Phillip Wagner raises about five dozen cattle along with pork and poultry on his Bridport farm. But Thursday, the vice president of the Vermont Beef Producers Association found himself tending to legislation not his animals.
"When it comes to agriculture, you're regulating people," Wagner said.
A measure currently under consideration in the Vermont House would impose new environmental protections on even the smallest farms. The chamber's Agriculture Committee set up shop in Bridport Thursday morning to take testimony from farmers like Wagner.
"We are here today to hear from you," said Rep. Carolyn Partridge, D-Windham.
The bill is designed to improve water quality in Lake Champlain. But many farmers says regulations imposed on larger outfits already haven't helped and suggested development, overall land management practices, and atypically heavy rains are doing more than farms to taint the water.
Lawmakers say the definition and scope of the bill is likely to change.
"You've regulated the large farms, you've regulated the medium farms, yet the lake is getting worse," said David Mills, a Pittsford beef farmer.
"Everyone here and I believe everyone behind me is in favor of clean water. So in order to accomplish clean water, we need to implement steps that are actually going to accomplish that goal," Wagner said.
Farmers say those steps include the continued spread of best practices, like limiting waste-runoff and leaving riverbanks in their natural state. They still aren't universal in Vermont despite nearly two decades of existence.
Farmers say new rules should be flexible at least in the early years, and penalties should be fair and recoupable if problems are addressed.
With only a couple of weeks left to meet a key legislative deadline, lawmakers will need make changes soon if they want to secure the votes of these farmers.
Wednesday, April 16 2014 12:34 PM EDT2014-04-16 16:34:35 GMT
It looks like our region escaped any major flooding resulting from Tuesday's heavy rains. There were localized areas of high water and damage, like a road washout on Mud Hollow Road in Kirby. Water remainsMore >>
It looks like our region escaped any major flooding resulting from Tuesday's heavy rains.More >>
Wednesday, April 16 2014 10:58 AM EDT2014-04-16 14:58:11 GMT
Teamwork between a Montgomery farmer and a corporal with the Franklin Country sheriff's department may have saved a life when they pulled off a daring rescue. A woman became trapped in her truck tryingMore >>
A Montgomery farmer and a sheriff's deputy joined forces for a daring rescue to help a woman who got trapped in her truck by rising floodwaters.More >>
Wednesday, April 16 2014 12:02 PM EDT2014-04-16 16:02:05 GMT
The floods forced Gov. Andrew Cuomo to declare a state of emergency in New York. The governor made the declaration Tuesday night. It covers six counties in northeastern of New York, including two inMore >>
The floods forced Gov. Andrew Cuomo to declare a state of emergency in New York.More >>
Wednesday, April 16 2014 11:08 AM EDT2014-04-16 15:08:35 GMT
If you thought the weather Tuesday really stunk, you weren't alone. Apparently all the rain and the rushing rivers were too much for even a beaver. WCAX Producer Diane Landry caught video Tuesday in MiltonMore >>
Apparently all the rain and the rushing rivers in our region Tuesday were too much for even a beaver.More >>
Wednesday, April 16 2014 12:09 PM EDT2014-04-16 16:09:50 GMT
If you think this spring has been filled with strange weather-- cold, then hot, then flooding, then snow-- well, we have a reminder that fluctuating weather is not all that unusual in Vermont. SheldonMore >>
If you think this spring has been filled with strange weather-- cold, then hot, then flooding, then snow-- well, we have a reminder that fluctuating weather is not all that unusual in Vermont.More >>