The Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets’ (VAAFM) newly effective Required Agricultural Practices Rule will continue a 20-year winter management requirement for all farms: between December 15 and April 1, no manure or other agricultural wastes (compost, spoiled feed, other wastes) may be spread on fields throughout Vermont.
This annual ban is part of an overall strategy to protect our working landscape and natural resources, as outlined in Vermont’s Required Agricultural Practices (RAPs). The Agency works closely with farmers across the state to ensure the RAPs are understood and enforced. Manure spreading is a common practice in Vermont agriculture which enriches the soil for production and helps manage animal waste.
The winter manure spreading ban is a regulation that has been in place since 1995 under the old Accepted Agricultural Practices Rule. The newly revised RAP Rule continues the 20-year old winter manure spreading ban while providing several new standards for manure spreading. Farms throughout Vermont will need to be aware of these new standards in order to appropriately site manure stacking sites this winter and to meet new manure spreading requirements for the 2017 field season and beyond.
For this winter’s manure spreading ban, farmers must either have a storage structure that is capable of holding all manure produced from December 15th to April 1st, which is 107 days, or they must be able to stack all manure produced in a way that will not lead to adverse water quality impacts.
When field stacking manure, the RAPs require that stacking sites be located at least 200 feet from private wells and 100 feet from property boundaries. In addition, manure cannot be stacked within 200 feet of surface water, 100 feet of a ditch, or on land that is subject to annual overflow from adjacent waters. In all these situations, however, farmers have the opportunity to demonstrate to the Secretary of Agriculture that no alternative sites exist and request a variance.
Exemptions for winter manure spreading are available only for emergency situations, such as structural failure of a waste storage facility. If a farmer anticipates having an issue meeting the winter manure spreading ban restrictions, please contact VAAFM for assistance with planning winter manure management.
If you have any questions about the manure spreading ban, or if you would like assistance in the selection of appropriate manure stacking sites, please call the Agency of Agriculture at (802) 828-3475.
For additional information regarding the newly effective RAPs, please visit the Agency’s website: http://agriculture.vermont.gov/water-quality/regulations/rap