BURLINGTON, Vt. — University of Vermont (UVM) Extension and the UVM Center for Sustainable Agriculture recently launched a new program to provide free on-farm technical assistance for Vermont farm business owners and managers interested in improving their bottom line through changes in management practices.
The program’s technical service providers will work one-on-one with farmers to answer questions and provide technical assistance in a number of areas including milk quality, grazing and pasture management, dairy nutrition, animal housing and facilities, animal husbandry and personnel management. In addition, they may source grant funding for fences, waterlines and barnyard improvements and help farms enroll in state and federal programs, such as those that provide payments for rotational grazing and excluding livestock from waterways.
Tony Kitsos heads up the team, which includes two recently hired dairy herd management educators, Whitney Hull and Kelsie Meehan. Kitsos and Hull are available to work with medium- and large-scale cow dairy operations while Meehan will assist small-scale, small ruminant, organic, grass-based and/or transitional cow, goat and sheep dairies.
Kitsos, the UVM Extension dairy business programs specialist, has worked with the UVM Extension Agricultural Business program since 2006. Hull has been employed in the dairy industry for 13 years, first as an artificial insemination technician in northern Vermont and later transitioning to dairy nutrition to work with farmers to develop rations for their herds. She holds bachelor’s degrees in biology and animal sciences from Ohio State University.
Meehan, a graduate of Williams College with a bachelor’s degree in biology, has several years of experience working with small-scale, grass-based dairies and farmstead creameries in Vermont, the Adirondacks and New Zealand. The dairy outreach specialist previously owned an artisanal cultured butter operation based in Keene, New York.
The program is supported by the Northeast Dairy Business Innovation Center, which is hosted by the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets. The center, established in 2020 to serve a ten-state region, supports projects that target dairy farms and processors to provide market research and technical assistance to promote development, production, marketing and distribution of dairy products.
–University of Vermont Extension