VOF-certified organic producers must either implement a buffer between utility poles and areas used to produce organic crops or maintain documentation from the utility that manages the poles that verifies that herbicides will not be used to control vegetation around the poles. Utilities do not typically manage vegetation around poles that run through fields. VELCO (Vermont Electric Power Company) operates Vermont’s bulk, high voltage transmission system. There are 17 electric distribution utilities in Vermont that are responsible for delivering power from the bulk transmission system to end-users. While many of the smaller municipal utilities only use mechanical means to control vegetation, some use a combination of mowing and herbicides. Their territories do not always follow town or county boundaries. To determine which utility or utilities manage the utility poles in or next to your fields, you can view an interactive map here.
Producers can contact the appropriate utility company or companies and request an “Herbicide Public Notice Coupon,” which will then be attached to the closest electric service account. Documentation verifying that the Herbicide Public Notice Coupon was submitted and received by the utility should be maintained by the product for inspector verification. Prior to the application of herbicides, a utility will contact all account holders that submitted a coupon in writing at least 30 days prior to the application of herbicides in the area. A representative of the utility will also contact the account holder to discuss property boundaries and water supplies prior to application.
If your utility company only uses mechanical vegetation control around utility poles, you should maintain documentation verifying this.
VOF has verified that the following municipal utilities only use mechanical means of vegetation control and do not apply herbicides: Hardwick Electric Department, Morrisville Water & Light.
If documentation verifying that herbicides will not be applied to the utility poles, a buffer must be maintained as described in the most recent VOF Guidelines booklet.