AFBF’s President Duvall Joins in Historic White House Ag Roundtable

Fourteen farmers and ranchers from across the country, including AFBF President Zippy Duvall, met Tuesday with President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue for a roundtable discussion on key issues facing agriculture.

The meeting, held on the day Secretary Perdue was sworn into office, included a discussion among the farmers, President Trump, Vice President Pence and Secretary Perdue on pressing issues for American agriculture, such as trade, labor, regulatory reform and rural infrastructure.

“Meeting with the president, the vice president and Secretary Perdue at the White House was indeed an honor,” said Duvall. “Today, agriculture had not just one but many seats at the table to share with the president how access to international markets, farm labor shortages and burdensome regulations impact not only the day-to-day business of our farmers and ranchers, but also the millions of jobs agriculture supports.”

AFBF Encouraged by Trump Round Table with Farmers


Vermont Breakfast on the Farm is Back

June 17, 2017 at Fairmont Farm and July 22, 2017 at Blue Spruce Farm

In 2016, Vermont Breakfast on the Farm was held at Nea-Tocht Farm in Ferrisburgh and Green Mountain Dairy Farm in Sheldon. Over 2,000 visitors enjoyed a free breakfast and a first-hand look at a modern dairy farm to better understand how Vermont’s agricultural community works together to produce safe and wholesome food. Vermont Farm Bureau helped to sponsor Breakfast on the Farm which was coordinated by the Vermont Agency of Agriculture with help from volunteers and local businesses.

The Vander Wey Family of Nea-Tocht Farm in Ferrisburgh hosted the event in 2015 and 2016. Prior to hosting Breakfast on the Farm Vermont Fences highlight Nea-Tocht Farm in the Spring 2015 issue. Copies of Vermont Fences were distributed at the first event in 2015 to give insight into this farm family's life and history. Read the full story The Vander Weys of Nea-Tocht Farm: A Family of Distinction.  The first Breakfast on the Farm was documented and featured in the 2016 Spring issue of Vermont Fences titled, An Educational Effort of the Ag Community.  Due to host the August 2016 Breakfast on the Farm The Rowell family of Sheldon were also featured in the Spring 2016 issue, Green Mountain Dairy: Walks the walk and talks the talk. 


Farmers share experiences at Agritourism Workshop

“Be a Good Neighbor and always be aware of what visitors are doing on your farm,” stressed Beth Kennett of Liberty Hill Farm and Inn of Rochester Vermont. Kennett was part of a panel of five farmers that are involved in agritourism at Vermont Farm Bureau’s Agritourism Workshop on March 29. 

Sponsored by Nationwide® Insurance commodity groups  and farmers throughout the state were invited to attend, ask questions, learn about the labyrinth of public and state departments and liability issues connected with running an agritourism business The workshop was divided into three different panels; Agritourism specialist, Farmers involved in Agritourism and a panel of Nationwide representative that discussed possible liability issues.

After a warm welcome from Joe Tisbert president of Vermont Farm Bureau and an introduction from Chris O’Keefe Director of Finance and Administration,  Lisa Chase the Director of the Vermont Tourism Research Center began with defining agritourism. Her presentation was briefly interrupted by a surprise visit by Secretary of Agriculture Anson Tebbetts, he stressed that the state was working to improve overall customer service and increasing communication between departments.

Stephanie A. Smith, Chief Policy Enforcement Officer for the Vermont Agency of Agriculture Food & Markets discussed exemptions for farmers from local regulations. Vera Simon-Nobe of Vermont Farms Agritourism Project at Shelburne Farms informed farmers about available resources and encouraged them to use them. Dana Hanley,  Community Development Director, Town of Essex presented municipalities and long term planning point of view. Last Kate McCarthy Sustainable Communities Program Director discussed environmental impact.

