Fellows in the News
Posted by Lauren Hertel on Wednesday, February 14 2018

Vermont has a problem. The state is $1.2 billion short of the funding it will need to meet federal targets for reducing pollution in state waterways.

To solve that problem, Gov. Phil Scott suggested a creative solution last week in his budget address: Turning the pollutant into a commodity and selling it out of state.

The pollutant is phosphorus, a primary ingredient of fertilizer, which is widely used in farming.


Scott’s commoditization scheme is based on a new technology that removes phosphorus from manure. The theory is simple: If farmers were to sell byproducts from cow manure instead of applying it to their fields, they would pollute less, and water quality would improve.

But Wironen’s figures raise a number of questions, starting with this one: If Vermont farmers use the manure to fertilize crops, how much extra manure would they have to sell?

The Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets has not provided an answer, Wironen said. Nor did Agriculture Secretary Anson Tebbetts, in an interview. “That’s a really technical question,” Tebbetts said.

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