A Latina/female presenting farmworker stands smiling in front of a vegetable field holding a crate of zucchini. Two other farmworkers continue to harvest behind her.

All Vermont Farmworkers: applications for a one-time $600 pandemic relief payment open

(Haga clic en "Read More" para la opción de idioma español.) Frontline farm workers and meatpacking workers who incurred expenses preparing for, preventing exposure to, and responding to the COVID-19 pandemic can now apply online for a one-time $600 relief payment through a USDA program administered by PASA Sustainable Agriculture. Farm First is partnering with PASA to help eligible applicants in Vermont. To learn more and apply for this relief payment in English, Spanish and other language options, click "Read More."
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Vermont Agency of Commerce & Community Development is now taking applications for grants through the Business Emergency Gap Assistance Program!

The Department of Economic Development has created the Business Emergency Gap Assistance Program (BEGAP). This $20 million grant program is for businesses and nonprofits that suffered physical damages from flooding dating back to July 7, 2023. Applicants must intend on restoring, reopening, and bringing their employees back to work as soon as possible and will utilize these grant funds for that purpose.

$1 million in this funding is intended for agricultural businesses, including farms and on-farm processing businesses. Visit the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food, and Markets website for more information specific to agricultural applicants for this relief grant.

To access the application portal, as well as a recorded webinar, a frequently asked questions page, contact information, and more: click "Read More" below to go the Business Emergency Gap Assistance Program page on the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development site.
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Business Emergency Gap Assistance Program (BEGAP) for Agriculture Announces Guidelines and a Webinar on Wednesday 8/2 at 10:00 AM

"The Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development is hosting the Business Emergency Gap Assistance Program for all Vermont flood impacted businesses, including agriculture. The BGAP program has $1 million in funding available to support agricultural operations.

Relief funding is available for agricultural businesses producing food and feed for anyone other than themselves or their family,
Relief funding is available for on-farm processing operations.
Relief funding is available to agricultural or food system businesses under additional sectors, such as ‘manufacturing’ or ‘retail’."

....

"The application portal is expected to open on Thursday, August 3.

An informational webinar will be held on Wednesday, 8/2 at 10:00 a.m."
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Complete VAAFM's Loss and Damage Survey

From July 7-18, 2023, Vermont experienced historic and catastrophic severe weather and flooding.

The Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets (VAAFM) is requesting information from farms, agricultural businesses, and service and non-profit organizations to understand the overall impact of this natural disaster.

The purpose of this survey is to, as accurately as possible, capture the type and scale of the damage agricultural producers suffered throughout the state. Survey data will be used to inform response efforts, effectively allocate resources, and advocate for future relief and recovery programs.

If you are a business, organization, or individual that raises animals and/or grows feed or crops for anyone beyond your immediate family, we kindly request that you fill out this survey. It should only take between 5 and 10 minutes to complete. The survey will remain open until August 28th.
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Vt Agency of Commerce shares additional details of Business Emergency Gap Grant Program

"Berlin, Vt. - Governor Phil Scott and the Agency of Commerce and Community Development (ACCD) offered additional details today about the upcoming Business Emergency Grant Assistance Program. The $20 million program will assist businesses and not-for-profit entities that sustained physical damage in the flood reopen and bring their employees back to work...

"When the program opens, businesses will be eligible for a grant of 20% of the net documented uncovered damage to their physical property up to a maximum of $20,000. For properties that sustained more than a million dollars of damage, grant amounts may exceed the $20,000 cap. Those grants will be 20% of net documented uncovered physical damage up to $500,000 based on the number of employees and total damage they sustained. Of the $20 million, $1 million will be administered by the Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets and dedicated specifically to agricultural businesses...

Physical losses and damage can include physical space and/or replacements of inventory, machinery, equipment, and supplies. Business should collect photographs, insurance adjuster damage assessments, estimates for repairs to physical structures, tax returns, equipment, inventory, or supply purchases, actual paid expenses and other documents as requested.

Additional details about the grant program and how it will work are expected to be released on Monday, July 31, and the application portal is expected to open later that week."
(From press release at link)
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Farm Credit East Announces $250,000 in Flood Relief for Northeast Producers

"...Following devastating flooding in Vermont and other parts of the Northeast, Farm Credit East has announced its Farm Credit East Cares Community Fund will make available up to $250,000 in flood relief to impacted Northeast producers. Farm Credit East Cares is funded by employee contributions with a Farm Credit East match. In addition, CoBank, Farm Credit East’s funding bank, and Farmer Mac are contributing to this effort.

Impacted producers are eligible for $500 individual donations. This financial assistance is not intended to replace equipment, infrastructure, or business losses, but instead to cover personal losses and other expenses..."

