MONTPELIER -- A typical tourist trip to Vermont might include hiking on the Long Trail, skiing at one of our many resorts, fishing for wild brook trout, visiting a farm, and sampling some of the finest cheese, yogurt, and ice cream. People come to Vermont because it represents a vibrant counterpoint to the narrative, so prevalent elsewhere, that agriculture and the environment cannot coexist. Here in Vermont, environmental and agricultural excellence can be mutually reinforcing.
The Sustainable Dairy Products: Northeast Summit, to be held February 12th in Norwich, will dive into effective strategies to strengthen businesses by going green. The Summit will provide a comprehensive look at energy efficiency, wastewater, cleaning/sanitation, and pollution prevention, and bring together experts, organizations, and other resources to help dairy processors flourish economically and environmentally.
“No industry better exemplifies the importance of getting environment, agriculture, and economy right than the dairy industry, which accounts for 7% of the Vermont economy. Building on the continued effort of the industry, we will see even greater results,” said Anson Tebbetts, Secretary of the Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets (AAFM).
Value-added dairy products like cheese and yogurt are a growing sector in Vermont. Many new manufacturers are emerging, and many farmers are exploring value-added products as a source of additional revenue to help maintain the viability of family farms. “As dairy products businesses start and grow, they face many questions about how to reduce their environmental impact through best practices and compliance,” said Tom Bivins, Executive Director of the Vermont Cheese Council. The Summit will help answer those questions and will show how even smaller operations have opportunities to cut waste and adopt more sustainable production methods that save money.
The Summit is one example of how Vermont’s state agencies are reaching out to help food manufacturers. It is part of a growing partnership between the Agency of Natural Resources and AAFM that reflects the interdependence of agricultural, environmental, and economic prosperity, and the importance of environmentally sustainable operations that strengthen the Vermont brand.
Processors in nearby states are invited to the Summit. “Vermont is a nationally-recognized agricultural and environmental leader; other parts of the northeast want to learn how to foster a dairy products sector that reflects the values of environmental sustainability, local food, and vibrant economies,” said Terri Goldberg, Executive Director of the Northeast Waste Management Officials’ Association (NEWMOA), which is co-hosting the Summit. “We are collaborating with Vermont on the Summit to support our sustainability and pollution prevention mission and to better leverage expertise across the region.”
The Summit is just a starting point. Through its Environmental Assistance Office, the Department of Environmental Conservation will continue to help dairy products manufacturers understand regulatory requirements and improve practices, through site visits, online workshops, and other outreach.
For more information and to register to attend the Sustainable Dairy Products: Northeast Summit, visit www.eaovt.org.