VCF Grant for Emergency Feed Assistance

The Vermont Community Foundation and the Vermont Agency of Agriculture announced that the Vermont Farm Disaster Relief Fund is accepting applications for a new grant round focused on providing funding for emergency feed purchases.

Applications are due February 17.
Download application here.

“As we anticipated, feed has now become an urgent need among Vermont farmers affected by Irene. Many farmers who thought they’d have enough feed for their animals are now discovering that their hay and corn was severely damaged by the flooding and are faced with the unexpected cost of having to buy feed,” says Chuck Ross, secretary of the Vermont Agency of Agriculture.

“Because of the current demand, available feed is more expensive,” says Ryan Torres, philanthropic advisor at the Vermont Community Foundation. “We have reserved funding to help farmers purchase feed to get them through the winter and we encourage those who are unable to buy feed to apply for assistance as soon as possible.”

Applications are available on www.vtfloodresponse.org and will be due February 17. Checks will be mailed to selected farmers the first week in March. The fund will continue to hold grant rounds for emergency feed assistance as long as funding remains available. Farmers who sustained other losses or damages from the storm and have not received a grant from the fund are encouraged to contact Ryan Torres, philanthropic advisor at the Vermont Community Foundation, at 802-388-3355 ext. 289, or rtorres@vermontcf.org.

Farmers with surplus feed for sale or feed they are willing to donate are encouraged to contact the Agency of Agriculture. The Vermont Community Foundation will post information about available feed donations on its website, http://www.vtfloodresponse.org.

To date, the Vermont Farm Disaster Relief Fund has awarded $1,576,300 to 177 farmers affected by Tropical Storm Irene. As of January 25, total contributions received or pledged to the fund exceeded $2.41 million.

Torres noted that the fund’s committee has worked to balance giving out many grants immediately in the aftermath of the storm with holding some funding in reserve to support emerging needs like feed and the purchase of seed in the spring.

The grant committee includes representatives from the Vermont Community Foundation, Vermont Agency of Agriculture, NOFA Vermont, Vermont Farm Bureau, Rutland Area Farm and Food Link, and University of Vermont Extension.

Apply by Dec. 2: Vermont Farm Disaster Relief Fund (4th Round)

The Vermont Community Foundation and the Vermont Agency of Agriculture announced that the Vermont Farm Disaster Relief Fund is accepting applications for its fourth grant round. In its first three rounds, the fund awarded 122 farmers affected by Tropical Storm Irene grants in excess of $600,000. As of November 21, total contributions received or pledged to the fund exceeded $2.0 million.

The grant committee announced that applications will be accepted for the fund’s fourth grant round until December 2, 2011. Grant checks will be distributed to selected farmers by the end of the year. Applications are available online at www.vtfloodresponse.org.

“We’re aware that many farmers are still in the process of putting their lives back together and are just now tallying their losses – we continue to encourage them to apply as soon as they are able to do so,” says Chuck Ross, secretary of the Vermont Agency of Agriculture. “We will be working closely with the Community Foundation and with all our partners to ensure that grants reach as many of the farmers impacted by the storm as possible.”

The grant committee will also revisit applications from farmers who have already received funding, in order to assess remaining need and consider awarding additional grant money. Each farmer who has received a grant from the fund will be mailed a letter and form requesting an update on total losses from the storm and the support they have received to help address those losses.

“Many farmers have a more complete picture of overall losses now than they did two months ago – in fact, many of the needs that farmers will be facing over the coming months have not yet surfaced,” says Ryan Torres, philanthropic advisor at the Vermont Community Foundation. “That’s why part of our grantmaking strategy is to assess the needs of farmers in stages, to help maximize the availability of funds and ensure that farmers have the resources they need to be successful well into the future.”

“We are incredibly grateful for the enormous outpouring of support to the fund, both locally and from outside Vermont,” says Stuart Comstock-Gay, president & CEO of the Vermont Community Foundation. “Because of the generosity of everyone who has donated to the fund, we are able to give out more grants in this fourth round and to potentially increase the awards to those farmers who have been hit the hardest.”

The grant committee includes representatives from the Vermont Community Foundation, Vermont Agency of Agriculture, NOFA Vermont, Vermont Farm Bureau, Rural Vermont, Rutland Area Farm and Food Link, and University of Vermont Extension. Grant decisions are based on a number of factors, including total losses and overall need.

The grants will help farmers replace infrastructure, seed, feed, livestock, supplies, and equipment lost as a result of the storm, to the extent the losses were not covered by insurance or other sources of income. The grants can also be used to help pay outstanding bills such as farm mortgage costs, land lease payments, or animal feed bills.

According to the Agency of Agriculture, a rough estimate of farmland impacted by Irene exceeds 20,000 acres; a conservative estimate of crop losses and crop land damage needing repair exceeds $10 million dollars. A total of 463 Vermont farms have reported damage to the United States Department of Agriculture.

