent, Crop Consultant, Feed Consultant, or Politician asks if you’ll host a group at your farm…just say YES!

Champlain Valley Farmer CoalitionJoin the Champlain Valley Farmer Coalition and find like-minded farmers with good tips and tricks on engaging the public on your farm. Other farmer organizations in Vermont include Farmer’s Watershed Alliance and Connecticut River Watershed Farmers Alliance.

Contact Kirsten Workman if you’d like to host an event! 802-388-4969

Spring 2018 Newsletter

Our Spring 2018 Newsletter is Out!


In this Issue:


READ OUR ENTIRE NEWSLETTER HERE


Got Questions? Contact Us! 802-388-4969

News, Events and Info You Should Know (2018 Winter Newsletter)

2018 Vermont Farm Show – January 30, 31 and February 1, 2018                       Your product entries for the Vermont Farm Show can be dropped off at a nearby Extension office or other location by 4:00 p.m. on Friday, January 26 or drop them off at the Champlain Valley Expo on Monday, January 29 between 9:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. (judging starts at 4:00 p.m.). Give us a call to find out which offices are participating and what the rules are. Read more about the farm show at www.vtfarmshow.com. We hope to see you there!

Nutrient Management Planning (NMPs)
Winter is the time to create and update your plan. NMP classes begin in January. If you need an NMP but don’t have one, please contact your local conservation district to get the process started for next winter’s classes. NMP update sessions for those farmers who have already taken our class and finished an NMP with us will be held in February and March. Tentative dates in Middlebury are February 8 and 15, and March 8 and 14, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. An RSVP is requested – please call our office to confirm you are coming. Remember, an NMP has to be updated every year to be accurate and reflect Vermont RAPs regulations. If you need to find out whether your operation is required to have an NMP call us, 802-388-4969, or check out Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets (VAAFM) online at go.uvm.edu/raps.

8th Annual Organic Dairy Producers Conference
Thursday, March 15, 2018 at Vermont Technical College. More details to follow at go.uvm.edu/crop-soil-events.

Farm Business Clinics
The clinics will run from January through April 2018. This is an opportunity for farmers to meet privately, one-on-one, for 90 minutes with a UVM Extension Farm Business staff member. Meetings are conveniently scheduled at various locations across Vermont. Use the time to develop a balance sheet, update financial statements, review a business plan, consider changes to your business, and more. Registration is $25. For more information about this program contact 1-866-860-1382, or register online at go.uvm.edu/businessclinics2018. Ongoing Water Quality Business Planning is an additional in-depth program also offered by UVM Extension.

5th Annual No-Till and Cover Crop Symposium – March 1, 2018 DoubleTree by Hilton (formerly the Sheraton Burlington Hotel and Conference Center) in Burlington, Vt.

Registration Is Now Open
Learn the latest techniques! Discover how your neighbors are using this integrated system of cover crops and no (or less) tillage to create better soil health, increase profitability and meet water quality goals. Learn from other farmers, talk to your local ag dealers about equipment or seed, speak to NRCS about funding, listen to regional and national experts, and hear about research at UVM and in nearby states. This is the fifth year of this conference! If you haven’t come in a couple years, now is the time to come back and celebrate. Let’s keep the momentum going! For more information and to register go to go.uvm.edu/ntcc.

View Our Entire Newsletter HERE

 

Winter 2018 Newsletter

In this Issue:
 
Focusing on Agriculture in the Champlain Valley and Beyond 
By Jeff Carter. Changes for a new year. 
 
News, Events & Info You Should Know 
Vermont Farm Show; Nutrient Management Planning; 5th Annual No-Till and Cover Crop Symposium; Organic Dairy Producers Conference; Farm Business Clinics. News and Event Info also on our blog page here. 
 
Should I Have Crop Insurance?  
By Jake Jacobs. Deciding if and what coverage makes sense for your business; upcoming deadline. 
 
UVM Extension Provides Financial Analysis for Producers Doing Water Quality Projects  
By Tony Kitsos. Opportunities still exist for farmers to receive assistance from Farm Business Planning on water quality projects. 
 
Fall Pasture Walks Highlight Extended Grazing Season 
By Cheryl Cesario. Two different farm pasture walks this fall addressed how local farmers approach management for extended fall grazing. 
 
Why Do We Care About Water Quality? 
Champlain Valley Farmer Coalition. Why we care and how we engage other farmers and the community at-large in the conversation. Join to add your voice!  
Winter is the Time to Focus on Record Keeping 
By Kristin Williams. Good record keeping is key to effective decision making, both in the financial word and for nutrient management.
 
Ongoing Field Research and a Look Forward
By Nate Severy. A look at work we’ve been doing this past fall that continues into the new year, and planning for spring planting success.
 

Fall 2017 Newsletter

Our Fall 2017 Newsletter is out! View it HERE.

