October 5, 2018
Challenge aims to support solutions for reducing phosphorus and protecting Vermont’s waterways
Six proposals selected to receive funding for concept development

Montpelier, VT – Governor Phil Scott and the secretaries of Vermont’s Agencies of Agriculture, Food and Markets, Natural Resources, and Commerce and Community Development today launched stage two of the Vermont Phosphorus Innovation Challenge (VPIC), which will award grants to innovators in phosphorus extraction and clean water.

The Scott Administration launched the VPIC in April 2018 to address a statewide phosphorus imbalance, which adversely impacts Vermont’s waterways.

“While we continue with traditional approaches to restoring and protecting our waterways, this challenge seeks a proactive solution to our phosphorus imbalance and water quality challenges,” said Scott. “It brings together the public and private sector, combines science, technology and innovation, and creates a new model around phosphorus by promoting economic growth, environmental sustainability, and societal benefits. I thank all those who participated in this challenge for their ideas and commitment to helping address this complex problem.”

With 27 initial proposals, followed by 12 in-person presentations to the VPIC Evaluation Team in early September 2018, the VPIC is formally progressing to stage two with awards to six different applicants (listed below).

Stage two involves a total $250,000 of funding to be allocated to the proposals for prototyping, business case development, and a demonstration of the proposed technology over the course of several months. The initial funding allocated through stage two has been split to allow for effective prototyping and business case development, which varies for each proposal. Upon stage two completion, stage three will involve full scale implementation of one or more of the stage two projects. Stage three selections will focus primarily on estimated cost per pound of phosphorus mitigated, and then consider ways to repurpose phosphorus as a part of a value-added product, creating economic development opportunities.

The selections were made after careful deliberation and discussion by the Evaluation Team, which was comprised of subject matter experts, scientists, entrepreneurs and State officials, including:

  • Jeanette Brown, Manhattan College
  • John Cohn, IBM Corporation
  • Jed Davis, Agri-Mark/Cabot Creamery Co-operative
  • Max Herzog, Cleveland Water Alliance
  • Eric Howe, Lake Champlain Basin Program & New England Interstate Water Pollution Control Commission
  • Ken Jones, Vermont Agency of Commerce & Community Development
  • Tim Kenney, AI Certain
  • Julie Moore, P.E., Vermont Agency of Natural Resources
  • Bryan Stubbs, Cleveland Water Alliance
  • Guy Roberts, Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets

Each project is unique and proposes an effective solution to address the phosphorus imbalance that impacts water quality statewide.


DVO, Inc. and University of Vermont (UVM) – Chilton, WI – 45,000.00

Thirteen anerobic digester vessels situated statewide will be utilized with enhancements for solids control using Dissolved Air Floatation (DAF) processes and will develop a ‘p-cake’ product that is high in phosphorus for potential nationwide resale that will have a verified and significant value to agriculture.

Rock Dust Local, LLC – Bridport, VT – $25,000.00

Manufacture, apply, and study mineral and mineralized bio-carbon soil amendments (aka Biochar) deployed in the field to manage solution reactive phosphorus (SRP) and nitrogen loss through broadcast field applications, animal bedding admixtures and in-situ filtration media.

Green State Biochar – Barton, VT – $30,000.00

Use of local renewable organic waste materials that are processed in an innovative machine developed in Vermont as a prototype pyrolysis machine that produces a sequestered carbon product called Biochar. This Phosphorus Capture System utilizes this Biochar to act as a filter that efficiently captures the majority of the phosphorus, while producing valuable soil amendment/fertilizer products for local reuse.

Agrilab Technologies Inc. – Enosburg Falls, VT – $50,000.00

Use of a combination of existing phosphorus (P) recovery technologies, composting and drying equipment, and associated best management practices to demonstrate the technical feasibility of stabilizing and adding value to recovered “p-cake” and similar materials.

Digested Organics – Ann Arbor, MI – $45,000.00

Use ultrafiltration system on a Vermont dairy farm to remove most of the present phosphorus, suspended solids and pathogens in liquid manure, producing a transparent liquid ideal for field application, known as “UF Permeate” (a.k.a. “tea-water”) and a concentrated fertilizer that is readily transportable, known as “UF Concentrate.”

