The Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets (VAAFM) has received $200,000 in Specialty Crop Block Grants from the federal USDA Agricultural Marketing Service to enhance the competitiveness of Vermont specialty food crops, including honey, hops, and maple syrup, and nursery crops, including Christmas trees and floriculture.
VAAFM plans to award grants in 2018 through a competitive review process guided by industry, nonprofit and government stakeholders. Any business, organization, or individual can apply to the Vermont Specialty Crop Block Grant (SCBGP) program.
Projects must benefit multiple specialty crop businesses, organizations, or individuals. VAAFM, in partnership with statewide specialty crop stakeholders, has identified the following program funding priorities for 2018:
- Development of innovative horticultural 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, processers, distributors, retail businesses and consumers – and technical assistance to enhance efficiency and business viability
- Market access (local, regional, national, or international), marketing, branding, and consumer education
- Producer collaboration – including establishing or strengthening producer associations and cooperatives
VAAFM will conduct an information session webinar for prospective applicants on Feb. 2, 2018. Applicants to the Vermont SCBGP must submit a letter of intent by Feb. 28. A review committee will invite the top-ranking projects to submit full proposals.
Learn more about the Vermont SCBGP, register for the webinar, or view the webinar recording at agriculture.vermont.gov/vtscbgp.
Vermont maple syrup marketing may get a boost with the help of a grant from the Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets.