Vermont must continue the progress it has made in funding clean water programs, and make headway on issues that continue to pose threats to Vermont’s rivers, streams, wetlands, lakes and ponds. Farm pollution continues to be a significant threat to water quality. We recognize that our agricultural system – particularly the conventional dairy industry – has been hit hard by the pandemic, after years of challenging conditions from competitive global markets and low milk prices. Agriculture and local food are important parts of Vermont’s landscape and culture. We stand ready to work with Vermont lawmakers, farmers, and other stakeholders on how we can shift the state’s agricultural system to a more economically and ecologically sustainable, regenerative system. This includes ensuring implementation and enforcement of state clean water laws, and examining potential investments in ecosystem services, land buyouts for marginal farmland, and support for farms to transition to regenerative organic practices.
Additionally, Vermont continues to see a loss of wetlands and impacts to river corridors and floodplains. We believe that by investing in, and protecting, natural systems like wetlands and river corridors, we can restore water quality for the benefit of all Vermonters, support our tourism and outdoor recreation economies, protect high-quality habitat for fish and wildlife, slow climate change by storing carbon, and reduce downstream flood risks.
Legislative Priorities for 2021:
- Fully fund clean water programs, including the Clean Water Fund. STATUS: Historic investment in clean water, with $225 committed for next three years!
- Transfer programs that regulate agricultural water pollution from the Agency of Agricultural Foods and Markets (AAFM) to the Agency of Natural Resources (ANR), in order to better protect our resources and save the state money on duplicative programs.
- Evaluate the status of protection for natural systems including wetlands, river corridors, floodplains and forests and work toward legislation to better protect these resources. STATUS: Bill to better protect wetlands in certain situations enacted. VCV will be advocating for broader wetland protections in 2022.