State leaders met at the St. Albans City Hall to describe the new plan for addressing agricultural runoff in the Lake Champlain basin. New resources, deeper partnerships across state government, and new accountability tools have been established to improve water quality across Vermont.
Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Mears, Agency of Agriculture Secretary Chuck Ross, and Vermont Attorney General Bill Sorrell outlined The Statewide Plan to Enhance Stewardship and Accountability, a 4-pronged approach to address agriculture-related water quality issues. The state has worked diligently to identify and secure resources to promote the four areas of the overall plan:
Resources for Stewardship Practices – Fueled with new resources, State partners will expand their work with farmers to provide technical assistance and implement additional stewardship practices, proven to improve water quality.
Increased Capacity – Staff from the Agency of Agriculture and the Agency of Natural Resources are being re-deployed to address the priority regions. Additional staff will also be hired.
Enhanced Partnerships – State partners, Federal partners, NGOs, farmers, and business owners are collaborating in new ways to increase efficiency and improve results.
Accountability Tools – The Agency of Agriculture, Agency of Natural Resources and the Attorney General have established enhanced, coordinated enforcement for agriculture water quality; the State is also proposing new ways to hold offenders accountable.
“This initiative leverages one of the state’s most vital resources – Vermont farmers who have demonstrated a commitment to stewarding the land to protect clean water. The initiative offers support for farmers to take actions that will conserve soil and protect water, and ensures that all farmers are held to the same standard,” said Commissioner Mears.
State leaders are urging farmers to contact their local USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service to discuss how they can become eligible for new, unprecedented financial resources to implement conservation practices. The full press release for the initiative is available at: http://vermont.gov/portal/government/article.php?news=5282