Updated Downloadable Documents & Helpful Links
Proposed RAP Rule as filed with VT Secretary of State- 5/13/2016 (.pdf)
Proposed RAP Rule Highlighted Changes Summary - 5/13/2016 (.pdf)
Proposed RAP Rule Effective Dates Discussion - 5/13/2016 (.pdf)
Public Comments Recieved on 2nd Draft RAPs - 5/13/2016 (.pdf)
Proposed RAP Rule Farm Size Factsheet - 5/13/2016 (.pdf)
Proposed RAP Rule Summary Factsheet - 5/13/2016 (.pdf)
Updated RAP Rulemaking Timeline - 5/13/2016 (.pdf)
RAP Proposed Rule Presentation - 5/26/2016 (.pdf)
Watch a Recorded Webinar on the RAP Proposed rule
Public Comment regarding the Draft RAPs can be submitted by e-mail to the address below:
Or can be submitted in writing to:Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food, and Markets
116 State Street
Montpelier, Vt 05620-2901
Register Here: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/rt/5938291152303942401
The Agency will hold two webinars in advance of the formal hearings to present the rules in detail. These webinars will be recorded and available as videos on the VAAFM website following the presentations.
These Webinars are scheduled for:
May 26, 2016: 10 am – Noon
June 7, 2016: 1 pm – 3 pm
Agency of Agriculture Files Required Agricultural Practices Proposed Rule with Secretary of State
Announces Public Hearings with Public Comment Period to Run until July 7, 2016
On Friday, May 13, 2016, the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets (VAAFM) filed the Required Agricultural Practices (RAPs) Proposed Rule with the Vermont Secretary of State. This filing represents the start of the formal rulemaking process during which the public will continue to consider the strengthening of agricultural water quality standards for Vermont farms. A public comment period on the Proposed Rule will be open until July 7, 2016, with five public hearings on the Proposed Rule scheduled for the end of June. The Proposed Rule is available today on the Agency website: http://agriculture.vermont.gov/water-quality/regulations/rap
“This Proposed RAP Rule, which will apply to all types of agriculture, represents a serious commitment on the part of the agricultural community to enhance water quality throughout Vermont,” said Vermont Secretary of Agriculture, Chuck Ross. “The Vermont agricultural community is culturally and economically critical to the State of Vermont, and farmers have shown through this process to date—by showing up and providing input— how they truly desire to be part of the solution for clean water throughout Vermont.”
As a result of Act 64—the Vermont Clean Water Act—signed into law in June 2015, the Agency of Agriculture was tasked with updating the Accepted Agricultural Practices (AAPs) to further reduce the impact of agriculture on water quality across the state. The RAPs are an updated version of the AAPs, the rules in place since 1995 which regulate farms in order to protect water quality, re-written to a higher level of performance.
VAAFM released a first draft of the RAPs on October 20, 2015 and held a public comment and outreach period which ran until December 18, 2015. VAAFM then revised the RAPs based on comment received and released a second draft for public review on February 23, 2016. VAAFM considered comment received from February 23, 2016 up to April 15, 2016 and submitted a third draft of the RAP Rule as part of a pre-filing process to the Interagency Committee on Administrative Rules on April 20, 2016. The ICAR committee met on May 9, 2016 and provided comments the following day, which have since been incorporated into the draft. That draft is being released today by VAAFM as the Proposed Rule that has been filed with the Secretary of State which initiates the public comment period of the formal rulemaking process. The public comment period for the Proposed Rule will run from May 16, 2016 to July 7, 2016. To date, VAAFM has held more than 80 small stakeholder and large public meetings on the RAPs to solicit feedback from farmers, stakeholders and the public.
“VAAFM would like to thank the more than 1800 individuals who attended the over 80 meetings held by VAAFM and our Water Quality Partners since October last year who took the time to provide comments or otherwise participate in this public process,” said VAAFM Agricultural Resource Management Division Director, Jim Leland. “The public engagement and participation in the process thus far has been instrumental in developing an effective and workable rule for all farms in Vermont.”
“One of the largest takeaways from the Proposed RAP Rule,” said Leland, “is that while the Rule sets strong baseline performance standards, there is the opportunity for farm operators and planners to develop and submit to the Agency for approval, specialized alternative management plans to address site-specific conditions.” Leland continues, “This ensures that the Proposed RAP Rule meets the standards for flexibility and water quality required by Act 64 of 2015, as well as the diverse management needs of farm operations throughout the state.”
Public comment can be submitted to the Agency’s RAP e-mail inbox at AGR.RAP@vermont.gov or by mailing written comment to the Agency of Agriculture at 116 State Street, Montpelier, VT 05620.
Five public hearings will be held in June for farmers, stakeholders and the public to provide testimony and comment on the Proposed RAP Rule. The Agency will hold two webinars in advance of the formal hearings to present the rules in detail. These webinars will be recorded and available as videos on the VAAFM website following the presentations.
