The Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets is revising Vermont’s agricultural standards. The new Required Agricultural Practices (RAPs) represent an important opportunity to transition to a sustainable agricultural system that improves water quality. Fostering environmentally sensitive practices is important because many lakes and rivers across the state are polluted, in part, due to agricultural runoff.
The RAPs amend the current policies by adding new requirements for small farms, excluding livestock from waterways, and broadening farmers’ commitments to implementing conservation practices, such as buffers and cover crops. While the RAPs are an important step forward, more is needed to address Vermont’s polluted waters.
In a joint letter to the Agency, CLF has encouraged a statewide transition to sustainable agriculture and strengthening of the RAPs. Sustainable farming integrates environmental health, economic profitability, and social justice by avoiding the use of synthetic fertilizer, supporting biodiverse farming, and promoting organic and value-added production. These practices will help protect Vermont’s water resources as well as ensure compliance with environmental laws.
In our comments on the RAPs, CLF has also reiterated Vermont’s legal commitments to clean water. Earlier this year, Vermont enacted a law focused on improving water quality by addressing, among other land uses, farming. This law calls on the Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets to control all agricultural activities harmful to water. The federal Clean Water Act also compels Vermont to stop the degradation of its lakes and rivers. It’s important that the RAPs get it right by satisfying these legal requirements.
CLF is continuing to fight for clean water in Vermont. Farming is critical to our culture, economy, and way of life, but agriculture and clean water do not have to be in conflict. Keep following to learn more about CLF’s role in improving water quality in Vermont.