Required Agricultural Practices (RAPs)

Required Agricultural Practices (RAPs)

RAP Summary Book

RAP Final Rule 



The Required Agricultural Practices (RAPs) are practices and management strategies to which all types of farms must be managed to reduce the impact of agricultural activities to water quality.

These standards are intended to improve the quality of Vermont’s waters by reducing and eliminating cropland erosion, sediment losses, and nutrient losses through improved farm management techniques, technical and compliance assistance, and where appropriate, enforcement. The RAPs establish nutrient, manure, and waste storage standards, make recommendations for soil health and establish requirements for vegetated buffer zones and livestock exclusion from surface water. The RAPs also establish standards for nutrient management planning and soil conservation. 

In addition to the various standards included in the RAPs, small farms that meet the criteria to be considered a Certified Small Farm Operation (CSFO) will need to annually certify compliance with the RAPs as well as develop and implement nutrient management plans. Resources are available in the form of both technical and financial assistance for farmers to help them comply with the RAPs. 

Four hours of Agricultural Water Quality Training is now required every five years for CSFO, MFO and LFO operators and approved events can be found on the Agencies Event Page

Who has to Follow the RAPs?

The Farm Size Factsheet describes the various farm size thresholds affected by the RAPs. Farms that meet the threshold for a Large, Medium, or Certified Small Farm Operation are responsible for submitting annual certification or annual reporting, while all farms must follow the RAPs.

Click the above link if you are confused whether or not you need to certify. 

RAP Summary 

This summary is meant to inform farmers about the RAPs, but the full rule should be referenced for further information regarding site specific concerns, variances, exemptions, and complete management practices required by the RAPs.

RAP Short Summary 

Important Dates for the RAPs 

Custom Manure & Ag Waste Applicator Certification

January 31

Custom Applicators are required to renew their annual certification and pay an annual fee by January 31 of each year. Exams are required every 5 years. Applicators who are seeking certification should contact the VAAFM.

CSFO Annual Certification

January 31

Farming operations that meet the threshold of a Certified Small Farm will be required to self-certify their operation with the Agency of Agriculture annually by January 31. The first Certification Form is due between July 1, 2017 and January 31, 2018.

LFO Annual Reporting and Fee

February 15

Farming operations within the threshold of a Large Farm must submit their annual compliance report and operating fee before February 15 of each year.

MFO Annual Reporting and Fee

April 30

Farming operations within the threshold of a Medium Farm must submit their annual compliance report and operating fee by April 30 of each year.

Cover Cropping of Floodplains

October 1-15

Annually, fields need to be broadcast seeded by October 1, and drilled or otherwise incorporated by October 15. Requirements for cover crop establishment on frequently flooded areas of annual crop field begin in the Fall of 2017.

Extended Winter Spreading Ban on Floodplains

October 16-April 14

The extended winter manure spreading ban for frequently flooded areas of annual crop fields will take place from October to April beginning October 16, 2017.

Winter Manure Spreading Ban

December 15-April 1

This winter manure spreading ban has been in place since 1995 and prohibits spreading of manure or other agricultural wastes during the winter season. There are exemptions for emergency and non-emergency situations, call (802) 828-2431.
























Technical and Financial Resources

There is a range of resources for farmers around RAP implementation and compliance in the form of both technical and financial assistance.

Technical and Financial Assistance

Stream versus Ditch Factsheet. 

Frequently Flooded Land Areas 

If you own lands which fall into the designation of frequently flooded soil class (USDA Soil Survey), there are specific practices required for these field areas including:

Cover Cropping: Frequently flooded soils, (USDA Soil Survey Flooding Frequency Class) must be cover-cropped for the winter by October 1 if broadcast seeded, or October 15 if drilled or otherwise incorporated.

Extended Spreading Ban: Manure and other agricultural wastes cannot be applied to areas of land with frequently flooded soils, (USDA Soil Survey Flooding Frequency Class) between October 16 and April 14.


If you are concerned about meeting the requirements for floodplain fields, please complete the floodplain planning process


Frequently Flooded Maps

Interactive map works best if viewed with Chrome or FireFox

Click Here for a Full Screen Version of the Frequently Flooded Map

Variances and Exemptions


Floodplain Fields: Exemption and Seasonal Variance: 

For the reclassification of incorrectly mapped fields and/or the variance process for circumstances which made a farmer unable to meet manure application or cover cropping dates as outlined within the RAPs. 

Manure Site Stacking Variance:

To request a variance for:

  • Siting Setback for Field Stacked Manure or Compost per RAPs § 6.02(f)
  • Siting Setback for Composting of Animal Mortalities per RAPs § 6.08(d)
  • Siting Setback for Burial of Animal Mortalities per RAPs § 6.08(d)

Submit all Variance or Exemption forms:

By Mail: Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets: Water Quality Program, 116 State Street, Montpelier, VT 05620

By Email:

Call the Agency of Agriculture with any questions or concerns related to the Required Agricultural Practices Rule at (802) 828-1702 or (802) 828-2431. 

Additional Resources

RAP Final Rule (11/18/2016)
RAP Final Rule Complete Filing Set (11/18/2016)
RAP Final Rule Summary Factsheet (1/30/2017)
RAP Final Rule Farm Size Factsheet (1/30/2017)
RAP Effective Dates Guidance (1/30/2017)

RAP Public Rulemaking Process Archive

Download RAP Final Rule (11/18/2016)

Download RAP Final Rule Filing Packet (11/18/2016)

RAP Rulemaking Timeline


This act amends or enacts multiple statutes related to water quality in the State. The act amends several provisions regarding agricultural water quality. The “accepted agricultural practices” are renamed the “required agricultural practices (RAPs).” The Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets (AAFM) shall revise the RAPs by rule by September 15, 2016. 

The revised RAPs shall include requirements for: small farm certification, nutrient storage, soil health, buffer zones, livestock exclusion, nutrient management, and tile drainage.

  • Small farm certification

  • Nutrient storage

  • Soil health

  • Buffer zones

  • Livestock exclusion

  • Nutrient management

  • Tile drainage (By: January 15, 2018)