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St. Albans CLF Public Hearing Rescheduled
Tuesday, 03 November 2015 14:22

On October 7, 2015, Vermont’s Secretary of Agriculture Chuck Ross issued a Notice of Public Hearing to provide the public an opportunity to comment on the proposed Revised Secretary’s Decision for the Missisquoi Basin.

The proposed decision, which is subject to public input, is an effort between the State and the Conservation Law Foundation (CLF) to provide a framework to settle the pending court litigation related to the Missiquoi Basin. The petition promtping the hearing was filed under a previously unused statute enabling residents in an area within a basin plan to petition the agriculture secretary to require best management practices (BMPs), if those practices are deemed necessary to meet water quality standards. It was found that 72 percent of the phosphorous in Missisquoi Bay comes from 20 percent of the land.

The public hearing will be held on Thursday, November 12, 2015, in St. Albans City, from 1 PM until 3 PM, at the American Legion, 100 Parah Drive. It is an opportunity for farmers and other affected citizens to be heard and to give consideration to all interests before a final order is issued.

Although the hearing is related to the CLF’s pending appeal for the Misissquoi Bay Watershed, it is also an opportunity for farmers to evaluate a proposed blueprint for requiring BMPs on farms in other watersheds, including South Lake, St. Albans, and Otter Creek, which also address Federal EPA and TMDL requirements. The draft settlement has other terms that would become commitments of both the Agency and the CLF if the Secretary decides to implement the Revised Secretary’s Decision and the remand is approved by the Court.

The full Notice of Public Hearing, the proposed Revised Secretary’s Decision, and the draft Stipulation of the Parties for Remand, which contain background and additional explanatory information, can be accessed here: http://agriculture.vermont.gov/water-quality/news-events/clf-petition with additional information available below.

Questions about the public hearing process and any written comments may be directed to:

James Leland

116 State Street
Montpelier, VT 05620

For more information, you can find the public notice for the hearing here: Notice for Public Hearing - Nov 12, 2015.

Draft of Revised Agricultural Practices (RAPs) Released for Public Comment
Monday, 02 November 2015 18:51

The Vermont Agency of Agriculture Food and Markets (AAFM) is released a draft copy of the Revised Agricultural Practices (RAPs) for a pre-filing period lasting until January 2016. This is time for all interested stakeholders to review the Draft RAPs and provide comment before AAFM enters the formal rulemaking process—a formal public comment period will occur during the formal rulemaking process. AAFM was directed by the Legislature to draft the RAPs pursuant to Act 64, signed into law on June 16, 2015. AAFM plans to maximize public input, review the rules for relevance and consistency with the law and legislative intent, and make sure these rules will be effective at protecting water quality while being cost effective to implement. Download copy of the Draft RAPs from AAFM’s website:


Please comment here if you are able to provide input related to the relevance, intent, and consistency of the draft RAPs with your organization’s mission and vision. The draft RAP and planned public meetings is an opportunity for AAFM to solicit comment from a wide stakeholder group prior to entering into formal rulemaking. This will ensure that when the rules are proposed and filed in the formal adoption process, significant public comment will have already been collected and taken into consideration. The Agency will seriously consider all comments received during this pre-filing period, though there may be no response to comments received. Comments can be emailed to:

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Act 64, The Clean Water Act, amended and enacted multiple requirements related to water quality in the State. The act amended several provisions regarding agricultural water quality. The “accepted agricultural practices” are renamed the “required agricultural practices (RAPs).” AAFM has been charged to revise the RAPs by rule on or before July 1, 2016. The revised RAPs include requirements for: small farm certification, nutrient storage, soil health, buffer zones, livestock exclusion, nutrient management, and tile drainage.

Specific Consideration

While AAFM is actively seeking input and comment on every section of the Draft RAPs, there are specific sections of the Draft RAPs which AAFM is seeking specific consideration. It is the Agency’s intent to develop rules and programs that will not only eliminate adverse impacts to water quality from agricultural operations, but will also be informed, enforceable and appropriate. Included below are reference for specific items in the draft RAPs which AAFM is seeking specific consideration for input and comment.


