New agricultural practices rules are open for comment

MONTPELIER — The deadline to submit public comment to the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets (VAAFM) regarding the draft Required Agricultural Practices (RAP) rules is Dec. 18. Public Comment can be submitted via e-mail to AGR.RAP@vermont.gov or mailed directly to VAAFM at 116 State St., Montpelier, VT 05620.
DRAFT RAP RULES PUBLIC MEETING SUMMARY
VAAFM released a draft copy of the Required Agricultural Practices (RAPs) on Oct. 20 for a period of public comment, which runs through this Friday. This is a pre-filing period that will afford the opportunity for all interested stakeholders to review the Draft RAPs and provide initial comment before VAAFM revises the draft this winter and then enters into the formal rulemaking process in the spring of 2016. Additional public comment periods will follow both the draft rewrite in January 2016 as well as the formal rulemaking period in spring of 2016.
VAAFM held 10 public meetings across the state, including in Middlebury, to help facilitate the comment and input process. More than 530 farmers and citizens attended these events. These public meetings included a detailed presentation of the Draft RAPs followed by a question and answer session. VAAFM has also participated in over 20 additional focus groups, at the request of interested organizations and stakeholders, to review the draft rules in detail.
VAAFM was directed by the Legislature to draft the RAPs pursuant to Act 64, signed into law this past June 16. Act 64 amended and enacted multiple requirements related to water quality in the state. The “Accepted Agricultural Practices (AAPs)” were rewritten to a higher level of performance and renamed the “Required Agricultural Practices (RAPs).” VAAFM was charged with revising the RAPs by rule on or before July 1, 2016. Act 64 requires that the revised RAPs include requirements for: small farm certification, nutrient storage, soil health, buffer zones, livestock exclusion, and nutrient management.
NEW OUTREACH MATERIAL
To help meet the scheduling challenges of farmers and the public, VAAFM has made available a recording of the St. Albans RAP public meeting. The recording includes an introduction from Secretary of Agriculture Chuck Ross and a presentation from ARM Deputy Director Laura DiPietro. The 40-minute video provides an introduction to the water quality challenges of the state as well as a detailed overview of the top changes included in the Draft RAPs. VAAFM can prepare DVDs to share with individuals who do not have access to broadband internet; call the Agency for a copy.
DOWNLOADABLE DOCUMENTS & HELPFUL LINKS
A link to the streaming video can be found here: youtu.be/aaSrM9vU4lU
A copy of the PowerPoint Presentation used in this video can be downloaded here: agriculture.vermont.gov/sites/ag/files/pdf/water_quality/RAP/VAAF
VAAFMs informational RAP website, which contains copies of all the links included in the release, can be accessed here: agriculture.vermont.gov/water-quality/regulations/rap
Submit public comment to VAAFM (e-mail) here: AGR.RAP@Vermont.gov
VAAFMs RAP Farm Size Definition Fact-Sheet (.pdf) can be found here: agriculture.vermont.gov/sites/ag/files/pdf/water_quality/RAP/RAP-
A Draft RAP Highlighted Regulations Fact Sheet (.pdf) can be found here: agriculture.vermont.gov/sites/ag/files/pdf/water_quality/RAP/RAP-
A complete draft of the Required Agricultural Practices Document (pdf) can be found here: agriculture.vermont.gov/sites/ag/files/pdf/water_quality/VAAFM-Dr

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