December 2020

Vermont’s Blue Spruce Farm wins national award for dairy farm sustainability

first_imgDuring a special awards ceremony held in Washington, D.C. on March 7 – the eve of National Agriculture Day – the Innovation Center for US Dairy announced the winners of the inaugural US Dairy Sustainability Awards, a program to recognize dairy farms, dairy companies and collaborative partnerships for efforts that advance the sustainability of the American dairy industry.Blue Spruce Farm, operated by the Audet family of Bridport, Vermont, was named a winner of the prestigious award for Outstanding Dairy Farm Sustainability. Widely recognized as a dairy pioneer, Blue Spruce Farm received the national honor in recognition of its commitment to sustainability. Blue Spruce was one of the first farms in the nation to install a variable speed vacuum pump control, reducing energy used during milking by nearly 60 percent. Blue Spruce also served as the pilot dairy farm to launch the successful Central Vermont Public Service’s Cow Powerâ ¢ program, which allows consumers to purchase renewable energy generated by dairy farms. By implementing new technologies in milking, milk cooling, barn construction, ventilation, water heating and lighting, the farm reduced energy use 50% from an average of 1,000 kWh per cow per year, to an average of just 500 kWh per cow per year. These savings, in turn, reduced greenhouse gas emissions by an estimated 500 pounds of CO2e per cow per year.”We’re thrilled with this national recognition of Eugene and Marie Audet and their family,” said Neal Rea, Chairman of the Board of Agri-Mark, the northeast’s premier dairy cooperative, and a N.Y. state dairy farmer himself. Agri-Mark is the parent company of the award winning Cabot and McCadam dairy brands. “The Audets, like many of our cooperative’s dairy farmers, have not only embraced sustainable farming practices, they have taken them to a whole new level,” Rea continued. “The Audets are leading by example as they incorporate pioneering nutrient and energy management practices into all facets of their operation.  They’re embracing new and emerging technologies and paving the way for all our farmers to produce the highest quality dairy products possible while preserving and protecting the planet’s natural resources.””We, and all farm families, simply by our very nature, have been developing and implementing sustainable practices for generations,” said Marie Audet in her acceptance speech. “My husband, Eugene, and I are delighted to receive this award on behalf of our family because it is actually a public affirmation of our desire to produce quality milk in a way that is good for our animals, good for the environment and good for our community.”An independent panel of judges representing the full spectrum of the dairy supply chain ‘ as well as academia, government, media, business and non-governmental organizations ‘ selected this year’s winners based on each applicant’s results as measured by economic, environmental and social responsibility aspects.”In reviewing more than 40 nominations and selecting the ‘best of the best,’ the Sustainability Awards judges were impressed by the model programs and processes that deliver real benefit to the business, community and the environment,” said Molly Jahn, who serves as special adviser for Sustainability Science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and as the U.S. Commissioner on Sustainable Agriculture and Climate Change. “Clearly, sustainability is core to the success of these farms and organizations. They serve as leaders in their communities and industry.”The awards are part of the U.S. Dairy Sustainability Commitment, an industry-wide effort to measure and improve the economic, environmental and social sustainability of the dairy industry. Launched in 2008, the Sustainability Commitment is supported by hundreds of organizations, including universities, government agencies and non-governmental organizations.BLUE SPRUCE FARMBlue Spruce Farm is a third generation dairy farm located in Bridport, Vermont.  Owned and operated by the Audet family, the farm produces more than 3.6 million gallons of milk annually and crops 3,000 acres to provide feed for their cows.  Milk from the farm is used to make Cabot’s Vermont Cheddar Cheese and other dairy products marketed.  Blue Spruce is perhaps best known for being the pioneering Cow Powerâ ¢farm in Vermont.  Cow Powerâ ¢ allows consumers to purchase renewable energy generated on a dairy farm that results in substantial savings of traditional fossil fuels, reduced greenhouse gas emissions, and a cleaner environment.ABOUT AGRI-MARKAgri-Mark, with $900 million in 2012 sales, markets more than 300 million gallons of farm fresh milk each year for more than 1,250 dairy farm families in New England and New York. The cooperative is headquartered in Methuen, Mass., has been marketing milk for dairy farmers since 1913, and actively represents their legislative interests in the Northeast and in Washington, D.C.Agri-Mark farmers own the award-winning Cabot brand of Vermont Cheddar, butter and other dairy products in addition to the McCadam brand of New York Cheddar, Pepper Jack and other cheeses. Cabothas won the award of World’s Best Cheddar three times and McCadam recently won the award of America’s Best Cheese. Agri-Mark has invested in operations to manufacture and market valuable whey proteins globally while also marketing fresh fluid milk from its local farm families to some of the region’s leading dairy processors. For more information about Agri-Mark, visit our web site at:http://www.agrimark.net(link is external). ABOUT CABOT CREAMERY COOPERATIVECabot Creamery Cooperative has been in continuous operation in Vermont since 1919 and produces a full line of cheeses, yogurt, sour cream, cottage cheese, and butter. Best known as makers of “The World’s Best Cheddar,” Cabot is the flagship brand of the Agri-Mark dairy cooperative and is owned by 1250 dairy farm families located throughout New England and upstate New York. For additional information on Cabot Creamery, visit http://www.cabotcheese.coop(link is external)SOURCE Cabot Creamery CooperativeWeb Site: www.cabotcheese.coop(link is external)last_img read more

