Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food, & Markets
VT SECRETARY OF AGRICULTURE ISSUES DECISION ON REQUEST SEEKING MANDATORY BMPs
ON FARMS IN THE MISSISQUOI BAY BASIN
Vermont Secretary of Agriculture Chuck Ross issued a decision today denying a petition seeking to impose mandatory best management practices (BMPs) on farms in the Missisquoi Bay Basin. The decision directed the Agency’s Agricultural Water Quality Program to accelerate its agricultural water quality compliance and enforcement activities in the Missisquoi Bay Basin.
In May, the Conservation Law Foundation filed a petition seeking the imposition of mandatory best management practices (BMPs) for water quality on farms in the Missisquoi Bay Basin that were “critical source areas” as modelled by a 2011 Study commissioned by the Lake Champlain Basin Program. A public hearing on the petition was held in St. Albans in July. Farmers and stakeholders on all sides of the issues raised by the petition provided extensive testimony and comment. The public comment period extended into August so interested persons could file written comment in response to the testimony provided at the July public hearing.
In his 18-page written decision, Secretary Ross concluded that the actions sought by the petitioners would not be consistent with the EPA’s on-going process for water quality improvement under the federal Clean Water Act for establishing a Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) for Lake Champlain. The 2011 study referenced in the petition was a guidepost for on-going water quality work, but its data did not provide an adequate regulatory rationale to impose BMPs. Additionally, the decision notes that insufficient resources are available, at this time, to assist the basin’s farmers with achieving compliance with mandatory BMPs, as required by state law. The full text of the decision can be accessed at: http://agriculture.vermont.gov/clf_petition
In releasing his decision, Secretary Ross said: “The written decision speaks for itself. CLF’s initiative and the hearing process, in which stakeholders on all sides engaged in thoughtful and civil discourse, demonstrate why Vermont is a special place where we work together to address mutual concerns. CLF has pledged, on the record, to assist stakeholders in seeking additional resources devoted to agricultural water quality improvement.”
Additional information, including the original hearing notice and audio files from the hearing, can be found on the Agency’s website at http://agriculture.vermont.gov/clf_petition
For more information, please contact Jim Leland at 802-828-3478 or Jim.Leland@state.vt.us
About the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food, and Markets: VAAFM facilitates, supports and encourages the growth and viability of agriculture in Vermont while protecting the working landscape, human health, animal health, plant health, consumers and the environment. www.Agriculture.Vermont.Gov