In this Issue:

Focusing on Agriculture in the Champlain Valley and Beyond By Jeff Carter.  This season’s challenges and ways to move forward.

News, Events & Info You Should Know  Agricultural Conservation Highlights Tour; NMP Updates; Mock Inspections; Business and Ag Support for You; New Grazing Class; No-Till and Cover Crop Symposium. 

What Do I Do Now? RMA Update  By Jake Jacobs. Coping with weather unpredictability by planning ahead.

Demonstrating Success: Corn Hybrid Trials  By Kirsten Workman. Corn hybrid trials were a successful way to see what shorter season hybrids might be paired with cover crop adoption. 

Newsletter Feature – Grazing as a New Management Practice  By Cheryl Cesario. The process of adopting grazing management seen through one farmer’s experience. Also – new grazing class to teach you how to develop a grazing plan!

Managing Slugs Begins in the Fall  By Rico Balzano. Making decisions now to manage slugs next year.

Helping Farmers Adapt to a Changing Landscape By Nate Severy. UVM Extension and the Champlain Valley Farmer Coalition are working together to provide farmers with valuable insights for adaptive management.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

FOCUS ON AGRICULTURE IN THE CHAMPLAIN VALLEY AND BEYOND

By Jeff Carter, Agronomy Specialist, Champlain Valley Crop, Soil & Pasture Team

 

Corn fields look a lot different this year and many people are taking notice of the changes. Yet the weather seems to repeat itself in Addison County; early warm, then too wet, and then too dry. This reminds me of two years ago, when we experienced extensive prevented plantings and over-mature
hay, followed by a good old drought for two months. I sure hope you are working closely with crop insurance agents and FSA to protect your business from the financial risk of weather extremes that we are seeing this year. This season has been a roller coaster as the early spring turned sour, and we are almost a month behind schedule for corn planting
and hay harvest.

Just taking a ride around the Champlain Valley, you see the difference in fields, with so much more cover crop activity and no-tillage taking place. I know that the rye cover crop can seem way out of control but think again, because this is a new way to farm (thanks, Robert Rodale.) The tall rye can
be a blessing for farmers who have jumped into no-till corn and use the rye to their advantage. Most of the early corn planted in May was planted no-till straight into standing winter rye, while many of the fall-plowed fields had delayed or prevented plantings. Harrowing-in a tall rye crop can be a nightmare that delays conventional planting and ties up nitrogen. However, leaving the tall rye standing can shade the new corn plants too much, even when killed. We want cover crops to benefit, not hurt, the corn crop. A few local farmers are now knocking down tall winter rye with a roller-crimper as they plant corn. (Read more about this technique
on page 4.) This looks very different, and may be a bit scary, compared to a bare soil field that was plowed and harrowed multiple times.

“GOT RYE? WE DO!” ROLLING-CRIMPING WINTER RYE OVER 5 FEET TALL!

The rye provides a nice mulch to conserve soil moisture for a dry August and saves soil. Like other practices, it takes a new mind-set to adapt and succeed when working with these fine-textured clay soils since cover crops influence the dynamics of insect and weed pressure on the crop. Let’s see how this turns out. We have seen some great success with no-till on clay and we have also seen some disasters. Cautious, yet steady, is how you need to adopt these new farming practices for success.

We are also moving into a new set of projects this year and stretching our limits with agronomy – “the science and technology of producing and using plants for food, fuel, fiber, and land reclamation.” In coordination with partners, we are looking at the economics of no-till and cover crop systems; soil amendments such as humates, mycorrhizae, gypsum and liming materials for soil productivity; testing manure slot-injection with a drag hose into hay fields; testing P levels in streams and tile outlets; developing pasture planning and grazing classes; and evaluating a new P-Index for Vermont. We are here to help, let us know how these new farming ideas work for you.

Have a question for Jeff Carter?
(802) 388-4969 ext. 332, jeff.carter@uvm.edu

RMA UPDATE: FORAGE SEEDING

By Jake Jacobs, Crop Insurance Education Coordinator

Extreme weather can put a farmer out of business, and anyone involved in production and agricultural business knows this very well. Given the variability of weather conditions in Vermont, it is somewhat common to experience excess water early in growing season, as is the case with this spring. This is in stark contrast to last summer’s drought, which caused different problems for area farmers. One tool to deal with this variability is insurance.

Forage seeding is insurable if:

1. It is alfalfa, or forage mixture

Birdsfoot trefoil. Photo credit: King’s Creek Farm.

containing at least 50 percent alfalfa, clover, birdsfoot trefoil or any other locally recognized and approved forage legume species (by weight); or
2. It is planted during the current crop year to establish a normal stand of forage. This policy does not cover any acreage that is grown with the intent to be grazed, or grazed at any time during the insurance period; or interplanted with another crop (except nurse crops).