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Energy Co-op solar hot water program in Chittenden County concludes

first_imgEnergy Co-op of Vermont,Since the Energy Co-op of Vermontâ s Co-op Solar program launched in March of this year, over 400 residents and business owners in Chittenden County have taken advantage of a free solar site assessment offered through the program.  The site assessment helps the homeowner understand the viability of a solar hot water system for their specific property.  It also allows the site assessor to produce a return on investment report, detailing the systemâ s payback period and cumulative financial savings over a given period of time. The program was developed in response to rising fuel costs, the increasing GHG emissions and effects of climate change, and also to help Vermonters save money while doing the right thing for the environment and their local communities.  By partnering with Vermont-based Sunward Systems, the Energy Co-op has been able to secure a deep price discount on the solar hot water heaters.  With state and federal incentives, typical installation costs have been reduced by more than 50%.  In addition, low interest solar loans from VSECU provide a financing option, allowing Co-op Solar systems to be installed with no money down.  Over the lifetime of the system, cumulative savings of more than $20,000 can be realized ‘all while reducing individual and regional carbon footprints. Even though larger, renewable energy projects can produce much more output in comparison to a single residential or commercial system, the positive effects of smaller-scale, individual and community installations are tangible.   At a recent Co-op Solar house party, where friends and neighbors are invited to come â kick the tires’of a solar hot water system installation, a Burlington resident was amazed â at how a newly-installed piece of equipment could bring the neighborhood together.’ Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end ‘but in the case of the Co-op Solar program ‘not without one last hurrah.  Thereâ s still time to sign up for the program and a free site assessment, as well as secure the significantly reduced Co-op Solar pricing before the program ends on June 30th.  While applicants must sign up by June 30th, the systems do not have to actually be installed by this date to get the Co-op discount.   Co-op Solar events are planned throughout the month, including info booths at the Richmond and Essex farmerâ s markets, June 8th and 15th respectively, as well as the Dealer.com Wellness Fair in Burlington on June 10th.  Info sessions are scheduled at Healthy Living in So. Burlington on June 7th, the Shelburne Town Offices on June 11th, and at City Market in Burlington on June 13th.  The program will also be featured on June 13th in Underhill, as part of a solar challenge that the town energy committee has issued.  A grand finale celebration will take place at Main St. Landing on June 26th as the Co-op Solar program partners sponsor the Burlington Green Drinks event. Energy Co-op of Vermont http://www.Co-opSolar.net(link is external).  The Energy Co-op of Vermont is a non-profit, member-owned energy services cooperative, delivering fuel oil, kerosene and wood pellets, and installing and servicing efficient heating equipment for a membership of more than 2,100 Vermonters.last_img read more

