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VT Pasture Network Blog

Hello world!

Posted: October 20th, 2010 by VT Pasture Network

Welcome to UVM Blogs. This is your first post. Edit or delete it, then start blogging!

Boards Backs Southern VT Slaughterhouse

Posted: March 12th, 2009 by VT Pasture Network

Recently the Rutland Herald included an article about the Westminster, VT selectboard hearing a request for public support in favor of a state grant application to renovate the former Coastal Seafood building as a slaughterhouse serving southeastern VT and nearby Massachusetts and New Hampshire.


In addition to addressing an underserved portion of the region with animal processing needs, I think the slaughterhouse has brought to the surface public questions about whether we, as a town or community, really want to support local agriculture. An incredibly important link in the farmer-animal-food-consumer cycle is the ability to process animals (to meet the customers’ needs) in a way that is fair to both the producer and the processor, and treats the animals themselves with respect.

I think it’s very exciting that such a group of interested individuals and organizations has been working to bring back the small, small regional slaughterhouse. I don’t know how the selectboard vote turned out Tuesday (March 10), but I do hope significant public support has been shown. Each facility that opens and is able to stay in business is another link in the local food chain, enabling commercial farmers shipping animals weekly, and small direct sale producers to ship annually, quarterly or seasonally. The diversity of farm size and the changing seasonal needs also speak to the importance of keeping our slaughterhouses open and financially viable.

This all seems appropriate, on a day when I’ve just shipped my own pigs to market.


Transporting Broiler Chickens Could Spread Antibiotic-Resistant Organisms

Posted: November 26th, 2008 by VT Pasture Network


Researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health have found evidence of a novel pathway for potential human exposure to antibiotic-resistant bacteria from intensively raised poultry—driving behind the trucks transporting broiler chickens from farm to slaughterhouse. A study by the Hopkins researchers found increased levels of pathogenic bacteria, both susceptible and drug-resistant, on surfaces and in the air inside cars traveling behind trucks that carry broiler chickens. The study is the first to look at exposure to antibiotic-resistant bacteria from the transportation of poultry. The findings are published in the first issue of the Journal of Infection and Public Health.

Typically, broiler chickens are transported in open crates on the back of flatbed trucks with no effective barrier to prevent release of pathogens into the environment. Previous studies have reported that these crates become contaminated with feces and bacteria.

The new study was conducted on the Delmarva Peninsula—a coastal region shared by Maryland, Delaware and Virginia, which has one of the highest densities of broiler chickens per acre in the United States.

For the full article, see:


We’re Back and It’s Turkey Time

Posted: November 21st, 2008 by VT Pasture Network

It’s been a busy fall for the Pasture Program, and I’ll be the first to admit that I’m behind on posting the many pictures and notes taken on pasture walks and workshops this summer. I look forward to sharing those summer experiences with you as the cold weather draws on. We also have some great news about the Winter Grazing project, which I’ll share in future posts, as well.

Initial information about the 13th Annual VT Grazing Conference is available at the VPN web site’s conference page. Our keynote speaker this year will be Dr. Darrell Emmick. We are excited about the changes we’re adding, and hope you will be pleased, too.

It’s just a week before Thanksgiving, and a friend sent me this link to MSNBC streaming video. It’s an interview with Alaska governor Sarah Palin, after she officially “pardoned” the Thanksgiving Turkey. It’s not meant as poltical statement on my behalf, but because I know quite a few of you will identify with the action taking place just over Gov. Palin’s shoulder…

You may need to click on the picture of Gov. Palin on the left of the web page to select the correct video.




If You Want Safe Food, Know Where It Comes From

Posted: August 1st, 2008 by VT Pasture Network

No, this article isn’t *quite* what I expected from the title, but it had a really educational diagram showing how to tell where your eggs are coming from, and some references to web sites for trackable products. In VT, we debate the merits of labeling food origins through National Animal ID, but at the same time, the majority of consumers buy most of their products without a clue as to where it came from. There’s no easy answer here…perhaps the best answer is one of scale. If you can know your farmer in person, that’s best. If you can’t know them, be able to trace back to them.