Estimated RAP Timeline:


Part of a staged implementation timeline, the Draft RAPs are one point in new comprehensive water quality rules and programming from AAFM. Developed within the context of increasing Technical and Financial Assistance for water quality conservation planning and implementation for farmers, funded by the Vermont Clean Water Fund, as well as by our Federal and local partners, one size does not fit all when it comes to the diversity of agricultural operations operating in the State, and recognizes there are many strategies available for farmers to meet the rigorous standards of the RAPs.

Specific language used in Act 64 emphasized the availability and effectiveness of alternative management and design techniques available for a farm to meet water quality standards (§4810a.11). This appreciation of water quality conservation planning and implementation is reflected in the Draft RAPs. AAFM is interested in comment from agricultural operations regarding areas where current management practices meet the RAP water quality standard but are in conflict with the proposed rules. A draft report on water quality considerations regarding tile draining will be reported to the legislature January 2016, with RAPs revised to included requirements for tile draining by January 15th, 2018. Successful implementation of the RAPs will assist in Vermont’s mission to meet the goals of Act 64 as well as the TMDL for Phosphorus for Lake Champlain.

For a complete list of public meetings where AAFM will present the Draft RAPs with a comment period to follow, please visit AAFM’s webpage at:


Upcoming VACD Annual Meeting
Tuesday, 20 October 2015 10:34

Greetings! As Fall reaches a peak in our colorful state, it’s also time for the Vermont Association of Conservation Districts (VACD) and Lamoille County Conservation District to host our Annual Meeting. This year, emphasis will be on the newly passed Vermont Clean Water Act and the importance of soil health. VACD will approach these topics with the mindset of improving and maintaining our state’s water quality through efforts at the local level. Soil and water have high impacts on one another, especially in a region where the watershed is so widely dispersed. During the Annual Meeting, we will discuss how Conservation District programs can address soil and water quality to safeguard our natural landscape. Participants will learn, share, and launch additional collaborative efforts.

Here are some of the notable speakers who will be presenting at the Annual Meeting:

Kari Dolan (The Vermont Clean Water Act and Opportunities for Conservation Districts): Kari is the current Manager of the Ecosystem Restoration Program at the Department of Environmental Conservation at the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources.

Vicky Drew (NRCS Programs & Collaboration with NRCDs): Vicky is the Vermont State Conservationist for the USDA Natural Resources and Conservation Service.

Ray Archuleta (Healthy Soil and Clean Water): Ray is a Conservation Agronomist at the NRCS East National Technology Center based in North Carolina. He has 25 years of experience with the NRCS working with different states across America and holding various positions within the Conservation Service.

Laura DiPietro (Changes in VT Agricultural Policies and Programs): Laura is the Deputy Director of Agricultural Resource Management at the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food, and Markets.

Please send your registration form to Jill Arace, VACD Executive Director, at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it by Wednesday, October 21st. Payment can be sent to VACD, PO Box 566, Waitsfield, VT 05673-0566

We look forward to seeing you there!

Conservation Districts Expand Work with Small Farms to Address Water Quality Concerns
Thursday, 15 May 2014 07:16

While the State of Vermont and the US Environmental Protection Agency are working to agree on a plan to clean up Lake Champlain, they are also expanding efforts to help small farms address water quality concerns in cooperation with Vermont’s fourteen Natural Resources Conservation Districts.

The Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets, the Department of Environmental Conservation of the Agency of Natural Resources and USEPA provided a 21-month, $673,271 grant to the Vermont Association of Conservation Districts to help small farms install agricultural water quality best management practices that will protect the State’s waters and support the working landscape.

The grant enables conservation district staff throughout the state to reach out to small farmers regarding Vermont’s Accepted Agricultural Practices – the state’s agricultural water quality regulations – and help them identify and resolve water quality concerns on the farm.  These technical advisors provide information, assess water quality concerns, and help farmers secure funding to implement best management practices aimed at reducing runoff and contamination of the state’s waters.  The improvements not only protect water quality, but help farmers improve operations, protect animal health, and enhance farm viability.  These on-farm improvements include fencing to exclude animals from streams and rivers, construction of stream crossings and animal laneways, improved drainage systems to manage runoff from barns and manure stack pads, and alternative watering systems.  

For examples of best management practices, see the VACD-produced film entitled Small Farms Making a Difference: Water Quality Improvement Success Stories, in which small farm owners showcase the steps they are taking to lessen the impact of agricultural operations on water quality here.

For more information contact:
Jeff Farber, Technical Programs Manager
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