"...Financial assistance is not limited to Farm Credit East members. Any farm, forest product or fishing business impacted by the July 2023 flooding in Farm Credit East’s eight state territory is eligible for this aid. Depending on available funding, applications will be considered on a rolling basis until September 15."
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Governor Scott requests USDA Secretarial Disaster Declaration

"Governor Phil Scott has requested that the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) issue a disaster designation for the State of Vermont in response to severe July flooding. A Secretarial Disaster Designation would open the availability of financial assistance, including low-interest USDA Farm Service Agency emergency loans for eligible producers in the approved counties."

The Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets is encouraging all those who sustained losses to report their damages to their local Farm Services Agency office with USDA.
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Biden Approves Major Disaster Declaration for Vermont

Release Date:
July 14, 2023

"WASHINGTON-- FEMA announced that federal disaster assistance has been made available to the state of Vermont to supplement state, tribal and local recovery efforts in the areas affected by severe flooding beginning on July 7, 2023, and continuing.

The President's action makes federal funding available to affected individuals in Chittenden, Lamoille, Rutland, Washington, Windham and Windsor counties. Assistance can include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses and other programs to help individuals and business owners recover from the effects of the disaster."

[Click "Read More" below to read the full statement on the FEMA website, including information on how to apply for individual assistance for damage to homes. Please note that individual assistance is intended for damage to homes, not to businesses or farms. More information and resources to come.]
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Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets Publishes List of 2023 Flooding Disaster Response and Recovery Resources

VAAFM has compiled a comprehensive list of resources and information for farmers impacted by the flooding which began on July 7th and swept across the state. They have provided links to report damages to 211 as well as to the USDA. There are resources specific to produce farmers, dairy operations, and meat and poultry operators, as well as links for soil testing, recovery funding opportunities, and a range of other resources.
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Why it's important to call 211 to report flood damage--even if they can't call you back right away

By now you've almost certainly heard the instructions, whether from your town, media reports, or any place you've tried to google for help: call 211. And maybe you HAVE called, only to leave a voicemail and no call back. So you may be wondering, what's the point?

It's helpful to bear in mind that 211 is getting a LOT of calls from people all over the state. They have to sort through which calls are the most urgent, and share information among a dizzying amount of agencies, service providers, and state, local, and federal government entities. Even if they can't get help to you right away, that does not mean they aren't listening. Don't give up hope yet.

Apart from getting help in the short term, there is one other VERY important reason to reach out to 211. The quality and amount of information that 211 receives plays a key role in determining what programs Vermonters have access to down the road as we try to recover and rebuild. The more you share with 211 about the devastating impact of these floods, the better the chances that Vermonters will have access to important sources of relief.

The good news is that there is ALSO a way to report damages on the 211 website--both residential and for businesses. If you can't call 211 to speak to someone on the phone, you can click "read more" below to access the 211 damage report forms.
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Vermont's 2023 Flooding: Get Help for your Farm Animals

We are experiencing catastrophic flooding in the state of Vermont. If you have animals that are impacted by the flooding, know that you are not alone! Vermont's Agency of Agriculture, Food, and Markets has an emergency response plan for animals. There are several ways to get help, listed below. (Please note that these are for non-life threatening emergencies; if your safety is at risk, call 911).

1. Call your town for support. Much emergency response can be coordinated most quickly at the local level; towns can communicate with state leaders to let them know what you and other folks in the community need. Each town has an emergency management director--if you don't know who yours is, call the town clerk or town manager.

2. Call the Vermont Emergency Management's State Emergency Operations Center at 800-347-0488. They will triage your call and make sure that the emergency response team at the VAAFM is aware of what you need.

3. Call 211. They can provide many of the same resources and support as the SEOC.

Of course, all of these resources are responding to the needs of many people and animals across the state. They may not be able to help right away. But it's critical to let them know that you need the help in the first place.

If you are feeling overwhelmed and need to talk to someone, reach out to Farm First at 802-318-5538 during business hours, or 877-493-6216 after hours.
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White presenting woman in straw hat stands in sunny field in background. Text in the foreground says "Brighter Futures Fund: Grants up to $10,000 available to farmers across the US! Apply Now! Learn more at farmland.org/brighter-future." A small, circular, green and white logo features a farm scene in silhuoutte above the words "American Farmland Trust."

Applications for the 2023 round of the Brighter Future Fund are now open!

Apply before July 15th!

Grants will be awarded in amounts up to $10,000 per project. Brighter Future Fund focuses on providing resources to beginning, women, veteran farmers, and historically resilient farmers identifying as socially disadvantaged in alignment with the USDA.

Applications are open now and will be reviewed as they are received on a rolling basis.

For more information and to apply in English, visit farmland.org/brighter-future.

Para más información y para aplicar en español, visite: farmland.org/future-brighter-future-fund-solicitantes-espanol/.

If you have questions or need assistance, please contact brighterfuture@farmland.org.

