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March 2009


The Vermont Dairy industry has been hit with record low milk prices this year, following high feed prices and record high prices for fuel over the summer.  This "perfect storm" of conditions has created a situation where the price to produce milk is higher than what farmers are earning for their product.  Farmers are used to market fluctuations; however this dip is deeper and is projected to be longer in duration than past market swings.

To help farmers cope, The Vermont AgrAbility Project along with RAVR (Rural and Agricultural Vocational Rehab ),  the  University of Vermont Extension, and the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, have teamed up to produce a listing of resources for farmers in need.  This listing includes contacts of professionals working in financial management, farm business management, farm viability and agricultural resources, and are all familiar with the current milk crisis.  Additionally, there are several toll free numbers that will connect a farmer to a RAVR counselor who will be able to guide the caller to the service support best suited to the farmer’s individual needs.

For more information about the hotline, please call 1-800-281-6930
Or email:

Submitted by:  Alexandra Garven

The Vermont Farm Health Taskforce is a collaborative effort between the Vermont Health Department, University of Vermont Extension AgrAbility and Rural and Agricultural Voc Rehab, Agency of Agriculture, Office of Vermont Health Access, providers, Bi-State Primary Care, UVM College of Medicine Residency Program, the Area Health Education Centers, the Department of Labor, primary care and CAM practitioners and many others.  The mission is to establish an inclusive statewide taskforce that will promote and sustain a healthy, stable farm work force in Vermont.

The Taskforce premiered AgriSafe “Agricultural Occupational Health and Safety Training” in Vermont in the fall of 2008. Utilizing experienced trainers and proven curriculum from the University of Iowa’s Center for Agricultural Safety and Health (I-CASH), this 40-hour farm occupational health and safety training was geared for primary care practitioners (MDs, NPs, PAs), allied health professionals (including nurses, PTs, EMTs), rural complementary  practitioners, agriculture professionals and agency personnel.

The 42 participants, including 4 AgrAbility staff members, attended 5, 8-hour days of training that focused on the anticipation, recognition, treatment, and prevention of illnesses and injuries in farming communities.  Participants attended sessions developed by local agricultural, AgrAbility and medical trainers, distance educational components, farm tours to AgrAbility consumers, and had opportunities to collaborate in establishing an AgriSafe network in Vermont. Up to 32 University of Vermont College of Medicine, CMEs/CEUs were earned by those in attendance.   After the initial training and certification, ongoing in-service training and other resources will be available online and through local workshops. 

One rural clinic has become an AgriSafe member and many participating health care practitioners, health centers, agencies, and organizations will reconvene at the Dartmouth College of Medicine’s Research Coop's Annual Meeting and Training for rural primary care practitioners from the Upper New England States March 20 & 21 in Hanover, NH.  A new Farm Health training track has been added.  John May, MD, from the New York Center for Agricultural Medicine and Health, will present on the topic of Agricultural Respiratory Diseases and Karen Burke, MD, from the UVM College of Medicine, Department of Family Practice, will present on the topic of Acute Agricultural Injuries.

The fall training was the first step in developing a statewide practitioner network of AgriSafe-certified providers who can offer specialized, accessible farm health and safety services in farming communities across the state.

Submitted by: Margaret Gilman