Downloadable Documents & Helpful Links
Introduction to North Lake Farm Survey from Chuck Ross, Secretary of the Agency of Agriculture Food and Markets
"More than 1.2 million acres of Vermont land is devoted to farming, and agriculture is one of our most important industries. As a whole, agriculture preserves open land, provides us with healthy local foods, and is an essential part of Vermont's identity.
At the same time, Vermont's waters are critical to our economy and to our quality of life. We do not have to trade one for the other. Vermont's Required Agricultural Practices (RAPs) are an important tool designed to help farmers implement effective waste management practices that simultaneously promote the long-term viability of farms and the health of our state waterways.
In an effort to better understand the challenges facing farmers in the St. Albans Bay watershed and Missisquoi River Basin, the Agency of Agriculture has spent the past five months visiting farms to survey areas of need related to water quality and nutrient management. This interim report highlights these challenges.”
- Chuck Ross, Secretary of the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets
The North Lake Farm Survey (NLFS) is a pilot project launched by the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets (VAAFM) in May 2015 and is designed to begin quantifying the impacts of agriculture on Lake Champlain by surveying farm facilities located in the Missisquoi River Basin and St. Albans Bay watershed (Franklin and Orleans Counties). VAAFM employees have surveyed over 165 facilities since the project launched in May, and have worked closely with farmers to assess their potential impact on water quality and help them to understand Vermont’s new water quality regulations. The project will continue until all farms in the region have been reached.
The North Lake Farm Survey’s (NLFS) primary goal is to work closely with farmers to assess their potential impact on water quality and help them to understand Vermont’s new water quality regulations. VAAFM will not take enforcement action on violations found during a survey. However, VAAFM is required to refer direct discharges to the Agency of Natural Resources for further investigation.
Official farm inspections are conducted by VAAFM employees on an annual basis for Large Farm Operations (LFOs) and every 3 years for Medium Farm Operations (MFOs). In accordance with Act 64, Small Farm Operations (SFOs ) will be certified and inspected every 10 years starting in July, 2016. If water quality violations are found during an inspection, VAAFM may take enforcement action to include written warnings or notice of violations with proposed penalties.
Although the North Lake Farm Survey (NLFS) is not the direct result of Act 64, the survey is an integral part of a larger effort on behalf of the State to target regions that are challenged under EPA’s Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) to meet the phosphorus reduction goals to clean up Lake Champlain. Governor Shumlin announced this initiative in December 2014 at the same time USDA announced increasing financial resources for farmers to implement conservation practices as a means to connect farmers to the resources they need to address identified concerns.