(Text and Image courtesy of American Farmland Trust)
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dry corn field

Relief funding from natural disasters in 2021-2022

Has your farm production and income suffered due to natural disasters in the last two years? Did you know you could potentially receive a payment from USDA to alleviate the losses through a new program?

The Emergency Relief Program (ERP) Phase 2 is a revenue-based program that relies on tax and financial records to calculate the losses a farmer experienced because of a natural disaster, instead of the production history FSA programs usually require. ERP provides assistance for crop losses due to certain qualifying disaster events that occurred in calendar years 2020 and 2021.

Comprehensive information is available at the link below. For assistance or questions, please reach out to evag@farmfirst.org.
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Farmer on video call

Earn up to $200 in gift cards through our Wellbeing Check In!

A well-being checkup involves your meeting with our health coach (via videoconference or in person), taking a brief survey to assess your wellbeing, and then as appropriate, choosing an area of wellness to work on improving with the health coach over a few free and confidential sessions (generally about 15-45 minutes each). We will then ask you to complete a brief follow-up survey (takes only a few minutes) 3 months later. If interested, contact Angela Shea at angelas@investeap.org or (802) 277-5056.

For a limited time (while funding allows), participants will receive a $100 gift card after meeting with the coach for the initial survey. A 2nd $100 gift card will be provided after completing the 3 month follow up survey.

First come first serve until May 15th of 2024!

Spring funding opportunities for dairy: marketing and expansion

While there are still pockets of snow along hillsides and cold mountain streams here in Vermont, the forecast shows swiftly warming weather to finally herald spring. For many of you, that means calving, kidding, and lambing. For others, it means increasing your processing as dairy farms increase production. And for some of you, it means both!

April also brings more funding opportunities for dairy processors, farmers, and technical service providers.
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two cows in front of a barn

Enhanced Lighting Rebates for Dairy Farms

Efficiency Vermont has a rebate program to replace lighting fixtures in dairy barns. The incentives, up to $190 per fixture, are based on size of farm, and must be installed by December 31, 2023.
To learn more, call 888-921-5990
or visit efficiencyvermont.com
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dairy processing

$13 million in grants available for dairy processing

The Northeast Dairy Business Innovation Center (NE-DBIC) announces two grants for dairy processors, totaling a $13 million investment in the region. This much-needed investment comes at a time when the conventional and organic dairy sectors are facing extreme pressures, from skyrocketing feed and transportation costs to continuing supply-chain disruptions, to limited processing infrastructure in the Northeast.
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chickens

NBC5 News Story on Farmer Peer Program

In this brief news story, the Farmer Peer program is highlighted.
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Farmers at Honey Field Farm harvesting daikon

Valley News Article: Program trains Upper Valley farmers to help others in mental health crisis

This great article in the Valley News profiles 3 of our Farmer Peers, and shares about the increasingly stressful work of farming. [Photo credit: Valley News Lebanon, NH, Jennifer Hauck.]
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health insurance scrabble

Farmers and Health Insurance Podcast

Agrisafe podcast series, Talking Total Farmer Health, takes up the topic of health insurance. Listen and learn.
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2023 New England Farmer Microgrants Program! Apply by November 4th.

Livestock producers - grants up to $10,000 for projects that improve soil health through the adoption of regenerative agricultural practices.
Any New England Farmer - grants of up to $5,000 to purchase or lease land to farm or pass their farms on to other farmers.
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Free Webinar on Tax Preparation and Resources

The Farm Tax Estimator Tool is an interactive spreadsheet that producers can download to estimate tax liability.
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2 Grant Opportunities from Working Lands Enterprise

FY’23 Grants totaling $140K assist Vermont working lands Service Providers and Producer Associations
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zoomed in photo of cow's face

Funding for Dairy Sector Coming!

DBIC will soon announce funding opportunities for diary producers and service providers. More information to come.

Farmer Questionnaire Summer 2022

Farm First is conducting a survey to better understand the physical and mental-emotional challenges farmers face. Help us access federal funds farmers. Please complete the confidential survey by August 15.
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Cultivating Resilience: Growing Together, 4 Episode Podcast from Culitvemos

Listen to real farmers talk about their struggles with finances, climate anxiety, community, family and legacy. Learn how fellow farmers are coping and thriving.
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VT Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets announcement

Farm First, the State’s resource for providing farmers and their families support, information, and resources to reduce stress, is expanding its services to include a stress reduction training for agriculture service providers and a Farmer Peer Network.

Avian Flu in Vermont

Learn more about the USDA Defend the Flock Program.
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Farmer in greenhouse

Vermont Public Radio story on the Farmer Peer Network

In June, 2022, VPR caught up with farmer Valerie Woodhouse to talk about how stressful farming can be, and why she's becoming a Farmer Peer to help other farmers.
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