Ag and forest grants available

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The Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets is making over $1-million in grants available through the following grant programs:

The Working Lands Enterprise Board is offering over $750,000 in available grant funding for the fiscal 2018 program year. Eligible Vermont agriculture and forest sector businesses may submit applications beginning October 3, 2017. The application period for service providers will open on October 31. This year, there will be two separate categories within the service provider investment area. Details of each investment area will be announced upon release of the request for applications. Working Lands grant applications involve a two-step process: an initial letter of intent and, if selected, submission of a full application. Grants are for eighteen months and are typically tendered in early spring.

Business investment applicants may include loggers, farmers, and manufacturers doing business in Vermont who utilize Vermont agricultural or forestry products, and other businesses such as processors and distributors that support the growth of farm and forest sector businesses. Grant funds can be used for projects that will take a business to the next level, including equipment, infrastructure, and marketing.

This year the Service Provider Investments will contain two categories: a smaller funding pool for regional groups, research and development, and/or pilot programs; and a larger, multi-year funding pool for fundamental working lands services. Projects may include workforce training, marketing, or market research, business planning, or other activities that support the growth and viability of farm and forest sector businesses. Most service providers are non-profits, but some for-profit projects may also be a good fit for this category.

Informational videos will be posted online on October 3 at workinglands.vermont.gov/apply/rfp. For additional information contact Noelle Sevoian at [email protected], or (802) 585-9072, or visit vermontworkinglands.com.

For a third year, the agency is offering trade show assistance grants to assist producers in connecting with new markets and buyers to exhibit at out-of-state trade shows. The application period for these grants will open November 1, and funding will be allocated on a first come, first served basis until funds are depleted. All grantees will be expected to contribute a one-to-one match. This year’s grants will be available to out-of-state trade show exhibitors and requests will be granted for $1,000 to $2,500.

Funds may be used to assist with the cost of marketing assets, booth design, freight, registration, as well as other eligible costs.

For additional information contact: Lauren Masseria at [email protected], or (802) 505-5413, or visit: agriculture.vermont.gov/domestic_export/trade_show_grant_application.

The Vermont Farm to School Grant Program will release its request for applications (RFA) for the 2018 grant round on October 2, 2017. Funds totaling $213,000 will be available for schools to invest in a farm to school program. The program works to improve nutrition among Vermont’s children by connecting food producers to their local schools, as well as providing enriched educational experiences and curricula. The grant enables Vermont schools to engage students in their local food system by incorporating local food and farm education into their cafeterias, classrooms, and communities.

On Wednesday, October 11, from 3 to 4:30 p.m., the agency will host a webinar for all potential farm to school applicants. The webinar will cover all the basics of the request for applications. There will be time to ask questions during this interactive webinar. Anyone interested in joining the webinar will find a registration link in the RFA. The webinar will also be recorded and posted on the Vermont Farm to School Program webpage.

For additional information, contact Ali Zipparo at [email protected], or (802) 505-1822.

The Produce Safety Improvement Grant Program will offer two rounds of funding that provide over $74,000 in available funding per round. These grants will be for farms with average annual produce sales of greater than $25,000, for produce safety improvements which help prevent or reduce produce safety risks on farms growing “covered produce,” as defined by the Food Safety Modernization Act, produce safety rule. The application period for the first round will open in mid-November, and will be announced on the produce program webpage at: agriculture.vermont.gov/produceprogram. The second round of grants will open in June, 2018.

For additional information contact Tucker Diego at [email protected], or (802) 828-2433.

All applications for these grants are tendered through the agency’s grants management system (GMS) at: agriculturegrants.vermont.gov. Each grant program will be listed as a “Funding Opportunity.” Applicants must first register in the GMS prior to submitting an application for grant funding. — from the Agency of Agriculture, Food, and Markets.

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