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Ag agency offers specialty crop grants

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The Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food, and Markets (VAAFM) is offering grant funds for the purpose of enhancing the competitiveness of specialty crops, defined as fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture crops (including honey, hops, and maple syrup), and nursery crops (including Christmas trees and floriculture). These funds are awarded through a competitive review process guided by industry, non-profit, and government stakeholders.

VAAFM plans to award approximately $200,000 in through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Specialty Crop Block Grant Program (SCBGP) funds in 2018.

Any business, organization, or individual can apply to the program. However, projects must benefit multiple specialty crop businesses, organizations, or individuals to be eligible for funding. VAAFM, in partnership with statewide specialty crop stakeholders, has identified the following program funding priorities for 2018:

— Development of innovative horticultural production practices to enhance farm viability and/or natural resource conservation;

— Pest and disease management;

— Enhancing food safety and improving the capacity of specialty crop businesses to comply with Food Safety Modernization Act or food safety audit program requirements;

— Value chain enhancement — including strengthening relationships between producers, aggregators, processers, distributors, retail businesses and consumers — and technical assistance to enhance efficiency and business viability;

— Market access (local, regional, national, or international), marketing, branding, and consumer education; and

— Producer collaboration — including establishing or strengthening producer associations and cooperatives.

Applicants to the Vermont SCBGP must submit a letter of intent by February 28. A review committee will invite the top-ranking projects to submit full proposals.

To learn more about the program, register for the information webinar, or view the webinar recording, visit: agriculture.vermont.gov/vtscbgp. — from the Agency of Agriculture, Food, and Markets.

 

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