Blog

September 24, 2015

Noelle Sevoian, Working Lands Specialist

noelle.sevoian@vermont.gov

The Working Lands Enterprise Board (WLEB) is pleased to announce the availability of over $500,000 in grant funds for this program year. The application period will open on October 1, 2015, with grants targeting essential, catalytic investments in Vermont’s farm and forest economy. Grants will be available to Vermont agriculture and forest sector businesses, as well as service providers that provide the critical technical assistance needed for business growth.

The two investment areas are as follows:

1. Business Investments    

Projects may include, but are not limited to: Infrastructure (project-specific planning, permitting, and/or engineering/architectural plans; and/or building and equipment costs); Marketing (accessing new markets and securing new customers); Research and Development (testing new systems or technologies or developing innovative solutions). Projects focused on scaling up to meet new market opportunities are encouraged. Working capital is an eligible use of funds.

2. Service Provider Investments

Projects should show direct impacts on Vermont Working Lands businesses. Types of technical assistance provided may include: Scaling up; Market development, marketing plans, and sales; Business and financial planning; Succession planning; Access to capital; Manufacturing efficiencies or process flow

Applicant Information Sessions are scheduled for October 9th and 14th 2015 from 4:30pm – 6:00pm and will be held as webinars with opportunities to attend in person. Please find below the currently scheduled sessions. More locations to be announced on October 1st!:

Link to Register from your home: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/rt/2574274848696658434

Friday, October 9th, 4:30 – 6:00pm

  • Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets, 2nd Floor Conference Room, 116 State Street, Montpelier, VT, 05620, phone: 802.585.9072
  • Northern Vermont Development Association, 36 Eastern Avenue, St Johnsbury, VT, 05819, phone: 802.748.5181

Wednesday, October 14th, 4:30 – 6:00pm

  • Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets, 2nd Floor Conference Room, 116 State Street, Montpelier, VT, 05620, phone: 802.585.9072
  • Northern Vermont Development Association, 36 Eastern Avenue, St Johnsbury, VT, 05819, phone: 802.748.5181

A change to this year’s process will be that all Business Investment applicants selected to submit a full application will be required to include a business plan. Applicants are encouraged to visit our Resources for Businesses page at http://workinglands.vermont.gov/apply/ta/tools

The WLEB began operations in August 2012 and to date has awarded over $3 million in grant funds to 110 grantees, leveraging an additional $4.3 million of matching and outside funds.  The WLEB looks forward to continuing this impressive track record in Fiscal Year 2016.

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September 8, 2015
By Noelle Sevoian, Working Lands Specialist
 
The Working Lands Enterprise Board (WLEB) is pleased to announce the availability of over $500,000 in grant funds for the 2016 program year. The application period will open on October 1, 2016, with grants targeting essential, catalytic investments in Vermont’s farm and forest economy. Grants will be available to Vermont agriculture and forest sector businesses, as well as service providers that provide the critical technical assistance needed for business growth.
 
The two investment areas are as follows:
1. Business Investments     
Projects may include, but are not limited to: Infrastructure (project-specific planning, permitting, and/or engineering/architectural plans; and/or building and equipment costs); Marketing (accessing new markets and securing new customers); Research and Development (testing new systems or technologies or developing innovative solutions). Projects focused on scaling up to meet new market opportunities are encouraged. Working capital is an eligible use of funds.
 
2. Service Provider Investments
Projects should show direct impacts on Vermont Working Lands businesses. Types of technical assistance provided may include: Scaling up; Market development, marketing plans, and sales; Business and financial planning; Succession planning; Access to capital; Manufacturing efficiencies or process flow
 
Applicant Information Sessions will be scheduled for the week of October 12th and will be held as webinars with several opportunities to attend in person.  The dates, times, and locations of these sessions will be announced on October 1st. 
 
A change to this year’s process will be that all Business Investment applicants selected to submit a full application will be required to include a business plan. Applicants are encouraged to visit our Resources for Businesses page at http://workinglands.vermont.gov/apply/ta/tools 
 
The WLEB began operations in August 2012 and to date has awarded over $3 million in grant funds to 110 grantees, leveraging an additional $4.3 million of matching and outside funds.  The WLEB looks forward to continuing this impressive track record in Fiscal Year 2016.
 
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September 4, 2015

On September 4, 2015, Vermont’s Secretary of Agriculture, Chuck Ross, issued a Notice of Public Hearing to provide the public an opportunity to comment on the proposed Revised Secretary’s Decision for the Missisquoi Basin.

The proposed decision, which is subject to public input, is an effort between the State and the Conservation Law Foundation (CLF) to provide a framework to settle the impending court litigation related to the Missiquoi Basin.

The public hearing will be held on Friday, October 9, 2015, in St. Albans City, from 1 PM until 3 PM, at the American Legion, 100 Parah Drive. It is an opportunity for farmers and other affected citizens to be heard and to give consideration to all interests before a final order is issued.

The full Notice, the proposed Revised Secretary’s Decision, and the draft Stipulation of the Parties for Remand, which contain background and additional explanatory information, can be found below.

“I am pleased that we have made this step forward, and look forward to receiving feedback from Vermonters about this proposed decision,” said Ross. “I am hopeful we can put this litigation behind us, and instead continue focusing our resources on the themes central to the state’s efforts to clean up the Lake: Stewardship, Partnership, and Accountability.”

