Vermont COVID-19 Agriculture Assistance Program FAQ

Vermont COVID-19 Agriculture Assistance Program (VCAAP)

Frequently Asked Questions


Registration 

How do I register for the Agriculture and Working Lands Assistance Application?

To access the Agriculture and Working Lands Assistance Application, complete the Agriculture and Working Lands Registration Form

How do I register for the Dairy Assistance Application?

To access the Dairy Assistance Application, complete the Agriculture Registration Form

How do I find my Unique Dairy ID Number (Farmer/Processor ID Number) required for the Agriculture Registration Form?

The Vermont Agency of Agriculture sent each registered dairy producer and processor a letter via email and/or postal mail during the week of July 13, 2020. You can find your unique ID at the end of first paragraph of this letter. If you are having trouble finding your unique ID number, please contact us.

Is my username my email address? 

The username you create during registration can be your email address or a username you create in the format of an email address.

Why is my username invalid? 

Problems adding a username? Our application platform, Salesforce, only allows a username to be registered once. If you applied for another other state program using Salesforce (such as Unemployment Insurance or another economic recovery grant) you may have already used your email address as your username. If so, try using another email address as your username. Your username does NOT need to be a valid email address but DOES need to be formatted as an email address (for example, abc@xzy.com). We recommend that you create an email address you are likely to remember if you are not using your actual address. The username itself will not receive any email notifications; notifications will be sent to the email address associated with the application.

What are the requirements for creating a password?

Your password must have at least 10 characters and include, at minimum, one capital letter, one number, and one special character (the characters such as @ above the numbers on a keyboard). 

How do I reset my password?

If you forget your password, click the Forgot Password button on the Login page to reset your password. If you cannot reset your password, please contact us.

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VCAAP General Information

I am having trouble with the application, what browser should I be using?

For best performance please use the latest version of Chrome, Firefox, or Safari (on Mac OS) when you are working on the application. 

Is there a paper application?

At this time we are not accepting paper applications. 

Can someone help me fill out my application?

Yes, but your business is responsible for the application, must supply the information, and must attest to its accuracy.  A third party can help you fill out the application if your business authorizes the third party to help. Applicants can also add additional contacts to the application (for example, your CFO or general counsel or attorney); these additional contacts can access and edit the application with your permission and direction.

What is a NAICS code? Where do I find mine?

The North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) is used by the United States, Canada, and Mexico to classify businesses by industry. Each business determines its six-digit NAICS code number based on an assessment of what constitutes most of its business activity. When you file your federal income taxes you provide a “business code” that is based on the NAICS number and the information for your business tax filing includes a table of those codes. On the application form, there is a drop-down menu to assist in your NAICS code selection.

Will the amount of my direct payment be released to the public?

Your business’s financial information will not be shared in response to a public records request, but your name and the amount of any grant payment will be disclosed if requested in a public records request.

Is my direct payment considered taxable income?

Grant payments received are taxable income and each business that receives a VCAAP grant payment will receive a 1099-G for tax year 2020.

What if I applied for and received other State grants (like a Working Lands grant) that were not CRF funded, does that bar my eligibility from the VCAAP?

No. Each business can only receive one CRF-funded State grant.*  Funds you may have received from other state or philanthropic funding sources does not impact your eligibility for VCAAP. In addition, businesses cannot be paid twice for the same loss or expense. If you are covered by insurance or received a different federal or non-CRF State grant, you cannot ask to be paid through this program for the same loss or expense.  However, you can apply to this grant program to cover any portion of your losses or expenses that were not covered by another program, and/or to cover different expenses or losses that were not covered.
*Some exceptions apply to costs not covered in the Dairy Assistance application. 

What happens after I submit my application?

Your application will be added to the queue and reviewed in the order it was received. A VAAFM staff member will reach out to you at the contact information you provided if there are questions about your application. You will be notified of the decision as soon as practicable. 

When and how will I receive the grant money?

