; Environmental Regulations and Legal Education for Vermont Farms | Conferences | AgRisk Library


Conference Name Environmental Regulations and Legal Education for Vermont Farms

Tony Kitsos


This project addresses the legal rights and obligations all Vermont farmers, large or small, with respect to Act 64, Vermont’s new state water quality regulation. The regulation changes certain agricultural practices from “accepted” to “required”. The program delivered risk management education through a series of 6 workshops across the state. Participants were brought together with legal experts to address farmer rights and obligations, identified specific legal risks on their farms, analyzed existing resources and developed an action plan to mitigate those risks. Educational materials were disseminated to 850 dairy producers statewide, and 180 participants attended. Producers committed to risk management plans and learned successful strategies that could be implemented immediately.

Participants were surveyed several months after attending the workshops to determine how many took steps to mitigate risk. Evaluation analysis showed that fewer participants than expected made documented changes. This illustrated the complexity of rapidly making significant management and production systems changes, especially during difficult economic times. We reached more participants than expected, produced more educational resources than planned, and found that overall there are no easy solutions for Vermont farmers.

We provided key information to the Vermont Agency of Agriculture via anonymous comments/quotes/interviews collected throughout the project, keeping them aware of certain issues people were not willing to directly provide. This fostered much needed collaboration between regulation and education. The Agency is willing to support new technical assistance and research to explore legal options to help farms adapt to the new regulations through buy-outs, easements and entity restructuring.