VHCB’s Farm Viability Program helps farmers increase profits, expand, diversify

first_imgFarmers around the state are benefiting from in-depth, one-on-one business planning services provided by the Vermont Farm Viability Program. Since 2003, the program, which is administered by the Vermont Housing & Conservation Board, has enrolled more than 375 farmers and ag-related businesses, providing on-farm business and financial planning as well as technical assistance ranging from veterinary services to marketing consultants. The program can help farmers to solidify their business skills, examine their farm’s profitability, plan for an expansion or diversification, transfer the farm to a new generation, and more.Agency of Agriculture Secretary Chuck Ross said, ‘The Farm Viability Program is making a real difference for farmers across the spectrum’from dairy to beef to vegetable farms and for value-added producers like cheese makers’this program is giving farmers the benefit of an inside look at business planning decisions that can increase profits.  As a result, farms are expanding, diversifying, and hiring help’all good indicators for the industry and for Vermont’s economy.’                  Among the farms that have enrolled in the program are Millborne Farm in Shoreham, a dairy farm also producing yogurt drinks, Stony Pond Farm in Fairfield, where Tyler and Melanie Webb specialize in dairy and beef, and Bread and Roses Farm, a vegetable farm run by Westford native Chris Siegriest.Millborne Farm: Gert and Arda Schut operate Millborne Farm in Shoreham. They moved to Shoreham in 1999 by way of their homeland, the Netherlands, where they felt hindered from starting their own farm by a quota system. They farmed in Connecticut for 10 years before moving to Vermont and building up their herd to 160 cows. The Schuts began thinking about diversification in the early 2000s and enlisted the help of UVM’s Food and Nutrition Department to develop a drinkable yogurt, which they began to produce on the farm in 2005, using milk from their own herd.The yogurt business grew, but slowly, and in 2009 the Schuts enrolled in the Farm Viability Program to work with Al Curler, a consultant with UVM Extension, to develop a marketing plan for the yogurt. Following development of the plan, the Schuts were successful in expanding their drinkable yogurt operation tenfold’they are now utilizing 30,000 pounds of their own milk each week to make their own product and two other yogurt drink products packaged for private labels. A $6,000 implementation grant from the Farm Viability Program in 2010 matched with their own funds enabled the Schuts to purchase an additional processing tank and a large walk-in cooler to help them expand their value-added enterprise. Producing their own yogurt has allowed the Schuts to operate at a profit and provide employment for seven people while also helping them weather downturns in milk prices.      Stony Pond Farm: Stony Pond Farm in Fairfield is a small dairy and beef operation established in 2004 by Tyler and Melanie Webb. Tyler enrolled with the Farm Viability Program in 2005 to produce a business plan for the young farm, giving the couple a solid understanding of how to get their operation off to a sound start. Since then, the Webbs have established a very successful farm business specializing in dairy and beef cows. Using their business plan, the Webbs are refining and improving their operation as they continue to consider diversification strategies for the future.Since completion of their business plan, Stony Pond Farm has been awarded two implementation grants. A grant of $6,000 was awarded in 2009 and allowed for construction of a hoop house for their growing herd of cows. With the latest implementation grant of $3,500, Webb is finishing construction of a new, multi-purpose farm building. While sales at the farmers market and beef sales to wholesale accounts are booming, soon local customers will be able to purchase beef right on the farm. Now, with a central location for on-farm sales, Webb can increase his business potential and also be in a position to accommodate future value-added farm products. On Saturdays, the Tyler and Melanie can be found grilling their wildly popular grilled hamburgers at the Burlington Farmers Market!Bread and Roses Farm: At Bread and Roses Farm, Westford native Chris Siegriest and Laura Williams lease acreage between the Westford Green and the Lamoille River where they grow vegetables under the community supported agriculture (CSA) model. They have grown the business to offer 70 full-sized shares and they remain the only CSA in Westford. Additionally, the farmers have a strong social mission: they produce vegetables to fill 50 smaller shares for residents at a local senior housing development and offer subsidized shares through donations from other shareholders and a cost-share agreement with NOFA-VT. Chris and Laura completed a business plan with the Farm Viability Program in 2010, working with staff at the Intervale Center. According to Chris, ‘The Program was incredibly helpful for our business, especially in financial planning and analysis. Mark [Canella] helped walk us through our first loan, so we could establish a line of credit for the business which we used to purchase a bed shaper.’In 2010, Chris and Laura applied for an implementation grant from the Farm Viability Program. An award of $3,000, matched with their own funds, helped them purchase a cultivation tractor. Chris erected a greenhouse in 2010-2011 that is now pumping out vegetables that were spared exposure to the heavy rains this spring when many direct-seeded crops were lost.The Vermont Farm Viability Program works with private consultants and service providers such as the University of Vermont, The Intervale Center and NOFA-VT to deliver services. To produce a written business plan, farmers enrolled in the Farm Viability Program meet and work together with a consultant for approximately one year. In the second year, the program provides additional technical assistance and help updating the business plan. The business planning process involves the farmer in an assessment of the farm operation’s strengths and weaknesses and in an exploration of possible management changes to increase profits and meet production goals. Examples include consultations on keeping better production or financial records, financial benchmark analysis, meetings with crop or animal health specialists, new product enterprise analysis, estate and farm transfer planning, labor management, and value-added processing. Farmers who have completed business plans with the program are eligible for grants towards capital expenses or additional technical support to implement the business plan, when funding is available.The Farm Viability Program accepts applications quarterly, with the next upcoming deadline on September 30. To request an application, call 828-3370 or visit the website, www.vhcb.org/viability.html(link is external). Funded by the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board, the Farm Viability Program is a collaboration with the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets with funding assistance provided by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, USDA Rural Development and private foundations, including the John Merck Fund.last_img read more

