News Releases

December 18, 2014

Secretary of Agriculture Issues Statement on Health of Lake Champlain

Chuck Ross, Vermontís Secretary of Agriculture, Food, and Markets, has issued the following statement:

As Secretary of Vermontís Agency of Agriculture, Food, and Markets, I want to reiterate the Stateís commitment to protecting our precious natural resources, and Lake Champlain, in particular. I am deeply dedicated to improving the health of the Lake by continuing to reduce the impact of agriculture in the watershed.

On November 17th, I issued a decision denying a petition by the Conservation Law Foundation (CLF) seeking to impose Best Management Practices for all farms across the whole of the Missisquoi Bay Basin.

While the Agency strongly believes that additional farm conservation practices must be required to increase water resource protection, the Agency could not support the petition because of the legal and technical requirements of federal and state law.

(The three main reasons for the denial can be found on pages 16 and 17 of the decision http://agriculture.vermont.gov/sites/ag/files/pdf/water_quality/VAAFM20-20CLF20Final20Decision.pdf)

It is clear, however, that the State, CLF and many other stakeholders share the same goal for Lake Champlain and the waters of the state.

The Agency of Agriculture will continue to work in partnership with the Agency of Natural Resource to develop a robust new plan and revised regulatory framework to advance water quality in Vermont. The critical components of this joint effort include a new Phase 1 Implementation Plan for the Lake Champlain Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL). This plan will require the implementation of many of the practices envisioned by the CLF petition. The Agency is in the process of revising the current Accepted Agricultural Practices Rules (AAPs)to increase regulatory requirements for all farms to elevate their water quality performance utilizing many of the suggestions outlined in the petition, testimony and written comments. In addition, the Agency of Agriculture, in partnership with the Agency of Natural Resources, has redeployed and will be deploying additional resources which are focusing on the Missisquoi Bay Basin to educate, promote compliance and to enforce where necessary to increase the protection of water quality in the Franklin County region. We believe these measures are and will be the most productive approach to achieving improvements in water quality.

The Agency is strongly committed to managing agricultural phosphorus losses in the Missisquoi and other watersheds in Vermont. We are eager to increase our work with farmers, watershed associations, partner organizations, interested citizens, and community groups to advance effective actions at all levels of our community to improve water quality for this region, and all of Vermont.

Source: Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets
Last Updated at: December 18, 2014 08:33:37