Farmers sometimes get a bad rap when it comes to clean water but state leaders say Vermont farmers are actually leading the nation in conservation efforts.
“Practices that include cover crops, manure injections, rotational grazing, grasslands,” said AnsonTebbetts, Vermont Agency of Agriculture Secretary.
Lawmakers heard from farmers and researchers from the University of Vermont Extension Friday about the progress being made in the state.
Data show about 80,000 acres of the state’s land used to grow corn utilizes cover crop. It’s a plant used to manage soil erosion. Its effect on the environment is believed to be equivalent to taking more than 51,000 cars off the road.
“Tremendous work has been done to improve soil health which is helping our water quality,” said Tebbetts.
However, with dairy prices and profitability on a downward trend farmers say meeting those goals is a challenge.
“It makes it very difficult for them to survive themselves and their businesses and then to invest more in their land to be able to do better,” said Heather Darby, UVM Agronomist.
Some farmers were emotional during Friday’s testimony.
“I want to tell my one year-old son, tanner he might have a chance to follow his dad’s, grandfather’s and great grandfather’s footsteps,” said Scott Magnan, St. Albans farmer and business owner.
Magnan says most farmers he knows have and meet their ambitious conservation goals.
“Everything is a hurdle really, certainly the economics are huge,” he said “Just the support of the community, how do we get back to those roots that we grew up with.”
Farmers say they hope the public recognizes the effort being made to move towards cleaner air, soil and water in Vermont.
“Farmers are ready to be out front, open their farms, show their farms,” said Tebbetts. “This is what we’re doing, we’re not only feeding you but we are doing things that are good for the environment.”