Wendy Houston-Anderson, Vermont Agency of Agriculture, 802-585-9072
Friday, December 14, 2012
The Agency of Agriculture, Food, and Markets is issuing a reminder that the winter manure spreading ban will once again take effect December 15.
This annual ban is part of an overall strategy to protect our working landscape and natural resources, as outlined in Vermont’s Accepted Agricultural Practices (AAPs). The Agency works closely with farmers across the state to ensure that their farming operations are complying with the AAPs.
Manure spreading is a common practice in Vermont agriculture which enriches the soil for production.
The manure spreading ban is a regulation that has been in place since 1995 under the Accepted Agricultural Practice rules. Vermont was a leading state in developing such a ban. In recent years several other states have considered adopting, or have adopted, the idea. Research has shown that manure applications on frozen ground can increase the runoff potential. Vermont chose to select a ban period from December 15th to April 1st each year to protect water quality; however the Agency has discretion with those dates to accommodate unusual circumstances. As an example, in the spring of 2012, the ban was lifted early, due to unusually dry conditions in Vermont, a result of the warm winter.
During the ban, farmers must either have a storage structure that is capable of holding all manure produced from December 15th to April 1st, which is 107 days, or they must be able to stack all manure produced in a way that will not lead to water quality impacts.
When stacking manure, AAPs require that stacking sites be located more than 100 feet from private wells or property boundaries. In addition, manure cannot be stacked on unimproved sites within 100 feet of surface water, or on land that is subject to annual overflow from adjacent waters. In all these situations, however, farmers have the opportunity to demonstrate to the Secretary of Agriculture that no alternative sites exist to enable you to meet these restrictions.
If you have any questions about the manure spreading ban, or if you would like assistance in the selection of appropriate manure stacking sites, please call the Agency at (802) 828-3475.
Requesting a Manure Spreading Ban Exemption
Under Vermont’s Accepted Agricultural Practices (AAPs) regulations, manure spreading ban exemptions are available to farmers that are experiencing an emergency situation and find themselves with less than sufficient manure storage to make it through the manure spreading ban (107 days). Emergency situations can include, but are not limited to, the structural failure of a manure storage system, equipment failure, etc. Exemptions can also be issued for other specific management needs.
If you find yourself in this situation, please call the Agency of Agriculture at (802) 828-3475 as soon as possible. We will send an Agricultural Resource Specialist or Field Agent out to meet with you and discuss your situation. Information will be collected from you in order to determine how much manure your operation produces on a daily basis, how much, if any, surface runoff (rain fall or snow melt) may be entering your pit, what land base you have available for spreading, and the proximity of water resources to your operation. If the Agency determines that an emergency situation exists and you have no alternatives for the management of your manure, an exemption will be issued for your operation. The exemption will specify the amount of manure to be spread, the fields suitable for manure application, and the dates during which you will be allowed to spread. Fields will be selected that have the least likelihood of generating runoff to surface waters.
Exemptions are not intended to allow for continued daily spreading for the duration of the ban, but are designed to allow for the application of the required amount of manure over a period of 3 to 5 days. If you have any questions regarding the manure spreading ban exemption process, please call the Agency at (802) 828-3475.
About the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food, and Markets: VAAFM facilitates, supports and encourages the growth and viability of agriculture in Vermont while protecting the working landscape, human health, animal health, plant health, consumers and the environment. Visit www.VermontAgriculture.com