After your application is completed and reviewed and assuming you are eligible and demonstrated losses or expenses related to the public health emergency, you can expect to receive a check via US Mail in 3 to 4 weeks.  The Vermont Department of Finance & Management will issue checks.

How long will this application take to complete? 

If you gather all of your relevant financial information before starting your application, you can anticipate completing your application in 45 minutes to 1 hour.

How will farmers know that they need to include other costs, such as shipping/selling animals, without working with a technical advisor?

Please review the recorded webinars, visit the application pages, view the Frequently Asked Questions, and use your best judgment. If you have questions, you can send a message to agr.covidresponse@vermont.gov or call 802-828-2430 and press 9 for assistance.

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Other Federal Assistance

I received a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan, an Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) loan, or other federal reimbursement. Am I ineligible to apply for assistance? 

You are not automatically ineligible. We recognize that other federal programs may only cover a portion of a business’s costs and/or lost revenues related to COVID-19 and designed these programs to provide support beyond what the federal programs provided. The key is that no business can receive any combination of aid or insurance that exceeds its actual costs for any specific loss or expense. 

Does a loan--such as PPP or EIDL—that must be paid back count as aid that must be deducted from any State grant award for the same loss or expense?

Loans that must be paid back are not a duplicative grant payment and can be included in the VCAAP.

I applied for federal assistance and am waiting for a response. What does that mean for my application? 

The Dairy Assistance Application is open until October 1, 2020. This application is designed to have funding for all applicants up to the grant limits and is not expected to run out of money before all applicants submit their applications. Therefore, you could wait to submit your application until you receive more information about federal assistance. If you apply before you know what federal aid you might receive, then you must identify your pending federal requests when you apply a dairy assistance grant.

If I received a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan to exclusively cover payroll, and I am not claiming payroll as an expense in my application, do I need to report the PPP loan? 

No. You only need to disclose insurance or federal aid that relates to the same losses or expenses that you are claiming in your assistance application. If you are not seeking reimbursement for a specific loss or expense because it was covered by insurance or federal aid, then it is not relevant to your assistance application.    

The Dairy Margin Coverage program is a risk management/insurance program and is not part of the federal CARES Act, so why does it impact this state grant program funded by the CARES Act?   

The CARES Act created the Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF), which funds this Vermont state grant program. Under the CRF, economic harm is not compensable if it is covered by insurance or other federal grants or programs.  You can receive federal aid and/or insurance and still be eligible for a dairy grant, but you cannot be paid twice for the same loss or expense. The objective is to pay for necessary expenditures related to the COVID-19 pandemic—not to reimburse businesses for more than they lost.  

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Agriculture and Working Lands Application
Eligibilty 

Are maple producers eligible for the Vemont COVID-19 Agriculture Assistance Program (VCAAP)?

Maple producers are considered "non-dairy farmers" and are eligible for funding through the VCAAP Agriculture and Working Lands Assistance Application, provided they meet the other eligibility requirements. The business will also need to show losses or expenses related to the COVID-19 public health emergency to qualify for a grant award.

If an entity is determined not eligible, or a question gets answered incorrectly so it seems they are ineligible, will the application stop or kick you out?

If you are deemed ineligible at any point in the applicatin, a warning will pop up based on the answer just given that the business is ineligible.  At that point, an applicant can still change their response or edit in the case that they have selected the answer in error.

Can you please explain what "final order" means in the eligibility criteria? Is this a farm that has formally been fined by the state and has not yet paid?

"Final order" depends on the facts and circumstances of a specific situation, as there are a variety of mechanisms that may exist in ANR and AAFM to get to a final order. In most cases, a final order in this context means that at the conclusion of its administrative processes the Agency of Agriculture or the Agency of Natural Resources (or any of its Departments) found a violation and issued an order that imposed a fine or penalty or some other action or corrective action. If there are questions around the status of a final order, we ask that you or others reach out to AAFM or ANR for the specific status.

Do I understand correctly that trade associations are eligible under the same guidelines of revenue losses and/or expenses related to COVID-19? Would we use the same application?

