Push for more agriculture regulations put environmental groups at odds with local farmers


Studies have shown that climate change is making Vermont warmer and wetter, which environmental groups claim is making the state more polluted. The Vermont Natural Resources Council, the Lake Champlain Committee and the Conservation Law Foundation are asking the State to strengthen rules for farming.

“Climate change is really bad for water pollution, especially water pollution from farmers because the soil runs right off the farms when you get those intense rain events, especially after the soil is dried out.”

In a letter to Anson Tebbetts, Secretary of the Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets, the environmental groups stated that they want farmers to reduce runoff into local waters. “How soils are managed on the farm is really key. There are already requirements for fertilizing the farm field and analysis of soil type and that includes the rain conditions in an area. We think those need to be significantly updated.”

On the other hand, farmers are claiming that they are doing all they can to account for climate change and to meet these standards. John Roberts, the Executive Director of the Champlain Valley Farmer Coalition has been a farmer for over 40 years. “It’s frustrating that the environmental groups and these three in particular are unable to accept the progress that has been demonstrated. Over the last few years, farmers have achieved 96% of the phosphorous reduction to Lake Champlain.”

Roberts also mentioned that it takes time to change the environment and that he wants the three agencies to take into account the importance of agriculture to the State not just for the economy but for climate change. “It is apparent that agriculture can have a significant benefit reducing climate impact.”

Despite the concerns over agricultural regulations, Roberts hopes that everyone can work together to combat climate change.

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