Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice | Comment Archives | stories | Food + Drink | Agriculture

Narrow Search

  • Show Only

  • Category

  • Narrow by Date

    • All
    • Today
    • Last 7 Days
    • Last 30 Days
    • Select a Date Range

Comment Archives: stories: Food + Drink: Agriculture

Re: “Who Wants to Work on a Vermont Dairy Farm? A Reporter Spent a Week Finding Out

The Vorsteveld farm is a colossal ghetto, period. It is a nauseating disgrace to the State of Vermont.

7 likes, 6 dislikes
Posted by WilliamHoward on 03/25/2019 at 7:46 AM

Re: “Who Wants to Work on a Vermont Dairy Farm? A Reporter Spent a Week Finding Out

For what it's worth, the Vermont Dairy Producer's Conference is not a place for policy discussion - there are plenty of other outlets for that. It is more about education, learning about new and better ways for taking care of our cows and businesses, so that they can hopefully take care of us.

10 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by Joanna Lidback on 03/19/2019 at 9:38 PM

Re: “Who Wants to Work on a Vermont Dairy Farm? A Reporter Spent a Week Finding Out

It's time to stop romanticizing the Vermont dairy industry and start calling it out for what it now is at many of these "farms". Animal exploitation, human exploitation, environmental degradation and corporate welfare all in the name of "a shit-ton of cheap milk".

Confining cows indoors to "live in their own excrement" is not farming, it's animal abuse and it's inhumane. Large mammals with emotions and feelings reduced to milk production machines is Orwellian and insanely cruel.

Why won't Americans work in a cowshit-filled building doing difficult, often dangerous labor for 12+ hour shifts, starting for less than Vermont's minimum wage, without overtime pay, and with few benefits? Huh, good question... Oh, and no health insurance. Just send workers to a "free" clinic, funded by taxpayers and the charity of others. Anyone who supports stricter immigration laws please stop drinking and eating all dairy products immediately.

A google search reveals that Holstein cows produce 100+ pounds of excrement a day. 1300 cows produce a shocking 47.5 MILLION pounds of manure per year!?! It's telling that anyone who questions the Vorstevelds about runoff or other environmental degradation are to be dismissed, because "none of you guys know shit about dairy farming." You don't need to be a dairy farmer to know that environmental stewardship is not the strong suit of these operations.

This is not a quaint Vermont dairy farm. This is a factory, employing migrants, exempt from Vermont's minimum wage and overtime laws, receiving special tax treatment because it is a "farm", and exploiting the charity of their community by burdening the free clinic. And to what end? They make hundreds of thousands of dollars, as reported, and we subsidize the whole thing. The federal government has 1.4 BILLION, pounds of cheese in storage. Paid for by taxpayers.

18 likes, 15 dislikes
Posted by Jim6 on 03/19/2019 at 10:38 AM

Re: “Who Wants to Work on a Vermont Dairy Farm? A Reporter Spent a Week Finding Out

This is pretty disappointing. I had thought cows would have a slightly better life on a Vermont dairy farm. Guess not.

10 likes, 13 dislikes
Posted by Creepyoldman on 03/19/2019 at 5:08 AM

Re: “Who Wants to Work on a Vermont Dairy Farm? A Reporter Spent a Week Finding Out

This isn't dairy farming, it's factory farming. The stuff of Orwellian nightmares. Exactly the reason my family will never consume grocery store meats or dairy again. We buy directly from small, family owned/family run farms where the animals are out in fields all day every day, winter & summer, eating grass & natural feeds not soaked in Monsanto Roundup poison and the people that work the farm aren't treated more like animals than the cows, pigs & chickens. Really can't imagine how they see this as a better life than in Mexico, being worked like slaves.

But I'm glad to hear that yet another thing our government blatantly wastes the other half of our paychecks on is keeping operations like this in business, no matter how despicable they are, buying all the disgusting milk & cheese that nobody wants, no matter how much is over produced by these investor owned factory farms.

18 likes, 23 dislikes
Posted by FreedomToThink on 03/18/2019 at 7:59 PM

Re: “Who Wants to Work on a Vermont Dairy Farm? A Reporter Spent a Week Finding Out

For years the Departments of Agriculture both state and federal have preached that bigger is better and the only way to farm. I know, they pitched that to me. Now they have a tiger by the tail: filthy conditions, filthy streams and lakes, cheap illegal immigrant labor, and it seems from the comments, angry neighbors.
Treating animals and the environment like this is immoral.
The cleanest dairy I ever saw relied on a lot of hand labor and milked 88 cows with one full time employee. The farmer made money not payments.

18 likes, 5 dislikes
Posted by Walter Moses on 03/18/2019 at 2:48 PM

Re: “Who Wants to Work on a Vermont Dairy Farm? A Reporter Spent a Week Finding Out

Great article Chelsea Edgar. One has to wonder about this farms care of their animals and quality of their product though. I enjoyed your honest and unvarnished writing.

