Minutes for Public Planning Session on Agricultural Issues

February 7, 2009

Felco Room, Franklin Homestead




Present: Jim Cameron, Dick Benton, David Breed,  Paul Stanley, Nancy Fiske, Wayne Fiske, Jim Dewing, Dan Larivee, Rolland Rainville, Lucille Rainville, Gaylord Horskin, Peter Kittell, Mike Monahan, Greg Bouchard, Ron Paradis, Nate Sands(Agency of Ag), Adrian Rainville, Roger Rainville (Farmerís Watershed Alliance), Jim Boucher ( Boucher Fertilizer), Pauline Favereau, Heather Darby (UVM Extension), Bill Mayo, Ashley Kane (Flexincentives), Ben Gabos(CREPS), George Godin, Nat Worman (St. Albans Messenger), and Heidi Britch-Valenta.


Meeting started at 10:05 A.M.


Jim Cameron started the meeting by having everyone introduce themselves and state their interest in the watershed. Cameron gave a brief history of the group and provided an overview of the groups goals.


Cameron explained the goal of this meeting was to explore programs and projects to  improve agricultural practices to reduce phosphorus laden runoff entering the lake.


The first speakers were Ashley Kane and Paul Stanley of the UVM Flexincentives program. They provided information on farms in the rock river watershed that have already participated in the program and found it to be beneficial. The program allows farmers to design their own phosphorus reduction plan which is unique to their farm and then rewards them for the percentage of phosphorus loss reduction. Stanley explained the P-index and the process by which this is calculated. The Phase I payment structure rewards the farmer between $400 and $800 simply for participating. Phase II payment pays the farmer between $2 and $5 per acre dependent on the % of phosphorus reduction measured. Payment is also provided for soil testing and or manure testing, and research trails.


Dr. Heather Darby, UVM Extension, provided a power point explanation of the P-index. She shed light on the fact that phosphorus reduction is not always fix and process results vary greatly from farm to farm. That each action has an impact and the soil, crop choices, and timing have much to do with nutrient values. If a farmer spread manure but waits 5 day to incorporate it into the soil there will be 15 lbs per acre loss of Nitrogen as measured against immediate incorporation.


Lucille Rainville asked about the water content in liquid manure. Darby stated that liquid manure is 92% water, while Ďdryí manure is 80% water.  One was loosing 15 Lbs of Nitrogen by waiting 5 days before burying the Manure.  



Ben Gabos, provided a power point presentation on the value of buffers to reduce erosion. He explained the program that allows farmers to be paid for acres of land they remove from production and revert to grass.


Roger Rainville, gave a presentation on the Farmerís Watershed Alliance. This group of farmers has membership from Alburg to Newport. They have banded together to get a political voice and to apply for grants. They have been successful in securing more than $200,000 in grant funding. Some of this has been used to purchase new equipment that has been designed to limit soil disruption during the planting process. The AERWAY has been used successfully in Midwest states and has been testing in the area with great relief from soil compaction and erosion.


Rainville described a project the FWA was currently waiting for approval from the legislature for. They will be purchasing 12 Aerway units and asked if the Franklin Watershed Famers would like to have their fields done as a part of the project, at no cost to the farmers. The answer was a yes from the majority of farmers present. Rainville said when they do receive notification of the grant funding then they will need to begin the process soon.  The FWA would like to do approx. 35,000 acres this summer with the Aerators. 


Wayne Fiske noted that he has been approved for partial funding of an AERWAY unit but does not wish to put the matching funds toward the purchase since milk prices have dropped dramatically since he applied for the grant. He offered to co-own the equipment with the Franklin Watershed Committee. This idea generated a fair amount of conversation regarding the groupís ability to match grant funds with grant funds and how to address the issue that Fiskeís farm does not lie in the Lake Carmi Watershed.


The conversation continued on this point exposing varying opinions whether there should be funding provided to those outside of the watershed.  It was determined that this conversation should be continued at another time so the projects could still be discussed without delay.


A Brainstorming session revealed the following ideas for actions:


       Purchase an AERWAY aerator machine to be used by all farmers in the watershed.

       Nutrient Management

       Tile Drainage


       Cattle crossings for streams

       Cover crops funding

       Work with CREPS to secure funding

       Mulcher for ditches

       Delineate wetlands


The top 4 choices selected from the above list:

       Purchase an AERWAY

       Cover crop funding

       Buffers and cow lanes

       Tile drainage




Cameron let all know of the regular monthly meeting scheduled for February 12th when the discussion would be continued and possibly voted upon.


The meeting adjourned at 12:30 and lunch was served.



Respectfully submitted,



Dick Benton and Heidi Britch-Valenta   

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