Regulations for Small Farm Operations (SFOs)

Introduction to the SFO Certification Program

 

Welcome to Vermont’s Small Farm Operation Certification Program!

As part of Act 64, the Vermont Clean Water Act signed into law June of 2015, Small Farm Operations above a particular farm size are now required to annually self-certify their operation. The goal of this program is to support farmers to ensure their clear understanding of new statewide agricultural management rules (RAPs), while providing assistance to assess, plan and implement any necessary conservation and management practices that might be necessary to meet water quality goals.

As part of the certification process, operators of Certified Small Farm Operations (CSFOs) will;

  • Complete the 1-page CSFO certification form annually beginning July 1, 2017
  • Develop and implement a written USDA NRCS 590 Nutrient Management Plan,
  • Obtain 4 hours of approved water quality training every 5 years,
  • Be inspected by the Agency of Ag on at least a 7-year cycle
  • Comply with the standards set forth in the Required Agriculture Practices (RAPs).

 

Certified Small Farm Operation (CSFO) Definition:

 

Farms who will annually certify as a CSFO include farms:

  • Growing more than 50 acres of annual cropland (e.g. corn, sweet corn, soybean, or pumpkin), OR
  • Growing more than 50 acres of vegetables, OR
  • That house and manage at least the following animal numbers;
    • 50 mature dairy cows
    • 75 youngstock or heifers
    • 75 veal calves
    • 75 cattle or cow/calf pairs
    • 188 swine weighing less than 55 pounds
    • 750 swine weighing less than 55 pounds
    • 40 equines
    • 750 sheep or goats
    • 4,125 turkeys
    • 2,250 laying hens or broilers or 375 ducks (w/ liquid manure system)
    • 6,250 laying hens or broilers or 2,500 ducks (w/out a liquid manure system)
    • A combination of animals with total live weight exceeding 90,000 pounds

CSFO ANNUAL CERTIFICATION

New CSFOs should review the RAPs before completing and submitting certification form to the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets.

Please don’t hesitate to reach out the SFO staff with questions or concerns. Eventually you will be given a farm coordinator who will provide technical assistance and regulatory guidance in addition to completing inspections once every seven years. In the meantime, CSFO operators should be developing and implementing a USDA NRCS 590 Nutrient Management Plan, and working to bring their facilities and lands into compliance with the RAPs. 

Print and mail the Annual Certification Form

REQUIRED AGRICULTURAL PRACTICES (RAPS)

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

These standards are intended to improve the quality of all Vermont’s waters by reducing and eliminating 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. In addition, the RAPs establish nutrient management planning standards, and standards for soil conservation.

Under the RAPs, CSFOs are required to:

  • Complete the 1-page CSFO certification form annually beginning July 1, 2017
  • Develop and implement a written USDA NRCS 590 Nutrient Management Plan,
  • Obtain 4 hours of approved water quality training every 5 years,
  • Be inspected by the Agency of AG on at least a 7-year cycle
  • Comply with the standards set forth in the Required Agricultural Practices (RAPs)

 

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Are you concerned about implementing the RAPs, looking for technical or financial assistance, or interested in applying for a cost-share program? Here are some resources for you both within and outside of the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets.