VT Agriculture Secretary Rules on Mandatory BMPs in Missisquoi Bay Basin

Vermont Secretary of Agriculture Issues Decision on Mandatory BMPs in Missisquoi Bay Basin

Vermont’s Secretary of Agriculture Chuck Ross issued a decision last week that denied a petition from the Conservation Law Foundation (CLF) to impose mandatory best management practices on farms in the Missisquoi Bay Basin. The decision did, however, direct the Agency’s Agricultural Water Quality Program to accelerate its agricultural water quality compliance and enforcement activities in the Missisquoi Bay Basin.

VT Sec’y of Agriculture Issues Decision on Mandatory BMPs in Missisquoi Bay Basin

A ‘honey wagon’ or liquid manure truck on a dairy farm near Mississquoi Bay

Last May a petition filed by the CLF sought to impose mandatory best management practices (BMPs) for water quality on farms in the Missisquoi Bay Basin that are “critical source areas” as modelled by a 2011 Lake Champlain Basin Program study. In July a public hearing on the petition was held in St. Albans, VT – that provided extensive testimony and comment. Secretary Ross considered the study a guidepost for on-going water quality work, but ruled that the data did not provide an adequate regulatory rationale to impose mandatory BMPs in Missisquoi Bay Basin.

Ross concluded that the actions sought by the CLF would not be consistent with the EPA’s continuing process for water quality improvement under the federal Clean Water Act. That process establishes a Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) for Lake Champlain. Additionally, his decision notes that there are insufficient resources available at this time, to help the basin’s farmers to achieve compliance with mandatory BMPs, as required by state law. The full text of the decision can be accessed at: http://agriculture.vermont.gov/clf_petition

“The written decision speaks for itself. CLF’s initiative and the hearing process, in which stakeholders on all sides engaged in thoughtful and civil discourse, demonstrate why Vermont is a special place where we work together to address mutual concerns. CLF has pledged, on the record, to assist stakeholders in seeking additional resources devoted to agricultural water quality improvement.” ~ Vermont Secretary of Agriculture, Chuck Ross

Additional information, including the original hearing notice and audio files from the hearing, can be found at http://agriculture.vermont.gov/clf_petition

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