On Behalf of Farmers

Regional Programs

Bennington County farmers have many resources to turn to for help. Programs of interest include:

Barn - Gregory Morris

Photo: Gregory Morris

Beginning in December 2016, the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets (VAAFM) adopted Required Agricultural Practices (RAPs). They are designed to greatly reduce phosphorus loading in waters of the state, especially in impaired basins in Lake Champlain. (In Bennington County, the Mettowee and Indian Rivers flow to the so-called South Lake, an impaired basin.) New rules of note include:

- Ditches must be buffered by perennial vegetation for a distance of ten feet.
- Surface waters must be buffered by perennial vegetation for a distance of 25 feet.
- Annual croplands subject to flooding must plant cover crops by October of each year.
- On soils subject to flooding, the winter manure spreading ban has been extended.
- In production areas, livestock must be excluded from surface waters except at defined crossings or watering areas.
- All large, medium, and certified small farms must develop and implement a nutrient management plan that meets USDA-NRCS practice code 590 specifications. All other small farms are required to take soil tests, apply nutrients according to the tests, and keep manure spreading records.

More information can be found at http://agriculture.vermont.gov/rap.

Technical assistance and funding to implement the RAPS is available through programs managed with the help of the state’s conservation districts. Districts can also help farmers secure nutrient management training and access to UVM Extension’s GoCrop software.

Natural Resources Conservation Service

NRCS employees coordinate the programs of the USDA Farm Bill, develop cost-sharing contracts, and implement projects on farms. The Bennington County Conservation District's NRCS soil conservationist is Philip Rivara. Philip can be reached by phone at #802.775.8034 x26 or by email at Philip.Rivara2@vt.usda.gov.

Other programs

State cost-share programs

Clearbrook Farm

Clearbrook Farm

In Vermont, funding has been set aside through the Agency of Agriculture to help farmers develop Nutrient Management Plans, and to implement various on-farm practices. Further details are available online.

Other useful resources

University of Vermont Extension Farm Viability Enhancement Program offers business planning and decision making help to new and established Vermont farmers. The Rutland representative can be reached by phone at #802.773.3349 or (in Vermont) at #800.281.6977.

Northeast Organic Farming Association-Vermont (NOFA-VT) is a non-profit association of farmers, gardeners, and consumers working to promote an economically viable and ecologically sound Vermont food system for the benefit of current and future generations. Find out more online.

Inspired by the "Fair Trade" concept, Keep Local Farms hopes to get more money directly to dairy farmers while creating stronger connections between farmers and their customers. The program is an effort to ensure dairy farmers in the Northeast are paid a sustainable price for their milk and to provide consumers with a way to support local dairy farmers, their community and the local economy. Find out more online.

UVM Extension Farm Viability staff helps farmers all over Vermont with farm business planning. Betsy Miller, 1-800-287-1552, or Betsy.Miller@uvm.edu serves southwestern Vermont.