Full Rigor Podcast: Frostproof Triple murder and Broward Sheriff Shuffle

first_imgThis week on Full Rigor, Florida True Crime Podcast the triple murder of three friendly fishermen who were gunned down in Frostproof, Florida over a stolen truck engine, according to Sheriff Grady Judd.Also, the sheriff shuffle in Broward County. Hear from both Sheriff Gregory Tony and former Broward Sheriff Scott Israel as they brace for the August 18th primary election.Listen to Full Rigor Podcast Episode 66 here.last_img

Tomlin and Kidd join a select group with antics

first_imgIn this photo taken on Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2013, Brooklyn Nets head coach Jason Kidd, center right, watches as attendants clean up a spilled drink beside the Nets bench in the second half of an NBA basketball game at the Barclays Center in New York. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)Mike Tomlin’s sideline stroll was an expensive one, costing him $100,000 and possibly costing the Pittsburgh Steelers even more.Jason Kidd had to dig into his wallet to pay $50,000 for spilling a soda, arguably the priciest spilled drink in sports history.It’s been 35 years since Woody Hayes punched a Clemson player in the Gator Bowl, and almost that long since Bobby Knight threw a chair across the court to protest a call that went against his Indiana team. One thing hasn’t changed in all those years: Coaches aren’t behaving any better than they once did.Chalk some of that up to a lack of self-control by people who generally top the category of control freaks. But sometimes it’s a simple matter of trying to gain an edge or intimidate an opponent.That was the case when Kidd tried to buy some time for his beleaguered Brooklyn Nets by bumping into reserve Tyshawn Taylor with 8.3 seconds left against the Lakers, causing his drink to spill. Watch a video of the play and it shows Kidd seeming to ask Taylor to “hit me” as he walked toward the bench.While workers cleaned up the mess, Kidd drew up a play for his team. It didn’t help, as the hapless Nets still lost.What Tomlin’s intentions were will be debated long after he and the Steelers part ways. He claimed he was “mesmerized” by watching on a giant stadium video screen as Baltimore’s Jacoby Jones returned a kickoff in his direction, swerving to avoid the coach in a move that possibly cost him a touchdown.NFL commissioner Roger Goodell didn’t buy that, levying the second biggest fine against an NFL coach ever (Bill Belichick got the biggest, a $500,000 hit for Spygate) and warning that the Steelers just might lose a draft pick, too.Tomlin apologized and said his actions were embarrassing to the Steelers, then said he didn’t plan to discuss it any more. With good reason, because while he’s a Super Bowl winning coach with a .630 winning percentage, his legacy may forever be tied through video to the two-step he did on the sideline with his back turned to the play.“What Tomlin did, that was just rude, let’s be honest. You stepped on the field. You’re lucky,” San Francisco 49ers offensive lineman Alex Boone said. “I was kind of hoping Jacoby would run right in the back of him and forearm him in the back of the head. Stuff like that, that’s uncalled for.”So was the punch thrown by Hayes, who won three national championships at Ohio State but is remembered more today in YouTube videos showing him hitting Clemson nose guard Charlie Bauman after he intercepted a pass to cinch a 17-15 win in the 1978 Gator Bowl. And as much as Knight would like to be remembered as the tough but fair coach who won 902 games and three national titles at Indiana, he will always be the out of control coach who threw a chair and later choked a player during a practice.They both also lost prime jobs because of their tempers, with Hayes getting fired the next day after the Gator Bowl and Knight lasting just a bit longer after a video surfaced of him choking a player in practice in 1997.