Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food, and Markets
Winter requires farmers to operate with great care and also abide by season-specific rules.
"Winter presents all of us with weather-related challenges, but for farmers, there is a heightened need for vigilance," according the Chuck Ross, Vermont's Secretary of Agriculture. "Safety, stewardship practices, and advance-planning must remain top-of-mind for all our farmers this winter."
The Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food, and Markets is issuing the following reminder to farmers:
Manure Spreading Ban Begins Dec. 15
The manure spreading ban will once again take effect December 15.
This annual ban is part of an overall strategy to protect our working landscape and natural resources, as outlined in Vermont’s Accepted Agricultural Practices (AAPs). The Agency works closely with farmers across the state to ensure the AAPs are enforced.
Manure spreading is a common practice in Vermont agriculture which enriches the soil for production and helps manage animal waste.
The manure spreading ban is a regulation that has been in place since 1995 under the Accepted Agricultural Practice rules. Vermont was a leading state in developing such a ban. In recent years several other states have considered adopting, or have adopted, the idea. Research has shown that manure applications on frozen ground can increase the runoff potential. Vermont chose to select a ban period from December 15th to April 1st each year to protect water quality; however the Agency has discretion with those dates to accommodate unusual circumstances.
During the ban, farmers must either have a storage structure that is capable of holding all manure produced from December 15th to April 1st, which is 107 days, or they must be able to stack all manure produced in a way that will not lead to water quality impacts.
When stacking manure, AAPs require that stacking sites be located more than 100 feet from private wells or property boundaries. In addition, manure cannot be stacked on unimproved sites within 100 feet of surface water, or on land that is subject to annual overflow from adjacent waters. In all these situations, however, farmers have the opportunity to demonstrate to the Secretary of Agriculture that no alternative sites exist to enable you to meet these restrictions.
If you have any questions about the manure spreading ban, or if you would like assistance in the selection of appropriate manure stacking sites, please call the Agency at (802) 828-3475.
Be Prepared for Inclement Weather
The Agency suggests farmers take the following precautions this winter to deal with inclement weather...
· Be prepared for power outages. A back-up generator with sufficient fuel to run should be in place prior to the beginning of the storm.
· Apply sand or gravel to walkways used by workers or livestock.
· Charge cellphones and cameras. Keep flashlights, with batteries, handy.
· Pump and store adequate supplies of drinking water for humans and animals in case of power outages.
· Be prepared for delays on the road, including obstructed roadways, which may delay deliveries from suppliers .
· If milk trucks are unable to reach farms, dairy farmers may exceed their holding capacity for stored milk. If this is the case, be prepared to dispose of your excess milk in a suitable location. Make sure to record the volume of milk.
· The weight of ice on trees and branches may cause them to break off and fall onto buildings and equipment. Take steps in advance to mitigate the impact, if possible.
· If it is safe to do so, shovel the snow off barn and house roofs. If you cannot safely shovel your roof, contact a professional. The weight of ice or rain added to the weight of the snow currently on roofs may exceed the capacity of the structure and lead to a roof collapse.
Farmers are urged to take preparations necessary to be self-sufficient for up to a week, including having enough feed and water for livestock or moving them to a safer location, if necessary.
If you have questions related to winter storm preparation, please contact Annie Macmillan at 802-828-3479.