The Vermont State Legislature appropriated $8.5 million in Coronavirus Relief Funds in Act 138 (S.351), Act 137 (H. 966), and Act 120 (H.961) for Agriculture and Working Lands Assistance. Of these funds, $5 million was designated to Agricultural Producer and Processor Assistance, for farmers, meat and poultry processors, commercial slaughterhouses, and farmers' markets; $2.5 million was appropriated to the Working Lands Enterprise Fund for agricultural, food and forest, and wood product industries; and $1 million was appropriated for the COVID-19 Working Lands Program for agriculture, food, and market businesses. This application will be administered by the Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets in partnership with Vermont Economic Development Authority (VEDA), and is open to eligible farmers, meat and poultry processors, commercial slaughterhouses, farmers' markets, value-added food product businesses, forest products businesses, and producer associations.
The Agency of Agriculture will issue grant payments for Agriculture and Working Lands Assistance on a first-come, first-served basis. All compensable losses and costs must have been incurred since March 1, 2020 and be related to the COVID-19 public health emergency.
How to Apply
Take the following steps to determine your eligibility and successfully apply.
- Review the Eligibility Requirements Agriculture & Working Lands Eligibility Flowchart. Use this flowchart to determine if your business or organization is eligible for assistance.
- Gather the following documentation: 2019 Tax Return, 2019 and 2020 Income Statements broken out by month, as well as documentation of losses incurred since March 1, 2020 that are related to the COVID-19 public health emergency. Applicants should also have available the information that is captured in a W-9 Form , but applicants are not required to submit a signed W-9 with their applications.
- Review the Agriculture & Working Lands Application Guide - Coming Soon!
- Attend or view an Agriculture and Working Lands Webinar for Applicants. You may wish to initiate an application in the system prior to attending a webinar to become familiar with the application questions and layout. However, we strongly encourage applicants to hold off on submitting applications until after they have attended or viewed one of the webinars.
- Submit your application by October 1, 2020. However, keep in mind that grants will be awarded on a first-come, first-served basis, so the application may close prior to October 1 if all funds are expended.
To apply, please visit this link.
To be eligible to apply for any Vermont COVID-19 Agriculture Assistance Program (VCAAP) application, business applicants must meet all of the following criteria:
- be domiciled or have a primary place of business in Vermont;
- be without an active enforcement violation that reached a final order with the Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets (VAAFM) and/or the Agency of Natural Resources (ANR);
- be in compliance with all terms of any current grant agreement(s) or contract(s) with VAAFM and/or ANR;
- since March 1, 2020 have experienced expenses, lost revenue, or both relating to business interruption caused by COVID-19; and
- not received funding from any other Vermont State COVID-19 recovery program (but dairy businesses should also see the below eligibility criteria).
In order to be eligible for Agriculture and Working Lands Assistance, an applicant must demonstrate that their business is one of the following. Each business will be identified through its Tax Identification Number (TIN).
- An agriculture business that participates in the science or practice of farming, including growing crops and raising animals for the production of food, fiber, fuel and other products, a commercial processor, commercial slaughterhouse, or farmers’ market.
- A farmer is a business not eligible for assistance under the VCAAP Dairy Assistance Application with a gross annual income of $10,000 from the sale of agricultural products, livestock, livestock products, or poultry products in one of the two, or three of the five, calendar years preceding submission of an application.
- Commercial processor means any business regulated under 6 V.S.A. § 3302 for the purpose of processing livestock, meat, meat food product, poultry, or poultry product other than for the exclusive use in the household of the owner of the commodity, by the owner and members of the owner’s household and the owner’s nonpaying guests and employees.
- Commercial slaughterhouse means any business engaged in slaughtering livestock or poultry other than as a custom slaughterer or a business conducting slaughter under 6 V.S.A. § 3312(b), (c), or (d).
- Farmers’ market means an event or series of events at which two or more vendors of agricultural products, as defined in 11 V.S.A. § 991, gather for purposes of offering for sale the public their agricultural products.
