January 19, 2021 | Montpelier, VT - The Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets (VAAFM) announces grant funds to strengthen Vermont’s specialty crop industries. Specialty crops are defined as fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture crops (including honey, hops, and maple syrup), and nursery crops (including Christmas trees and floriculture).
Interested applicants must submit a pre-application by March 1, 2021 at 4:30 PM.
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, VAAFM administers these funds to enhance the competitiveness of Vermont specialty crops. Funds are awarded through a competitive review process guided by industry, nonprofit and government stakeholders. VAAFM plans to award approximately $200,000 in Specialty Crop Block Grant Program (SCBGP) funds in 2021.
While Vermont SCBGP projects must benefit a specialty crop industry, sector, or the public to be eligible for funding, any business, organization, or individual can apply. We encourage individual businesses, organizations, or individuals to collaborate with other industry representatives, such as members of producer associations, to ensure that each proposed project will benefit multiple businesses and address specialty crop industry needs. A list of producer associations and their contact information is available at agriculture.vermont.gov/businessdevelopment/our-partners.
The Vermont Agency of Agriculture, in partnership with statewide specialty crop stakeholders, has identified the following program funding priorities for 2021:
- Research, development, and dissemination of innovative production practices to enhance farm viability and/or natural resource conservation
- Pest and disease management;
- Enhancing food safety and improving the capacity of specialty crop businesses to comply with Food Safety Modernization Act or food safety audit program requirements;
- Value chain enhancement—including strengthening relationships between producers, aggregators, processors, distributors, retail businesses, and consumers;
- Technical assistance to address efficiency, conservation, business viability, workforce development, labor issues, succession planning, and challenges facing beginning and socially disadvantaged farmers;
- Market access (local, regional, national, or international), marketing, branding, and consumer education;
- Producer collaboration—including establishing or strengthening producer associations and cooperatives.
To apply, download the Request for Applications at agriculture.vermont.gov/grants/specialtycrop. Applicants to the Vermont SCBGP must submit a pre-application by March 1, 2021 at 4:30 PM. A review committee will invite the top-ranking projects to submit full applications. For more information about the program, please visit: agriculture.vermont.gov/grants/specialtycrop.
VAAFM will conduct an information session webinar for prospective applicants on January 26th, 2021 at 1:00 PM. Register for the information session webinar at bit.ly/SCBGPWebinarRegistration2021.
Please note that projects that primarily benefit a single business, organization, or individual are not eligible for funding through the Vermont SCBGP. To access agricultural business resources, such as business and financial planning, technical assistance, and business development grants and financing, please visit agriculture.vermont.gov/businessdevelopment.
Contact: Gina Clithero