VERMONT CROP INSURANCE
DEADLINES:
Fall-Seeded Forage 2017
• Sales Closing Date: July 31
• Final Planting Date: August 31
• Acreage Report Date: November 15
Spring-Seeded Forage 2018
• Sales Closing Date: March 15
• Acreage Report Date: May 15
• Final Planting Date May 10

More info:
Fact Sheet on Forage Seeding
(USDA RMA):
www.rma.usda.gov/fields/nc_rso/2018/2018forageseed.pdf
Talk with a Vermont-licensed crop
insurance agent: www.rma.usda.gov/tools/agent
NOTE: Deadlines vary by state.

 

 

NEWS, EVENTS AND INFORMATION YOU SHOULD KNOW

Self-Certification of Small Farm Operators (CSFO) triggered by the Required Agricultural Practices (RAPs) is now ongoing. Info and forms for small farmers now required to certify at: agriculture.vermont.gov/sfo

One big change is the number of farms now falling under the requirement to have a nutrient management plan (NMP). “Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets (VAAFM) understands that few Certified Small Farm Operations will have a complete Nutrient Management Plan (NMP) for 2017, but that farmers should be actively working towards NMP
completion by taking modified Morgan extractant soil samples and applying manure at agronomic rates.” If you have questions about CSFOs, taking samples, getting your NMP or other RAPs regulations, we can help you navigate this transition. Stop by our Extension office or give us a call!

August 7, 8 a.m.-noon – Drop off crop entries to participate in our FIELD CROP EXHIBIT. Addison County Fair and Field Days August 8-12: We are looking forward to your entries. This is one way we connect with the public, describe the importance of agriculture, and how farming has changed over the years. From corn and hay to wheat and soybeans, help us show and tell everybody about the great crops you grow – then use your prize winnings on fair treats for the family!

See complete contest rules here. Or call our office and ask Karen for details [802-388-4969].

Champlain Valley Farmer Coalition’s monthly meetings and field day events are a great way for farmers to connect on water quality issues that go hand-in-hand with farm profitability. When faced with changing regulations and public views, we are stronger together. Come to a CVFC meeting or field day: discover and join this progressive, exciting group
of farmers and supporting business members. Schedule at:
www.champlainvalleyfarmercoalition.com

 

FARM ECONOMICS AND THE RAPs

By Kristin Williams, Agronomy Outreach Professional

With support from Mark Cannella, Farm Business Management Specialist

It should not be news that the new Required Agricultural Practices (RAPs) are coming into effect this month. While some farms may have to make relatively small adjustments to their production systems, others may have to make drastic changes to fully comply with the law. In economic terms, this law is an attempt to “internalize” some “externalities” of farming. That is, the costs of compliance will be borne by the farmer. In many cases, most notably “conventional” dairy production, these internalized costs are not easily pushed up the chain from farmer to processor to consumer.

As farmers are acutely aware, fluid milk prices are low. With the exception of the incentive program through Caring Dairy, milk payments to farmers are generally not connected to adoption of these practices. Therefore, farmers have to navigate how these practices, minor or major, play into their farm’s economic viability. Farmers without a comprehensive business plan or economic analysis may now need to take an honest look at where they stand.

In addition, major fixes to farmstead structural projects can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars and take substantial amounts of time and effort to implement. Experts working in the fields of regulation and farmer outreach need to be asking the question: “What is the phosphorus reduction in comparison to the costs of a given project, and how can both
conservation and farm viability be met?”

Practices and engineered structures, by rule, have to meet very specific guidelines in order to meet Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) standards for financial assistance, though it may or may not always be in the best interest of the farm operation for a given structural investment. Farmers navigating these choices should have a clear understanding of their business finances, and what the horizon looks like for their operation.

AGRICULTURAL BUSINESS PROGRAMS: A UNIQUE OPPORTUNITY FOR WATER QUALITY RELATED BUSINESS PLANNING

Enter Agricultural Business Programs (also known as Farm Viability) at UVM Extension. These programs teach and advise farm owners working to make the best decisions for all aspects of their business. This includes business planning support, financial analysis, research projects and educational training. Right now, the UVM Agriculture Business Team is inviting farms to participate in water quality business analysis. This is in addition to their foundational “farm viability” program that is always available for in-depth business planning or transfer/succession planning.

Farms enrolling in Water Quality Business Analysis projects work one-on-one with a business educator. The team facilitates strategic planning and nut-and-bolts financial analysis to ensure positive cash flow as farmers make changes to meet water quality goals. UVM Extension business educators serve in the key coordination role of the planning process when multiple people from state agencies, NRCS and land trusts need to be at the table to see a project move forward.

More Information:
Tony Kitsos, UVM Extension Farm Management Educator
Tony.Kitsos@uvm.edu, (802) 524-6501 or (800) 639-2130 ext. 440
WEB: go.uvm.edu/ag-business-management
BLOG: blog.uvm.edu/farmvia
Application: http://blog.uvm.edu/farmvia/files/2013/04/Water-Quality_-Application-2.pdf