- A value-added food product business that produces a raw, cooked, or processed edible substance, beverage, or ingredient intended for human consumption. These products cannot be animal feed, live animals (except for seafood products customarily sold and/or consumed live), non-harvested plants, fiber, medicinal products, cosmetics, tobacco products, or narcotics. Farmers, commercial processors, commercial slaughterhouses, and farmers' markets are excluded from this definition.
Businesses such as restaurants, bars, lodging properties, and retail operations that collect and remit Vermont Meals and Rooms Tax or Sales and Use Tax on a monthly or quarterly basis should apply for an Economic Recovery Grant with the Vermont Department of Taxes.
- A forest products business that is primarily engaged in managing, harvesting, trucking, processing, manufacturing, crafting, or distributing forest or wood products derived from Vermont forests. Forest products businesses include consulting forestry services and secondary manufacturers of wood products (not otherwise eligible under the Forest, Parks & Recreation Application).
- A dairy producer or processor, including raw milk producers and those who receive grant funding from the Dairy Assistance Application, provided that businesses that apply for a dairy program grant cannot apply for reimbursement for any of their losses and/or expenses that relate to their dairy operations. Dairy businesses are allowed to apply for dairy grants and working lands grants, but they cannot apply for working lands grants for the “same purpose” as the dairy grant program. To define eligibility, “same purpose” means all losses or expenses related to a business’s dairy operations and/or all other losses or expenses that the dairy business includes in its dairy grant application. Losses and/or expenses that are for the “same purpose” as the dairy grant program are ineligible for separate relief under the working lands program. Restrictions on reimbursement for losses and/or expenses related to a dairy operation may apply.
- An agriculture producer association, defined as a Vermont-based nonprofit producer association group that represents and promotes Vermont agriculture, food, beverage, forest, or fiber products. For the purposes of this grant, producer association group, also known as a trade association, industry trade group, business association, sector association or industry body, is an organization founded and funded by businesses that operate in a specific industry.
Sector-Specific Eligibility Criteria
If your business is considered an agricultural business as defined above, it must satisfy at least one of the following two scenarios:
- It was open and active as of March 1, 2020;
- It is currently open for business; and
- It does not have a net profit between March 1, 2020 and August 1, 2020.
- It was open and active as of February 15, 2020;
- It is currently open for business or has a plan to reopen;
- It may have a net profit between March 1, 2020 and August 1, 2020; and
- If profitable between March 1, 2020 and August 1, 2020 the following three criteria also apply
- It has at least one W-2 employee (which may include the owner);
- It is not in Chapter 7 bankruptcy; and
- It is in good standing with both the Vermont Department of Taxes and the Vermont Secretary of State.
If your business is a value-added food product business, forest products business, dairy producer or processor, or an agricultural producer association as defined above, your business will likely be eligible for the Agriculture and Working Lands Application provided it meets the following criteria:
- Gross annual income of between $10,000 and $20,000,000;
- Open and active for business as of February 15, 2020;
- Currently open for business or has a plan to reopen;
- One or more W-2 employees (which may include the owner);
- Not in Chapter 7 bankruptcy; and
- In good standing with both the Vermont Department of Taxes and the Vermont Secretary of State.
** Please note, your business will be ineligible if it does not meet all general VCAAP eligibility requirements, gross at least $10,000 annually, and meet requirements applicable to your specific business.
Eligible applicants with annual gross sales of $10,000 to $24,999 shall receive up to $2,500.
- Eligible applicants with annual gross sales of $25,000 to $49,999 shall receive up to $5,000.
- Eligible applicants with annual gross sales of $50,000 to $99,999 shall receive up to $10,000.
- Eligible applicants with annual gross sales of $100,000 or more shall receive up to $20,000.
- Eligible applicants with annual gross sales of $250,000 or more shall receive up to $50,000.
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