October 10, 2018

Capital Equipment Assistance Program Funding Available

CEAP Offers Up To $1 Million in Financial Assistance for Innovative Equipment

October 10, 2018 / Montpelier VT - The Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets is pleased to announce up to $1,000,000 is available in funding to improve water quality.

The Capital Equipment Assistance Program (CEAP) is available for new or innovative equipment that will aid in the reduction of surface runoff of agricultural wastes to state waters, improve water quality, reduce odors from manure application, separate phosphorus from manure, decrease greenhouse gas emissions, and reduce costs to farmers when they apply manure or implement a Nutrient Management Plan (NMP).  Eligible recipients include custom applicators, non-profit organizations, and farmers.

Grant application are due by November 1, 2018. Complete applications will need to include submission of the CEAP Application as well as a one-page letter of intent, equipment quote/s, and a letter of support. Notification of grant funding will occur by February 2019.

This year funding is available through CEAP for a range of innovative equipment such as no-till equipment, manure application record keeping units, manure injection equipment and more.  Examples of eligible equipment as well as the corresponding funding rates and caps is available on our website at

“These important dollars will help our land, water and Vermont’s farmers. We hope the farm community will take a close look at this program. This is another tool in Vermont’s toolbox to improve our environment,“ said Anson Tebbetts, Vermont Secretary of Agriculture, Food and Markets.

For the CEAP application, program details and additional information visit call the Agency at (802) 822-2431 or email .

For questions, please contact:

Nina Gage / Water Quality Division / Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets

802-622-4098 or


October 10, 2018

(Narrated by Anson Tebbetts)

It’s a refreshing reward at the end of a long day.

Vermont beer: special, served with a story, Rooted in Vermont.

Andrew Peterson came to Vermont with a desire to start a brewery.

“I wanted to use local ingredients, so I started to figure out what that meant in Vermont and there wasn’t local ingredients, so I tried to figure out how to do it,” said Peterson.

He realized one main ingredient was missing.

“Started playing around with malts in the kitchen, eventually it turned into a larger project,” said Peterson.

Since Vermont boasts the most breweries in the U.S. per capita, Peterson thought instead of trying to compete with them, why not just supply them.

“Let them do the brewing and let me do the malting,” said Peterson, Peterson Quality Malt. “The existing malting facility is in an old hay barn on my property and we’ve grown three times in there and it just can’t get any bigger.

Hops play a star role in the brewing process, but malt is the backbone of every beer. You can make a beer without hops, but not without malt.

It starts with local farmers in the field…

“We just started a little cash crop this year and we started with 50 acres of barley,” said Shawn Gingue, Waterford. “We felt that this would be a more sustainable crop to grow in our area, and we also though it would be kind of cool to part of the local beer movement too.

The Gingue Farm started milking cows in 1953. In 2015, the family sold the cows, but that didn’t mean they stopped farming.

“We decided to try something different, so now we board heifers, we sell hay, we got the grain crops now, we also do farm events too,” said Gingue

A farmer willing to try something new, just what Peterson was looking for.

“We have farmers around the state, some of them organic, some of them conventional and we’re slowly working with more and more farms to grow more acres so that we can serve a high percentage of the breweries in Vermont,” said Peterson.

Centuries ago, Vermont was covered in fields of gold. New England was once the bread basket of the United States and growing grains was a large part of Vermont’s agricultural heritage, as shown by the shocks of wheat on the state flag and in the hands of Ceres, the goddess of agriculture perched atop the Statehouse.

But when the expansion started out West, grain production in Vermont rapidly declined.

However, in the last decade…

“We’ve started to see an increase in grain production as new local food markets have opened new opportunities for farmers to grow grain,” said Dr. Heather Darby, UVM Extension.

Heather Darby and the UVM Extension Northwest Crops and Soils Team has been collaborating with the Northern Grain Growers Association to rebuild the grain industry.

“It’s exciting to be able to see a growing emerging grain market here in Northern Vermont, it does grow well, it’s kind of outside the box but 100 years ago everyone grew their own grains whether it was oats, or wheat or barley,” said Seth Johnson, Morningstar Farm in Glover.

Seth Johnson is known as the “bean guy.” He grows certified organic beans and other grains on his farm in Glover, just 30 minutes down the road from the Gingue Farm in Waterford.

His new piece of equipment, purchased in Illinois, can harvest all types of grains here in the Green Mountain State.

“We felt a little more comfortable investing the money if we knew we had some custom work to keep it busy, this is our first field that we’re trying it out on, so we’re really excited to be working the Shawn Gingue and his family on this project,” said Seth.

Once harvested, the barley seed heads to Peterson’s facility in Monkton to begin the malting process.

“There’s 3 steps, soaking germinating and kilning,” said Peterson.

The goal is come out with a seed that has a lot of sugar content and enzymes a brewer can use. 

