Many Exiting Farmers in Vermont May Have No One to Take Over the Farm, New Study Shows

Nearly 30% of New England’s farmers are likely to exit farming over the next decade, and nine out of 10 of those farmers do not have someone else ready to take the reins, according to new analysis of U.S. Census of Agriculture data that was part of a study released this week by American Farmland Trust and Land For Good.

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In Vermont, farmers age 65 and older operate 28% of the state’s farms. Of these 2,076 senior farmers, just 9% of them have someone under age 45 managing the farm with them. The study also found that Vermont had 19% fewer young (under age 45) farm operators in 2012 than in 2002, according to a press release issued about the study.

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Rachel Ankeny on GMOs, Food Ethics & Consumer Attitudes

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By Hailey Grohman

Professor Rachel Ankeny is an associate dean of research and deputy dean in the faculty of arts at the University of Adelaide, Australia, where she leads the Food Values Research Group.

Rachel will be a keynote speaker at the 2016 UVM Food Systems Summit on June 14-15. We talked to Rachel about her interdisciplinary research, GMOs, and the nature of good food.

Your research is very interdisciplinary, varying as widely as history, bioethics and food studies. How do you think that separate disciplines, sometimes with very different methodologies, could work together to think through food systems problems?

Food is an essentially multidisciplinary topic—to look at consumption without also looking at production, for instance, would be absurd. But it also is essential to use a variety of lenses or methods to understand food systems and the multiplicity of questions surrounding them. Of course everything has a history, but the history of food is particularly complex and intriguing, shaping all of what we eat and think about what we eat today, and it arguably has shaped the history of the world. Similarly, our values are deeply entwined with our food choices, habits, and policies. Ultimately, food is part of our biology, so concepts relating to the history and philosophy of the life sciences also are essential. Thus, in order to think through food systems problems and where we are headed, we must reflect on how we got there and how our personal and cultural philosophies have shaped that path.

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Refugee Farmers Set Down Roots, Honor Traditions in Vermont

By Amy Overstreet

Rwanda native Janine Ndagijimana, her husband Faustine and their children moved to Burlington, Vermont in 2007 after living in a refugee camp in Tanzania for 13 years. Now a U.S. citizen, she works closely with Ben Waterman, the New American Farmer Program coordinator at the University of Vermont Extension Service (UVM) Center for Sustainable Agriculture. He manages the Land Access and Assessment Program that helps Vermont’s resettled refugee and immigrant farmers obtain access to the resources they need to pursue their goals as farmers and to link common threads between their new home in America the culture of their homelands.

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Janine was one of several farmers who recently attended a meeting of the Association of Africans Living in Vermont to learn about USDA programs and services. Farmers from Burundi, Rwanda, Somalia, and the Democratic Republic of Congo learned about land acquisition, insurance programs, loans to support farming, and technical and financial assistance for implementing conservation farming practices.

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Urban Dairy Markets Catch Up with Vermont Values

By Hailey Grohman

An article in last week’s New York Times describes a “unique” phenomenon that may strike you as fairly normal in Vermont: dairy farms marketing small-scale, local, grass-fed products. The author features farmers putting what seems like a Brooklyn spin on a Vermont norm, opening milk bars to feature their product or even going so far as to deliver bottled milk in an homage to the olden days. It’s a story we’ve heard before: consumers are nostalgic for an imagined time in which food was local, milk was fresh every day, and farmers lived around the corner. For this, they’re willing to pay heartily.

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Photo: Solveig Osk/Flickr

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From Meatpacking to Technology: How Russell Hirschorn Navigated a Successful Career Path

By Sarah Tuff Dunn

Russell Hirschorn has plenty of talking points on his résumé—meat-packer at B. Rosen, webmaster at Bedbathstore.com, and systems analyst at Hess Corporation—before his current seven-year stint at Polaris Management, which provides management and technology consulting services to life sciences companies. But there’s one that really stuck with recruiters since he graduated from UVM in 2009: sticker collecting.

“To this day, I’m still well known for that,” says Hirschorn of the hobby. “It was a great differentiator in interviews that made it more of a friendly discussion than an interrogation.”

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Photo by Mark Turnauckas/Flickr

A Long Island native, Hirschorn studied management information systems at UVM upon realizing the long-term career options in a rapidly expanding industry. “Every company has some kind of technology component,” he says. “Whether it be internal systems or technology products, every organization is a potential job opportunity.”

Here, Hirschorn shares tips on how to turn hobbies, and hard-earned education, into potential job opportunities.

Tell us about your career stepping-stones at Bedbathstore.com and Hess.

Bedbathstore.com was an after-school and weekend job doing odd tasks—inventory, website management, filling orders, and so on. Nothing exciting. This experience, coupled with working with my dad in the meatpacking business (waking up at 3 a.m. to fill veal and lamb orders and pack livers) pushed me to do well at school by knowing what I definitely didn’t want to do. I met a Hess contact at a UVM networking event and prepared a lot, which included learning as much as I could about the company before the interview. I was honest and well spoken, sent handwritten thank-you cards on personalized stationary to everyone I met, and ended up with an opportunity that really kick-started my career.

Read the full interview on the UVM Outreach Blog.

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