Village of Essex Junction, Chittenden County Solid Waste District and UVM – Essex Junction, VT – $45,000.00

Use of proprietary pipe descaling technology (PDT) to effectively remove phosphorus in Vermont sized wastewater applications. The technology uses an induced electric field of variable amplitude and frequency that can promote precipitation of crystalline minerals (struvite) without the dangerous and damaging adhesion to pipes, pumps or in tanks. The PDT coupled with electric-filtration cell will be employed to enhance phosphorus capture.

For more information on the VPIC, including details and a list of submitted proposals, visit: Please direct any questions regarding the VPIC to or call 802-622-4112.

October 2, 2018
                      Over $332K Directed to Nine Agricultural Organizations

October 2, 2018 / Montpelier VT - The Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets (VAAFM) announces grants totaling $332,632.61 for twelve projects to benefit Vermont producers of fruits, vegetables, nursery stock, maple, wine grapes, and value-added products and to increase consumer access to locally produced food. These grants, funded through the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service’s Specialty Crop Block Grant Program (SCBGP), were awarded to nine agricultural organizations to undertake a range of research, technology development, education, marketing, and program-building projects. The grants will leverage over $183,000 in additional matching funds.

“Specialty Crop Block Grants are growing the agriculture economy in Vermont,” said Anson Tebbetts, Secretary of Agriculture, Food and Markets. “These investments are critical for the development of new crops, promoting Vermont brands and expanding markets for farmers and food companies. “

Since 2006, the Vermont SCBGP has invested over $2.6 million in projects to benefit Vermont specialty crop producers, including the awards announced today. The program supports projects led by both producers and agricultural service providers, including a recently-completed project, Building the Demand for Fruits and Vegetables in Vermont Schools ($35,499 awarded in 2015), directed by Abbie Nelson of the Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont (NOFA-VT). 

The Building the Demand for Fruits and Vegetables in Vermont Schools project focused on schools in two counties, promoting the USDA Fresh Fruit and Vegetable program by increasing the effectiveness of incorporating Vermont produce into school food programs. NOFA-VT connected schools and producers through co-hosting farmer-food service forums, provided technical assistance and training to food service providers and teachers, and launched a statewide marketing campaign to promote local foods in schools.

VAAFM awards SCBGP funds through a competitive review process guided by industry, nonprofit and government stakeholders. An independent stakeholder advisory committee identified the development of innovative horticultural production practices to enhance farm viability, pest and disease management, food safety, value chain enhancement, market access, and producer collaboration as funding priorities for 2018. A proposal review committee selected the winning projects out of twenty-two applications representing total funding requests of over $570,000:

  • Ardelia Farm & Co. to develop a laboratory for the micro-propagation of specialty ranunculus cultivars ($20,274)
  • High Mowing Organic Seeds to prevent the spread of seed borne plant pathogens through steam treatment of organic specialty crops ($10,400)
  • University of Vermont Extension Vegetable & Berry Team to provide technical assistance to vegetable growers for nutrient management ($29,798)
  • University of Vermont Fruit Program to provide experiential-based technical support trainings for new and prospective apple and grape growers ($25,963)
  • Vermont Fresh Network to increase the competitiveness of Vermont wine through restaurants and agritourism opportunities ($13,947)
  • Vermont Maple Sugar Makers Association to establish a Vermont maple sugar house food safety certification program ($35,000)
  • Vermont Fruit Tree Growers Association to increase the marketing capability of Vermont’s apple industry ($7,995)
  • Vital Communities to plan and execute an Upper Valley producer-buyer forum ($11,595)
  • Walking Onion Nursery to assess the commercial opportunities for new perennial food crops ($18,915)
  • Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food, & Markets to assess conditions, trends, opportunities and constraints for expanding maple syrup consumption in export markets ($31,000)
  • Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food, & Markets to provide grants to Vermont produce growers to implement on-farm improvements that reduce produce safety risks ($50,000)
  • Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food, & Markets to strengthen local direct-to-consumer marketing ($53,000)

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service awards Specialty Crop Block Grants to the 50 States, the District of Columbia, and U.S. Territories. In Vermont, VAAFM administers these funds to enhance the competitiveness of Vermont and regionally-grown specialty crops, defined as “fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture, and nursery crops (including floriculture).”

