COVENTRY, VT - The Vermont Attorney General's Office has filed a civil suit against Richard Nelson alleging that Nelson is farming in Coventry and failing to meet state regulations regarding run off, but Nelson's family claims he hasn't worked that farm in four years.
According to the complaint, which was e-mailed to the Newport Daily Express, Nelson is "engaged in farming in the Town of Coventry" on Coventry Station Road, and was informed by the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets (the Agency) in June of 2009 that "silage leachate system on the farm was not being managed to prevent a discharge of wastes to the waters of the state."
The complaint does not state how this notice was given.
The complaint goes on to state that on Feb. 9, 2010, employees of the Agency and the Agency of Natural Resources (ANR) "observed that the silage leachate system at the Defendant's farm had not been corrected...." Two months later, on April 6, the Agency sent a written warning to the Defendant. On May 21, an employee of the Agency apparently observed that the problem had still not been corrected. On June 10, 2010, another written notice was sent "to the Defendant."
The complaint then states that the Defendant, Richard Nelson, entered into a written agreement with the Agency to correct the problem. Employees of the Agency reportedly met with Nelson on the farm to discuss the correction and "to offer him technical assistance in doing so."
On Jan. 7, 2011, the Agency issued an order to Nelson for "failing to abide by the agreement to correct the discharges...."
On Nov. 18, 2011, on March 20, 2012, and again on June 4, 2012, the complaint alleges, employees of the Agency observed that the problem was not fixed and the matter was referred to the Vermont Attorney General for action.
According to Assistant Attorney General Michael Duane, the defendant had a deadline of Sept. 10 to file an answer to the complaint but never did.
A member of the Richard Nelson family told the Newport Daily Express that Richard Nelson had not worked the farm in question, located on 927 Coventry Station Road, for at least four years and the cows had been removed at that time. The family member stated that Cy Nelson now has management of that farm.
The farm, according to Duane, is part of Nelson Farms, which is reportedly owned by members of the Nelson family. When asked why the office had not filed the complaint against the owner of the property, Nelson Farms, Duane stated that he could not comment on that decision.
Duane was questioned as to whether he was aware that Richard Nelson no longer operated the farm. His response was that, to the best of his knowledge, Richard Nelson was operating the farm through 2011 when Agency employees met to work out an agreement for rectifying the leachate problem.
"Our complaint speaks for itself," Duane said. "If he (Richard Nelson) answers and says the facts aren't accurate, then we'll deal with it."
Duane said he had not had personal contact with Nelson but believed ANR employees had.
The Newport Express was not able to obtain more information from ANR prior to publication.