Legal concerns around farm workers and employees

CN-MR-1-LEGAL CONCERNSby Sanne Kure-Jensen

Rachel Armstrong led an informative webinar on the legal considerations regarding unpaid and compensated volunteers. “Ag. law is incredibly complex,” said Rachel Armstrong, lawyer and former grower. Farmers should carefully distinguish between a volunteer and employee. A volunteer must not displace a regularly paid employee doing similar work. The largest volunteer risk is injury. Volunteers often arrive unskilled or untrained in specific farm activities and may not use the same caution as experienced farmers. Armstrong recognizes that consumers everywhere value their connection to the land, wanting to reconnect with the land and with farmers who grow their food. Many farm customers happily volunteer for their favorite farmer. Farmers must manage risks in all aspects of farming. Risk of injury, liability or employment law violations is serious. Accident prevention keeps everyone safe. Armstrong recommended all farmers purchase a Commercial General Liability (CGL) policy for interns, employees, seasonal employees and other farm guests who volunteer for compensation. A commercial policy also ensures coverage for off-farm activities (CSA drop sites) value-added processing, agritoursim, transportation to markets and for distribution, if you sell anyone else’s products. Armstrong also recommends a Farm Liability Insurance (like homeowner’s liability policy). This protects the landowner in case of an accident on the farm property. This is separate from a CGL. Shop around and describe all aspects of your business to potential insurance agents. [Read more…]

Vermont Governor officially opens maple sugar season at Slopeside Syrup

CN-MR-3-VT GOV-IMG_7610RICHMOND, VT — Gov. Peter Shumlin kicked off Vermont’s 2015 maple sugar season, officially tapping a tree at Slopeside Syrup, in Richmond. The Governor was joined by Vermont Agriculture Secretary Chuck Ross and students from Richmond Elementary, who tap trees at Slopeside as part of their “farm to school” curriculum.

Slopeside Syrup is located on the grounds of Cochran’s Ski Area, a not-for-profit ski center founded in 1961 by Mickey and Ginny Cochran. The sugaring operation was established in 2011 by four of Mickey and Ginny’s grandchildren: Jim Cochran, Tim Kelley, and Roger and Douglas Brown. “For more than 50 years, Vermont’s young people have come to Cochran’s to learn how to ski,” said Gov. Shumlin. “Today, they are learning another essential Vermont skill…sugar-making!” [Read more…]

Kept in the loop

CN-MR-2-LAUGHING-DOG-008by Laura Rodley

Spring has officially sprung but the snow is still two feet deep at Laughing Dog Farm in Gill, MA. Danny Botkin owns the nine-acre farm with his wife Divya Shinn, a registered nurse.  Danny started keeping goats in 1998 and up until a year ago, had a herd of 22. He started with a Nubian that birthed twins the first winter, bred them to different bucks over a decade, then back to Nubians in the last three years, resulting in a versatile, mixed-breed, jokingly called “Albopien”: Nubians, for richest milk; Boers, stockiest meat animal, Alpines, super hardy; Saanen, champion milk producer, stocky enough to “make good meat if we chose to butcher.” Each of the 130 goats born at the farm is beloved, receiving unique names from Hindu derivation to Disney characters.    [Read more…]

Connecticut’s Outstanding Young Farmer of 2015

CN-GO-AE-MR-2-CT FARMERby George Looby, DVM

Each year the Connecticut Agricultural Information Council chooses a young farmer as the State’s Outstanding Young Farmer. The Connecticut Agricultural Information Council is a non-profit coalition of state farming groups located in Storrs, CT which functions to evaluate, nominate and select recipients of selected agricultural awards presented annually at agricultural events held throughout the year. One of these is the Outstanding Young Farmer Award. Others awards include Ag. Journalism, the Century Farm award and selection of Connecticut Century Farms. To be considered for this award applicants must be between the ages of 21 and 40 and derive at least two-thirds of their income from farming. This award is presented at the State Capitol at the annual Ag Day event. [Read more…]

250 farmers unite to support West Charlton farm family

CEWN-MR-3-Farmers unite1GLENVILLE, NY — Glenville Town Justice Paul Davenport seemed a bit distracted as over 200 farmers and supporters filled his court room to show their solidarity for local farmer, Joshua Rockwood of West Wind Acres in West Charlton, NY.

The 36-year-old farmer who is facing 13 animal neglect charges pled not guilty to the charges in court Tuesday, March 24. According to court documents, authorities found sheep in an unheated barn with frozen water with animal feces mixed into the ice. The documents also stated 15 pigs had frozen, undrinkable water, and they were confined in a barn without food. In addition, three horses, around 30 cows and 10 pigs were without proper food or water, and goats did not have access to food. [Read more…]