Vermont Business Magazine On Tuesday, February 20, 2018 the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets (the Agency or VAAFM) filed a proposed amendment to the Required Agricultural Practices (RAPs) Rule with the Vermont Secretary of State (SOS). This amendment was filed pursuant to 6 V.S.A. §4810a(b), which required the Agency to amend the RAPs to include requirements for reducing nutrient contribution to waters of the State from subsurface tile drainage. The RAPs were most recently amended and became effective on December 5, 2016, introducing additional regulations for all types of agriculture to improve water quality throughout the State.
Modern tile drain system. State of Vermont photo.
The proposed amendment would require the implementation of practices on tiled croplands to reduce nutrient contribution to waters from subsurface tile drainage. Pre-filing of the proposed amendment with the Interagency Committee on Administrative Rules (ICAR) occurred initially on January 11, 2018 and initiating the formal rule amendment process. The Agency submitted an amended pre-filing set on February 9, 2018, and ICAR met on February 12, 2018 to review the proposed rule. ICAR accepted the rule with various recommended changes. The Agency made several changes to the draft and has now formally filed a proposed rule with the SOS.
“Rulemaking in any capacity can be a complicated process, a rule amendment involving subsurface tile drainage is no different,” said Laura DiPietro, Director of the Water Quality Division for VAAFM, “We are actively learning more about the functions of tile drainage; we know that these drainage systems are an incredibly important tool for farmers, but that there is also concern about the amount of nutrients coming through subsurface tile drainage systems and making their way to waters of the State. This proposed rule is drafted to address those potential losses.”
Prior to initiating the rulemaking process, the Agency was involved in various discussions and nine meetings to gather feedback pertaining to the content of the amendment. Over 100 participants had the opportunity to provide insight and inform the Agency as the rulemaking process began. The proposed amendment, if adopted, will be included in the RAPs as Section 12. Subsurface Tile Drainage.
“As is the case for any agricultural practice, responsible land management decisions are key,” DiPietro continued. “Gathering feedback from various communities throughout the State is critical to this process. We look forward to hearing from farmers, environmental groups, industry, the public, and our legislative body to create requirements surrounding subsurface tile drainage that will protect and enhance water quality.”
The proposed rule amendment, an updated RAP Rule Annotated Draft (including Section 12. Subsurface Tile Drainage), and other pertinent information can be found at: http://agriculture.vermont.gov/rap-tile-rule
A public comment period on the proposed subsurface tile drainage rule amendment is now open and will remain open until April 19, 2018. Three public hearings are scheduled to allow for all invested stakeholders to provide testimony and comment on the proposed amendment.
VAAFM Subsurface Tile Drainage Amendment to the RAP Rule Public Hearings:
· March 30, 2018:
1 PM – 3 PM at the St. Albans Historical Museum, 9 Church Street, St. Albans VT 05478
• April 2, 2018:
5 PM – 7 PM at the Pavilion Auditorium, 109 State Street, Montpelier, VT 05602
• April 5, 2018:
1 PM – 3 PM at the Middlebury American Legion, 49 Wilson Road, Middlebury, VT 05753
Source: February 28, 2018 / Montpelier, VT. - VAAFM