9 likes, 7 dislikes
Posted by Marcouxr on 03/18/2019 at 12:45 PM

Re: “Who Wants to Work on a Vermont Dairy Farm? A Reporter Spent a Week Finding Out

Great reporting. Reminds me of Estrellita, an animated film by a Middlebury College professor and students about the experience of migrant workers. https://vimeo.com/276050194

3 likes, 9 dislikes
Posted by Estrellita on 03/18/2019 at 7:03 AM

Re: “Who Wants to Work on a Vermont Dairy Farm? A Reporter Spent a Week Finding Out

The author via Gerald reported 8500 gallons of milk being shipped to Cabot daily, to be turned into 640 lb blocks of cheddar. More specifically 8500 gallons of milk weighs approximately 85,000 lbs. Approx. Ten pounds of milk is required for 1 lb of cheese. So on each daily shipment, 8500 lbs of cheese could be yielded. Recognizing milk quality varies and so does cheese demand, and knowing other products may be made, if 8500 lbs of cheese were to be made and sold at near retail bottom $6/ a lb for premium Vermont Cheddar that is $51,000 of cheese from a days milking. My guess is that the farmers are lucky if they are being paid $16 per hundred weight, or approx $13,600 minus fees for 8500 gallons shipped. Cabot/Agrimark whomever.... has $37,400 of room to make, market and retail their product from one days milking at the Vorstevelds farm.

I do not know how much it costs to make cheese on Cabot's scale, but it is easy to assume they have a solid net revenue, while the Vorstevelds do not, and meanwhile Cabot and Agrimarks employees work in pristine, sanitary conditions; production rooms, labs and boardrooms,benefits and retirement pay. The typical Vermont dairy farm is running itself into the ground, taking its workers, animals and the environment along with it. Hoping for some form of public compensation, and exceptions to labor, animal welfare and environmental regulations.

I very much honor the dairy farming tradition, and know that farmers can be highly principled "conservationists", and preservationists, especially when generously profitable. A company nationally recognized with award winning products should be able to offer and demand parity throughout its supply and production chain, regardless of the "independent nature" of Vermont dairy farmers.

24 likes, 5 dislikes
Posted by Freedumb Also on 03/17/2019 at 1:26 PM

Re: “Who Wants to Work on a Vermont Dairy Farm? A Reporter Spent a Week Finding Out

the comment about pollinators is right- they are in perile. however, he or she who posted this has mixed up chemicals. round up is an herbicide, not a pesticide, and while just as scary, shouldn't be used to thrash dairy farmers about pollinators.

15 likes, 4 dislikes
Posted by fat rooster farm on 03/15/2019 at 5:22 PM

Re: “Who Wants to Work on a Vermont Dairy Farm? A Reporter Spent a Week Finding Out

Deer, buffalo, penguins and a whole host of other wild animals have a baby every 12 months and we make kids movies about it. Dairy cows have a calf every 12 months and people think it awful. It's hard to not detect some bias in the authors reporting and judging by the vets comment she probably pick a sub par dairy to confirm her bias.

28 likes, 11 dislikes
Posted by let's be honest about cows on 03/14/2019 at 6:01 PM

Re: “Who Wants to Work on a Vermont Dairy Farm? A Reporter Spent a Week Finding Out

You couldn't have picked a worse example of dairy farmers in Vermont than the Vorstevelds. They have a well-deserved reputation around here for being slob farmers, with no respect for their land, their town, other people's property, or the environment. When they built a bunk silo within the town right-of-way and were told to remove it, they stalled and fought it for years, even carving EAT ME into the concrete bunk at the road. Last year they cut down all the trees, every one, along the road, in the town of Ferrisburgh right of way for a half mile, and are fighting the required replacement. They've been documented shooting raw manure from their spreader right into Lake Champlain. They shoot their guns late at night, having no respect for their neighbors, and as the article pointed out, they have the foulest mouths of any farmers I know, and I know a lot of them. They've spilled fertilizer and chemicals on the town roads, and only cleaned part of it up when the town told them to. Farmers in Vermont, and elsewhere, have been struggling for a few years with low milk prices, and unfortunately some of them have gone out of business and will continue to go out of business. If there's one farm that deserves to go out of business, it's the Vorstevelds, they're a local disgrace.

49 likes, 34 dislikes
Posted by AddisonCounty on 03/14/2019 at 12:01 PM

Re: “Who Wants to Work on a Vermont Dairy Farm? A Reporter Spent a Week Finding Out

While it's great Seven Days has pulled back the curtain and given its readers a much-needed look at the harsh realities of Vermont's large, confinement dairies, there's a whole lot more to this story. First and foremost, it needs to be pointed out that while farmers like the Vorstevelds are being paid less than the cost of production, forcing them to make all kinds of cost-cutting measures that negatively impact workers, cows and the environment, the big dairy processors like Cabot Creamery and Ben & Jerry's are enjoying huge profits (nearly a billion dollars a year in sales for both of them currently). It's this kind of economic exploitation and concentration of wealth by corporate monopolies that fuels our chronic dairy dilemma.