Environmental Sustainability of Dairies

Posted: July 26th, 2008 by VT Pasture Network

I was reading an article on Grist.org about new efforts in the dairy industry to incorporate more sustainable practices, and a recent Dairy Sustainability summit. The article wasn’t terribly detailed, but did make a statement that

“Numerous studies have demonstrated that organic dairy production produces between one-half to one-third fewer greenhouse-gas emissions and uses about 30 percent less energy than conventional dairy production.”

At the end of the article, a blog discussion requested the writer’s source documents, which she provided below. I poked around to find some online links to them, if you’d like to learn more.

Weiske, A., Vabitsch, A., Olesen, J.E., Schelde, K., Michel, J., Friedrich, R., Kaltschmitt, M., 2005. Mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions in European conventional and organic dairy farming. Agric. Ecosyst. Environ.

Olesen, et al., 2006. Modelling greenhouse gas emissions from European conventional and organic dairy farms. Agric. Ecosyst. Environ. 112, 207-220) (I couldn’t find this article online, but a similar study is linked.—JC)

Gronroos et al., 2006. Energy use in conventional and organic milk and rye bread production in Finland. Agric. Ecosyst. Environ. 117, 109-118.

Cederberg et al., 2000. Life Cycle Assessment of milk production- a comparison of conventional and organic farming. Journal of Cleaner Production. 8, 49-60.

Finally, there was also a link to the key targets of the recent summit, from the National Milk Producers Federation web site.


VT Compost Company Action Alert

Posted: July 25th, 2008 by VT Pasture Network

This is posted on the NOFA-VT website, with a list of actions local farmers and consumers may take to support VT Compost Company. While this may not seem to directly affect livestock farmers, many of the farmers within the Pasture Network and VT Grass Farmers Association are diversified producers as well as appreciating the sustainable use of systems and support of local economies.

In recent months Karl Hammer, farmer and owner of the Vermont Compost Company in Montpelier, has been struggling to continue operations in the face of legal action by the State of Vermont that allege that Vermont Compost is operating in violation of ACT 250, VT’s land use development law. Karl vigorously disputes this and his appeal is now pending before Vermont’s Environmental Court.

On July 7th, in an unexpected and outrageous development, the state’s Natural Resources Board (NRB) served Karl with a “Cease and Desist” order requiring him to immediately cease operations, remove all compost from his farm and pay an $18,000 fine for violating ACT 250 — even though there have been no court hearings or judgments on his pending appeal!!! Karl has been given 15 days to appeal this order, which he will now do.

These gratuitous and aggressive actions by the Natural Resources Board threaten the future of Vermont Compost Company, as well as the farms and businesses of scores of certified organic growers across Vermont, a large number of whom depend upon Vermont Compost’s products in producing locally grown, organic fruits and vegetables.


Scientific Findings About Organic Agriculture

Posted: July 21st, 2008 by VT Pasture Network

The Leopold Center at Iowa State has collected a series of peer-reviewed studies regarding various aspects of organic agriculture. This project was developed in response to claims that there are no significant differences in products produced under organic standards than products produced conventionally. Included in the articles cited are findings related specifically to grass-based animal management systems.

Home page showing variety of topics




Raw Milk Now on Craig’s List

Posted: July 18th, 2008 by VT Pasture Network

Now that the VT limitation on advertising raw milk has been removed (please note that there is still a limitation of on-farm sales to less than 50 quarts per day), the internet has become one more tool to connect local farms with prospective customers.


Meat, Free Trade and Democracy

Posted: July 14th, 2008 by VT Pasture Network

While looking around for Pasture Calendar events this month, I came across this article titled, “Meat, ‘free trade’ and democracy” by corporate anthropologist Jane Anne Morris. Not only does the article note the rejection by other countries of US imported beef, but also US state control taken away over 100 years ago in the name of free trade.


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