“Just a two-second choke,” Knight said in a 2002 book, unrepentant to the end.One other thing the two coaches had in common was that cameras were rolling, and it’s hard to defend what is caught on tape.Rutgers coach Mike Rice found that out when his career at the university came to a sudden end after he was caught on video screaming homophobic slurs at players in practice and throwing basketballs at them. The video was so disturbing that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie called Rice an “animal” after viewing it, and he was quickly dismissed.The unrelenting pressure of being a head coach, of course, can take a toll. Fans, alumni, and boosters demand wins and anyone making millions of dollars a year is a big target.Sometimes, though, the moment in a game simply becomes too much, like when Barry Switzer became so enraged after a call in the 1995 NFC Championship game that he may have cost the Dallas Cowboys a third straight trip to the Super Bowl.The Cowboys were trailing San Francisco 38-28 midway through the fourth quarter when Deion Sanders clearly interfered with a deep throw to Michael Irvin and no flag was thrown. A livid Switzer decided a demonstration was in order and went up and threw his hip into the head linesman the way Sanders did to Irvin, drawing a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty that caused the drive to flounder.“I contributed to us getting beat — no question,” Switzer said afterward. “It’s damn frustrating.”And then there was the 2010 incident when cameras caught New York Jets strength and conditioning coach Sal Alosi tripping a Miami player on the sideline. Alosi was suspended by the Jets and eventually resigned after the season, while the team was fined $100,000.In Tomlin’s case, the coach claimed it was inadvertent, that he was lost in the moment with his back turned to the play and simply wandered too far. Indianapolis coach Chuck Pagano said that can happen to coaches immersed in what they’re hearing on headphones and concentrating more on the next play than the one that perhaps they should be watching.Pagano said most teams have a person designated to keep the coach off the field if he gets too close.“There’s a guy that has got the title of ‘get-back coach’ on the sideline,” Pagano said. “In college, when you wore the headset with the cords, they’d just pull you by the cord. Now you’re wireless so they grab you by the hoodie or the back of the belt.“It happens.”That can work, but sometimes the coaches don’t have headsets on at all. That happened in Detroit two years ago in a postgame handshake between two volatile coaches that almost turned into a brawl.San Francisco’s Jim Harbaugh seemed to push the Lions Jim Schwartz over the edge with something he did or said — or both. Harbaugh ran across the field after the game and lifted his shirt, exposing his belly to attempt a victory chest bump and handshake that the Detroit coach wanted no part of.A livid Schwartz charged after Harbaugh as the two teams left the field before the two were separated by their respective sides.“I was really revved up. That was on me a little, too hard a handshake there.” Harbaugh said in what was as close to an apology as Schwartz would get.Didn’t matter. The game was over.For once it was a case of no harm, no foul.__AP Sports Writers Janie McCauley, Michael Marot, Arnie Stapleton and Larry Lage contributed to this story.last_img read more

LS EMS Cadets 10th Anniversary

first_imgThe Little Silver EMS Cadet Squad is celebrating its 10th anniversary. Members, past and present, recently got together to share stories and talk about the group’s success. Among its past members are a doctor, three nurses, two investment brokers and a lawyer. Those attending the gathering were: front row, John Barney, Jeremy Susser, Trey Peterson, Tyler Birn and Kendall Sidun; second row, ToniAnn Bennett, Melissa Bennett, Kim Ambrose, who is the adviser, Karr Mullen and Chris Faherty; third row, Emily Garth, Taylor Giblin, Ashley Jordan and Elizabeth Giblin; and top row, Carli Ambrose, Peter Giblin, Kelsey Ambrose and Carolyn Bogdon.last_img read more