The backbone of Vermont’s heritage and economic viability is our working landscape. Over 97 percent of Vermonters value the “working landscape,” which consists of agriculture, food systems, forestry, and forest products businesses. Approximately 20 percent of Vermont’s working land is used for agricultural purposes and 75 percent is forested. The Findings section of Act 142 outlines nine goals of the Working Lands Enterprise Initiative.
The mission of the Vermont Working Lands Enterprise Initiative is to grow the economies, cultures, and communities of Vermont's working landscape. The Working Lands Enterprise Board (WLEB) achieves this by making essential, catalytic investments in critical leverage points of the Vermont farm and forest economy and facilitating policy development to optimize the agricultural and forest use of Vermont lands.
Businesses must be based in Vermont and registered with the Secretary of State at the time of full application submission. All business structures are eligible (e.g. Partnerships, Limited Liability Corporations, Sole Proprietorships, Cooperatives, Corporations, S Corporations, L3Cs, and B Corporations and/or non-profits that are involved in the production of agriculture and/or forest related products).
Previous recipients of Business grants for over $20,000 are not eligible to apply for further Working Lands funding until three years after the start date of their previous grant (i.e., FY15 Capital and Infrastructure grantees are eligible to apply for FY19 funding). Past recipients of grants under $20,000 are eligible to apply again.
For the Fiscal Year 2021 grant cycle, the Working Lands Enterprise Board plans to fund Supply Chain Impact Business Grants in a range of $25,000-$75,000 per award. Commitment and/or support for both supply of raw materials and demand for project output are necessary for the application to be competitive for these limited funds, including the role the partner/stakeholder will play in the proposed project; any financial support they will contribute (if applicable), in order to demonstrate the project partners’ involvement and identify the specific contributions they will make to ensure the project’s success. Projects prioritized for funding will include:
- Production and Processing in Agriculture – Enhancing production of value-added agriculture or forest- based products and/or manufacturing efficiencies, transitioning to operation as a new processor or expansion as an existing processor, addressing known bottlenecks along the supply chain, such as meat processing and slaughter capacity
- Low Grade Wood Equipment - to produce, screen, weigh, or package, wood fuel (firewood, pellets, or chips) for heating; kiln or flow-through dryers; increase commercial sawmill throughput or efficiency
Grants will demonstrate how the market or product the applicant is developing or expanding will positively impact multiple businesses within its own supply chain. Project characteristics may include:
- Infrastructure improvements that support increased production, processing, and/or distribution of a commodity or value-added product(s), thus benefiting the application and additional enterprises;
- Leveraging supply chain partnerships to reach new or larger markets, e.g. via product aggregation, co-branding, vertical or horizontal efficiencies, etc.
Grants are funded through a State of Vermont legislative appropriation, with additional philanthropic contributions
For all Business Grants:
- Budget must show at least a 1-to-1 match (for every dollar of WLEB funds requested, applicant must show at least one dollar of matching funds). At least 50% of match must be cash, the rest may be in-kind. Under limited circumstances, match requirements may be reduced or waived for projects that can justify the need for a reduced match.
- Primary beneficiaries are Vermont agriculture, forestry & forest products businesses (including farm and/or forest landowners).
- Working Lands Business Grants are awarded through a competitive review process guided by industry, nonprofit and government stakeholders
- Supply Chain Impact projects will be 24 months in duration
Key Dates and Deadlines:
Request for Applications Release: November 6th, 2020
Pre- Application Opens for Submission: November 13th, 2020
Pre- Application Deadline: December 6th, 2020, at 11:59 PM (application closes at midnight)
Application Notification of Pre- Application Acceptance/Denial: Early February 2021
Full Application Opens for submission: February 5th, 2021 at 12:00PM (noon)
Full Application Deadline: February 28th, 2021 at 11:59PM (application closes at midnight)
Award Notification: Late April 2021
Estimated Project Start: May - June 2021
HOW TO APPLY
Applications will be accepted only through the online grants management system, WebGrants, at agriculturegrants.vermont.gov. Paper applications will not be accepted. Applicants must register (create a user account) in WebGrants in order to begin an application. Note: If you or your organization have previously registered in WebGrants, please do not create another account. New user registrations must be approved by Agency staff before an application can be started. Please allow 1-2 business days for registration approval. New user registrations cannot be approved on weekends or after 4:30 PM on weekdays; therefore, applicants are asked to register as soon as possible.
Once logged into WebGrants, click the “Funding Opportunities” page and select “FY21 Working Lands Supply Chain Impact Business Grants”. To start an application, click “Start a New Application”. Enter your project title, select your organization, and select additional grant contacts (if any), clicking “Save Form Information” after each step. You will then be directed to the application forms, where you may edit, save, and re-edit your information until the time of submission. After successfully submitting your application, you will see an Application Submitted Confirmation screen with an Application ID number.
For full technical instructions on submitting an application, please visit the Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets website at https://agriculture.vermont.gov/resources-grant-recipients, and click the “How to Apply for a Grant in WebGrants” link toward the bottom of the page.