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Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets Announces Grant Funds to Enhance the Competitiveness of Vermont Specialty Crops

http://agriculture.vermont.gov/producer_partner_resources/funding_opportunities/vaafm_funding/specialty_crop

Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets Announces Grant Funds to Enhance the Competitiveness of Vermont Specialty Crops

Agency to award approximately $200,000 in Specialty Crop Block Grant Program funds in 2016

The Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets (VAAFM) announces the availability of grant funds for the purpose of enhancing the competitiveness of Vermont specialty crops, defined as fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture crops (including honey, hops, and maple syrup), and nursery crops (including Christmas trees and floriculture). These funds are awarded through a competitive review process guided by industry, nonprofit and government stakeholders. Prospective applicants may download the Vermont Specialty Crop Block Grant Program (SCBGP) Request for Proposals on the Agency’s website at http://go.usa.gov/3JGBG.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) awards Specialty Crop Block Grants to the 50 States, the District of Columbia, and U.S. Territories. In Vermont, the Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets administers these funds to enhance the competitiveness of Vermont specialty crops. VAAFM plans to award approximately $200,000 in Specialty Crop Block Grant Program (SCBGP) funds in 2016. Visit http://www.ams.usda.gov/scbgp for more information about the SCBGP.

VAAFM strongly encourages projects proposing innovative partnerships and, in collaboration with statewide specialty crop industry stakeholders, has identified the following (unranked) state funding priorities for 2016:

  • Development of innovative horticultural production practices and efficiencies to positively impact farm viability and/or conservation
  • Pest and disease management
  • Food safety—including the handling, preparation, transport, and storage of specialty crops in ways that reduce foodborne illness
  • Value chain enhancement—including strengthening relationships between individuals, businesses, and organizations that build specialty crop value from production to consumption
  • Market access (local, regional, national, or international), marketing, branding, and consumer education
  • Organizational development—including strengthening producer associations and cooperative development

VAAFM will conduct a webinar to provide an overview of the program, the 2016 application process—including new USDA standards for outcome measures—and VAAFM’s new online grants management system. Interested parties may register for the webinar at http://bit.ly/webinar0216.

Applicants to the Vermont SCBGP must submit a letter of intent by March 11, 2016. A review committee will invite the top-ranking projects to submit full proposals, which will be due by May 6, 2016. 

For more information about Vermont Agency of Agriculture grants, visit our Funding Opportunities & Resources for Businesses page at http://agriculture.vermont.gov/producer_partner_resources/funding_opportunities.

Contact Kristina Sweet at kristina.sweet@vermont.gov with questions about the Vermont Specialty Crop Block Grant Program.