Our CAFO Dairy Watch project, which monitors conditions at these "concentrated animal feeding operations," has documented the health and environmental violations at the Vorsteveld Farm, including numerous antibiotic residue violations, both in the milk it was attempting to ship and in culled animals sent for slaughter and the meat supply.

Here, for example, is what the FDA said about the farm when they were cited for sending five calves for slaughter that had extremely high levels of antibiotic residues: "Our investigation also found that you hold animals under conditions that are so inadequate that medicated animals bearing potentially harmful drug residues are likely to enter the food supply."

It's time for Vermont to get serious about its dairy death-spiral, and come up with a real plan to help these farms transition away from the cheap, commodity model that is its broken foundation and towards methods and crops that do not exploit farmers, farmworkers, cows or the environment.

You can find our plan at RegenerationVermont.org.

32 likes, 40 dislikes
Posted by Regeneration Vermont on 03/14/2019 at 8:54 AM

Re: “Who Wants to Work on a Vermont Dairy Farm? A Reporter Spent a Week Finding Out

Great reporting. I got to this article via a daily feed of recommended articles on CNN. I appreciate the depth of coverage about family farms and migrant workers. Hemp is a great idea. Any diversification of cropping is going to be a good idea heading into the next decade. Thanks for bringing perspective and humour to your subjects. As someone who follows the situation with dairy cooperatives and migrant labor up here in Canada it makes me realize how close our two situations are. Except of course we dont have tons of cheese in hidden government locations.
Thanks,
Steve
Toronto Canada

30 likes, 9 dislikes
Posted by Steve77 on 03/13/2019 at 10:35 PM

Re: “Who Wants to Work on a Vermont Dairy Farm? A Reporter Spent a Week Finding Out

Great work, Chelsea Edgar.

"Bovine Handmaid's Tale" is spot on.
It's sad to see what has happened to what had been small dairy farms; this scale is horiffic for both man and beast.
BTW I raised my kids on a small dairy farm and know how accurately a cow can aim.

37 likes, 24 dislikes
Posted by Kathy on 03/13/2019 at 2:41 PM

Re: “Who Wants to Work on a Vermont Dairy Farm? A Reporter Spent a Week Finding Out

It would have been nice if there'd been some mention of how dairy in this state is also responsible for poisoning all of us and pollinators due to its use of Roundup-ready corn. There was a crappy bill introduced in the legislature - H.205 - which would have banned this poison EXCEPT FOR AN EXEMPTION FOR "TREATED ARTICLES" like seed corn, effectively making the bill useless. So, thanks dairy farmers.

14 likes, 105 dislikes
Posted by E. Sutor on 03/13/2019 at 12:43 PM

Re: “Longtime Organic Ag Leader Enid Wonnacott Steps Down

I wish you well and thank you for your years of hard work in Vermont. We need more strong, intelligent women in companies and organizations such as NOFA-VT. My granddaughter is a UVM-ag.graduate and an organic meat, pork and poultry farmer, as well as veggies. She is the Pres. the agricultural association for Addison Co. And was Pres. Of VT FFA when in hs. Maybe shell one day cross paths with Mrs.Wonnacott, if not already. Good job!

1 like, 0 dislikes
Posted by Pamela Griffith Daily on 12/12/2018 at 12:50 AM

Re: “Longtime Organic Ag Leader Enid Wonnacott Steps Down

"Actually, it's not much more than UVMMC pays its CEO."

And the point of this snarky and proggy comment is? How does it relate to a story about Ms. Wannacott and NOFA-VT? Why is it necessary to include in a response to someone's comment that $2.8 is "a pretty good amount of money"?

1 like, 1 dislike
Posted by knowyourassumptions on 11/06/2018 at 12:45 PM

Re: “Longtime Organic Ag Leader Enid Wonnacott Steps Down

"I am interested in where the $2.8 million budget for NOFA-VT comes from . That's a pretty good amount of money"
It's called Google: https://www.nofamass.org/content/2017-annu…

2 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by Seth Gillim on 11/01/2018 at 6:36 PM

Re: “Longtime Organic Ag Leader Enid Wonnacott Steps Down

"I am interested in where the $2.8 million budget for NOFA-VT comes from. That's a pretty good amount of money."

Actually, it's not much more than UVMMC pays its CEO.

If you're interested, check the 990. Most of the money comes from membership fees and dues.

13 likes, 5 dislikes
Posted by Doug Hoffer on 10/30/2018 at 8:53 PM

Keep up with us Seven Days a week!

Sign up for our fun and informative
newsletters:

All content © 2019 Da Capo Publishing, Inc. 255 So. Champlain St. Ste. 5, Burlington, VT 05401
Website powered by Foundation