Important Income Tax Changes for H-2A Status Workers

For Immediate Release

Contact: Maribeth Spellman

Director of Policy, Outreach and Legislative Affairs

Vermont Department of Taxes

(802) 828-0141 or


Important Income Tax Changes for H-2A Status Workers


Montpelier, Vt., July 30, 2013 – The Vermont legislature recently passed a law that clarifies the tax status of individuals enrolled in the H-2A visa program. Many Vermont farms employ foreign national workers who come to the U.S. for temporary or seasonal work through the H-2A program.


Beginning with tax year 2012, H-2A status workers must file individual income tax returns in the state of Vermont, as well as at the federal level. For individuals who have not submitted an individual income tax return for 2012, they should do so as soon as possible.


For tax years prior to 2012, any liability, interest or penalty paid by an H-2A status worker will be refunded upon request. In order to be eligible, an individual must provide proof of H-2A status by submitting Form I-94 where their class of admission is H-2A. This is marked on their visa. H-2A workers seeking refunds should contact the department.


Employers who already have a withholding account may use that for H-2A status workers. If an employer wants to open a withholding account, they may do so by completing Form S-1, Application for Business Tax Account.


The Vermont Department of Taxes is assisting H-2A status workers and their employers with this change. For further information, please contact the department at (802) 828-2865 or (866) 828-2865 (toll free in Vermont).

Ireland Today, July 25, 2013

Ireland today, 25 July, 2013.

The last two-and-a-half weeks were declared a drought here in Ireland.  There was no rain, and temperatures were up in the 80s.  Hayfields that had been cut were not showing any regrowth, lawns were drying up.  Winter barley was ready for harvest a little ahead of schedule.  Pastures had stopped growing so some dairy farmers were beginning to feed haylage that they had just made a few weeks before.  Towns were running low on water- lower pressure at nights, and warnings to not be watering lawns, washing cars, or filling wading pools.  I saw one tractor with a wagon and a 4 foot poly cube of water, and livestock farmers were beginning to shift to their secondary water supplies. 

Big windrow of late cut hay, County Carlow.

Big windrow of late cut hay, County Carlow.

Farmers are making more dry hay this year than they have in years. 

Drought is not a usual problem here in Ireland.   But, even as I am writing this, a little thundershower is brightening people’s moods as some moisture returns.  Today’s paper even has a blight warning for potato growers, as there is likely to be a few days of wet leaves, that would promote late blight on the spuds.  Last night there were scattered showers, folks are hoping for a good rain!

Winter barley harvest begins, Teagasc Oak Park, Ireland

Winter barley harvest begins, Teagasc Oak Park, Ireland

The grain harvest has begun.  Here is a photo of winter barley trials being harvested at the Teagasc Oak Park center.

About Ireland.

Ireland is about the size of Maine, or about three times the size of Vermont.

The population is about 4.5 million in the Republic of Ireland (26 counties).  With Dublin, the capital having about 1.1 million people in the city limits.  Cork is the second largest city in the Republic, with just under 200,000.  Northern Ireland has about 1.8 million people.  (6 counties, part of Great Britain, Scotland is another part of Great Britain).  Belfast is the largest city in the north, with 278,000 people.  So, all together, there are 6.3 million people on this island.  This is roughly the population of Tennessee.  Or about 10 times the population of Vermont.

So, if the area is 3 times the size of Vermont, and it has 10 times the population, it is more densely populated than Vermont.  And yes it is.  Dublin is a big city, with lots of people packed in there.  But, there is a lot of open land, a lot of farm land, and back roads with not too many houses on them.  Plus there is mountainous territory and bog that don’t have anybody living there.

Vermont is roughly 80% forested, and Ireland is 10-15% forested.  Ireland had been mostly forest, then the forests were cut.  Oak went into British ships, cathedrals, and barrels.  Now there have been European Union programs to pay land owners to plant both softwood and hardwood trees and to maintain the plantations.  Softwoods like Douglas Fir, and hardwoods like ash and beech.  Thinnings from these forests are used for fuel, and they use or sell the lumber.  A friend has been thinning his ash, and figures he has enough wood in a shed to last for 5 years or so!


A first look at Irish farms.


Ireland 2010

US 2007

VT 2007

Number farms


2.2 million


Average size

81 A

418 A


Farm types











Mixed livestock




Other crops+hay









Ireland.  In 2010, the census counted just about 140,000 farms, with an average farm size of 81 acres.  More than half the farms had beef animals.  About 11% of the farms had dairy cows.  About 11% had a mix of livestock, like dairy and sheep or dairy and beef.  About 5% of the farms had hay and another crop- maybe barley or wheat.  And another 5% had just grain. 

In the US in 2007, the census counted 2.2 million farms, with an average size of 418 acres.  Over a third of the farms had beef animals.  Just under a quarter of the farms had grain.  Twenty percent had hay and other crops, and only 3% of the farms had dairy cattle.

