(Dr. Heather Darby speaking at the UVM Extension Northwest Crops & Soils Annual Field Day in July 2017, an event that provided approved Water Quality Training to attending farmers.)
By Kaitlin Hayes, VT Agency of Ag
When the Required Agricultural Practices (RAPs) were enacted on December 5, 2017, they included many changes for farmers. One of these changes requires farmers and custom applicators to obtain Agricultural Water Quality Training.
Water Quality Training requires operators of Certified Small Farms and permitted Medium or Large Farms to obtain four hours water quality training every five years.
The training hours must be approved by the Secretary and cover the follow topics:
- Prevention of Discharges
- Mitigation or Management of Stormwater Runoff
- Statutory or Regulatory Requirements for Operation of a Certified Small, Medium, or Large Farm Operations
- Financial Resources Available to Assist Farming Operations
- Mechanical Application of Manure or Nutrients
- Methods or Techniques Used to Minimize Runoff of Applied Manure or Nutrients to Waters of the State
- Weather and Soil Conditions That Increase the Risk of Runoff of Manure or Nutrients to Waters of the State
- Standards for Nutrient Management Including Nutrient Management Planning
Training offered by other entities and partners can be approved to fulfill this requirement, as long as all events are approved by the Secretary. Sign-In sheets are provided at these events for farmers; the sheets are then submitted to the Agency, so farmer attendance and training hours can be logged.
Many ongoing or current events count for Water Quality Training Credits, all farmers should make sure to check in with event organizers regarding opportunities for receiving credits. Some events that fulfill Training requirements are: Nutrient Management Plan Classes, Soil Health Field Days, Precision Agriculture Forums, Innovative Agriculture Discussions, Educational RAP Presentations or Classes, as well as many other events.
The requirement for Water Quality Training Credits became effective July 1, 2017. The Agency will use Sign-In sheets to track the credits earned by farmers, and to recognize those farmers that have gone above and beyond to learn about agricultural impacts on water quality and have earned the most credits:
- Distinction in Water Quality Knowledge Award: Annually awarded to the farm operation or operator that has earned the most credits for the timespan of July 1, 2017 – July 1, 2018
- 5 Years of Excellence in Water Quality Knowledge Award: Awarded to the farm operation or operator that has earned the most Water Quality Training Credits throughout the duration of the 5-year cycle spanning July 1, 2017 – July 1, 2022
The Agency encourages partners to submit Event Applications, to increase opportunities for farmers to earn Credit hours.
Make sure to check the Agriview Calendar or the Agency’s Calendar online for upcoming events
For more information on Water Quality Training requirements or to ask other questions, please email AGR.WaterQuality@vermont.gov or call (802) 828-2431.
For partners and organizers - to find an Event Application, please visit: http://agriculture.vermont.gov/sites/ag/files/WQ_Training_Event_Application_Final.pdf