The Vermont Statutes Online
Subchapter 002 : Water Quality; Required Agricultural Practices and Best Management Practices(Cite as: 6 V.S.A. § 4810)
§ 4810. Authority; cooperation; coordination
(a) Agricultural land use practices. In accordance with 10 V.S.A. § 1259(i), the Secretary shall adopt by rule, pursuant to 3 V.S.A. chapter 25, and shall implement and enforce agricultural land use practices in order to satisfy the requirements of 33 U.S.C. § 1329 that the State identify and implement best management practices to control nonpoint sources of agricultural waste to waters of the State. These agricultural land use practices shall be created in two categories, pursuant to subsections (b) and (c) of this section.
(b) Required Agricultural Practices. Required Agricultural Practices (RAPs) shall be management standards to be followed by all persons engaged in farming in this State. These standards shall address activities which have a potential for causing agricultural pollutants to enter the groundwater and waters of the State, including dairy and other livestock operations plus all forms of crop and nursery operations and on-farm or agricultural fairground, registered pursuant to 20 V.S.A. § 3902, livestock and poultry slaughter and processing activities. The RAPs shall include, as well as promote and encourage, practices for farmers in preventing agricultural pollutants from entering the groundwater and waters of the State when engaged in animal waste management and disposal, soil amendment applications, plant fertilization, and pest and weed control. Persons engaged in farming who are in compliance with these practices shall be presumed to not have a discharge of agricultural pollutants to waters of the State. RAPs shall be designed to protect water quality and shall be practical and cost-effective to implement, as determined by the Secretary. Where the Secretary determines, after inspection of a farm, that a person engaged in farming is complying with the RAPs but there still exists the potential for agricultural pollutants to enter the waters of the State, the Secretary shall require the person to implement additional, site-specific on-farm conservation practices designed to prevent agricultural pollutants from entering the waters of the State. When requiring implementation of a conservation practice under this subsection, the Secretary shall inform the person engaged in farming of the resources available to assist the person in implementing the conservation practice and complying with the requirements of this chapter. The RAPs for groundwater shall include a process under which the Agency shall receive, investigate, and respond to a complaint that a farm has contaminated the drinking water or groundwater of a property owner. A farmer may petition the Secretary to reduce the size of a perennial buffer or change the perennial buffer type based on site-specific conditions.
(c) Best Management Practices. Best management practices (BMPs) are site-specific on-farm conservation practices implemented in order to address the potential for agricultural pollutants to enter the waters of the State. The Secretary may require any person engaged in farming to implement a BMP. When requiring implementation of a BMP, the Secretary shall inform a farmer of financial resources available from State or federal sources, private foundations, public charities, or other sources, including funding from the Clean Water Fund established under 10 V.S.A. § 1388, to assist the person in implementing BMPs and complying with the requirements of this chapter. BMPs shall be practical and cost effective to implement, as determined by the Secretary, and shall be designed to achieve compliance with the requirements of this chapter. The Secretary may require soil monitoring or innovative manure management as a BMP under this subsection. Soil monitoring or innovative manure management implemented as a BMP shall be eligible for State assistance under the Clean Water Fund established under 10 V.S.A. chapter 47, subchapter 7. If a perennial buffer of trees or other woody vegetation is required as a BMP, the Secretary shall pay the farmer for a first priority easement on the land on which the buffer is located.
(d) Cooperation and coordination. The Secretary of Agriculture, Food and Markets shall coordinate with the Secretary of Natural Resources in implementing and enforcing programs, plans, and practices developed for reducing and eliminating agricultural non-point source pollutants and discharges from concentrated animal feeding operations. On or before July 1, 2016, the Secretary of Agriculture, Food and Markets and the Secretary of Natural Resources shall revise the memorandum of understanding for the non-point program describing program administration, grant negotiation, grant sharing, and how they will coordinate watershed planning activities to comply with Pub. L. No. 92-500. The memorandum of understanding shall describe how the agencies will implement the antidegradation implementation policy, including how the agencies will apply the antidegradation implementation policy to new sources of agricultural non-point source pollutants. The Secretary of Agriculture, Food and Markets and the Secretary of Natural Resources shall also develop a memorandum of understanding according to the public notice and comment process of 10 V.S.A. § 1259(i) regarding the implementation of the federal Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation Program and the relationship between the requirements of the federal Program and the State agricultural water quality requirements for large, medium, and small farms under this chapter. The memorandum of understanding shall describe Program administration, permit issuance, an appellate process, and enforcement authority and implementation. The memorandum of understanding shall be consistent with the federal National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit regulations for discharges from concentrated animal feeding operations. The allocation of duties under this chapter between the Secretary of Agriculture, Food and Markets and the Secretary of Natural Resources shall be consistent with the Secretary's duties, established under the provisions of 10 V.S.A. § 1258(b), to comply with Pub. L. No. 92-500. The Secretary of Natural Resources shall be the State lead person in applying for federal funds under Pub. L. No. 92-500, but shall consult with the Secretary of Agriculture, Food and Markets during the process. The agricultural non-point source program may compete with other programs for competitive watershed projects funded from federal funds. The Secretary of Agriculture, Food and Markets shall be represented in reviewing these projects for funding. Actions by the Secretary of Agriculture, Food and Markets under this chapter concerning agricultural non-point source pollution shall be consistent with the water quality standards and water pollution control requirements of 10 V.S.A. chapter 47 and the federal Clean Water Act as amended. In addition, the Secretary of Agriculture, Food and Markets shall coordinate with the Secretary of Natural Resources in implementing and enforcing programs, plans, and practices developed for the proper management of composting facilities when those facilities are located on a farm. On or before January 15, 2016, the Secretary of Agriculture, Food and Markets and the Secretary of Natural Resources shall each develop three separate measures of the performance of the agencies under the memorandum of understanding required by this subsection. Beginning on January 15, 2017, and annually thereafter, the Secretary of Agriculture, Food and Markets and the Secretary of Natural Resources shall submit separate reports to the Senate Committee on Agriculture, the House Committee on Agriculture and Forestry, the Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Energy, and the House Committee on Natural Resources, Fish, and Wildlife regarding the success of each agency in meeting the performance measures for the memorandum of understanding. (Added 1991, No. 261 (Adj. Sess.), § 4; amended 2003, No. 42, § 2, eff. May 27, 2003; 2003, No. 149 (Adj. Sess.), § 4, eff. June 3, 2004; 2005, No. 78, § 1, eff. June 24, 2005; 2007, No. 38, § 13, eff. May 21, 2007; 2009, No. 141 (Adj. Sess.), § 3b, eff. June 1, 2010; 2015, No. 64, § 12; 2017, No. 113 (Adj. Sess.), § 35.)