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Funding Opportunities Overview

Working Lands Funding Opportunity Cycle

The Working Lands Enterprise Initiative (WLEI) offers funding opportunities to a variety of business structures encompassing forest, farm, and food enterprises. These include producer associations, farms, food cooperatives, business assistance provider organizations and more. The amount of funds available is determined each year through the state's annual budget cycle. The Working Lands Enterprise Board (WLEB) meets each summer to decide which funding opportunities to offer for the coming year based on available funds and needs across Vermont.

July: State of Vermont Legislature and the Governor pass the state budget and approve appropriation to the Working Land Enterprise Fund (WLEF) for upcoming fiscal year. 

June-August: WLEB convenes their annual symposium to strategize funding prioritization. 

August-November: Agency staff conduct outreach and webinars to provide guidance on the upcoming application process.  

September-January: Applications open and accept applications for about six weeks prior to application deadline. A group of subject matter experts and thought partners carefully review each completed application and provide a slate of recommendations to the WLEB.  

November-April: WLEB makes final award decisions. Applicants are notified by email in the order that applications closed. Applicants that were not awarded receive feedback from the WLEB on their applications. 

December-May:  Agency staff work with awardees to finalize grant or contract agreements for awarded projects. 

Working Lands Funding Opportunities

Most grants expect a match equal to 100% of the grant request, meaning that for example an organization or business applying for a $25,000 should expect to contribute $25,000 in their own cash and/or labor. 

Applicants can only apply to one WLEI grant during Fiscal Year 2024.  

In our efforts to reduce duplicative programming within the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets (VAAFM), the WLEB will not fund water quality or soil health equipment and infrastructure projects that are eligible for funding under existing programs of the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets. For example, the Best Management Practices program funds manure management structures such as manure pits and bedded packs, the Pasture and Surface Water Funding program funds fencing, water systems and laneways for rotational grazing, and the Capital Equipment Assistance Program funds innovative conservation equipment such as manure injection toolbars, grain drills, and no-till planters. For more information on Water Quality focused funding opportunities, see the Water Quality Assistance Programs Overview

The following Working Lands Enterprise Initiative funding opportunities will be available for Fiscal Year 2024: 

WLEI Funding Opportunity 

Application Window 

Award Notification 

Award Size 


Eligible Projects/Expenses 

Eligible Applicants 

Service Provider Grant 

September 6 – October 16, 2023 

December 2023 


At least 100% of the grant reqest; match waiver or reduction available within application

Market development, Financial planning and accounting, Business succession planning, Manufacturing efficiencies or process flow, Business research and development, Workforce development 

Organizations that provide services to farm and forest businesses 

Producer Association Grant 

September 6 – October 16, 2023 

December 2023 


Market research and development, Leadership and staff development; Board training, refreshing by-laws, committee work, or strategic planning  

Non-profit associations of farm, forest, or local food businesses 

Business Enhancement Grant 

October 6 – November 20, 2023 

January 2024 


Market development; Research and development; Infrastructure, equipment, and supplies; Energy focused projects 

Farm, forest, or local food businesses 

ARPA Primary Producer Impact Grant 

December 8, 2023 – January 19, 2024 (pre-application phase) 

February 16, 2024 – March 25, 2024 (final application phase for those invited)

May 2024 


Farm or forest businesses that raise livestock, grow crops, tap maple trees, or harvest timber and that have been in business since January 2020 

Supply Chain Impact Grant 

December 8, 2023 – January 19, 2024 (pre-application phase) 

February 16, 2024 – March 25, 2024 (final application phase for those invited)

May 2024 



Farm, forest, or food businesses that use local products 

Small Farm Diversification Grant 

January 12 – March 4, 2024 

March 2024 

Up to $15,000 

No match requirement

Diversifying farm products; Transitioning from one form of farming to another; Processing farm products; Developing an accessory on-farm business 

Farms that either operate 4 or more
acres for farming; OR have filed a 1040(F) Tax Form once in the last 2 years; OR earn an annual gross income of more than $2,000 from the sale of agricultural products. 

Farms registered as medium or large farm operations are NOT eligible.

Trade Show Assistance Grant 

Winter 2024

March 2024 

$2,000 - $5,000 

At least 100% of the grant reqest; match waiver or reduction available within application

Planning, exhibiting, and selling Vermont products at out-of-state trade shows or virtual shows targeting out-of-state buyers 

Farm, forest, or local food businesses with 3+ wholesale accounts 

General Business and Applicant Resources