Vermont Farm Viability Enhancement Program

The Vermont Farm Viability 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, with funding assistance provided by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).

Farmers enrolled in the Program work with a farm business planner provided through cooperating organizations, listed below, or directly with an individual consultant. Our staff works with enrolled farmers to identify a good match for the farm. The consultants provide technical assistance tailored to the farmer’s needs to fulfill specific business goals. Farmers and planning consultants meet and work together for approximately one year to produce a written business plan. In the second year farmers are provided with additional technical assistance and help updating their plans.

The business planning process involves the farmer in an assessment of the farm operation’s strengths and weaknesses and in an exploration of possible management changes that could increase profitability. Examples include consultations on keeping better production or financial records, financial benchmark analysis, meetings with crop or animal health specialists, new farm enterprise analysis, estate and farm transfer planning, labor management, and value-added processing.

Farmers who 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.

Northeast SARE (Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education)

Partnership Grants

Partnership Grants are reserved for agricultural service providers–extension and NRCS staff, nonprofits, consultants, state departments of agriculture, and others working in the agricultural community–who want to conduct on-farm demonstrations, research, marketing, and other projects with farmers as active cooperators.

Farmer Grants

Farmer Grants are for commercial producers who have an innovative idea they want to test using a field trial, on-farm demonstration, or other technique. A technical advisor–often an extension agent, crop consultant, or other service professional–is required as a project participant.

Projects should seek results other farmers can use, and all projects must have the potential to add to our knowledge about effective sustainable practices.

Rural Business Enterprise Grant

These grants are funded through USDA’s Rural Development Agency, through the Rural Business Enterprise Grant (RBEG) program. Rural Development provides grants to public agencies, private non-profit corporations or Indian groups for financing and facilitating development of small and emerging private business enterprises (defined as having less than $1 million in revenues and fewer than 50 employees).

Grant funds provided to public agencies, private non-profit corporations or Indian groups can be used to provide needed infrastructure, to fund technical assistance needs and to establish or fund revolving loan programs.

Value-Added Producer Grants

These grants are funded through USDA’s Rural Development Agency and  may be used for planning activities and for working capital for marketing value-added agricultural products and for farm-based renewable energy. Eligible applicants are independent producers, farmer and rancher cooperatives, agricultural producer groups, and majority-controlled producer-based business ventures.

Organic Farming Research Foundation

OFRF’s mission is to sponsor research related to organic farming;  to disseminate research results to organic farmers and to growers interested in adopting organic production systems; and to educate the public and decision-makers about organic farming issues.

Since 1992, OFRF’s grantmaking program has awarded more than $1.5 million for over 200 projects. The objective  is to generate practical, science-based knowledge to support modern organic farming systems. OFRF-funded projects emphasize grower-researcher collaboration, studies conducted on-farm and/or in certified organic settings, and outreach of project results.