2020 Working Lands Grant Opportunities
Working Lands Enterprise Fund News and Updates:
Earlier this year, the Working Lands Enterprise Board (WLEB) approved awards in the form of grants and contracts. These applications/Request for Proposals were for two separate and distinct funding opportunities from the FY20 state appropriation for the WLEF:
- The grants announced and posted on the Working Lands website on June 26, 2020 for $1.4M were awarded in March just as the pandemic response required us to shelter in place – the application and review process occurred late 2019 to early 2020. We felt that based on the varying impacts for Vermont businesses, delaying and announcing these awards in early summer would allow these businesses to get deserved recognition, and at the same time provide compassionate space to the struggling businesses.
- The awards announced on June 16, 2020 for $251K were for a funding opportunity which came from previously unallocated FY20 funds. Based on the unprecedented arrival of COVID-19, though these dollars were originally allocated for scopes of work for Service Providers, the WLEB nimbly diverted those dollars back to businesses. This was a quick ‘grants opportunity’ turnaround focused on COVID-19 impacts for market adaptation. Unfunded proposals that met eligibility requirements and ranked highly during the review process were notified of the possibility of future funding, pending State budget decisions.
Subsequently, the legislature made appropriations to the Working Lands Enterprise Fund with money from the Federal Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF) that Congress created as part of the CARES Act. Vermont State bills Act 137 (H. 966), and Act 120 (H.961) were signed by the Governor last month. This $3.5 million combined WLEF appropriation will be merged with the $5 million non-dairy appropriation in Act 138 (S.351). Together, these grants will be accessible through an Agriculture and Working Lands Assistance application. To be eligible, businesses will need to demonstrate economic losses or expenditures since March 1, 2020 that relate to the business disruption caused by the pandemic. Because these funds have legislative and CARES Act eligibility requirements and restrictions, all previous applicants to the FY20 COVID-19 Response Business Development grant program will need to re-apply to the new Agriculture and Working Lands Assistance program to request a grant. All previous WLEF businesses who applied for and/or received grants are potentially eligible and encouraged to apply to this new and much larger grant program. To apply, please visit this link: https://agriculture.vermont.gov/covid-19-information/vermont-covid-19-agriculture-assistance-program/agriculture-and-working-lands.
The Working Lands Enterprise Fund (WLEF), which provides critical support to our educational institutions and agriculture and forestry businesses is funded via allocations in the State of Vermont’s annual budget. Because the COVID-19 pandemic has caused serious disruptions in the State’s budgeting process the Governor approved a “skinny” budget in June which only authorized spending for the first quarter of the State’s fiscal calendar (July through September). The Legislature returns on August 25th and a top priority for them will be to finalize a budget for the remainder of the fiscal year, pending the Governor’s approval. We recognize the State cannot operate normal granting programs without an approved budget beyond the end of September. Due to the uncertainty surrounding the budget and its impact on these programs, the Agency of Agriculture will be delaying the release of the applications for the WLEF program. We will be monitoring the budget process closely and will provide updates on these important programs as more information becomes available.
FY21 Business Grants
Please check back for the Working Lands Enterprise Business Grant funding opportunity for Fiscal Year 2021, in Fall of 2020.
FY21 Service Provider Grants
Please check back for the Working Lands Enterprise Service Provider funding opportunity for Fiscal Year 2021, in Fall of 2020.
Links to Statewide Strategic Plans
(useful for the Impact Section of the Full Application)