Ag Secretary Looks To Improve Water Quality

01/25/11 7:04AM By Steve Zind

(Host)Vermont's new Secretary of Agriculture says he's looking forward to working with dairy farmers and environmentalists to improve water quality in Lake Champlain. 

Farms are the source of roughly half the phosphorus running into the lake and critics have long wanted stronger state enforcement of the federal Clean Water Act on farms.

Vermont is one of the few states where responsibility for farm enforcement is the job of the Agency of Agriculture, not an environmental agency.   Environmental groups say that's a conflict of interest because Agency of Agriculture's job is to promote farming. 

But agency secretary Chuck Ross says the current system is working.

(Ross) "I think the Agency of Agriculture has done a good job coaching as well as regulating.  It's a difficult job to be regulating effectively at all times, but we do this in partnership, it's important to understand with the Agency of Natural Resources. What's advantageous is the Agency of Agriculture brings some knowledge about what it takes to run a dairy farm or any other kind of farm."

(Host) Ross says progress is being made in curbing pollution from farms.  He says the problem took decades to create and will take time to solve.

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agriculture_agency environment
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