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Tuesday February 13, 2007 Edition
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Bridport Man Named National Finalist in Young Farmer Program

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Tuesday February 13, 2007

   Tim Howlett of Bridport, VT, has been selected as National Finalist with the Outstanding Young Farmer (OYF) program. The purpose of the OYF program is to provide a greater interest in the farmer, to foster increased urban-rural relationships through understanding the farm problems, to develop an appreciation of the farmers' contributions and achievements and to inform the agribusiness community of the growing urban awareness of farmers importance and impact on the American economy.

    Tim and his wife Julie were recognized for their achievements at the Dairy Farmers Banquet at the Vermont Farm Show. As National finalist, the Howletts will travel to the National OYF conference in Phoenix, AZ. There, more than 100 OYF and OYF farm alumni from across the U. S. will tour dairy, beef and vegetable operations and visit with U. S. Jaycees and National Agricultural Agents members. Four OYF candidates will be selected as winners of the competition and will go to Washington, DC, later in the year.

    During the past 11 years, Tim and Julie, along with Tim's parents, Tom and Diane, have operated the Champlainside Farms partnership in Bridport. During that time, they have doubled the herd, more than doubled the cropping acres, and increased the herd average to more than 25,000 lbs./cow, milking three times per day. Currently, Champlainside Farms owns more than 900 head of dairy cattle, milking 450 cows and cropping more than 900 acres.

    Growing up, Tim showed dairy cattle at Addison County Field Days and judged dairy cattle as a 4-H member. He also competed at Eastern States Exposition and judged cattle at Harrisburg, PA, and Madison, WI, when he was on the State 4-H Dairy team. He also excelled in the Middlebury High School Ag program, winning the Ag Department award. He served as president of the local FFA chapter and was a 4-time top-ten state finalist in Dairy Cattle judging during his high school career. He also attended Green Mountain Boys State, and attended the 4-H Washington, DC, Leadership Conference.

    Over the years, Tim learned to be very innovative and to stretch the dairy dollar. He built his own crowd gate for the dairy holding area. He modified the barn by "kicking out" the side walls by an extra 2 feet, giving the cows extra "lunge space" and giving them room to relax and thus produce more milk per cow. He also designed and built a freestall bed groomer for the cows, keeping the "beds" clean and fresh for the dairy herd. He and his dad also built an office in the cow barn to keep the herd records handy.

    Tim has always been an environmental quality advocate and Champlainside Farms has participated in numerous Farm Service Agency (FSA) cost-share programs to increase the quality of the environment. Living on the shores of Lake Champlain with over a mile of lake frontage has automatically meant that one needs to take pride in the crops, soils, and the water. The Howletts have closed up barnyards and utilized filter strips to control runoff and have instituted 75-foot minimum setbacks from streams to decrease runoff. They are currently in the midst of implementing the Vermont Medium Farm Operation (MFO) nutrient Management plan.

    Tim (and Tom) take pride on being active participant(s) with the Northeast Large Dairy Farm Benchmark Program. The program, operated by the Farm Credit Service, is highly respected throughout the region and is led by nationally respected financial analyst Don Rogers. The whole family strives to utilize the program as a way to increase their financial stability.

    Tim attends professional improvement classes, feels strongly about being a vital part of the community, and is involved with family activities.  As the business continues to grow and add cows, land, and employees, a few of his goals are to be a preferred employer in the community and a responsible steward of the land, and to be involved in the children's softball, hockey, figure skating, soccer, and school activities.

    In addition to his farm responsibilities, Tim has been very active with the community having served as Bridport's town moderator for nearly 4 years, serving on the Bridport School Board for 6 years, and as School Board chair for 2 years. He also served on the Bridport Fire Department for more than 11 years and is now an honorary member of the department. He is very active with his 5 daughters' 4-H and sports activities, serving as a 4-H leader for the Bridport Clovers, assistant coach for the Bridport Girls softball team, and Middlebury Area Hockey Association (MAHA) Girls Hockey Under 12 team.  In his spare time, he is an active player with the MAHA Old Men's Hockey League.

    Julie works as a historical interpreter at Fort Ticonderoga and volunteers at the Bridport elementary school, coordinating the Reading Is Fundamental program.  She also pays all the farm bills, categorizing all statements so they can analyze farm financial status, in addition to caring for their 5 daughters and keeping them involved in 4-H, school, and sports activities.

   The OYF program is sponsored locally by Hendy Bros. of Middlebury and conducted by the Vermont Agricultural Agents Association. Nationally, it is sponsored by John Deere, U.S. Jaycees, and the National Association of County Agricultural Agents.


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