Available loans and grants for VT farmers

By Terence Bradshaw

Below is a list of available programs for Vermont farmers:

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From: Kate Stephenson

Planning Projects on Your Farm This Spring?

Thinking about investing in new infrastructure or equipment to grow your business in 2018? The Vermont Farm Fund can help with no-hassle, low-interest loans to Vermont farmers and value added food producers.

They offer Business Builder loans from $5,000-30,000 at 3% interest.

The VFF is a nonprofit true revolving loan fund: as the community of recipients pays back their loans, funds are replenished for the next cycle of borrowers.

In 2017 the VFF made 15 loans, for projects ranging from egg washing equipment, building a new sugarhouse, purchasing fruit dehydrating equipment, buying a blast freezer for flash freezing artisan ice cream, installing herb processing equipment, building a coverall goat barn, and building a small office cabin on the farm.

If you have an idea for a project that helps to grow your food and farm-based business, but need to finance your project, please call 802-560-3099 or visit www.vermontfarmfund.org.

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Produce Safety Rule Compliance Deadline and
High Demand Prompts Second Round of Improvement Grants

Montpelier, VT – January 26, 2018 marks the first major compliance date for farms covered by the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Produce Safety Rule. Farms that grow, harvest, pack, or hold produce with greater than $500,000 in annual produce sales must be in compliance with the rule’s standards for on-farm produce safety practices beginning Friday.

To assist growers in making on-farm improvements that prevent or reduce produce safety risks, the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets (VAAFM) launched the Vermont Produce Safety Improvement Grant Program, which recently awarded eight grants of between $7,000 and $10,000 to Vermont growers to make on-farm food safety improvements. Growers will have another opportunity to apply for Produce Safety Improvement Grants beginning February 28, 2018 at 9:00 AM.

Vermont produce growers have shown a strong demand for support to grow produce safely, efficiently, and economically. The Agency accepted applications for the first round of the Vermont Produce Safety Improvement Grant Program on Wednesday, November 15, and within several hours, applications exceeded the total available funds. “It was remarkable how timely applications were submitted. We’ve seen just a glimpse of how much funding demand there is for produce farms working to implement produce safety practices on their farm,” said Vermont Agriculture Secretary, Anson Tebbetts.

Growers interested in applying for the second round of grants are encouraged to submit their applications as early as possible on February 28, as the Agency expects a similarly strong demand for funding. Projects granted in the first round include produce safety upgrades to wash and pack areas, employee handwashing stations, health and hygiene signage, and improvements to produce cold storage and temperature controls, with awards totaling $74,029.

Approximately $74,000 in funding will be available in the second round of the grant, and again, funds will be awarded on a first-come, first-served basis to eligible applicants. Applicants must grow, harvest, pack, or hold “covered produce” as defined by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration’s Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Produce Safety Rule and have average annual produce sales of greater than $25,000. To prepare to apply for grants in the second round, applicants should—

VAAFM’s Produce Program looks forward to reviewing second round applications and remains committed to assisting produce growers with making produce safety improvements and upgrades to their farm operation focused on food safety and improving the sustainability of their businesses.

Questions related to the Produce Safety Improvement Grants or the FSMA Produce Safety Rule should be directed to AGR.FSMA.

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