Vermont Agriculture & Food System Plan 2021-2030 Vermont Food System Plan Issue Brief: Payment for Ecosystem Services

Description

Ecosystem services are the “ecosystem functions that are useful to humans.” Agricultural landscapes in Vermont can be managed to enhance ecosystem services such as nutrient cycling, climate regulation, biodiversity, and cultural identity. Compensating farmers for providing these additional benefits to society beyond food production via a payment for ecosystem services (PES) program would financially recognize farmers’ contributions to meeting pressing environmental goals such as the Lake Champlain Basin Total Maximum Daily Load plan, greenhouse gas emissions reductions, and flood resilience, and also enhance the viability of farms committed to environmental stewardship. However, creating a viable PES program to make transformative change will require policy and regulatory changes and new sources of capital, as well as technological, programmatic, and market developments that do not currently exist.

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