As a maltster, sometimes you have to get creative…

“If you’re looking at our soak tanks, those are maple sap collection tanks. Everybody in the country who’s doing this kind of finds what they can find locally and repurposes it. I saw those sap tanks on the side of the road and said, ‘that’s perfect.’”

Lots of variables make malts taste very different - the soil, the weather, the variety, all come into play.

Quality is key…

“UVM Extension has a cereal grain testing laboratory, it’s one of the only public testing labs on the East coast, so it’s utilized by farmers and researchers from all over the country, it’s a pretty special place that we have here in Vermont, we offer grain analysis specific to barley for malting, so if farmers are growing for the malt industry, then they’re able to send in their grain and we can test it and evaluate it,” said Dr. Darby.

With more brewers looking for high-quality Vermont malt, Peterson’s operation is in the process of expanding.

“We’ve rented all this space, you’re looking behind us at Nordic Farm in Charlotte. The brand-new bin down there is going to be storing 1,000 tons of barley, the barn back there is going to be the new malt house, so we’ll be increasing our production size significantly,” said Peterson.

From starting in an old hay barn to bringing an iconic dairy farm back to life, Peterson’s mission has stayed the same.

“We want to be able to support Vermont’s agricultural system and help it move forward in the 21st Century, it’s supporting a local farmer, it’s growing the economy,” said Peterson “There’s barley that’s being grown in Vermont, when you’re driving down the road and you see these fields, we want you not just to be looking and saying, 'hey that’s a beautiful field, Vermont’s a great place, we want you to look and say oh, that’s actually barley that’s going to go into beer or whiskey.'”

It’s farmers, producers, researchers and brewers all working together to make every sip count.

October 10, 2018

The Lake Memphremagog Long-Term Water Quality Partnership

Lidback, like put the lid back on the cookie jar,” explains Adam Lidback, a dairy farmer, regarding how to spell his last name.

Sarah Damsell, Orleans County Natural Resources Conservation District (NRCD) Manager since 2015, makes note as she helps Lidback fill out information that will become part of the Nutrient Management Plan (NMP) for his farm, The Farm at Wheeler Mountain – located in Westmore, Vermont.


(Sarah Damsell and Adam Lidback review the farm’s NMP.) 

Damsell began work with the Vermont Conservation Districts in 2009, and has taken a large role in several crucial projects focused on improving water quality in both the Lake Memphremagog and Tomifobia watersheds in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont.

Helping farmers with technical assistance, amongst other responsibilities, is made possible for Damsell in part through Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) funding from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Natural Resource Conservation Services (NRCS).

The Memphremagog Long-Term Water Quality Partnership is one of three State RCPP Projects. The Project focuses on working with farmers to compile and utilize their NMPs, install NRCS approved practices on farms that will decrease nutrient loading to waters of the State through implementation of smaller Best Management Practices in production areas, and implementation of field and pasture practices to address water quality, soil erosion, and soil quality decline.

The RCPP funding was granted to the Orleans County NRCD in 2015, and includes $314,000 for installation of approximately 80 on-farm projects over a five-year period of time and $360,000 for technical assistance, totaling $674,000 available for water quality improvements. More than $140,000, or 21%, of the technical assistance funds are allocated to 16 farmers developing NMPs for their farms through a nutrient management planning course.

Lidback, originally from Northwood, New Hampshire took over his uncle’s farm in 2008 with a purchase of ten milk cows and ten heifers. Lidback studied at the University of New Hampshire, where he completed his degree in Dairy Animal Science. He is one of nine farmers who Damsell has worked with this year on the process of getting signed up for the nutrient management planning course. NMPs are required for certified Small, Medium, and Large Farming Operations in the state, and can be very complex to compile. Farmers that complete this course, or that are located in high priority watersheds, are given preference for various projects on their farmsteads when RCPP funding is distributed.

Success of RCPP implementation will be based on results of water samples collected by Damsell and the Orleans County NRCD, the number of NMPs that are completed, the number of field and pasture practices installed on farms, the amount of phosphorus reduction recorded for each practice, the amount of field acreage improved, as well as some assessment of social measures – such as creation of a continuous farmer work- group or changes in farmer behavior.

Damsell’s efforts, combined with other local and state input, have been instrumental to even further increase the results of ongoing efforts by farmers to improve water quality within the state. Funding from the Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets, through the Clean Water Fund, has also been awarded to the Orleans County NRCD to host local field days and create an online Required Agriculture Practices Quiz for farmers to complete, which will count towards required Water Quality Training Credits.

Providing support to farmers and promoting their positive efforts in the community are the largest and most important aspects of Damsell’s job; with those drivers, there is endless opportunity for continued improvement of water quality in Lake Memphremagog and other surrounding water- bodies.

To contact Sarah Damsell and the Orleans County NRCD, please call: 802-334-6090 x7008.

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