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SUMMARY OF THE 2005 ACTS AND RESOLVES

ACT NO. 78

(S.171)

Agriculture; water quality; concentrated animal feeding operations

This act amends agricultural water quality requirements for large, medium, and small farms. The secretary of agriculture, food and markets and the secretary of natural resources shall coordinate regarding discharges from concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFO) and shall develop a memorandum of understanding regarding implementation of the federal CAFO rules. Under the federal CAFO rules, the secretary of natural resources may require a farm to obtain a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit when it discharges to state waters. The secretary of natural resources must adopt rules implementing the federal CAFO rules by July 1, 2007.

A small farm may apply to the agency of agriculture, food and markets for coverage under the state medium farm animal waste general permit if the small farm meets the requirements of the permit. The secretary of agriculture may require a medium or small farm to obtain an individual animal waste permit. In reviewing an application for an individual state animal waste permit, the secretary of agriculture, food and markets must issue a written determination that the applicant has established that there will be no unpermitted discharge from the farm to state waters. When a medium or small farm applies for coverage under the medium farm general permit, the secretary of agriculture, food and markets must verify within 18 months of receiving the notice of intent to comply that the applicant has established that there will be no unpermitted discharge from the farm to state waters.

The construction or expansion of a waste storage facility is prohibited unless it meets the standards established by the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) or an equivalent standard certified by the agency of agriculture or a professional engineer. An existing waste storage facility may be required to meet NRCS standards or an equivalent standard if the facility poses a threat to human health or the environment. Farms may apply for cost assistance for the required design, construction, or reconstruction of a waste storage facility. If the state lacks adequate funding to provide cost assistance, the state waste storage facility design requirements and the groundwater accepted agricultural practices (AAPs) are suspended for medium or small farms.

Farms may apply for incentive grants to develop and implement nutrient management plans (NMPs). The grants shall be awarded, regardless of size, according to a priority order. If the state lacks adequate funding for grants, the state NMP requirements are suspended for certain medium or small farms.

The secretary of agriculture, food and markets is authorized to adopt groundwater pollution standards for AAPs and large farms. Any groundwater standard shall include a process for the receipt of, investigation of, and response to complaints that a farm has contaminated drinking water or groundwater. The secretary of agriculture is also authorized to adopt rules for the siting and setbacks of large farms.

The agency of agriculture, food and markets must conduct educational outreach and coordinate training on the requirements of the federal and state animal waste programs. The agency of agriculture, food and markets and the agency of natural resources shall report by January 15, 2005 to the house and senate committees on agriculture concerning the state animal waste programs and their impact on agriculture in Vermont.

Effective Date: On passage, June 24, 2005



Published by:

The Vermont General Assembly
115 State Street
Montpelier, Vermont


www.leg.state.vt.us