US: Vermont agriculture groups receive $188,000 to benefit specialty crop farmers

The Vermont Agency of Agriculture (VAAFM) today announced grants from the federal Department of Agriculture totaling $188,000 to nine projects that will benefit Vermont fruit, vegetable, and maple producers, and increase consumer access to locally produced food.

“Through partnerships, these grants will help support Vermont farmers and others who rely on the land for their livelihoods, such as our maple producers and apple growers,” Gov. Peter Shumlin said. “I am grateful to Vermont’s Congressional delegation for their continued support of this important grant program, which will promote farm profitability, increase agriculture’s impact on Vermont’s economy, and support sustainable production practices.”

Among other uses, the funds will provide food safety training for farmers, expand social media markets for Vermont maple producers, and support a statewide community supported agriculture (CSA) network. Recipients include the Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont, UVM’s Extension Center for Sustainable Agriculture and Apple Program, and more.

“These grants represent an investment in the research, education, and infrastructure that will help keep Vermont at the forefront for diversified and value-added agriculture,” said Chuck Ross, Vermont’s Secretary of Agriculture. Ross also thanked Sens. Patrick Leahy and Bernie Sanders, and Rep. Peter Welch for their work on behalf of Vermont’s farmers and agricultural industry. “They continue to push for the passage of a Farm Bill so that this program can continue into the future.”

Projects were selected by an independent review committee out of 22 applications, totaling requests of nearly $550,000. The selected projects are described below:

  • University of Vermont Extension Center for Sustainable Agriculture to improve produce safety by providing food safety training for farmers ($19,826).
  • Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont to increase consumer participation in community supported agriculture (CSA) programs by creating a statewide CSA network ($24,685).
  • Vital Communities to open and expand farm-to-workplace markets for specialty crop producers through promotion, matchmaking, and sharing best practices ($17,367).
  • Intervale Center to increase food hub sales by developing best practices, and developing and implementing a marketing and outreach campaign ($11,000).
  • Vermont Maple Sugar Makers’ Association to increase sales among maple sugar producers by developing and implementing a comprehensive social media marketing campaign ($13,000).
  • Increase consumer awareness and increase export sales of Vermont value-added specialty crop products ($20,000).
  • University of Vermont Apple Program to provide access to timely production-related information that will enhance farm profitability and sustainability ($10,000).
  • Floating Bridge Food and Farms Cooperative to increase consumer awareness and consumption of locally grown specialty crops ($9,855).
  • University of Vermont to increase the profitability of Brassica farmers by developing low-input management strategies to reduce Brassica losses to swede midge ($50,000).
  • University of Vermont’s Department of Plant and Social Science to help blueberry and raspberry growers minimize the damage caused by the spotted wing drosophila ($12,296).

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