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New DR incinerator provides safer burning for homeowners

first_imgCountry Home Products,DR Power Equipment today introduced the BurnCage, a new home and garden incinerator that eliminates all the shortcomings of burning in a traditional burn barrel.For years, homeowners have relied on backyard burning in steel barrels to eliminate items such as sensitive financial documents and yard debris. Although 55-gallon steel barrels may seem like safe receptacles to contain a fire, they were designed for chemical and hazardous waste storage.‘Burn barrels are a nuisance to property owners,’said DR Power Equipment product manager Carl Eickenberg. ‘These barrels rust, are unpleasant to look at, and don’t provide a safe enclosure to contain flying embers. The new BurnCage is easy-to-use, much safer than a burn barrel, and has perforations for more thorough burning with easier clean up. And it doesn’t rust and become an eyesore like an oil drum.’Here are some of the BurnCage’s key features:Completely enclosed, perforated design ‘contains flying embers while providing excellent airflow to create optimal conditions for burning. The result is burn temperatures of up to 1600 ° F, which turns household combustibles into a fine, powder-like ash.Folds flat for easy transportation and storage- Unlike steel drums, which sit out in the open and rust, the BurnCage has formed corner hinges which allow the barrel to fold flat into a neat stack less than an inch thick, making it easy to move and store. Overall dimensions measure 35″ x 20″ x 20″.11-gauge type 439 stainless steel construction ‘this durable, corrosion resistant steel was developed for high-heat applications such as furnaces and automobile mufflers, withstands temperatures over 2000°F.4,000 cubic inch capacity ‘holds 1,100 cubic inches more than steel drums.Suggested uses for the BurnCage home incineratorinclude burning unwanted leaves, financial documents, and household waste. The BurnCage is available for purchase directly through DR Power Equipment at http://www.drpower.com/burncage(link is external).Vergennes, Vermont (PRWEB) August 14, 2012last_img read more

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Saint Michael’s alum contributes $100,000, issues donor challenge

first_imgSaint Michael’s College,With the aim also to  inspire generosity in Saint Michaels College graduates, Thomas F Shields, a 1952 graduate of the Catholic liberal arts college in Colchester, has made a $100,000 commitment to Saint Michaels and has issued a challenge. Shields, chairman and CEO of Shields Health Care Group in Quincy, Mass., and a resident of Boston, made his gift December 7th. He issued the challenge stating that the next 100 Saint Michael’s alumni, parents and friends who donate $1,000 or more to student scholarship aid will see their donations increased by $1,000, thanks to The Thomas F. Shields ’52 Challenge for Student Scholarships. As an alumnus of Saint Michaels, I know the good that this school does for its students, Mr. Shields said. Supporting the school is about passing the gift I was given on to the next generation. It feels good to know that I can make an impact. This generous matching challenge comes at a time when financial aid is extremely important, said Dr. John J. Neuhauser, president of Saint Michael’s College. Gifts, now multiplied by The Shields Challenge, will help us open doors to a Saint Michaels education to students who would otherwise not be able to attend, he said.Financial aid has never been more important said Jerry Flanagan, Vice President for Admission and Enrollment Management. Saint Michael’s must go the extra mile to help students get the education they desire and the scholarship aid they need. Thanks to Tom’s generous matching challenge, we can do more, student by student. Thomas Shields ’52 is a former Saint Michael’s College Trustee and enduring friend whose leadership and generosity has allowed Saint Michaels to realize significant opportunities and advances over the years. A long-time healthcare entrepreneur, Mr. Shields serves as the Chairman and CEO of Shields Health Care Group in Quincy, Mass. Founded in 1972 by Thomas and Mary Shields, Shields Health Care Group is a family owned and operated organization committed to unsurpassed patient care and clinical excellence. Since its inception, Shields Health Care Group has been a leader in medical imaging while operating more than 20 facilities throughout Massachusetts. Learn What Matters at Saint Michael’s College, The Edmundite Catholic liberal arts college, www.smcvt.edu(link is external)  . Saint Michael’s provides education with a social conscience, producing graduates with the intellectual tools to lead successful, purposeful lives that will contribute to peace and justice in our world. Founded in 1904 by the Society of St. Edmund and headed by President John J. Neuhauser, Saint Michael’s College is located three miles from Burlington, Vermont, one of America’s top college towns. Identified by the Princeton Review, 2013 as one of the nations Best 377 Colleges, and included in the  Fiske Guide to Colleges 2013, Saint Michael’s has 1,900 undergraduate students and 500 graduate students. Saint Michael’s students and professors have received Rhodes, Woodrow Wilson, Pickering, Guggenheim, Fulbright, and other grants. The college is one of the nation’s top-100, Best Liberal Arts Colleges as listed in the 2013 U.S. News & World Report rankings.last_img read more

