January 15, 2020 | Montpelier, VT - The Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets (VAAFM) announces the availability of grant funds for the purpose of strengthening Vermont’s specialty crop industries and improving the performance of Vermont specialty crops within local, domestic, and international markets. Specialty crops are defined as fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture crops (including honey, hops, and maple syrup), and nursery crops (including Christmas trees and floriculture). Interested applicants must submit a pre-application by February 26, 2020.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) awards Specialty Crop Block Grants to the 50 States, the District of Columbia, and U.S. Territories. In Vermont, the Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets (VAAFM) administers these funds to enhance the competitiveness of Vermont specialty crops. These funds are awarded through a competitive review process guided by industry, nonprofit and government stakeholders. VAAFM plans to award approximately $200,000 in Specialty Crop Block Grant Program (SCBGP) funds in 2020.
Any business, organization, or individual can apply to the Vermont Specialty Crop Block Grant Program. However, projects must benefit multiple specialty crop businesses, organizations or individuals to be eligible for funding. The Agency of Agriculture, in partnership with statewide specialty crop stakeholders, has identified the following program funding priorities for 2020:
- Research, development, and dissemination of innovative 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, processors, distributors, retail businesses, and consumers
- Technical assistance to address efficiency, conservation, business viability, workforce development, labor issues, succession planning, and challenges facing beginning and socially disadvantaged farmers
- Market access (local, regional, national, or international), marketing, branding, and consumer education
- Producer collaboration—including establishing or strengthening producer associations and cooperatives
To apply, download the Request For Applications at http://agriculture.vermont.gov/grants/specialtycrop. Applicants to the Vermont SCBGP must submit a pre-application by February 26, 2020. A review committee will invite the top-ranking projects to submit full applications.
VAAFM will conduct an information session webinar for prospective applicants on February 6th, 2020 at 11 AM EST. Join the information session webinar or view the webinar recording at http://agriculture.vermont.gov/grants/specialtycrop.
For questions, please contact:
Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets
AGR.SpecialtyCrops@vermont.gov | (802) 585-6225