Youth Ag IDA Program

Application Deadline – Friday, May 15th!  Program starts in June!

The Youth Ag. IDA program is for youth ages 14-21 who are seeking to build a sustainable career in agriculture.  It’s built around a year of hands-on instruction, business coaching, and learning from established farmers – all while saving money towards a business asset purchase that will be matched 2:1.

What does this look like?

  • Participants attend a year (approximately 10-20 hours- depending on preference) of fun, informative, hands-on learning experiences (these classes have an estimated $1,500 value)
  • Participants complete approximately ten hours of online coursework
  • Participants complete a business plan
  • Each young farmer saves $500
  • The program matches the young farmer’s savings with $1,000
  • The young farmer participant will then have that $1,500 to use for an asset purchase

The program brochure is here. (This has a printable brochure and registration form for folks who prefer paper) & Online registration is here.

Please email Program Coordinator Liz Kenton with questions:


NE SARE Farmer Grants – Applications Due 12/2/14

Farmer Grants are for commercial producers in the Northeast Region who have an innovative idea they want to test using a field trial, on-farm demonstration, marketing initiative, or other technique.  A technical advisor–often an extension agent, crop consultant, or other service professional–must also be involved. Projects should seek results other farmers can use, and all projects must have the potential to add to our knowledge about effective sustainable practices.  Awards are capped at $15,000.

Applications are due by December 2, 2014.

Northeast SARE grants coordinator Carol Delaney will be hosting at lunchtime webinar on Friday, October 10th at noon to provide information about the application process, designing a budget, choosing a technical advisor, and the review process.  There will be plenty of time for Q & A.   Register for the webinar here.  (If you have questions about registration or the presentation, please contact NY SARE Coordinator Violet Stone at

Vermont Farm Fund Loans Available for Your Off-Season Projects

If you are planning an off-season project that will require a loan, the Vermont Farm Fund has money available for loans.  Business Builder Loans are made to Vermont Farmers and Food Producers who meet their criteria with interest rates at 3% per year.  Loans can range from $5000 to $25,000, depending on qualification and fund availability, repayable in 2 to 4 years.  The application process is simple and turnaround from application to funding is two to three weeks.  Learn more about the Vermont Farm Fund at

Youth Ag IDA Program – Application Deadline June 22!

Know of a young and hard-working person age 14-21, who isn’t afraid to work independently and is  ready to prepare for a future in agriculture? If so, you’re in luck- Vermont’s new and innovative young farmer business training program still has a few spots left for the next program round!

The UVM Center for Sustainable Agriculture’s Youth Agriculture Individual Development Account (Youth Ag IDA) program (found online at is accepting applications for its next program round. We are seeking youth who are involved with or interested in agriculture to participate in a one-year program that will both provide learning opportunities to help acquire important business management skills, and help each participant save money towards the purchase of a business-related asset. Young farmers will exit the program possessing both seed capital and financial literacy skills: key components in establishing an independent enterprise or assuming more of a management role in the family farm operation.

Upon successful completion of the program, the participant’s savings will be matched at a rate of 2:1 (up to a total of $1,000 in match funding), giving young farmers two program dollars for every dollar they save toward the purchase of a productive farm asset.

What does this look like?

  • Participants attend a year (approximately 10-20 hours- depending on preference) of fun, informative, hands-on learning experiences
  • Participants complete approximately ten hours of online coursework
  • Participants develop a business plan
  • Each young farmer saves up to $500 that will be matched with program dollars
  • The program matches the young farmer’s savings 2:1 ($1,000 if she or he saves the maximum, $500)
  • The young farmer participant will then have that $1,500 to use for an asset purchase

The program will provide structured financial literacy training, business management coaching and mentoring from qualified farm business management specialists and established farmers. Participants will develop basic skills necessary to leverage their equity, manage capital productively and be a successful entrepreneur.

Even more importantly, participants will leave the program armed with increased confidence, their business plan and the skills that can help them put that plan into successful action, as they join the vibrant agriculture and food systems community that makes Vermont such a great place to live, grow, and appreciate the local bounty.

Applications and more information can be found on the program’s website at The deadline for applications is June 22, with the program kicking off in late-June. Please email Program Coordinator Ali Zipparo with

Individuals requesting a disability-related accommodation to participate in this program should contact Ali Zipparo at 802-656-9139 by June 22, 2014.


New Loans available for Veggie Packing & Storage Sheds

From the New England Farmers Union most recent newsletter:

“New England’s small and mid-sized, diversified farms now have funding options for vegetable packing sheds through the U.S. Department of Agriculture under a recently announced the expansion of the Farm Storage and Facility Loan program, which provides low-interest financing to producers. The changes will be important for those who need to upgrade facilities and equipment to comply with FDA’s new food safety rules that go into effect in 2015. …
The low-interest funds can be used to build or upgrade permanent facilities to store commodities. Eligible commodities include grains, oilseeds, peanuts, pulse crops, hay, honey, renewable biomass commodities, fruits and vegetables. Qualified facilities include grain bins, hay barns and cold storage facilities for fruits and vegetables.”

For more info:

Or contact the Vermont FSA agency:

Navigating Federal Laws on Farm Labor

Is your farm in compliance with federal payroll requirements?

This upcoming workshop will provide federal payroll training for farmers.

The workshop will be held from 8:30am to 12:30pm on April 4th at the VT State House Room 11

Federal laws like the Fair Labor Standards Act have been a hot topic in recent months, as farmers around New England have been facing increased enforcement of labor regulations.  Several local farms have faced heavy fines for inadvertent violations to these laws, sparking debate about the details of these laws and how they are being interpreted.  Daniel Cronin and Christopher Mills of the U.S. Dept. of Labor will tease apart some of the nuances of these laws and explain how they are being enforced by the Dept. of Labor.  In particular, they will explain where the line is currently drawn between types of farm work that are and aren’t exempt from the laws’ provisions.

Join us for this workshop.

WhenApril 4, 2014 8:30am-12:30 pm

Where: Vermont State House, Room 11, Montpelier

RSVP: By March 28th to Louise Waterman at 802-828-6900 or

Low Interest-Low Hassle Loans Now Available

 Loans are available immediately from the Vermont Farm Fund at a low 3% interest rate to help Vermont farmers and food producers grow their businesses.  The Vermont Farm Fund is a revolving loan fund of farmers lending to farmers; as borrowers pay back loans, funds are replenished for the next borrowers.  We like to keep our money working out in the Vermont Agricultural Community and have funds available now to make some new loans. 

Who borrows from Vermont Farm Fund?  Bob Lesnikowski at Vermont Cranberry Company, known to many as Cranberry Bob, is one of over 25 borrowers we have throughout Vermont.  He received a $10,000 loan from VFF last fall.  Here is what Bob has to say about his experience with the Vermont Farm Fund:

“The Vermont Farm Fund application process was simple, straightforward and fast.  The loan I received will be used to build an FDA inspected facility that will enable us to expand our product lines and reach new markets.  The Vermont Farm Fund’s streamlined loan process made this next step possible while I stayed focused on what really matters to my business – growing and producing cranberries.”

Apply today!  For more information and an application go to