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US Senate overwhelmingly rejects Sanders’ proposal to label GMO foods

first_imgby Anne Galloway May 27, 2013 vtdigger.org The Vermont House of Representatives was the first legislative body in the nation to move ahead with a proposal requiring the labeling of all genetically engineered foods this spring, and a number of other states are considering labeling legislation, but it looks like a congressional mandate could be a long way off.Monsanto, a company that has been in the forefront of genetic modification of food, has threatened to sue Vermont over the legislation.The U.S. Senate rejected an amendment from Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., last week that would have put a similar requirement in place nationwide. The vote was 27-71.‘Monsanto and other major corporations should not get to decide this, the people and their elected representatives should,’Sanders said in a statement.David Rogers of Politico reported that the Democratic leadership in the Senate is more sympathetic to labeling. A year ago both Sens. Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Chuck Schumer, D-NY, voted against a similar proposal. This time they both changed their votes in support of Sanders’amendment.According to Maplight, a national nonpartisan research website, found that companies that support the use of genetically engineered crops donated $1.2 million to Senate Political Action Committees from 2009 through March of this year.Fifty-four countries require labeling, according to Sanders. France, Peru, Ireland, Japan and Egypt have banned the import and export of genetically modified food.last_img read more

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Forging Green Mountain Care: Cost-sharing explained

first_imgRelated Company: Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Centerby Morgan True vtdigger.org When costs are shared by individuals and insurers the price tag can influence patient behavior and have an impact on overall health care spending as well as health outcomes for patients.Cost sharing typically takes the form of coinsurance, the percentage of a service paid for by a health plan; copayments, a flat fee for health goods or services; and deductibles, a dollar amount one pays before insurance kicks in.Ellen Meara, an economist and professor at the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice. Dartmouth photoCost sharing lowers spending on services, but can also have unintended clinical side effects, according to Ellen Meara, an economist and professor at the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice.For instance, a health plan with high copayments for prescription drugs is likely to reduce spending on pharmacy benefits. But that’s often because patients don’t buy the medication they need. The result? Expensive hospital visits that increase overall health care costs.“What’s important from a policy perspective is that cost sharing leads to reduced usage of all services, not just those with dubious value, but also services that are proven to increase health,” Meara said.The impact of cost sharing is acknowledged in the Affordable Care Act as well as Act 48, Vermont’s health reform law, which sets the state on a path to a first-in-the-nation universal health care program.Insurers offer high-deductible plans to discourage overuse, but making individuals liable for the first $5,000 worth of care is a deterrent that can discourage people from seeking important treatment.The Affordable Care Act requires certain preventive services to be excluded from deductibles in the growing number of high-deductible plans offered through the exchanges and on the wider individual market.Vermont has transitioned its entire individual market to Vermont Health Connect, the state-run insurance system.In designing Green Mountain Care, Act 48 directs the Green Mountain Care Board to consider waiving cost sharing for evidence-based clinical practices, those known to improve people’s health.This is known as value-based insurance design, Meara said. Large self-insured companies have experimented with value-based insurance to see if it would reduce costs and improve the health of their employees, she said.One way they’ve tried to do that is eliminating copayments on prescription drugs for employees with chronic conditions, such as hypertension, diabetes or asthma, with the hope that the patient will adhere to drug regimens and reduce the likelihood of hospital visits.What is also clear about cost sharing is that its potential negative impacts, such as avoiding important treatments because they are, or are perceived to be, cost prohibitive, disproportionately affect vulnerable groups, such as people with low-income or poor health. These populations often intersect, Meara said.That is why the platinum, gold, silver and bronze plans offered through the exchanges created by the Affordable Care Act have graduated cost sharing subsidies based on income. Vermont went a step further by offering subsidies for people with slightly higher incomes. For a comparison of the subsidy structure, click here.Act 48 directs the Green Mountain Care Board to design an income sensitive cost sharing formula as part of the universal health plan. The board must also consider whether cost sharing structures create barriers to medical care.The law says the Legislature and the Green Mountain Care Board must set the actuarial value of a Green Mountain Care health plan. A plan’s actuarial value is the percentage of costs born by the health plan. The individual patient is liable for the remaining percentage.Metal Level Acturial Value Range (in pct.)Bronze: 58-62Silver: 68-72Gold: 78-82Platinum: 88-92A set of triggers built into Act 48 must be met in order to make the transition to Green Mountain Care.“To get a sense of what those actuarial values look like in practice Vermonters could look at the gold and platinum plans offered through Vermont Health Connect,” said Robin Lunge, director of Health Care Reform for the state.The actuarial value of a gold plan is between 78 percent and 82 percent, while a platinum plan is between 88 percent and 92 percent.State employees and many of Vermont’s unions have more generous health plans that, in addition to low premiums, have minimal cost sharing with actuarial values typically at 94 percent.Those plans are the result of collective bargaining over many years, and labor groups, advocates and pro-labor lawmakers are likely to push for a higher actuarial value in Green Mountain Care.However, if the actuarial value of union members’ health plans is lowered as a result of their integration into a universal system, it would give them leverage to push for higher salaries.The administration will present options for cost sharing designs to the Green Mountain Care Board at the end of the year or early next year when it plans to present options for a financing plan and benefits package, Lunge said.last_img read more