Producer associations are eligible as long as they have not already received a state-funded CRF grant.

If a business was granted Vermont Dairy Assistance and had more expenses in that application then were required, how do they know which expenses were used by the State to meet the cap for that grant so that they may use them for this grant?

A dairy applicant cannot apply for items covered under the VCAAP dairy application - generally milk losses, supply management fees, increase in feed/bedding costs, and other additional economic harm. If a dairy farm also produces maple syrup and did not apply for and receive funding for those losses, they can apply for maple in this application.

Is there a Dairy Processor exemption?

Dairy Farmers and Dairy Processors are the only group that are eligible to have received another State funded program, from the Agency of Agriculture in particular, that are also eligible for this program. So if you have applied under the Dairy Processor application, and you have other expenses that are not related to your Dairy processing business, you can apply under the same business tax identification number in this application. A good example would be a Dairy that also raises pigs, could capture the losses for this revenue on the Agriculture and Working Lands Application since they didn’t claim these losses on the Dairy Processor Application.

Can businesses that receive Forest Economy Stabilization Grant Program (FESG) grants from the Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation also apply for a Vermont COVID-19 Agriculture Assistance Program (VCAAP) grant?

In general, a single business—as defined by a Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN)—is eligible to receive one state grant funded by Coronavirus Relief Funds. Forest products businesses can apply to the Agriculture and Working Lands Assistance Application if they are otherwise ineligible for a Forest Economy Stabilization Grant Program (FESG) grant from the Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation.

Where do slaughterhouses fit in? 

Commercial slaughterhouses and meat processors are included in the legislation that created the Vermont COVID-19 Agriculture Assistance Program (VCAAP) and are eligible for funding through the Agriculture and Working Lands Assistance Application, provided they meet the other eligibility requirements. Slaughter businesses working under an exemption are ineligible.

How will “net business profit” be determined in the Agriculture and Working Lands Assistance Application?

Businesses are not eligible for Agriculture and Working Lands Assistance if they had a “net business profit” from March 1, 2020 through August 1, 2020. Net business profit will be defined in the application, but a business has a net profit if its total revenue exceeded its total expenses during that period.

How is net profit to be calculated? CSA farms accrue income early in the year, but don't provide the service until later. Cash vs. accrual accounting would produce very different results.

Farmers have to show gross annual income of at least $10,000 in Agriculture and Working Lands Assistance Application. Net profit can be shown in cash or accrual accounting as long as it is consistent throughout the application.

What about changes to markets and other business expenses related to the COVID-19 public health emergency? For example, if I had to purchase a delivery vehicle or an online ordering platform to pivot to more direct consumer sales?

In the application, there will be an opportunity for you to submit all expenses related to the COVID-19 public health emergency for review. You should demonstrate the expense and explain how it relates to the COVID-19 public health emergency. Reviewers will review and consider your related claims.

Is there a place in the application for "other" where I can explain losses and/or expenses that are not included in the pre-existing drop-down menu and upload supporting documents?

You will have the ability to describe all losses and/or expenses that relate to the COVID-19 public health emergency.  VAAFM will review your claims and determine whether you demonstrated necessary explanation for expenditures related to the pandemic.

What does it mean to be in good standing with the Vermont Department of Taxes?

For the Department of Taxes, good standing for your business means that all required Vermont tax returns are filed and that all Vermont taxes are paid, OR if you owe taxes that are past due, you are in a payment plan for those taxes. If you have unpaid business taxes, you can call (802) 828-2518 to request a payment plan. Taxpayers who are not in good standing with the Department of Taxes may be deemed ineligible for an Agriculture & Working Lands Assistance grant award.

What does it mean to be in good standing with the Vermont Secretary of State?

For the Secretary of State, good standing means a business can confirm a business is compliant with all legal requirements to retain sole rights to its business name, and the authority to conduct business under its business name within the State of Vermont. A Certificate of Good Standing is not required for an application.

What happens if more eligible businesses apply than there are available funds?