The Agency has also made available additional summary materials on its website, including two summary factsheets which highlight the most significant changes from the AAPs to the RAPs. Also posted on the website is a Highlighted Changes Summary which outlines response to comments received on the second draft of the RAPs as well as changes made between the second draft and the proposed rule. The Agency website also has an updated timeline which has been posted to outline the process moving forward towards a promulgated rule.
For more information about the RAPs, and the Agency’s efforts to implement Act 64 of 2015, please visit http://agriculture.vermont.gov/water-quality/regulations/rap or contact the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets at (802) 272-0323.
The five public hearings will be held:
Public Hearing - St. Albans
RAP Proposed Rule
St. Albans Hiistorical Museum
9 Church Street, St. Albans City, VT 05478
|12:30 - 3:30pm|
Public Hearing - Brandon
Brandon American Legion
590 Franklin St., Brandon, VT 05733
|12:30 - 3:30 pm|
Public Hearing - So. Royalton
Vermont Law School
164 Chelsea St., South Royalton, VT 05068
|12:30 - 3:30 pm|
Public Hearing - Manchester
Fraternal Order of the Eagles
|12:30 - 3:30 pm|
Public Hearing - Newport
Newport American Legion
160 Freeman St., Newport, VT 05855
|12:30 - 3:30 pm|
Public Hearing - Brattleboro
Brattleboro American Legion
32 Linden St., Brattleboro, VT 05301
|12:30 - 3:30 pm|
Act 64, signed into law by the Governor on June 16, 2015, amended and enacted multiple requirements related to water quality in the State. The act amended several provisions regarding agricultural water quality. The "accepted agricultural practices" are renamed the "required agricultural practices" (RAPs). The AAPs and RAPs are minimum standards by which a farm must manage their agricultural operations. VAAFM has been charged to revise the RAPs by rule. The revised RAPs have been charged to include requirements for:
Small farm certification
Tile drainage (By: January 15, 2018)
Please click the image below to download the RAP Rule Revision Timeline graphic:
1st Draft Required Agricultural Practices Document (pdf)
1st Draft RAP Public Meeting Schedule (link)
Submit Public Comment to VAAFM (e-mail)
1st Draft RAP Short Public Presentation (.pdf)
1st Draft RAP Detailed Public Presentation (.pdf)
1st Draft RAP Small Farm Designation Fact Sheet (.pdf)
1st Draft RAP Highlighted Regulations Fact Sheet (.pdf)
Presentation on 1st Draft RAP Public Comments
2nd Draft RAP Document - 2/23/2016 (.pdf)
2nd Draft RAP Responsiveness Summary - 2/24/2016 (.pdf)
2nd Draft RAP Public Comments Received - 2/23/2016 (.pdf)
2nd Draft RAP Summary Presentation (.pdf)
2nd Draft RAP Farm Size Factsheet (.pdf)
2nd Draft RAP Rule Summary Factsheet (.pdf)
ICAR RAP Prefiling Draft (.pdf)
As part of Act 64, the Accepted Agricultural Practices, also known as the AAPs, are being updated, and will soon be known as the Required Agricultural Practices (RAPs). Until then, all agricultural operations will continue to be governed by the AAPs, as described below.
- Changes the term from "accepted Agriculture Practices" to "Required Agriculture Practices."
- Requires VAAFM to amend the RAPs by rule to establish requirements for small farm certification, including requirements for stacking or storing nutrients, soil health and loss tolerance, vegetative buffer zones, livestock exclusion, nutrient management planning, and tile drainage or other dewatering technology.
Accepted Agricultural Practices (AAPs) are the foundation of Vermont’s Agricultural Nonpoint Source Water Quality Program. AAPs are state-wide restrictions designed to conserve and protect natural resources by reducing non-point source pollution through the implementation of improved farming techniques rather than investments in structures and equipment. All agricultural operators are required to conduct their farming activities in compliance with the AAPs, including all medium and large farms operating under permits.
The original AAP regulations, adopted in 1995, addressed animal waste management, erosion and sediment control, vegetative buffer zones along surface waters, fertilizer management and pesticide management. Amendments to Vermont’s Agricultural Water Quality Law (Title 6 Vermont Statutes Annotated, Chapter 215), along with 10 years of experience in working with the AAPs since their adoption in 1995, led to the need to update and revise the AAPs in 2006. The AAP regulations now include requirements related to the management of streambanks, animal mortalities, groundwater contamination, and setbacks for manure storage and land application.
Investigations into alleged violations of the AAPs are conducted by Vermont Agency of Agriculture Field Agents. These Agents also conduct investigations into cases of alleged pesticide misuse and collect samples of animal feed and fertilizer for analysis to ensure product quality and integrity.