The Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets - Division of Agricultural Resource Management and Environmental Stewardship offers a host of programs to protect water resources. These programs are both regulatory and voluntary in nature and are designed to be an efficient approach for Vermont farmers to protect their environment.
VAAFM's goal is to have seamless regulatory programs in order to protect water resources and provide protection to Vermont farms. The development of a three-tiered approach allows for logical progression in regulatory oversight as a farm grows from a small farm to a Large Farm Operation (LFO) while preparing that farm for the future technical requirements. To help farms meet the regulatory requirements, several voluntary programs have been established to provide financial and technical assistance to any farm interested (not just limited to LFO or Medium Farm Operation (MFO) size).
The state Best Management Practice (BMP) program provides up to 80% cost share on NRCS approved BMPs for production areas and 50% cost share for non-production area practices. This program can be coupled with Federal NRCS programs to increase the cost-share available to the farm. The Nutrient Management Incentive Grant program was created to provide NMP development and update payments for farmers required or interested in having a current NMP created for their farm. To support many of the practices required under a state certified NMP, the Farm Agronomic Practices program (FAP) was created to reimburse farmers for field BMPs such as; cover cropping, no-till, ridge till, and rotation implementation. The Alternative Manure Management (AMM) program provides incentive dollars to farmers interested in implementing new technologies dedicated to enhancing water quality and improving waste management on the farm. There are also the Vermont Agricultural Buffer Program (VABP) and the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) that pay farmers incentives to install and maintain grass or wooded buffers along state waterways.