VAAFM will issue grants on a first come, first served basis until the available grant funds are exhausted. We can consider an application complete only if it has all the information needed to verify eligibility. For this reason, it is critical to ensure when you apply that you have all the required information to upload, and the information you type into the application is accurate. If your application ends up delayed because of inaccurate information or incomplete filing, it will not reserve your place in line for funds.

Do you have an example to share of what the monthly sales documents look like?

To demonstrate monthly sales, you can use QuickBooks, Excel, or any other kind of standard documentation format; however, be sure to maintain consistency in the way you present the information in your application.

Restarting a Dairy Business or Transitioning to Producing Another Commodity

If my dairy farm ceased operation after March 1, 2020, can I still apply? What does making a "good faith" effort to restart my dairy farm mean? 

In general, dairy farmers and processors must have been operating on March 1, 2020 and still be operating to be eligible for a grant. A dairy farmer that ceased production after March 1, 2020 can be eligible for a grant if the farmer has a good faith plan to restart milk production or to produce another commodity. If you are a farmer who plans to restart operations, you will have to attest to your plan to restart by answering specific questions within the Dairy Assistance Application.

What does it mean to transition a dairy farm to producing "another commodity”?  

For purposes of this application, “another commodity” means transitioning your dairy farm to producing another type of food or agricultural product. 

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Dairy Revenue Losses and Payments

How do I demonstrate my milk revenue losses?  

You are eligible for milk price declines caused by the COVID-19 pandemic starting on March 1, 2020. To determine lost revenue, your milk price for March 2020 to the present is compared to the pre-pandemic January 2020 price. Milk is paid for in the month following production. You should start with your January 2020 milk payment, which you received in February. Use your pay price from the second milk check of each month that shows the total volume of milk for the prior month and pay price information. Milk price losses related to the pandemic are determined when you enter your milk price and production for each eligible month and compare it to the January 2020 price. For example, if the price declined by $5 per hundredweight since January, your monthly loss would be determined by multiplying five dollars times your milk volume. 

Should dairy applicants enter all losses and costs even if anticipated to reach above and beyond the cap?

Yes, we recommend that an eligible dairy business enter all COVID-19 reslated costs and losses their business(es) have experienced since March 1, 2020 into their application. 

What milk price are payments based on? 

You will be prompted to either use the standard January 2020 pay price of $18.13 or to use your actual January 2020 pay price. You will also be prompted to include your pay price for all other months for which you are claiming a milk loss related to the COVID-19 public health emergency.  

Where did the $18.13 pay price come from? 

The Vermont Legislature used this pre-pandemic price in the legislation that created this grant program to evaluate milk revenue losses during the pandemic. The Statistical Uniform Price for January in the Middlebury location was $18.13. In most cases, prices subsequently dropped dramatically because of the COVID-19 public health emergency. 

Can I enter my own milk price for January and not use $18.13 as the January price?  

If you received a different milk price in January 2020, you may use the actual price you received to determine your actual losses in subsequent months. If you enter your own price for January and do not use the $18.13 price you will need: 

  • Your January 2020 milk price – the price you were paid for your January production. You received this check in February as the final check for the preceding month’s entire production. 

You will need to upload this final check you received for your January milk to document the price you received. 

  • For all other months (potentially March to the present) for which you claim a milk price loss, documentation showing the total pounds of milk produced and the price paid for that milk in each month (e.g., April milk price corresponds to April production).

Please remember that the final check is delayed, so for March production and price, you will use the final check you received in April (some are marked as “final” or “final voucher”). You can also look for the time period indicated on the milk check to match the month you are requesting reimbursement for in the dairy assistance application. 

I am having trouble finding the correct information on my milk check. What number am I looking for specifically?                                                                                                                                                

If you receive a milk check from DFA, look for the PAY PRICE number in the "PRICING / COMMUNICATIONS" box in the lower right-hand corner of your milk check.

image of DFA milk check

If you receive a milk check from Agri-Mark, look for "YOUR PAY PRICE PER/CWT" located above the adjustments table. 

