University of Vermont

Center for Research on Vermont

Vermont Research News: Migrant labor, Vermont rankings, beer history and more...

Vermont has been named the safest place in the country for on-line dating according to one recent study. Vermont also ranks high in public safety and overall health, but low in some critical areas, such as alcohol abuse and rural isolation. We’ve collected Vermont’s ranking on more than twenty lists here, ranging from health to business to recreation.


Vermont needs to add 10,000 more people to its workforce each year in order to grow the state’s economy, says a new report by the Vermont Chamber of Commerce through the Vermont Futures Project. The report contributes the workforce supply gap to more people retiring and fewer entering the workforce.

The emotional side of re-locating is explored in a new study on migration in 19th and 21st century Vermonters. Researchers at the Community College of Vermont and UVM found multiple emotional dimensions of moving away and the ways in which people attempted to stay connected to home.  An interview with author Jill Mudgett is here.

Vermont’s dairy industry is dependent on migrant workers from Mexico.  Mexican men migrate to Vermont at higher rates than their female counterparts. This report documents how, in their absence, Mexican women, who typically would have focused on household work, now administer land management practices in pasture, maize and chili production. Anthropologist Teresa Mares discusses her related work here.

A study led by Vermont researchers Dan Baker and David Chappelle explored the impact of migration and labor on the health of 120 Latino workers on 59 of Vermont’s dairy farms. The most common complaints included neck, back and dental pain, as well as mental health issues. The respondents identified physical and linguistic isolation as the most difficult aspects of working on a dairy farm, and cited fear of deportment as the major barrier to health care.

Immigration into Vermont is not a new story, and Vermont History Editor Michael Sherman has pulled two articles from the Journal’s archives; one on the efforts to lure Swedes to Vermont by Paul Searls, "Major Valentine's Swedes"  VH 81:2 (Summer/Fall 2013): 139-169 and a look at immigrants from the Middle East by Amy Rowe," A Trace of Arabic in Granite: Lebanese Migration to the Green Mountains, 1890-1940," VH 76:2 (Summer/Fall 2008): 91-129


Even before the enactment of the Affordable Care Act, Vermont’s state government and other stakeholders have long shared a dedication to public led health care reforms aimed at creating a universal health care system, finds a recent report by the Urban Institute. The Vermont case study focuses on health care stewardship and examines the unique ways the state leveraged its authority to better the quality and efficiency of the health care systems.

Vermont’s cheese manufacturers saw a significant boost in the weeks leading up to the Super Bowl. While the country eats roughly 278 million avocados and 1.3 billion chicken wings, Cabot saw a 20 percent increase in sales as the game approached. As a nation, we consume more food only on Thanksgiving, and the market impact on the food industry is nearly equivalent to that of Christmas on the retail industry.

And speaking of football, the NFL PLAY 60 Initiative may be effective in improving aerobic capacity and body mass index, according to Vermont researcher Yang Bai. Funded by the National Football League, the study involved roughly 100,000 kids at around 1,000 schools from 2011 to 2015. The results were more significant for students who participated in the program for four years as opposed to two or three.

A recent case study of Vermont’s UVM Medical Center (UVMMC) assessed the impacts of local hospital food procurement. Led by researchers at the Center for Rural Studies, the report found that UVMMC’s food service contributes $2,746,493 to the local economy and maintains close relationships with local vendors, which contribute directly and indirectly to their economic well-being.


Despite state-imposed prohibition and no beer drinking culture to speak of during the beginning of the 20th century, Vermont today has more breweries per capita than any other state. Vermont Beer: History of a Brewing Revolution by former director of the Vermont Brewers Association, Kurt Staudter, and Vermont historian Adam Krakowski, tells the story of how the Vermont beer movement came to be.

Greek Epic: The Latchis Family and the Theater Empire They Built by Vermonter Gordon Hayward illustrates the history of the Latchis Family from their native home in Greece to Brattleboro, VT, and their creation of more than a dozen cinemas in New England. For details, see the review by VT Digger. Copies of the book are available at the Latchis Hotel front desk or by emailing

And, speaking of southern Vermont, Brattleboro resident Denise “Jane” Ashworth has just published her first book at age 99, titled Zoa and the Fawn. The children’s book tells the story of a Siamese kitten who lives near the forest. Copies of Zoa and the Fawn are on sale at the Holton Home at 158 Western Ave in Brattleboro.


A recent study points to significant relationships between proximity of farmstead and waterway and phosphorus levels, as well as trend of increased phosphorus levels associated with cover cropping. The Middlebury College students distributed a survey to 250 farms to report management practices and utilized a statistical software to relate these findings to Lake Champlain.

A separate team of Middlebury students examined migrant labor in Vermont’s dairy industry. The number of farms in Vermont has dropped from 11,000 in 1940 to 868 in 2015, the students’ found. Today, about 1500 of the 6,000 dairy workers in the state are immigrants. The students developed K-12 curricula that stresses the importance of migrant labor and a background podcast for the general public.

The Vermont Research News is a bi-monthly curated collection of Vermont research -- focused on research in the Vermont "laboratory" -- research that provides original knowledge to the world and research that adds to understanding of the state's social, economic, cultural and physical environment.

Send your news items to Editor Kirsti Blow.

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