Creating smart and effective public policy requires the bringing together of a range of people and experiences. CAPA’s Legislative Convenings provide an opportunity for policy makers, experts and citizens to come together to tackle problems facing the state of Vermont. Overseen by a facilitator, convenings often last for two days where attendees live on campus and spend their days in conversation with one another. Whether it’s how to clean up the waters of the state or the revitalization of civic education, meetings are structured around the problem and trying to find solutions that can be implemented by legislatures.
Convening: Clean Water and Agriculture
September 12-13, 2017
Clean water is essential to the health of Vermont’s people communities, and economy. Lake Champlain and other waters in Vermont are polluted by excessive nutrients. The single biggest source of pollution comes from the agricultural sector. While farms are being required to implement more stringent practices to control water pollution, there are on-going discussions about whether the new “required agricultural practices” will be sufficient to clean up Vermont’s waters, or if gaps remain. At the same time, the economic model of conventional dairies is not working well for many farmers. Therefore, the focus of this meeting is to discuss whether Vermont can address water quality issues from the agricultural sector by implementing policies that encourage farms to transition to practices that are simultaneously more economically viable and environmentally beneficial (which could include improved water quality, reduced reliance on pesticides, and carbon sequestration). In addressing this question, it is essential that collaborative approaches be implemented that have the support of the public, the agricultural community, environmental interests, and policy officials. In this regard, this meeting is being arranged at Bennington College, who is providing resources to assist participants in grappling with these questions.
This convening led to the creation of the Clean Water Working Group, a collection of individuals representing non-profits, academia, legislative and policy organizations in Vermont, all working towards clean water for our citizens. This working group advanced conversation and policy ideas on clean water and agriculture.
Clean Water Working Group | Sustainable land practices are essential for clean water ways. Healthy soils and an ecology that promotes environmental integrity, resiliency and diversity are all crucial to clean water. At the same time, an economically viable working landscape (farming, forestry, etc.) accessible to different scales of production and different abilities to invest is critical to the future well-being of Vermont, its waters and greater environment, and this region. The Clean Water Working Group, with respect for each other's points of view, is committed to an inclusive conversation with all impacted stakeholders in this challenge of getting to sustainable land practices and clean water. Climate change is radically affecting our water, working landscapes, human, and non-human populations - and we must assess and plan for this in the work we are doing. We are committed to finding solutions both within legislative policy and among the citizens of Vermont to achieve the goals of clean water and sustainable land practices.