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Vermont’s new captive insurance legislation signed into law

first_imgVermont Business Magazine Governor Peter Shumlin today signed new legislation passed in the State Legislature updating Vermont’s captive law, amending the reciprocal insurer section and creating a new “dormant” status for captives. The dormant status establishes an efficient mechanism for a captive that has ceased insurance operations to cost-effectively retain its license should it elect to resume operations in the future. The law takes effect immediately.   “I’m proud to sign this bill in response to the industry’s desire to have more options for their captives,” said Governor Shumlin. “I commend the Legislature in continuing our long tradition of making sure our captive regulations are the industry gold standard.”Deputy Commissioner of Vermont’s Captive Division David Provost worked diligently with the Legislature on the new changes. “This legislation updates several components in our law to keep Vermont at the forefront of domiciles,” said Provost. “The updates to our reciprocal law will make it more attractive than ever for educational institutions, health care providers and other not-for-profit organizations to domicile in Vermont.”“We’re delighted that once again the Governor and Legislature have joined together to respond to the rapidly changing environment for captives,” said Dan Towle(link is external), Vermont’s Director of Financial Services.  “It is just one of the many benefits to domiciling in a proactive jurisdiction like Vermont.”The legislation was crafted with input from the Vermont Captive Insurance Association(link is external).  A complete copy of the bill will be posted on the Vermont Legislature’s website, and in the interim a copy of the bill as passed with amendments can be found here(link is external).Captive insurance is a regulated form of self insurance that has been around since the 1960’s, and has been a part of the Vermont insurance industry since 1981, when Vermont passed the Special Insurer Act. Captive insurance companies are formed by companies or groups of companies as a form of alternative insurance to better manage their own risk. Captives are typically used for corporate lines of insurance such as property, general liability, products liability, or professional liability.4.17.2014 www.vermontcaptive.com(link is external)last_img read more

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BDCC launches search for executive director

first_imgDan Normandeau, President of the Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation (BDCC), has announced that the 60-year-old regional development corporation has launched its search for the next Executive Director. Pat Moulton, who most recently served in this position, has been named Secretary of the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development, the top economic development position in the state.Normandeau said, “This is an exciting time for BDCC as we continue to grow and serve the economic development needs of the greater Brattleboro and Windham County region.” BDCC owns and operates 450,000 square feet of industrial and mixed-use space in three buildings which are home to over 150 businesses. The primary objective of the organization is to create and retain a flourishing business community that supports vibrant fiscal activity, and improves the quality of life of all its residents.To assist with long-range planning, BDCC has an affiliated organization, Southeast Vermont Economic Development Strategies (SeVEDS) which for the last 3 years has been developing an economic plan for Windham County. This active, community centered organization has been successful in attaining several state and federal grants to assist with the economic planning of the area. Normandeau pointed out “SeVEDS has become a major force in the last few years to assist with the economic development planning for the area.”BDCC is looking for an experienced economic development leader for the exciting position with a minimum of ten years’ experience and proven leadership skills. Interested parties can view the full job description at www.brattleborodevelopment.com(link is external) or contact the Interim Director, Stephan Morse, at 802- 257- 7731.BDCC hopes to have the Executive Director position filled by September 1st.Source: BDCC: 5.27.2014last_img read more

