The Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets:
Required Agricultural Practices Rules
Have you heard that Vermont has new Required Agriculture Practices (RAPs) that affect horse owners?! Meeting the new RAPs is required, and the RAPs apply to all types of farms including crop, livestock, vegetable and—yes--horse farms. If you raise four or more horses or manage four or more acres of agricultural land, the RAPs apply to you!
Agriculture can contribute pollution to surface and groundwater from multiple sources, including cropland erosion, grazing lands, farmstead management, and manure storage and application. While contributions of agricultural pollution may vary from watershed to watershed, the overall impact to water quality from agricultural lands, when not managed well, is significant. Legislation was passed and signed into law in 2015 which amended and enacted multiple requirements related to water quality in the State. The Act (Act 64) instructed the Agency of Agriculture to revise the Required Agricultural Practices Rules.
The RAPs, effective as of December 5, 2016, include standards for:
Small farm certification, Nutrient storage and spreading, Soil health, Buffer zones, and Livestock exclusion from Surface Waters
The Agency appreciates that farms face pressures from many fronts, and as such worked collaboratively with farmers over the 14-month RAP rulemaking process to develop standards that are effective in protecting water quality while also being workable for the farming community.
The Agency will offer: Time, Flexibility, and Support to farmers as we work together to implement the RAPs.
The Agency of Ag works with a statewide Vermont Water Quality Partnership to deliver technical and financial assistance to farms of all sizes—including a one horse operation with 5 acres of pasture! Agency staff are available to visit with farms to assess and discuss farm improvements which may be necessary—if any—and how to locate sources of funding for which your farm may be eligible. The Agency encourages farmers to get involved in this work as soon as possible, as current funding levels may not be available past 2018.
You can find additional information about the RAPs by visiting the Agency’s website: http://agriculture.vermont.gov/RAP
For more information, call Katie Gehr at (802) 461-5991 Or e-mail the Agency at: AGR.RAP@vermont.gov