These standards are intended to improve the quality of Vermont’s waters by reducing and eliminating cropland erosion, sediment losses, and nutrient losses through improved farm management techniques, technical and compliance assistance, and where appropriate, enforcement. The RAPs establish nutrient, manure, and waste storage standards, make recommendations for soil health and establish requirements for vegetated buffer zones and livestock exclusion from surface water. The RAPs also establish standards for nutrient management planning and soil conservation.
In addition to the various standards included in the RAPs, small farms that meet the criteria to be considered a Certified Small Farm Operation (CSFO) will need to annually certify compliance with the RAPs as well as develop and implement nutrient management plans. Resources are available in the form of both technical and financial assistance for farmers to help them comply with the RAPs.
Four hours of Agricultural Water Quality Training is now required every five years for CSFO, MFO and LFO operators and approved events can be found on the Agencies Event Page.
The Farm Size Factsheet describes the various farm size thresholds affected by the RAPs. Farms that meet the threshold for a Large, Medium, or Certified Small Farm Operation are responsible for submitting annual certification or annual reporting, while all farms must follow the RAPs.
This summary is meant to inform farmers about the RAPs, but the full rule should be referenced for further information regarding site specific concerns, variances, exemptions, and complete management practices required by the RAPs.
Educational Requirements: Water Quality Training Credits
Four hours of Agricultural Water Quality Training is now required every five years for CSFO, MFO and LFO operators and approved events can be found on the Agencies Event Page. There are a plethora of events that qualify for water quality educational credits and any organization intested in offering water quality training credits should visit the Water Quality Initiatives page to apply for credits.
Water Quality Credits can also be obtained through the online RAP Quiz, a useful online educational course for livestock farmers and service providers to spread awareness about the Required Agricultural Practices (RAPs) and water quality management options.The quiz takes about an hour to complete and Farmers will receive two water quality credits upon successful completion of the quiz.
The RAP Quiz is an engaging education course that includes an outline of how the RAPs apply to your farmstead, ﬁeld & nutrient management, video and photo examples of commonly misunderstood RAP topics, such as livestock exclusion from surface water, information on how diﬀerent management practices impact water quality, and links to resources for grants and assistance.
Technical and Financial Assistance
There is a range of resources for farmers around RAP implementation and compliance in the form of both technical and financial assistance.
Frequently Flooded Fields
If you own lands which fall into the designation of frequently flooded soil class (USDA Soil Survey), there are specific practices required for these field areas including:
- Cover Cropping: Frequently flooded soils, (USDA Soil Survey Flooding Frequency Class) must be cover-cropped for the winter by October 1 if broadcast seeded, or October 15 if drilled or otherwise incorporated.
- Extended Spreading Ban: Manure and other agricultural wastes cannot be applied to areas of land with frequently flooded soils, (USDA Soil Survey Flooding Frequency Class) between October 16 and April 14.
- If you are concerned about meeting the requirements for floodplain fields, please complete the floodplain planning process.
Variances and Exemptions
For the reclassification of incorrectly mapped fields and/or the variance process for circumstances which made a farmer unable to meet manure application or cover cropping dates as outlined within the RAPs.
To request a variance for:
- Siting Setback for Field Stacked Manure or Compost per RAPs § 6.02(f)
- Siting Setback for Composting of Animal Mortalities per RAPs § 6.08(d)
- Siting Setback for Burial of Animal Mortalities per RAPs § 6.08(d)
Submit all Variance or Exemption forms:
By Mail: Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets: Water Quality Program, 116 State Street, Montpelier, VT 05620
By Email: AGR.WaterQuality@Vermont.gov
Call the Agency of Agriculture with any questions or concerns related to the Required Agricultural Practices Rule at (802) 828-1702 or (802) 828-2431.