Local News

Agency of Agriculture files final proposed water quality rule

Affects all farms in Vermont
On Wednesday, Sept. 14, the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets filed the Required Agricultural Practices (RAP) Final Proposed Rule with the Legislative Committee on Administrative Rules (LCAR) and the Vermont Secretary of State’s office. This filing represents the final step in the public rulemaking process the Agency has been engaged in since October of 2015.
“I cannot stress enough my appreciation for the farming community and their positive engagement in this process to date,” said Chuck Ross, secretary of agriculture. “Their willingness to come to the table and discuss the specifics of the rule over the many different drafts has helped us as an Agency develop a rule which strikes the balance between meeting stringent water quality standards and the realities of farming in Vermont.”
The RAP rules and supporting documents have been developed over the past year in conformance with the requirements of Act 64, signed into law in June of 2015. The agency has held 89 meetings with the public and the regulated community since October  2015 to discuss the rule in detail; 83 of those meetings were held by the agency in advance of the formal process and were not required by law.
Over 2,100 individuals have attended those meetings. Over 500 written comments and testimony were received during the formal comment period and six public hearings which ran from May 13 to July 7, 2016. Areas of the rule that received the greatest amount of comment were those that specified what types of farms would be required to self-certify and what entities would be subject to the rule in general, buffer requirements, and the requirements for livestock exclusion from surface waters.
Substantial changes were made to the first two drafts of the rule to reflect comments received during the comment period.
“The Agency has spent countless hours reviewing and considering all of the comments received about the rule in an effort to balance the needs of a highly diverse and thriving agricultural community, the requirements of Act 64, and the demands of the public at large for improvements to the State’s water quality,” said Jim Leland, director of the agency’s Agricultural Resource Management Division.
The RAP Final Proposed Rule can be read at  agriculture.vermont.gov/water-quality/regulations/rap.

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