The Vermont Pay for Phosphorus Program (VPFP) is an innovative new outcomes-based program from the Water Quality division of the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets (VAAFM). This program will provide performance-based payments to Vermont farmers for reductions in phosphorus (P) losses from their agricultural fields.
Reductions represent improvements in farm management from the management assumed in the Lake Champlain Basin Total Maximum Daily Load (LCB TMDL). Enrolled farms will receive payment for annual net reductions from these historic base loading assumptions, above a threshold set by the program.
Most current payment programs pay cost-share for practices. The VPFP is unique because it pays for the outcomes of those practices: it recognizes that the conservation of soil and water generates value to the public and directly compensates farms for that value. In this approach, farmers have the flexibility to implement whichever conservation practices they know will work for their own operations each year.
$4.9 million are available for farms across 4 years. There are two types of payment available:
First-time enrollees, regardless of phosphorus reductions, are eligible for a one-time management planning and data entry payment of $15 for every acre of data entry successfully completed — up to a cap of $4,000.
Farms whose data has been entered can choose to be entered into a competitive pool for annual contracts for phosphorus reduction payments. These payments will compensate farms with $100 per pound of eligible phosphorus reductions per year, up to an annual cap of $50,000.
To be eligible for VPFP program, farms must:
- Be a Farm as defined in the Required Agricultural Practices (RAPs), operating within Vermont
- Manage crop or hay land
- Ensure that their farm business is registered with the USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) and that all managed land is mapped and in compliance with federal Highly Erodible Land and Wetland regulations. (How to register)
- Have an up-to-date Nutrient Management Plan (NMP) that meets the RAPs for their farm size, including recent soil (and in most cases manure) tests.
If you are not registered with FSA or do not have soil or manure tests or an up-to-date Nutrient Management Plan that meets the RAPs for your farm size, you must work to obtain meet those requirements PRIOR to application. Your local Conservation District and/or FSA office can help you with this process.
How to Apply
2022 Application period: December 30, 2021 - January 31, 2022.
- The application form does not require any uploads, but be prepared to provide exact information abour your most recent NMP and soil & manure tests.
- An informational webinar to assist producers who are interested in applying for the Vermont Pay for Phosphorus Program was held Wednesday January 19th from 12:30-1:30am.
Funding for Management Planning and Data Entry will prioritize the following:
- Farms located in areas of Vermont with the highest TMDL phosphorous reductions
- Farms with highest percentage of field conservation practice installation
- Farms with the highest percentage of self-funded field conservation practices
- Farms that demonstrate current and historic dedication to keeping their Nutrient Management Plan and associated records clear, legible, and up to date.
- Farms that meet the criteria for Historically Underserved Producers
Timeline for Program Involvement:
- Applicants complete their 2022 applications for Management Planning and Data Entry funding prior to January 31, 2022.
- Eligible first-time applicants who have been selected for Management Planning and Data Entry will be notified and sent contract paperwork, which they will need to sign and return.
- Farms will work individually or with Technical Service providers to add planned farm management into the FarmPREP modelling tool. When this is complete, they will receive Data Entry Payment.
- Farms with complete data in FarmPREP have the option to be ranked and reviewed for Phosphorus Reduction Payments.
- Successful applicants for Phosphorus Reduction Payments are notified, and complete contract paperwork to enter that stage of the VPFP program.
- Enrolled farms manage their farms to a high standard of conservation and keep clear accurate records.
- Over the course of the year, technical service providers check in with farms to access records, update FarmPREP, and verify the field practices being installed.
- At the end of the year, if the year’s management is recorded in FarmPREP and verified, enrolled farms receive a Phosphorus Reduction Payment for the phosphorus reductions documented that year.
- This is an annual program that follows the calendar year. All farms have the option to reapply for the following year (2023).