Agr-Mark/Cabot Milk Check

At least one dairy cooperative offered a third milk check in June.  How should this be referenced in my dairy application?

This should not be claimed by the applicant in this application. It does not need to be added to June's milk check amount per hundredweight and it is not deemed a duplicative payment. Therefore, this should not be added to the Dairy Assistance Application in any way.

Some dairy cooperatives included an actual COVID-19-related surcharge line item in their April milk check, how should this be captured in the Dairy Assistance Application?

This is a COVID-19-related expense that can be claimed in your application. Depending on how this surcharge is included in your milk check, this loss can be included in Other Economic Harm or be included in the milk table if included in the milk pay price for that month.

My milk checks from the past show a higher pay price, but now I owe the overpayment amount back and have a letter from the cooperative to this effect. How can I go about including this loss in my application? 

Some cooperatives are calculating the supply management into the milk check. The application will need to claim the difference between the original 2020 price per hundredweight and the new adjusted price per hundredweight for the same month in 2020. This would be accompanied by Co-op verification on this change and why. The application could claim the new difference. 
Example: 

  • January rate = $20.00/cwt.
  • Original April = $16.00
  • State payment rate = $4.00/cwt.
  • Reduction of CFAP if required: - $2.53

New April Rate = $15.00
Extra claim for state dollars - $1.00/cwt. on milk volume for that month.

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Additional Losses and Expenses

Does a loss related to production limitations have to be dictated by a co-op, instead of a voluntary reduction in production?

Either type of production reduction can be eligible. However, to be eligible for reimbursement, all losses must be related to the public health emergency caused by the coronavirus. Each applicant will have to demonstrate how their losses are related to the pandemic, and the Agency of Agriculture’s reviewers will determine whether the claimed loss is compensable. 

I have been required to reduce the volume of milk I produce due to a supply management program. Can I claim the lost revenue due to less milk volume? 

Yes, provided the reduction is related to the public health emergency and occurred since March 1, 2020. You will need to provide a dollar value and documentation to demonstrate your actual loss. The loss must be presented in the economic harm section of the application which only allows a single document upload per loss claimed. To demonstrate the dollar value please follow the below steps. You will need to save all required documents as a single word or pdf document and attach it to the line item.  

Before you start to calculate, you will need your 2019 and 2020 monthly production records from your end of month milk check and the pay price you received in 2020 for that corresponding month’s milk.  The 2020 pay price documentation is identical to what you used to document your 2020 milk price and production. Only the months from March through September of this year are eligible for reimbursement for any pandemic-related milk volume reduction. You can use the below table as a guide for the information we will need to calculate your allowable supply reduction claim: 

The math:

  1. (2019 total volume by month in pounds) – (2020 total volume by month in pounds) = difference in volume; 
  2. [(Difference in the volume) x (price per hundredweight)] ÷ 100 pounds = revenue change based on volume; and 
  3. Add all numbers from the far-right “Revenue Change Based on Volume” column to generate your grand total. 

In the economic harm section of the application, you will use the dollar amount in the “Total Revenue Change” box as your claimed losses. 

Please upload all documents showing your 2019 volume per month and the above calculation table as a single file. We do not need 2020 files if you included them in the milk loss section (which you were required to do if you claimed milk price losses). Only the months of March through September are eligible for reimbursement. 

How do I update my application for additional losses or expenses after I apply? 

The grant program is open for applications until October 1, 2020. If you apply now and do not receive your maximum allowed grant, you can amend your application ONCE to demonstrate any additional economic harm you experience after submitting your initial application. Whether you apply a single time or submit one application and one amendment, all applications must be received by October 1, 2020. 

Should I upload documents for all months listed in the application or just those months where I had a loss? 

You only need to document your losses in the months for which you are claiming a loss. You also can only demonstrate your losses from March 1, 2020 through the date that you apply.   

What if I expected to produce more in 2020 than I did in 2019? 

Unfortunately, we are only able to determine losses by comparing 2020 production to 2019 production and are not able to determine reductions in anticipated increased production. 

