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Manure spreading ban starts Dec. 15

VERMONT — The winter ban on spreading manure on Vermont farm fields will again take effect Dec. 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 of Agriculture works closely with farmers across the state to ensure the AAPs are enforced. 
“Winter presents all of us with weather-related challenges, but for farmers, there is a heightened need for vigilance,” said 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.”
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 Dec. 15 to April 1 each year to protect water quality; however, the Agency of Agriculture 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 Dec. 15 to April 1, 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. Exemptions for winter manure spreading are available only for emergency situations, such as structural failure of a waste storage facility. If a farmer anticipates having an issue meeting the winter manure spreading ban restrictions, they should contact VAAFM for assistance with planning winter manure management.
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 them to meet these restrictions.
For more information about the manure spreading ban, or for assistance in the selection of appropriate manure stacking sites, call the Agency of Agriculture at (802) 828-3475.

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