Governor Phil Scott unveiled his proposal to add $3 million to the base funding for the Vermont’s Working Lands Enterprise Initiative for Fiscal Year 2022 on Tuesday, Jan. 26, during his annual budget address. The Vermont Working Lands Coalition celebrated this proposal this week and encouraging Vermont legislators to support the significant one-time investment.
“We know that investing in our farm and forest products businesses creates jobs, keeps young entrepreneurs in Vermont, strengthens our food system and leverages more funding for these businesses,” said Paul Costello of the Vermont Council on Rural Development (VCRD).
VCRD has been leading the Working Lands Coalition for almost a decade, to advocate for investment in our farm and forest products enterprises. The Working Lands Coalition includes 16 partner organizations that represent a wide variety of interests, all united in the commitment to supporting our working lands enterprises to keep our rural economy strong.
During the eight years the Working Lands Enterprise Initiative has been in place, it has distributed approximately $7 million in grant funds to 241 agriculture and forest products businesses, thus, leveraging an additional $11 million in other funding for these businesses. In total, 524 new jobs have been created with these investments, and over $36 million in gross sales have been generated by these businesses.
Ted Brady, deputy secretary of Commerce & Community Development told a joint hearing of three legislative committees, “What you’ve created here…has really developed an economic assistance program that is unparalleled in state government. It recognizes that the food, farm and forest economy is the economic engine of rural Vermont.”
The Working Lands Coalition will continue its work to advocate for this substantial state investment in our working lands enterprise businesses.
For more information on the Working Lands Enterprise Initiative visit: workinglands.vermont.gov.