On January 3, 2018

Vermont farm aid organizations receive USDA grant

The Vermont Housing & Conservation Board (VHCB), 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 provides planning services for established farm, food and forestry sector businesses. The Vermont Land Trust’s Farmland Access Program connects farmers with affordable farmland, helping them transition into farm ownership. The Intervale Center provides business planning and technical assistance to farms throughout Vermont as well as specialized assistance in land access.

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 transfer their farmland to farmers rather than to 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 that 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, which means that a significant amount of the state’s farmland will change hands in the next 10 years. This grant will help transfer that land to new and beginning farmers who are the future of Vermont’s agricultural economy.

To learn more about the services provided by the Viability Program, Farmland Access Program and the Intervale Center, visit vhcb.org/Farm-Forest-Viability/.

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