If I experienced losses since March 1, 2020 that are not specifically mentioned in the application, how do I apply for reimbursement? 

The "Other Harm" section of the application offers an opportunity for a dairy business to capture additional income losses. You will need to explain your losses and upload the documents that demonstrate your loss in the 2020 month as compared to the same 2019 month. You may also be able to demonstrate your loss by contrasting your monthly revenue after February 2020 with your January or February 2020 revenue before the COVID-19 pandemic impacted the economy. 

Can a dairy farmer also claim losses related to a pandemic-related drop in maple syrup prices under the same application?   

Yes, if your dairy farm business also produces maple syrup under the same Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN). Each business can only receive a single state CRF grant, so your dairy business cannot also apply to other grant programs for its distinct business activities, but you may claim your additional business losses (maple, livestock, produce, etc.) that are related to the COVID-10 public health emergency in your dairy application. All losses and expenses will be limited to the maximum available dairy grant for your farm size.  

What kind of documentation do I need to demonstrate my losses for bulk maple syrup that I was not able to sell?   

First, you would need your sales receipts from each month since March 2020 when you are claiming losses. Second, your 2020 sales could be compared to your receipts from the same month(s) in 2019 to determine what you could have sold this year without the COVID-19 public health emergency.


Dairy Processors

I am a seasonal dairy processor who was not actively processing on March 1, 2020 but am actively processing now. Am I eligible for my pandemic-related losses and expenses? 

Yes, if you were a processor licensed with the Agency of Agriculture on March 1, 2020. New dairy processing businesses that started after March 1, 2020 are not eligible for the Dairy Assistance Application. But, an existing seasonal processor that was “known” to the Agency of Agriculture on March 1 and is “currently” processing milk is eligible to apply for relief for their losses incurred since March 1. In other words, seasonal processors that were registered before the pandemic and are currently processing milk are eligible for the grant program. 

Does aging a product count as processing? 

Yes. However, dairy processors must have been known to the Agency of Agriculture on March 1, 2020 to be eligible for this grant program. 

I am interested in starting a small cheese plant for direct-to-consumer sales because of a quota reduction related to the pandemic. Could the dairy grant fund this infrastructure investment? 

The dairy assistance application provides reimbursements for incurred losses and necessary expenditures related to the public health emergency. Accordingly, eligible expenses must have been paid for at the time of application and be necessary business expenditures and related to the COVID-19 public health emergency.

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Other Dairy Assistance Application Information

Is the Dairy Assistance Application available to organic dairy producers? 

All dairy farmers that received a Unique Dairy ID Number (Farmer/Processor ID Number) are eligible to apply. The program is designed to reimburse dairy farms’ revenue losses and expenses that are due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

I have multiple farms and permits. Can I submit more than one application? 

Each dairy farmer or processor is assessed by its farm or processing size known to the Agency of Agriculture as of March 1, 2020. Each farm or processor is eligible for one grant per permitted or licensed operation.  So, multiple farm locations that operate under one LFO permit are eligible for a single grant. If farms or processors have multiple permits or licenses, they may submit one application per water quality permit designation or licensed processor size.  

I have multiple farm locations operating under the same Medium Farm Operation (MFO) Permit. Can I submit more than one application? 

No. An MFO with multiple locations under the same water quality permit may submit one application per permit. 

I have multiple farm locations operating under the same Large Farm Operation (LFO) Permit. Can I submit more than one application? 

No. An LFO with multiple locations under the same water quality permit may submit one application per permit. 

How are subsequent Dairy Assistance Application submissions being managed in the SalesForce system?

This functionality is still under development and should be available by the end of August 2020. In most cases, it is logical for an applicant to wait for additional months of final milk checks before submitting a supplemental Dairy Assistance Application. The final deadline is still October 1, 2020.

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Contact Us

(802) 828-2430 select #9
AGR.CovidResponse@vermont.gov

Contact Information

Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets

116 State Street
Montpelier, Vt 05620-2901
802.828.2430

 

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