To view the USDA-AMS press release announcing SCBGP awards nationally, visit

To learn more about the Vermont SCBGP, visit

For questions about this announcement or the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program, please contact:

Kathryn Donovan

Agriculture Development Coordinator

Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food, & Markets

(802) 585-4571

September 27, 2018

For Immediate Release:  September 27, 2018

                                          Advances Talks on Collaborative Solutions

The New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets earlier this month hosted a meeting with its counterparts from Pennsylvania and Vermont to discuss the challenges the dairy industry is facing across the nation and explore opportunities the States have in working cooperatively to help benefit dairy producers regionally.

This meeting took place on the heels of the annual National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) conference in Hartford, CT.  All commissioners of agriculture from across the nation, including the northeast’s 10 commissioners, gathered to discuss issues of critical importance to agriculture in the United States, including the ongoing concerns for the dairy industry.

"New York, Vermont and Pennsylvania all share common markets, challenges and opportunities in the dairy sector,” New York State Agriculture and Markets Commissioner Richard A. Ball said. “We have more to gain by working together than by trying to address our challenges alone. I’m pleased that we have come to an agreement in principle with our neighbors to collaboratively seek ways to ensure that our dairy producers and processors can continue to provide consumers with some of the best dairy products in the world while striving to increase competitiveness and profitability.”

Together, New York, Pennsylvania and Vermont comprise one of the top three milk producing regions in the United States. Collectively, the three States produce over 28 billion pounds of milk annually, more than 13 percent of the nation’s total milk supply.

The tri-State meeting was held in Albany on September 14 with producers, processors, policy advisors and economic experts from all three States.

Attendees discussed the current dairy situation and dynamics, as well as opportunities for collaboration, such as increasing capacity and creating regional branding.

The agreement in principle provides for collaboration in the following focus areas:

  • Understanding and expanding our current marketing initiatives;
  • Identifying gaps in the industry workforce;
  • Identifying areas for economic investment;
  • Understanding current research and its impact on the industry; and
  • Investigating tools available to manage stress on farmers when milk prices are low.

New York is the nation’s third largest dairy-producing State, generating $2.7 billion a year, which is nearly half of the State’s total agricultural receipts. The average dairy farm in New York State is family-owned, consists of 139 cows and produces an average of 23,936 pounds of milk annually.

For every $1.00 spent by a dairy farming business, the local economy receives approximately $2.18 in wages and related business transactions. For every job created by a milk processing plant, at least two more jobs are supported in related industries or sectors.

Pennsylvania Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding said, “Dairy is critical to Pennsylvania’s economy and the vitality of our communities, as it is for our Northeast neighbors. Collectively, we face tremendous challenges, but the industry is resilient. Our collaboration can only enhance our efforts to build markets, innovate, and support the industry’s viability.”

Vermont Agriculture Secretary Anson Tebbetts said, “We need to help our dairy farmers in times of low milk prices. Working on a regional approach may get us there faster. We won’t let up on getting to a better place for our farmers.”

The voluntary agreement among the three States is the latest step in a series of actions New York State has taken to support the dairy industry. The State has actively encouraged the expansion of new markets and improved marketing of its dairy products through programs like Taste NY.  It is also promoting the New York dairy industry and encouraging increased consumer consumption of local dairy products through the New York Grown & Certified program, the State’s Farm-to-School program and is working with its sister agencies to increase the use of New York State products in schools through the State’s No Student Goes Hungry Program. 

The State also reconvened its Milk Marketing Advisory Council to ramp up conversations on assisting the dairy industry and is working with the NYS Dairy Promotion Order to research new and innovative uses for New York dairy products and increase consumption of New York produced milk.

The State has invested over $88 million to improve dairy processing facilities across the State and increase production capacity by roughly 24 percent since 2000. Funding has helped expand existing dairy processing facilities or attract new companies to New York that are committed to using milk from local farms for a variety of products, including yogurt, cheese and extended shelf-life beverages.

In addition, earlier this year, the State announced the availability of $30 million to support conservation easement projects on dairy farms to help diversify operations or transition farms to the next generation at a more affordable cost while maintaining agricultural uses for the land.

About New York’s Dairy Sector

The largest sector of the agricultural industry, New York's dairy industry accounts for approximately one-half of its on-farm production, support services and value-added products.  New York State is home to approximately 4,500 dairy farms with 620,000 cows, producing 14.9 billion pounds of milk.  New York ranks third in the production of milk, and is first in the nation in the production of other dairy products such as yogurt and cottage cheese. 

