Ag agency wants farmers to record surface water use

Under new state law, reporting required for some farmers January 15

Photo credit Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets

Although Vermont’s dry-than-usual season has been nothing compared to the crop-killing drought out West, state agricultural officials are watching agricultural water consumption closely.

Vermont farmers who withdraw any surface waters ( definition:10 V.S.A. § 1002(20) ) for farming are advised to begin keeping records of irrigation events this summer if a farm does not already do so.  A new state law as of July 1 requires annual reporting of surface water withdrawals used for farming to the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets (VAAFM).  This annual report for farmers who qualify will be due to the VAAFM on January 15, 2023.

Vermont agriculture is the first new sector of surface water handlers to report usage of waters to the State of Vermont based on Act 135 of 2022.  VAAFM is committed to deploying the education, outreach, and technical assistance resources needed to help answer farmer questions about the new law and their responsibilities, an agency statement said. 

The goal of this law is to better understand the current demand for surface waters in the state and to take any necessary steps to ensure resilience and future availability of surface waters in the face of a changing climate.

“At this time, the most simple and straightforward recommendation the agency can give farmers is: ‘Keep daily records of your surface water usage’; accurate event-by-event irrigation records will ensure easy and accurate reporting when the growing season is finished. Agency staff are available to help answer questions,” said Secretary of Agriculture Anson Tebbetts. Farms which utilize groundwater or off-stream farm ponds for agriculture are not subject to the reporting requirements of Act 135.

Act 135 of 2022 establishes that any farmer who:

  • withdraws surface water for farming and uses more than 10,000 gallons of surface water within a 24-hour period, or
  • 150,000 gallons or more over any 30-day period during a calendar year,
  • shall file their first annual report with VAAFM on January 15, 2023.

The new law establishes the following minimum pieces of information to be reported to VAAFM on an annual basis:

  1. an estimate of the total amount of water withdrawn in the preceding calendar year;
  2. the location of the withdrawals;
  3. the daily maximum withdrawal for each month;
  4. the date of each daily maximum withdrawal.

Categories: Agriculture

5 replies »

  1. Ahh, yes. A precursor to additional taxation on rain. We already pay significant ‘fees’ (read- taxes) on stormwater runoff (that’d be rain and snow) both in operating fees, engineering fees, maintenance fees and fines for various offenses related to reporting on stormwater. Of course, the largest polluters- City of Burlington, being the biggest offender, continue on…

  2. Just what farmers need. Another layer of government goons looking over their shoulders. Give ’em the one finger salute!

  3. Go back 30+ years in Vermont and farmers were sacred cows in Vermont, exempt from many land use and environmental regulations. Now the legislature treats agriculture like just another piggy bank to be tapped. We voted for this.

  4. next it will be homeowners, a tax on rainwater useage, a tax on well water, a tax on snowfall? what’s next?

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