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Governor appoints Rutland attorney John Valente to Superior Court

first_imgVermont Business Magazine Governor Peter Shumlin announced today that he will appoint attorney John Valente, a shareholder and director at the Rutland law firm of Ryan, Smith, and Carbine, Ltd., to the Vermont trial bench. Valente fills the seat left open by the retirement of Judge David Suntag. John Valente’s practice currently centers around workers’ compensation, employment, and business disputes.  He also has a mediation practice and has previously handled property, contract, and civil claims.  He is the current Chair of the Vermont Municipal Bond Bank, and a member of the Vermont Capital Debt Affordability Advisory Committee.  He also serves on the Rutland Economic Development Corporation board, and is a prior chair of the boards of the Vermont Chamber of Commerce and the Rutland Regional Chamber of Commerce.John Valente, left, with Governor Shumlin at a Vermont Chamber of Commerce event in February 2014. VBM photo.“I am proud to appoint to the Vermont bench someone of John’s compassion, fairness, and a long-standing family commitment to our legal system.  John’s warmth, accessibility, and innate sense of fairness will serve Vermonters and the Vermont judiciary well,” Shumlin said.John Valente was born in Rutland and is the son of former Vermont trial judge Silvio Valente, also a native of Rutland, who served as a Vermont judge for 24 years.“I am greatly honored that Governor Shumlin has chosen me to serve on the Superior Court,” said Valente.  “Our system of justice affects people’s lives on a daily basis and with that comes great responsibility: to be neutral, to be committed to the rule of law and to the administration of justice. I am humbled by this opportunity to serve my fellow Vermonters, as my father did for over two decades.”John is a graduate of Boston College and Suffolk University School of Law. He and his wife Paula live in Rutland City.last_img read more

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Waterbury legislator Rebecca Ellis to join Shumlin Administration

first_imgVermont Business Magazine Governor Peter Shumlin and Agency of Natural Resources Secretary Deb Markowitz today announced that Waterbury Representative Rebecca Ellis will join ANR’s Department of Environmental Conservation as Senior Counsel for Government Affairs on August 10. Ellis resigned her seat as state representative for the Washington-Chittenden District yesterday. Gov. Shumlin will appoint a replacement before the start of the next legislative session in January.Ellis has served as a legislator since 2011, most recently as vice chair of the House Natural Resources and Energy Committee. Prior to her tenure in the Vermont Legislature, Ellis worked from 1997 to 2011 as an Assistant Attorney General for the State of Vermont, where her practice focused on environmental issues.Ellis has a strong background in local community service, both on the Waterbury Select Board and the Waterbury Planning Commission.  She played a leading role in Waterbury’s recovery from the flooding caused by Tropical Storm Irene in 2011, chaired Waterbury’s Long-Term Community Recovery Steering Committee, and continues to volunteer with Waterbury’s Floodplain Working Group.A native Vermonter, Rebecca graduated valedictorian from Burlington High School in 1982.  She has degrees from Harvard University (BA History), Princeton University (MPA) and Georgetown University (JD).  Upon her return to Vermont, she clerked for Justice John Dooley of the Vermont Supreme Court.“Rebecca brings a wealth of knowledge to her new role at the Agency of Natural Resources.  Her legal background combined with her legislative experience on environmental and energy issues will strengthen the Agency of Natural Resources’ core mission to protect Vermont’s environment,” said Secretary Markowitz.“I am excited to join the highly qualified staff at the Agency of Natural Resources and to implement policies that will help protect our air, soil and water.  Vermont, along with the world, is at a crossroads, with our future climate at stake.  I am honored to take a place at the Agency of Natural Resources at this vital moment,” said Ellis.Rebecca and her husband live in Waterbury with their two sons, ages 13 and 10.Source: Governor 8.5.2015last_img read more

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