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Vermont Officials Announce 16 Grantees of the Working Lands Fund

State officials and the Working Lands Enterprise Board recently announced recipients of grants from the Working Lands Enterprise Fund, awarding more than $750,000 to 16 grantees representing sectors across agriculture, forestry and forest products. The awards were made in two categories: Service Provider and Capital and Infrastructure areas.  The recent announcement was the second round of working lands grants issued in 2013.

VNRC worked as part of the Working Lands Coalition to support the creation of the fund in 2012, and since then has continued to advocate for strong funding for the program. This year’s efforts resulted in the continuation of the program with an increase in funding, up from $1.175 million to $1.425 million, and VNRC will be working during the 2014 legislative session to continue promoting this important investment program.

The awards include funding for statewide support services to provide technical assistance in the areas of business, market, workforce, infrastructure, and professional development for agricultural, forestry & forest products based businesses.  Funds to support infrastructure projects will reach all corners of the state and impact multiple sectors.

“Vermont’s forests provide significant contributions to our economy and well-being,” said Forests, Parks and Recreation Commissioner Michael Snyder. “When we invest in support services and capital and infrastructure for working forests and forest products enterprises, this pillar of our economy grows stronger and we bolster both Vermont’s character and integrity.”

“Vermont’s working landscape captures Vermont’s culture, character, and community,” said Secretary of Agriculture, Food and Markets, Chuck Ross. “The Working Lands Enterprise Fund provides a deeper investment in Vermont’s working lands and its people. It represents a historic initiative by the State to advance Vermont’s forestry and forest products sector in a way that has never been done before.”

“The working landscape is the foundation of several of our most important economic sectors: fundamental to agriculture, forest products, stone and minerals, and renewable energy, but also critical for our tourism economy,” said Secretary of Commerce and Community Development, Lawrence Miller. “Interacting with the land in work and recreation is also a fundamental part of our culture.”

Here is a list of the recipients in both categories.

Service Provider Recipients
The Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont
Erin Buckwalter
Richmond, VT
Statewide Impact
$20,000 for Professional Development for Farmers’ Market Managers

Patricia A. Hannaford Regional Technical School District
Lynn Coale
Middlebury, VT
Statewide Impact
$55,000 for an Expansion of the Vermont Skilled Butchers and Meat Cutters Training Program

University of Vermont Extension Service
Mark Cannella
Berlin, VT
Statewide Impact
$39,302 for Poultry and Grape Sector Business Model Research & Development

University of Vermont Extension Service
Vern Grubinger and Chris Callahan
Brattleboro, VT
Statewide Impact
$40,000 to Increase Supply and Quality of “Local” Vegetable Storage

Vermont Housing and Conservation Board
Ela Chapin
Montpelier, VT
Statewide Impact
$100,000 to Expand Business Assistance to Agricultural Infrastructure and Forestry Sectors

Vermont Meat and Poultry Processors’ Association
Statewide Impact
$15,000 to Enhance Innovation in Vermont’s Meat Processing Industry

Vermont Solid Waste District Managers Association
Teresa Kuczynski
Middlebury, VT
Statewide Impact
$55,000 for Technical Planning Services for Food Scrap Composting

Vermont Wood Manufacturers Association
Erin Sheridan Lorentz
Rutland, VT
Statewide Impact
$48,000 for Workforce Development for the Secondary Wood Manufacturing Industry

Capital and Infrastructure Recipients

A. McGovern Logging and Sawmilling
Andrew McGovern
Orange County
$20,000 for Increasing Volume of Custom Milled Wood Products through Portable Sawmill Upgrades

Black River Produce/ Black River Meats
Jean Hamilton
Windsor County
$50,000 to Build Volume and Value for Vermont Livestock Producers in New Regional Meat Markets

Champlain Orchards
Bill Suhr
Addison County
$75,000 to Expand Vermont’s Cider Apple Supply Chain

Jasper Hill Farm
Andy and Mateo Kehler
Orleans County
$50,000 for a Cheese Microbiology Lab to Develop “Artisanal Cultures” to Promote Product Quality and Safety for Vermont Producers

Vermont Refrigerated Storage
Barney Hodges
Addison County
$43,369 for Increasing Storage Capacity for Farms, Distributers and Processors with the Construction of a 300-Pallet Freezer

Vermont Wood Pellet Company
Chris Brooks
Rutland County
$38,153 to Increase Pellet Mill Efficiency and Quality through Mill Upgrades

Vermont Wood Studios
Peggy and Ken Farabaugh
Windham County
$100,000 to Expand Markets of Vermont Made Furniture by Building a Destination Shopping Experience in Southeastern Vermont

Vermont Woodworking School
Carina Driscoll
Franklin County
$50,000 for an Incubator Space for Emerging Woodworking Businesses

The Application Process

The Service Provider Grant Area received 84 Letters of Intent totaling $3.2 million in requested funds. Of the applicants invited to submit a full application, 27 applications were received for a total of $1.2 million in requests. The Board announced $350,000 in awards to 8 grantees representing sectors across agriculture, forestry, and forest products, all of which provide impact statewide.

The Capital and Infrastructure Investment Area received 112 Letters of Intent (LOI), requesting a total of $6.7 million in requested funds. Of the applicants invited to submit a full application, 22 applications were received for a total of $2.2 million in requests. The Board announced over $400,000 in awards to 8 grantees representing sectors across agriculture, forestry, and forest products, and offering benefits to the supply chain.

The Working Lands Enterprise Initiative is administered by the Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets, in partnership with the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks & Recreation and the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development. The initiative is composed of the Working Lands Enterprise Board (WLEB) and is responsible for allocating almost $1 million in grant funds. The Board is made up of public and private sector members involved in agriculture, food systems, forestry, and/or forest products.

Information regarding the Working Lands Initiative (Working Lands Service Provider Grants and Capital and Infrastructure Investments), can be found at VermontWorkingLands.com.