September 23, 2018

Big E Sets All-Time Attendance Record on Vermont Day

Over 170,000 Visit Saturday in West Springfield, MA

September 23, 2018 / West Springfield, MA - Vermont Day at the region’s biggest fair was one for the record books. The Eastern States Exposition, or Big E Fair, in West Springfield, MA, set an all-time attendance record with 172,659 people coming through the gates on Saturday September, 22.

This new record came as more than 30 Vermont businesses showcased their innovative products to out-of-state consumers in the Southern New England market on Vermont Day. “These products are a great representation of the authentic Vermont brand. They are helping to grow the Vermont economy,” said Vermont Governor Phil Scott who attended Vermont Day.

The Governor applauded the lineup of products including apple pie and crisp; wood fired pizza; craft beer; flannel, wool, and Vermont branded clothing; sweets and treats; many varieties of cheese; maple syrup, maple candy and maple crème cones; ice cream; artisan products, and Vermont became the first and only location at the Big E to feature CBD products. The Governor even carved his own bear with a chainsaw under the watchful eye of Bear’s Den Carving from Townshend.

“Thank you to all our vendors who put in tireless days to staff the building, represent their products, and showcase the integrity of Vermont! These are many of the people who make the Vermont building and our state so special,” said Agriculture Secretary Anson Tebbetts.

The success of the building would not be possible without partnership from Vermont Department of Tourism and Marketing, who staff the Vermont booth; Buildings and General Services, who are responsible for the beautiful improvements to the building; and Vermont State Police troopers, who are down recruiting more young people to work in the Green Mountain State.

There is still time to visit the Big E & the Vermont building. The fair runs until next Sunday, September 30th.

More pictures from the Big E and Vermont Day can be found here and on the VAAFM Facebook page.

September 20, 2018

$256,000 in Funds Available in 2019

September 20, 2018 / Montpelier, VT -  The Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets (VAAFM) will release the 2019 Vermont Farm to School Grant Program Request for Applications on Tuesday, October 2, 2018. This new round of grants will bring more than $250,000 in financial and support services investments to Vermont schools and early care providers.  Eligible applicants include Vermont schools, supervisory unions, school districts, and early care providers.

Championed in 2006, by the late Vermont Representative Rozo McLaughlin, the grant program aims to promote healthy eating, increase local food usage, work with partners to connect farm to school with educational goals, support the overall farm to institution supply chain, increase student participation in child nutrition programs, and enhance food programs in schools and early care providers. With the support of many partners in the Vermont Farm to School Network, the program has invested more than $1 million in nearly 200 schools and early care providers.

Secretary of Agriculture, Food, and Markets, Anson Tebbetts, recommends communities consider applying. “Farm to School delivers.  Schools and childcare centers should explore this program that helps Vermont farmers feed our children, families and communities.” Tebbetts said.

Last year was the first grant round including early care providers, granting 21 awards throughout Vermont. The program’s early care component was designed in partnership with Agency of Education Child Nutrition Programs, Department for Children and Families Child Development Division, and Shelburne Farms, helping make farm to early care programs accessible to our youngest Vermonters. This program has the potential to support new institutional markets for food producers, while providing children with fresh, nutritious local foods.

The VAAFM Farm to School team is seeking applications from eligible Vermont-based schools and early care providers to expand and improve food programs and/or to create or expand farm to school programs by integrating the classroom, cafeteria, and community (the 3 C’s of farm to school). Up to seven applications will be awarded at $15,000 each, to be spent during a 2-year grant period, with additional comprehensive technical assistance, professional development and coaching- offered at no charge to grantees. Additionally, up to $32,000 will be available in $1,000 infrastructure grants to help schools and early care providers improve local food use.

All schools and early care providers come to the Vermont Farm to School Program with a different level of experience and familiarity with farm to school. The goal of this grant opportunity is to meet schools and early care providers where they are and provide individualized coaching, technical assistance, professional development, and financial assistance to help them move forward in the development of their own, unique farm to school program. In many cases, schools or early care providers jumpstart their farm to school program by first expanding and improving their food programs.

VAAFM will host two webinars for potential applicants. Applicants are required to view the webinar, as it will cover details of this RFA and instructions for navigating our online grants management system. These interactive webinars will provide the opportunity to ask questions. The webinars will be recorded and posted on our website afterwards.

To learn more, visit:

For questions, please contact:

Ali Zipparo

Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets
Senior Agriculture Market Development Specialist

Vermont Farm to School Grant Program Manager