 Farmers involved in agritourism shared their experiences. Unable to attend Clara Ayer of Fairmont Farm www.fairmontfarminc.com, East Montpelier sent in three pages of notes detailing the farms struggles with their venture into agritourism. Bob Clark of Fisher Brothers Farm www.fisherbrothersfarm.com, Shelburne addressed some of the challenges he has encountered with the town of Shelburne specifically around the planning and zoning. Beth Kennett of Liberty Hill Farm & Inn, www.libertyhillfarm.comRochester keeps a close eye her dairy barn from her kitchen window, and doesn’t hesitate to run out if need be. Mike Isham of Isham Family Farm, Williston www.ishamfamilyfarm.com loves being part of his community. He reminded fellow farmers that the public doesn’t have the same type of awareness on the farm.  Anne and Jay Tisbert of Valley Dream Farm www.valleydreamfarm.com in Cambridge talked about their On Farm tour dinners as an evolution in learning what works best for their farm and attendees as a work in progress.  For instance they eliminated the walking part of their tours when they found it was difficult for their older attendees

Mike Spaulding, Senior Business Consultant for Nationwide Sponsor Relations listened carefully to our farmers’ stories and presented a slide show.  His message was honest and direct. “Anytime you allow someone on your farm property you are liable, ” he stated. “That’s why you have farm-certified agents like Mary Cobb and  Stuart Farnham to make sure you have the right coverage.”  Farnham is Vice President Commercial Farm Sales for the Frazer Agency, Inc. in Windsor and Cobb is a Farm Agent at the Jaimes L. Fewer Agency in Barre, VT.

Farmers were encouraged to always ask themselves, “What could possibility go wrong on my farm and how could someone possibly get hurt?” Examples of actual cases of hayrides gone astray, corn mazes set on fire, ecoli out breaks from petting zoos and more scenarios were presented generated a good deal of concerned conversation from the audience.

Thank you to our Agritourism specialist panel, our farmer panel and the Nationwide team for helping get the conversation started and to Nationwide insurance for sponsoring our workshop.


Required Agricultural Practices pass in Montpelier

On Thursday November 17, 2016 the Legislative Committee on Administrative Rules, “LCAR”, met for the third time to discuss the Required Agricultural Practices Rules (“RAPs”) submitted by the Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets.  LCAR had also previously discussed and taken testimony on the proposed rules on October 20th, and November 3rd .  On this final day of discussion they also agreed unanimously to send a letter with attachments to the committees of jurisdiction outlining residual concerns they have about enforcement, funding and definitions.

Vermont Farm Bureau President, Joseph Tisbert, was present at all three meetings and testified on behalf of Vermont Farm Bureau members.  He testified that a state funding mechanism should be in place before the rules were finalized, because compliance may cause economic hardship for some farmers.     

Members of LCAR spoke highly of Vermont farmers willingness to improve the water quality of Lake Champlain.  Everyone was thanked for their hard work in getting the rules done as it has been an ongoing process over the last several years. Participants were also thanked for their testimony to ensure that the rules were fair to all and comprehensible. 

After the rules being finalized, Tisbert said "It is now time for farmers to work together toward understanding the rules fully and learning how to apply them to their farming practices. Vermont Farm Bureau will work hard to ensure its members apply for and obtain funding. We intend to work with the Secretary of Agriculture, Food and Markets,  Phil Scott and the legislature, to ensure that the rules are clear, and easy to follow.  Farmers should bring any implementation issues of the RAP's to the Vermont Farm Bureau Office, so our Lobbyist, Lyn Desmarais, and I can bring them immediately to our legislatures attention." Final copy of the RAP's 

Join us for a legislative breakfast on both Wednesday, Jan 25th and Wednesday, Feb 22nd at the State House Cafeteria at 8:30am in Montpelier.

Help American Farm Bureau Shape the 2018 Farm Bill 

Fill out their survey. Leadership on both the House and Senate Agriculture Committees have indicated that they plan to begin working on the 2018 Farm Bill early next year.  Farm Bureau members need to be ready to answer a few very basic questions if we are going to continue to try and shape farm policy to meet our risk management needs for the future. To fill out the survey at http://www.fb.org/farmbillworkinggroup/docs/

American Farm Bureau has posted an 8 minute video detailing budget issues for the upcoming  Farm Bill Debate by Mary Kay Thatcher -