Spring 2019 Policy Update

Spring 2019 Policy Update

Just over halfway through the legislative session, NOFA-VT has been tracking a number of bills and issues impacting our members. Below is a list of bills we’re watching. Since things can move quickly in the legislature, please check back here for the latest update.

H.205: This bill would classify neonicotinoid pesticides as “restricted use”, meaning they would not be allowed for use by homeowners. Neonicotinoids are a class of pesticides known to be particularly harmful to pollinators. The bill also includes some additional requirements for beekeepers, including registration with the state, completion of a state certification program, and certain fees and inspection requirements for colonies imported from out of state. While we feel more must be done to address other uses of neonicotinoids (especially treated seeds and ornamental applications), this bill is a good first step in getting these pesticides out of the hands of homeowners who often do not follow labeling instructions. We have testified in support of the provisions regarding neonicotinoids, but have some concerns about the increased requirements for beekeepers in the state.

H.268: This bill would ban the sale and use of neonicotinoids, as well as banning the sale and use of atrazine and glyphosate.

S.58: This bill updates the requirements under the state hemp program to comply with new federal requirements put in place by the 2018 Farm Bill. It directs the Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets to develop rules for the growth, registration, and testing of industrial hemp, and establishes new registration fees for hemp growers.

Changes to Wetlands Regulation: - The House and Senate Ag Committees each have committee bills in place that seek changes to the way wetlands are regulated, and they continue to take testimony on these bills. Due to the intersection of state and federal laws and the number of agencies involved in wetlands regulations, this issue is particularly complicated. If you have experienced or anticipate experiencing issues with the way wetlands are regulated on your farm, please be in touch with us!

Payment for Ecosystem Services: Several proposals currently moving through the legislature address the issue of compensating farmers in some form for ecosystem services they provide through land stewardship. The “miscellaneous ag bill,” for example, addresses this by providing technical and financial assistance for regenerative farming practices through the Vermont Environmental Stewardship Program (VESP). We will be tracking this and other related proposals as they progress through the legislature.

If you have questions or comments on a particular bill or issue, contact Maddie Kempner at [email protected].