Leahy announces $5M for UVM ag research center, water quality initiatives

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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) Senator Patrick Leahy Tuesday announced new funding to help focus on water quality.

Sen. Patrick Leahy

Leahy was joined at the Echo Center by Representative Peter Welch and state officials to announce the partnership that includes $3 million over the next five years to establish a USDA Agricultural Research Service - Food Systems Center on the University of Vermont campus. Through the center, UVM and USDA scientists will research small-scale farming, food production, and how farms benefit communities.

There was also another announcement to bring $2 million in grants to help farmers improve water quality and conservation.

"The new projects will build in our existing work - we have such a valuable state, but we are also stewards and we must keep it the best," Leahy said.

"This work that Senator Leahy is doing is one of the steps we have to take to reignite our commitment to rural agriculture and our rural economy," Welch said.

The long-range study with help from the University of Vermont Extension will look at two watersheds: the Dead Creek and the headwaters of the Little Otter Creek, which are in farm-rich Addison County.

Officials estimate that about 38% of the phosphorus load in the lake comes from agricultural land.