In Vermont in 2007, the census counted 6,900 farms.  Over a quarter had beef cattle.  Just under 20% had dairy cattle.  Only 3% had grain, mostly corn.  And 44% had hay or another crop.

More next week!

Irish Agriculture Today

University of Vermont Farm Business Management Specialist Dennis Kauppila is working and researching in Ireland from July to December 2013. We will be highlighting his work in Ireland for the next several months. Here is his first post:

Ireland today, July 12, is having a heat wave like they have not seen in 7 years.  Yesterday’s high temperatures were nearly 90 ° F, very close to the record high in the past 30 years. 

Quite a bit different from a month ago, when the Irish government was helping to pay shipping costs to import hay and wrapped round bales from Britain and France to feed livestock.  This was a very wet, cold spring.  And it followed a wet year in 2012, so forage inventories on farms were very low.  Farmers were feeding anything they could- including straw and expensive grain rations. 

Many Irish dairy farmers are seasonal producers, drying off the herd before Christmas.  Then the herd starts freshening around the beginning of March.  So in 2013, cows were calving, and getting ready to make some milk, but on most farms, there was not enough feed.  In June, the weather came around, the grass started to grow, and cows began milking.  And haying got started.  There is still concern about the coming winter’s forage supply- will there be enough?  There was a Feed Inventory day just recently, and another one coming up in the fall, when all farmers are encouraged to measure and count what they have, in order to know they have.

photo 1

I am here on a 6-month sabbatical study leave, with farm financial advisors at Teagasc, Ireland’s Agriculture and Food Development Authority.  This is very similar to our land grant college system in the US.  The plaque at the front door of Teagasc Headquarters reads, “1958 In gratitude to the government and people of the United States of America whose generosity enabled An Foras Taluntas to be founded.”  It Marshall Fund money that funded this, helping to rebuild Europe after WWII.  (Teagasc began in 1987 or so, when An Foras Taluntas (research) combined with extension advisory and ag college education.)

Last week, I had the opportunity to attend an ‘open day’ at Moorepark, Teagasc’s main dairy research center.  It was called “Irish Dairying, harvesting the potential.”  They estimate that over 8,000 people attended this day-long free event.  It was spread out over nearly 50 acres.   There were 6 main stands at the beginning, with posters and microphones.  There were up to about 50 people in a group, and each group moved from stand to stand, with about 10-15 minutes of talk from researchers at each stand.  These stands included: 

  1. Positioning the dairy farm for expansion (after quota is gone);
  2. Resilient farming systems for an expanding Irish dairy industry-
  3. Growing more grass (for pasture and hay-haylage)
  4. EBI to fuel expansion (dairy genetics)
  5. Requirements to achieve 90% calving rate in 6 weeks (concentrated breeding to get concentrated calving- needed for a seasonal herd)
  6. Achieving a healthy herd (cattle diseases- like IBR and…

Then there was a walk by 10 paddocks to calibrate the eyeballs for measuring the amount of grass in a pasture after grazing.  And then 6 ‘villages,’ each with 8-10 posters and a talk that you could listen to or not.  The ‘villages’ were:  Grassland, Financial Planning, Genetics and Repro, High Quality Milk, New Entrants and Expansion, and Sustainabilty.  Then there tents for Industry partners, Research to adoption, Adding value to milk.  Plus there were tours of the milking barn, and the pig production facility.  Teagasc staff were well pleased with the day, and farmers’ spirits were quite high:  finally seeing the sun and having a good portion of their first cut grass harvested after a miserable wet, cold, late spring.


Unemployment Insurance

The latest question circulating our group of farm business planners asks what agricultural businesses are required to carry unemployment insurance. As with any regulatory issue, we strongly recommend that you confirm your specific situation with the VT Department of Labor:

Answer:    For Unemployment Insurance purposes  an “employer”  is defined as an entity that:      “Pays $20,000 or more in gross wages in any calendar quarter for agricultural services, or employs ten or more workers in agricultural employment, including legal aliens, during some part of a day in each of at least 20 different calendar weeks (not necessarily consecutive) in either the current or preceding calendar year”  page 3 from the guide below    

Click the link below to access the full manual: A Guide to Vermont’s Unemployment Insurance Program           

How to File a Crop Insurance Claim

The rain has continued and many farms are now experiencing significant crop loss and damage from flooding. Please click on this link for a step -by- step guide to filing a crop insurance claim.

How to File A Crop Insurance Claim

Pam Smith is our Extension risk management specialist:
Office: 802-349-2966
Mobile: 802-349-2966

UVM Extension Farm Viability offers comprehensive risk management planning for farms seeking to develop a strategy to identify, measure and manage the elements that pose risk to business success. See our programs page for more information on how to sign up.