Ag agency offers aid to farmers

HUGE AMOUNTS OF rainfall at the beginning of last week caused some rivers and streams to overflow and left some fields of corn and other crops inundated with water.

MONTPELIERAs Vermont farmers and their families are recovering from the floods and unprecedented rainfall this past July 10 and 11, the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets (VAAFM) has assembled important guidance and resources for the state’s agricultural and communities. 

“Our little state is hurting, but we are going to figure this out,” said Agriculture Secretary Anson Tebbetts in a press release. “Vermonters have a history of getting things done during difficult times. I am confident we can again, but it will take hard work, creativity, and good will from all of us pulling in the same direction.” 

When Gov. Phil Scott declared a State of Emergency in Vermont on July 9, due to heavy rainfall, many farmers across the state were watching rising flood waters begin to cover fields, crops and bee hives and threaten animals. The recovery of our farms and food supplies is critical to the full recovery of the state. At the request of Gov. Scott, President Biden has declared that an emergency exists in the State of Vermont and ordered federal assistance to supplement state and local response efforts. The President’s action authorizes the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to deploy assistance and resources to Vermont. 

The agriculture agency is working to understand how these declarations will respond to agriculture issues.

To assist our farms and farmers, Secretary Tebbetts has directed all VAAFM Divisions and Programs to focus on recovery efforts and information. Below are highlights from the VAAFM Flood Recovery Resource website at 

• If you need immediate support, please dial 2-1-1, or visit Vermont 2-1-1 to connect to a Community Resource Specialist.

• Vermont is working with the USDA on a disaster declaration. Once it is safe to do so, farms should document property damage and crop or livestock loss. It is unknown at this time what aid programs may come available in the coming weeks, but documentation of loss will be needed. Farmers should assess damages field by field and crop by crop. If you have questions you can reach out to your local Farm Service Agency (FSA) County Office. 

• Farms without crop insurance can still report losses at their local FSA Office. 

• If you are interested in volunteering to assist with recovery efforts, you can register for the State of Vermont Volunteer organization. 

• Everyone is encouraged to check 511 or for the most up to date information on road conditions and route selection and register for a Vermont Alert (VT-ALERT) account to help keep you up to date on emergency situations in your area. Additional information regarding road closures can be found online at 

• For specific questions about how crops or fields might be affected by flooding, contact the Vermont Produce Program Team at [email protected] or 802-622-4412. Under U.S. law, crops where the edible portion of the plant has contacted flood waters are considered adulterated and cannot be sold for human consumption. For more information, review the U.S. Food & Drug Administration Resources for Human and Animal Food Producers Affected by Flooding. 

Due to flooding road closures and washouts, many milk haulers are not able to reach all farms to pick up milk. Additionally, some milk processing plants may not be operating at full capacity due to staffing availability and access to processing plants. Below is guidance for all farms, co-ops, and haulers if this is a situation that they are experiencing. 

• If you are required to dump your own milk or are accepting a load of milk from another farm operation, a manure pit is the best location to dump milk, assuming there is adequate pit capacity and freeboard requirements are maintained. Please make sure you maintain accurate records. 

• If you are a co-op or a waste hauler looking to dispose of milk or other non-sewage waste at a farm operation into a manure pit or a digester, contact Jessa Mason with the Non-Sewage Waste Program at 802-595-4726 or [email protected].

If there is an emergency where a farm does not have a manure pit and is required to find another alternative for milk dumping and is seeking assistance to identify an appropriate location, please contact Nate Sands at 802-224-6850 or [email protected]. 


Meanwhile, Gov. Scott on Friday requested that the USDA issue a disaster designation for the state of Vermont. A Secretarial Disaster Designation would open the availability of financial assistance, including low-interest USDA Farm Service Agency emergency loans for eligible producers in the approved counties.

Vermont’s Congressional delegation — Sens. Peter Welch and Bernie Sanders, and Representative Becca Balint — made a joint call to U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to discuss the extreme damage to farms caused by recent storms and flooding in Vermont.  

“Vermont’s farmers are at the heart of our state’s economy and culture,” Welch said. “They face enough challenges in their day-to-day work without the added strain of a natural disaster like this flood.”  

Our federal representatives told Vilsack that last week’s rain and flooding resulted in tremendous losses of crops, livestock and property damage across our state, and it’s going to take time and considerable resources to come through this. 

The Vermont Agency of Agriculture recognizes that recovery from this emergency will take significant time, energy and resources. VAAFM is here to help. Other state agricultural organizations can also help, including Farm First. They can assist farmers and their families with access to resources including technical, legal, or financial assistance as well as link those who wish to a counselor or trained peer. 

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