Farmland Access and Stewardship

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WG meeting 9/28

See attached notes. Topics included:

Farming and Climate Change: The Need for Resilience in Vermont Agriculture (Joshua Faulkner, UVM Ext)

USDA Tools for measuring soil & water quality (Kip Potter, NRCS)

Agency of Ag: Vermont Environmental Stewardship Program (Ryan Patch, VAAFM)

Farmland Access Task Force Update (Mike Ghia)

Future of the Farmland Access & Stewardship Working Group & task forces


Discussion questions/ topics for future exploration:

·       What are the clean water goals, and is it important to distinguish the goals if they have co-benefits? For example, is the goal to reduce runoff into Lake Champlain?  Or is the goal to hire our farmers to create deep topsoil watersheds? 

·       How do we, as a state, grow new topsoil at scale?

·       How to measure ecosystem services? Should it be reframed as “we are either leaving our kids with a skeleton of a landscape or a deep topsoil watershed”.

·       How to hire/ pay farmers to grow deep topsoil watersheds and measure change, flood reduction, clean water production, etc.

·       Issues around equity and access to funding: there are 6000 farms in Vermont, but only ~800 dairy farms; small farms are growing in number, so how to get services/ funding to these farms?

·       What are the farmland access and stewardship goals the state/ F2P is trying to address – is it simply water quality or more complex global ag challenges? And, how can these goals be met to balance nutrient management and using ag as a transformative force for good?

·       How do we determine how to allocate limited state dollars that are available, i.e. paying for one program may take funds from another program (what kind of awareness do state agencies have about how funding priorities are made).

·       Are there existing State mandates that we could leverage for nutrient building? 

·       Can we use hazard mitigation to help pay to have some of this soil building work done? 

·       Could we modify current use so that farmers are getting paid to store water? 

·       Could the group come up with some recommendations for the Senate Ag committee?

·       Are there farmers that want to take over land, and how to we increase land access for folks?