Stronger Together - Vermont Agricultural Water Quality Partnership Gives Thanks to Farmers

09 November 2021
VAWQP Partnership

For Immediate Release

Contact: Alli Lewis | VAWQP Coordinator | 802-488-4274 | alli.lewis@vacd.org

November 9, 2021 | VAWQP Partnership - During this season of gratitude, the Vermont Agricultural Water Quality Partnership (VAWQP) salutes the diligence, stewardship, and commitment of Vermont farmers.

“Vermont would not be Vermont without agriculture and without our farms and farmers. This has been true for generations. We celebrate their commitment to food and to feeding us, especially this time of year, when that commitment is celebrated around the dinner table. We also celebrate their commitment to environmental stewardship, handed down for generations, and their continued and growing efforts to protect our shared environment,” said Anson Tebbetts, Vermont's Secretary of Agriculture, Food, and Markets.  

As you travel throughout the state this fall and winter, you might notice that work continues on farms. You’ll see farmers implementing practices like cover crops which help improve soil health, prevent soil erosion, protect water quality, and help combat climate change. “Without healthy soil, carbon is lost, crops suffer, and soil erodes during heavy rains. Soil erosion doesn’t only cause nutrient overload into our aquatic areas, it reduces net primary production on grazing lands and lowers carbon sequestration in agricultural systems,” explained UVM Extension Director Roy Beckford.

Farmers plant cover crops in fall and their roots will hold soil in place and keep it covered through the winter. They sequester carbon, hold water, and enrich the soil with nutrients through the winter.  You may also notice farmers spreading manure on their crops. That’s because the animal manure is a valuable source of natural fertilizer that helps crops get critical nutrients needed to grow.  But there’s a right time, and a wrong time, to spread. Vermont’s Required Agricultural Practices (RAPs) prohibit the spreading of manure or other agricultural waste on frozen ground or snow-covered ground. The RAPs also prohibit spreading between December 15th and April 1st, so farms must be prepared to store all the manure that will be generated through the winter months until conditions are favorable.

Farmers strive to work with nature, not against it, to ensure that they are managing their crops or animals to have a minimal impact on natural resources. Many farmers also develop and maintain nutrient management plans that help define the appropriate application of nutrients for specific crops at the individual field level. Farmers face the challenge of balancing weather, securing labor, and utilizing their nutrient management plans for soil health.

“As the leaves drop, plants go dormant, and the cold blanket of winter covers the land, it is a time for fields to rest--but not farmers,” said VAWQP Coordinator Alli Lewis.  “While we feed our families with the bounty of this last season, farmers order seeds and carefully plan to ensure that communities are fed. We hold much gratitude for our farmers in supporting communities by feeding us and stewarding natural places for the health of today and future Vermonters,” she added.

Lewis also noted that if farmers need support in meeting the winter spreading ban requirements, they can contact the Vermont Agency of Agriculture for assistance with planning winter manure management. For questions about frozen or snow-covered ground, the manure spreading ban, or appropriate manure stacking sites, call them at (802) 828-2431.

You can also contact your local Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) office for technical and financial assistance opportunities. There is currently a call for applications with a December 31 ranking date for several of NRCS’ Farm Bill programs which offer financial assistance to install conservation practices.

**The Vermont Agricultural Water Quality Partnership is a coalition of state and federal organizations dedicated to improving agricultural water quality in Vermont by coordinating efforts to provide education, technical and financial assistance to our farming community. The Partnership collaborates to leverage unique resources, funding mechanisms, technical expertise, outreach techniques, and more.

For more information on the partnership and the missions of the partner organizations, visit their website at https://vtagcleanwater.org/.

Contact Information

Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets

116 State Street
Montpelier, Vt 05620-2901
802.828.2430

 

Program Contacts

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