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VHCB’s Vermont Farm & Forest Viability Program Announces Grant Opportunities for Farmers

http://www.vhcb.org/Farm-Forest-Viability/

The Vermont Farm & Forest Viability Program, a program of the Vermont Housing & Conservation Board, announced today the availability of grant funds for on-farm capital improvement projects. Eligible farmers can apply for Water Quality Grants or Dairy Improvement Grants, both of which allow up to $40,000 in funding. Matching funds are required for both grants and may include federal or state grants as well as cash or loans. Upcoming application deadlines and eligibility requirements for both grant programs are available on the Viability Program website.

Water Quality Grants will help farmers make water quality-related capital improvements in on-farm infrastructure. VHCB is administering State of Vermont Clean Water funds for this program. The grants will assist with the costs of improvements required to comply with new regulations and are designed to complement existing federal and state grant programs that address soil health and water quality. To be eligible for Water Quality Grants, farmers must be subject to Vermont’s Required Agricultural Practices (RAPs) and have a minimum of $15,000 in gross farm income. Application materials are available online, and the first of three upcoming deadlines will be October 13th, 2017.  

Funding for the Dairy Improvement Grants comes from Ehrmann Commonwealth Dairy, LLC, whose Brattleboro plant produces Green Mountain Creamery Greek yogurt from Vermont milk. To be eligible for Dairy Improvement Grants, farmers are required to provide a business plan and be members of the St. Albans Cooperative Creamery or Dairy Farmers of America, where Commonwealth sources milk for its yogurt production facility. Dairy Improvement Grants application materials are available online.  

There will be three information sessions open to the public where Viability Program staff will discuss both grant programs and field questions.  

  • September 20, 2017. 10a-12p, St. Albans: St. Albans Free Library, 11 Maiden Lane.
  • September 21, 2017. 10a-12p, Rutland: Neighborworks of Western Vermont, 110 Marble Street.
  • September 22, 2017. 10a-12p, Hartland: Hartland Public Library, 153 US-5.

Viability Program grants help farmers leverage loan funds for projects or implement changes more quickly and effectively. Past projects funded with Dairy Improvement Grants have yielded significant improvements in cow comfort, quality of life, and farm viability. Two-thirds of grantees report improved on-farm efficiencies, and over half report improved milk quality and animal welfare.