Working Lands Business Grants Application Period Opening

03 October 2019
Southwind Forestry

October 3, 2019 | Montpelier, VT – Following last month’s announcement of the Working Lands Enterprise Board (WLEB) Service Provider Grant period opening, the Board is proud to announce the 2020 Business Grant period pre-application guide has now been posted.  WLEB business grant funds seek to support the development of Vermont-based agriculture and forest products businesses.  The Working Lands Enterprise Initiative (WLEI) supports innovative entrepreneurs at the forefront of Vermont’s Working Lands economy to help growing businesses thrive.


Project activities for these grants may include:

  • Infrastructure development: project specific planning, permitting, and/or engineering or architectural plans; purchase and/or construction of physical assets (i.e., building and equipment costs)
  • Market development: accessing new markets and securing new customers, including institutional and wholesale market expansion, costs associated with achieving humane and/or organic certification
  • Research and development: testing new systems or technologies; developing  innovative solutions to production issue


Project characteristics may include:

  • Grants will demonstrate how the market or product the applicant is developing or expanding will positively impact multiple businesses within its own supply chain. 
  • Infrastructure improvements that support increased production, processing, and/or distribution of a commodity or value-added product(s), thus benefiting the application and additional enterprises;
  • Leveraging supply chain partnerships to reach new or larger markets, e.g. via product aggregation, co-branding, vertical or horizontal efficiencies, etc.

MARKET LEVEL IMPACT BUSINESS GRANTS - $50,000-$150,000 (forestry, wood products, and dairy sectors only)

Project activities for these grants will illustrate how the market, product, or service the applicant is developing or expanding will positively impact multiple businesses and/or create a new market for sector-specific commodities and/or value-added products, as noted below. Impacts of the project will be visible across the market, and within that industry sector in Vermont.​

  • Makes significant process and/or infrastructure improvements for medium to large scale production, processing, or distribution enterprises in the forestry, wood products, or dairy sector;  
  • Scale of the primary product being brought into supply chain has the ability to broaden the industry, address the sector on a market-wide scale, and/or address a market downturn;
  • The technology or approach is innovative and will lead to new opportunities for multiple businesses

Please visit to begin the process.

Important dates for the completion of the grant process are:

  • Request for Applications Release: October 1, 2019
  • Pre-application Period Begins: October 8, 2019
  • Pre-applications Due: November 3, 2019 at 11:59 PM (application closes at midnight)
  • Notification of Pre-application Acceptance/Denial: Late December 2019
  • Invited Full Applications Due: January 26, 2020 at 11:59 PM (application closes at midnight)
  • Award Notification: March 2020
  • Estimated Project Start Date: May 2020


FY 2020 Program Year

The Working Lands Enterprise Board plans to award $1.6 million in total is available for investment into farm, food systems, forestry, and forest products enterprises. Funds will be disbursed in (2) investment areas: Business Grants and Service Provider Grants. A total of $100,000-150,000 is available for Service Provider Grants for awards in the range of $5,000-20,000. Information regarding Business Grants, including those for dairy-specific projects (for which $500,000 is available in grant funds) will be released on October 1, 2019. 

History of Success to Date 

The Working Lands Enterprise Board (WLEB) was formed in August 2012 and today has awarded over $5.5 million in grant funds to over 200 grantees, leveraging more than $10 million of matching funds. Since 2013, the WLEB has invested over $2 million to twenty-six distinct service provider organizations in the form of grants and contracts. For a list of previously funded projects, visit

Description of WLEI

The Working Lands Enterprise Initiative (WLEI) is administered by the Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets in partnership with the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks & Recreation, and the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development. The initiative is led by the Working Lands Enterprise Board, made up of public and private sector members involved in agriculture, food, forestry, and wood products.  For more on WLEI, visit

Working Lands Contact:

Lynn Ellen Schimoler

Agriculture Business Development / Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food, and Markets


Contact Information

Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets

116 State Street
Montpelier, Vt 05620-2901


Program Contacts

  • Media Inquiries                      802.622.4662
  • Licensing & Registration        802.828.2436
  • Business Development          802.828.1619
  • Feed, Seed, Fertilizer & Lime  802.828.5050
  • Working Lands                    802.622.4477
  • Public Health & Resource Management                802.828.2431
  • Laboratory                                  802.585.6073
  • Animal Health                        802.828.2421
  • Dairy                              802.828.2433
  • Consumer Protection / Weights & Measures                           802.828.2433
  • Produce Program                  802.522.7811
  • Meat Inspection                    802.828.2426
  • Water Quality                               802.828.2431
    • Grants                                  802.622.4098
    • Enforcement                                802.828.2431
    • Reports                                      802.272.0323
    • BMP's                                      802.828.3474
  • Act 250                          802.828.2431 
  • Pesticide                        802.828.2431