Those interested in learning more about the fund or making a contribution can visit www.vtfloodresponse.org.

Looking for hay, feed, or forage? A Resource from Agriview

Tropical Storm Irene dealt a serious blow to farmers’ fields across the state.  Many are facing a winter with very short hay, forage and feed supplies. All the Hay, Feed, and Forage ads from Agriview have been aggregated into this useful pdf.  Please share this with and distribute it to all of your lists, farmers and friends – both those who are in need and also those who may have extra.

In view of the anticipated need, non-subscribers as well as Agriview subscribers are encouraged to place ads and to keep their listings as up-to-date as possible so Vermont’s agricultural community can continue to thrive and support one another. www.VermontAgriculture.com

A bit about the Vermont Farm Viability Program

The VT Farm Viability Program (VFHP) has helped more than 350 farmers to increase profits, improve farm management, develop new, value-added products, and plan for farm transfers.  Farmers are matched with consultants to provide individualized business assistance.  The next enrollment deadline for the program is November 30th.

The Program is also currently enrolling farmers to work on storm recovery plans. 

VFVP’s Enhancement Program offers business planning and technical assistance services to Vermont farmers, as part of a statewide effort to improve the economic viability of Vermont agriculture. The program is funded by the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board in collaboration with the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets, and with funding assistance provided by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).

Once enrolled, farms work with a farm business planner through one of our cooperating organizations–currently these include the Intervale Center, NOFA-VT, UVM Extension, Working Landscapes, and Land for Good–or directly with an individual consultant. Our staff works with enrolled farmers to identify a good match for the farm. Farmers and planning consultants meet and work together for approximately one year to produce a written business plan, and in the second year farmers are provided with additional technical assistance and help updating their plans.

Farmers that have completed business plans with the program are eligible for grants towards capital expenses or additional technical support needed in implementing the business plan, when funding is available.To qualify for the program, you must be a farmer with at least 3 years experience or a farm business that has been in business more than one full year with over $10,000 in gross income the previous year.

More information can be found online at www.vhcb.org/viability or by calling 802-828-3370.

11/30: Flood Recovery Workshop for Vegetable Growers

On November 30th (9am-2pm), UVM-Extension will host a workshop at their Berlin office on flood recovery for vegetable farmers. The focus will be on practical information for growers: post-flood production, financial planning, tax implications, insurance coverage, and site evaluation. There will be a discussion of research needs and time for individual consultations. The workshop is FREE but please pre-register with Vern vernon.grubinger@uvm.edu.

Berlin Office
617 Comstock Road, Suite 5
Berlin, VT 05602
802-223-2389 or 1-866-860-1382

View the agenda: www.uvm.edu/vtvegandberry/meetings/RecoveringFromTheFloodWorkshop.pdf

Irene Recovery: FAQs about handling flooded produce

UVM-Extension posted a list of FAQs about flood recovery, divided into the following sections: “where the FDA is clear” vs.”where the FDA does not give clear guidance.” If your farm was damaged or hurt by Irene and you need assistance about what to do next, contact RAFFL for assistance at (802) 417-1528 OR info@rutlandfarmandfood.org.

FAQ Sheet: http://www.uvm.edu/vtvegandberry/factsheets/Flooded_Produce_FAQ.pdf

Irene Recovery – Business Planning Assistance

Disaster Recovery Planning Assistance – VHCB is allocating resources to ensure farmers recovering from Irene have access to in-depth disaster recovery planning assistance – assistance assessing losses and accessing financial and other resources as appropriate to their individual situation. We are partnering with UVM Extension to deliver this assistance.

Farmers may be referred to Vermont Farm Viability Program staff (contacts below) or directly to UVM Extension – VHCB Farm Viability staff will enroll those that need in-depth business planning to work with UVM Extension and track each farm’s progress, and we will refer others to appropriate resources.

Land available for farmers affected by the disaster – The Vermont Land Trust is coordinating land offerings and inquires from farmers in need of emergency relocation. VLT will connect individuals as appropriate to UVM’s VT Land Access Database. Siobhan Smith at VLT is the primary contact: Siobhan@vlt.org; 802-262-1217.

Disaster recovery planning assistance may include:

  • Assessing losses
  • Identifying temporary or long-term replacement land
  • Identifying appropriate resources for recovery
  • Assistance with disaster-related paperwork and applications (loans included)
  • Development of post-disaster Business Recovery Plans: Strategic plans, Cash flow budgeting, Reconstruction or relocation plans, Financial decision-making

In addition, farms may be able to access longer-term planning assistance, including:

  • Enterprise analysis
  • Full business planning
  • Farm transfer/succession planning

Vermont Farm Viability Program

Ela Chapin, Program Director : 802-828-2117; ela@vhcb.org

Liz Gleason, Program Assistant: 802-828-3370; egleason@vhcb.org

VT Housing & Conservation Board
58 E. State Street
Montpelier, VT 05602
www.vhcb.org/viability.html