January 14, 2022 | Montpelier, VT – The Working Lands program announces historic funding for those who make their living off the land. The Program has awarded $2.1 million in grants that will help grow agriculture and small businesses in Vermont. This latest round of funding will address meat slaughter and processing bottlenecks, supply chain resiliency, marketing plans and overall business development. Awards from this program also support farmers, producers, markets and co-ops that make up our food system; Vermont loggers, foresters and forest products businesses managing our natural resources; and service provider organizations that help strengthen our supply chain. Under the leadership of Governor Phil Scott and the legislature a total of $5.294 million was allocated to the Working Lands Program this year. Another $3.2 million in Working Lands Program grants will be announced in the spring.
“The Working Lands Program continues to emphasize impacts to a diverse range of agriculture and forestry businesses, including funding to organizations that provide viability assistance with a focus on enterprises building executive business skills,” said Lynn Ellen Schimoler, Program Lead. “This initiative supports Vermont entrepreneurs by providing financial assistance to help business create jobs, build infrastructure, and promote growth in economies and communities of Vermont’s working landscape.”
So far this year, working lands businesses and organizations in the following categories will receive Working Lands Enterprise Program awards: (Please follow the link in each category to view the individual businesses receiving 2022 program funds.)
- Service Providers – $616,394 awarded
Grants include funding to assist with business and financial planning, business responses to COVID-19, enterprise transitions for next generation business owners and post succession, access to capital, manufacturing efficiencies or process flow, and more.
- Meat Slaughter and Processing – $619,425 awarded
Grants assist businesses with larger facilities to increase production, processing and/or distribution, address known existing bottlenecks, market development, marketing plans and/or sales strategies, plus on the job training or apprenticeship opportunities, HCAAP (food safety) plans and implementation, inventory, procurement, and pricing management, basic meat cutting and cured meat operation, cut and wrap for case-ready products, value-added processing, equipment infrastructure, and more.
- Producer Associations – $183,604 awarded
Grants benefit Vermont-based nonprofit producer association groups that represent and promote Vermont agriculture, food, beverage, forest, or fiber products.
- Standard Business – $532,252 awarded
Grants to Working Lands businesses to grow markets and develop marketing plans, sales strategy, enhancing production and/or manufacturing efficiencies, research and development; and/or infrastructure improvements.
“These investments will support businesses who make their living off the land. These investments will make it more affordable for these businesses while growing the rural economy. At a time when businesses continue to navigate the pandemic, Working Lands investments help these companies innovate and grow,” said Agency of Agriculture Food and Markets Secretary Anson Tebbetts.
This is the first of a series of grants to be awarded in 2022, with another round of investments to be announced later in spring. A total of $5.294 million dollars will be invested this year under the Working Lands Program. Please visit https://workinglands.vermont.gov/ to find out more.
The Working Lands Enterprise Initiative (WLEI) and governing board (WLEB) were created by the 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, and Markets, the Vermont Department of Forest, Parks, and Recreation, and the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development.
*attached image: Scott Farm in Windham County - received grant for value-added product development