The new, statewide program to recognize Vermont’s most environmentally friendly farmers will be based on soil-sampling and monitoring. Governor Phil Scott announced the pilot launch of the new Vermont Environmental Stewardship Program (VESP), which will use soil-based analysis to identify farmers who are going above and beyond to protect our natural resources.
Surrounded by state and federal officials at the North Williston Cattle Company, owned by the Whitcomb family, Scott emphasized the important role farmers play in Vermont communities.
“Vermont farmers are contributing to our economy and keeping our landscape beautiful and productive,” Scott said. “This new, science-based program will use soil health data to help us identify and honor farmers who are going above and beyond the regulations to protect our natural resources.”
The program is a partner effort by the Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets, the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, the Vermont Association of Conservation Districts, Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation, and the University of Vermont Extension.
“We are still accepting VESP applications, and encourage farms of all types and sizes to apply,” said Vermont’s Secretary of Agriculture, Anson Tebbetts. “We want farmers who are going the extra mile to be recognized and celebrated for their efforts.”
Tebbetts said many partners across the state and federal government came together to create this innovative program.
Following Governor Scott’s remarks last week, farmers Lorenzo and Onan Whitcomb gave a tour of their farm, including their robotic milker, and discussed some of the conservation practices they employ.
To apply for the VESP Pilot, farmers must be in compliance with all State and Federal environmental regulations, and be actively farming their land.
Applicants for the VESP Pilot will be selected for participation through a competitive application ranking process on a rolling basis; there is no fee to participate. Five to 10 farms will be accepted into the pilot program, which will inform the final parameters of the Vermont Environmental Stewardship Program, launching in 2019. For more information, please visit: http://agriculture.vermont.gov/vesp