“We are more than a year removed from when the CLF originally filed its petition and we have a new, comprehensive state law to address water quality,” he continued. “I am eager to receive public input on the farm assessment and BMP implementation timelines we negotiated in good faith with CLF that appear in the proposed Revised Secretary’s Decision for the Missisquoi Basin. I believe they align well with the implementation plans required by the Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) and Act 64, the Vermont Clean Water Act,” said Ross.

“If, after public input, I decide the Revised Secretary’s Decision is appropriate, we would formally ask the Court to approve the settlement and remand the case,” he added.

Although the hearing is related to the CLF’s pending appeal for the Misissquoi Bay Watershed, it is also an opportunity for farmers to evaluate a proposed blueprint for requiring BMPs on farms in other watersheds, including South Lake, St. Albans, and Otter Creek, which also address Federal EPA and TMDL requirements. The draft settlement has other terms that would become commitments of both the Agency and the CLF if the Secretary decides to implement the Revised Secretary’s Decision and the remand is approved by the Court.

“We believe the operative terms complement the Agency’s on-going, re-focused work in the most troubled areas of the Lake and strike a balance to appropriately hold farmers and the Agency accountable to do our part to improve water quality,” said Ross. “Stay tuned. We expect to release preliminary data from our on-going North Lake survey within the next two weeks.”

As required by Act 64, the Agency is also updating the Required Agricultural Practices Regulations, developing a small farm certification program, water quality training classes for farm operators, a certification process for custom applicators of manure, and preparing a report with the USDA for the Legislature on sub-surface tile drainage.

“We are committed to agricultural water quality and are working hard to implement the intent of the TMDL and Act 64, in the interest of the public.” said Ross.

For more information about the Agency’s water quality initiatives, please visithttp://agriculture.vermont.gov/water-quality

Petition Documentation:

August 27, 2015

By Deirdra Ritzer, Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation

The Vermont Clean Diesel Grant Program will have incentive funding available for projects that reduce diesel emissions from engines, vehicles, and equipment. Nonroad engines, equipment or vehicles used in agriculture (including stationary generators and pumps) are eligible to receive funding.

Caption: Ag vehicles are eligible for this program Photo by: Alison Kosakowski For more information, contact Deirdra Ritzer at (802) 233-8052 deirdra.ritzer@vermont.gov

The Vermont Clean Diesel Grant Program was developed by the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) in response to one of the greatest air quality challenges facing Vermont – reducing public exposure to emissions from diesel powered engines and equipment. With assistance from the Vermont Clean Diesel Grant Program, several Vermont businesses and institutions have successfully completed various diesel emission reduction projects including diesel engine repowering at local sawmills, vehicle replacement at schools, and installation of idle reduction technologies used by hospitals, railways and schools.

The types of projects eligible under this program include 1) vehicle, engine and equipment replacement, 2) retrofitting with emission control technologies, 3) engine repowers, and 4) installation of idle reduction technologies.

The DEC will be posting a Request for Proposals to solicit applications for this grant opportunity within the next 60 days. Since there are eligibility and cost share requirements that vary depending on the project, it is strongly recommended that interested applicants contact program staff to discuss potential projects well in advance of the formal application process.

To learn more about the Vermont Clean Diesel Grant Program and this upcoming funding opportunity, please visit the DEC’s Air Quality & Climate Division web site at http://www.anr.state.vt.us/air/MobileSources/htm/VTCleanDieselGrantProgram2015.htm 

 

August 26, 2015

By Stephanie Smith, VAAFM, and Linda Henzel, VT Dept. of Tax

Self-Certify in August: During the month of August property owners with agricultural land enrolled in the Current Use Program will receive a certification form (CU-313) from the Vermont Tax Department.  Self-certifying eligibility is a new annual requirement for enrollees of  “agricultural land” and “farm buildings”.  If land and/or buildings are no longer eligible, this form outlines steps  to remove property or revise enrollment.  The deadline for submitting this form to the Current Use Program is September 1, 2015.  Depending on the disposition of your property, additional actions may be necessary.  If you have questions concerning this certification process, please call 802-828-5860 for more information.

Oct. 1 is the  Current Use Easy-Out Deadline: During the 2015 legislative session, the Vermont legislature made a number of changes to the law affecting the current use (Use Value Appraisal) program. One of these changes was a new calculation for the land use change tax (LUCT). When changes of that nature are enacted, the legislature has elected to grant an easy-out period for enrollees. This temporary period allows landowners to remove a parcel, or part of a parcel, without paying the first $50,000 of LUCT. You must apply by Oct. 1, 2015.

To help make the application process easier, the Department of Taxes created a checklist. This checklist outlines some of the commonly missed items needed to submit with your application (CU-312).  The checklist is available online at http://www.state.vt.us/tax/pdf.word.excel/forms/pvr/EasyOutChecklist_Iss...

If you apply for the easy-out, please note that owners of the withdrawn land will pay the full amount of property taxes for the 2015 tax year on the withdrawn land. As a result, the towns will need to re-send bills for the withdrawn land during the easy-out. Withdrawn land may not be re-enrolled in the program for five years. Effective Oct. 2, 2015, the Land Use Change Tax will be 10% for all land developed or withdrawn.

If you have questions about the process, please contact the Tax Department’s Current Use Division at 802-828-5860. 

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