The Vermont Housing & Conservation Board, Vermont Land Trust and the Intervale Center received a three-year, $546,000 grant from the USDA’s Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program to help Vermont’s next generation of agricultural entrepreneurs access land and grow viable businesses.
VHCB’s Viability Program is anationally-recognized provider of comprehensive, one-on-one business and transfer planning services for established farm, food and forestry sector businesses. The Vermont Land Trust’s Farmland Access Program connects farmers with affordable farmland, helping 62 new and beginning farmers make the transition to farm ownership since 2009. The Intervale Center provides one-on-one business planning and technical assistance to about 80 farms throughout Vermont each year as well as specialized assistance in the areas of land access.
These three organizations have been working together for over a decade on issues related to beginning farmers and land access and are excited to increase their impact together with these funds. Over the next three years, VHCB, VLT and the Intervale Center will provide business planning to 150 new and beginning farmers, help 70 farmers find affordable land that is suitable for their business model, and work with 70 retiring farmers to acquire the tools and assistance they need to transition their farmland to farmers, rather than non-farmers.
Ela Chapin of VHCB explained, “We believe in the power of direct service as the most effective approach for improving farm viability. Farming is a complicated business that requires operators develop diverse skillsets. With one-on-one technical assistance, we are able to meet farmers where they are and leverage the specific resources they need.”
The average age of a farmer in Vermont is 57 years old, which means that a significant amount of the state’s farmland will transfer hands in the next ten years. This grant will help transfer that land to new and beginning farmers who are the future of Vermont’s agricultural economy.
Interested in learning more about the services provided by the Viability Program, Farmland Access Program and the Intervale Center? Visit http://www.vhcb.org/Farm-Forest-Viability/.