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Working Lands Enterprise Board Awards $2.3 Million to Vermont Farm, Forest, and Food Businesses and Organizations

May 29, 2024
A person walks out to a field leading goats


May 29, 2024 | Montpelier, VT – The Working Lands Enterprise Board (WLEB) announces 51 awards to working lands businesses and organizations in 2024.  The $2,329,561 in awards will support those who are earning a living off the land. 

“The challenges the farm and forest economy sectors face are significant, which is why my Administration continues to prioritize investments in the rural regions of our state,” said Governor Phil Scott. “These awards are important to growing our economy and making it more affordable for those working the land.”

To review all 51 grantees, their projects and award amounts, please click here.

The award categories are: 

  • American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) Primary Producer Impact Grants - $812,991 awarded to 6 farms. These grants support businesses engaged in growing crops, raising livestock, and harvesting timber in advancing their businesses after being negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. These grants were made possible by one-time federal funds allocated to the Working Lands Enterprise Initiative (WLEI) by the legislature. 
  • Business Enhancement Grants - $558,343 awarded to 14 businesses. These grants support farm, forest, and food businesses using local products with market development, infrastructure, equipment costs, and workforce development to advance their businesses. 
  • Small Farm Diversification & Transition Grants - $150,000 awarded to 12 farms. These grants support small farms in diversifying farm products, transitioning to a new form of farming, processing farm products, and developing an accessory on-farm business. These grants were made possible by a one-time appropriation from the legislature.   
  • Supply Chain Impact Grants - $788,159 awarded to 6 businesses and nonprofits. These grants support farm, forest, and local food businesses investing in critical supply chain infrastructure - such as distribution and processing initiatives - investments that create new opportunities for multiple businesses in their respective supply chains.  
  • Trade Show Assistance Grants - $59,968 awarded to 13 businesses. These grants support local food and forest businesses to attend trade shows to bring Vermont products to out of state markets. In addition to the $50,000 allocated for Trade Show Assistance Grants from WLEB, Hannaford provided a $2,500 donation and the Vermont Dairy Promotion Council provided an additional $8,288 for dairy businesses.  

“These investments enable businesses of all sectors and sizes to increase sales and efficiency, advance equity, improve land management, and adapt to climate change and the post-pandemic economy. We are proud to support these businesses that enhance our rural communities and economies.” said Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets Secretary Anson Tebbetts.  

“The Working Lands Enterprise Board is grateful to receive ongoing general funds and one-time allocations to support a diverse range of agriculture and forestry businesses that are keeping Vermont’s working landscape vibrant and vital,” said Elizabeth Sipple, Working Lands Program Lead. “A key element to the Working Lands impact is the program’s ability to flexibly respond to businesses most pressing needs. In the beginning of the program, there was speculation that farmers and forest industry business owners would be too busy to fill out a grant application, but each year there is record-breaking demand. In fiscal year 2024, we saw the greatest demand to date, with grant requests for business grants totaling over $16.2 million.”   

WLEB also invests in service providers and producer associations who work directly with working lands enterprises to support them as they grow, pivot, and adapt to an ever-changing marketplace. Earlier this year, WLEB awarded $652,211 to service providers and producer associations to provide technical services and business assistance to farm and forestry businesses in Vermont. 

In the upcoming fiscal year 2025, $1 million will be available for agriculture and forest businesses and organizations. Applications will open in the fall. 

The Working Lands Enterprise Initiative (WLEI) and governing board (WLEB) were created by the Vermont Legislature in 2012 to stimulate economic development in the agricultural and forestry sectors. WLEI is a collaborative effort between the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food, & Markets, the Vermont Department of Forest, Parks, & Recreation, and the Vermont Agency of Commerce & Community Development. 

Photo courtesy Becca Knouss, The Goat Project