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Maple Funding Resources

2024 Flood Recovery - 7 resources to tap into, today

VMSMA is committed to giving sugar makers the most up to date and accessible resources to address the flooding impacts from our rain event on July 10th and 11th, 2024. Please see below for more information on what you can do next.

1. Agency of Ag 2024 Flooding Resources Page: https://agriculture.vermont.gov/flood or Email - agr.floodresponse@vermont.gov  | Phone - 802-828-2430 - Be sure to subscribe to the Ag Bulletin for timely updates.

2. Report sugarbush damage to your local FSA office, including washed out roads within your sugarbush. 

3. UVM Extension has updated their flood recovery resources. Please visit https://www.uvm.edu/extension/disaster-resources

4. The ACCD Severe Storm Resource Center is live. Please visit accd.vermont.gov/flood for the latest information on staying safe, getting help, giving help, clearing debris, documenting damage, and how to protect your mental health during this difficult time. ACCD will be continuously updating this site as new details emerge.

5. The state of Vermont will pursue a federal disaster declaration which, if granted, would unlock resources for repairing and rebuilding. For that application to be a success, the state needs your help.

Please document your damage and report it to Vermont 211. The state of Vermont will use this data to make its case to the federal government for a disaster declaration. You can help by:

-Taking pictures, videos, and notes before you start cleaning.
-Taking pictures, videos, and notes during cleanup.
-Saving receipts to keep track of your expenses.
-Reporting damage, even if you are not submitting an insurance claim, using the “Resident Form” or “Business Form”. You can also call 211 to report damage, but online reporting is preferred.
-Remember, this data is only being used to help the state assess the extent of the damage as it applies for a federal disaster declaration. 

6. NOFA-VT’s Farmer Emergency Fund supports organic and NOFA-VT member farmers who have been adversely affected by natural and unnatural disasters. NOFA-VT is expecting a large number of applications for these funds. Please call Bill Cavanaugh to discuss before submitting an application at 802-434-7154 or email at bill@nofavt.org.

7. The Vermont Department of Labor Job Centers are ready to assist displaced employees. Computers and phones are available to allow individuals to computer unemployment insurance claims. Job Center Specialists will happily help with any employment-related questions for businesses or jobseekers. Visit the regional offices page for more.

Yearly Funding Resources

There is a tremendous opportunity for the Vermont Maple Industry to access funding through state agencies, the USDA, as well as non-profits committed to improving Vermont’s working landscape. We will continually share information and resources with you through how to tips, articles, grant links and partner webinars. Visit us often, bookmark key grant pages, and stay in touch!

USDA Funding Opportunities:

Rural Energy for American Programs (REAP) - Renewable Energy Systems and Energy Efficiency Loans and Grants

What does this program do? The program provides guaranteed loan financing and grant funding to agricultural producers and rural small businesses for renewable energy systems or to make energy efficiency improvements. Agricultural producers can also apply for new energy-efficient equipment and new system loans for agricultural production and processing.

Who can apply? Agricultural producers with at least 50 percent of their gross income coming from agricultural operations. Small businesses in eligible rural areas.

How do I start?
1. 
Get in touch with Farm Credit to make them aware you’re interested in applying. Discuss your needs and timeline. (see below for contact information)
2. Contact an Energy Auditor (a requirement of the REAP grant) - they’ll audit your operation and give you a report showing a snapshot of your business today and a snapshot of the energy you’ll save with your intended upgrades. Let them know you intend to apply for a REAP grant!
3. Follow the intake form and document needs form as you partner with Farm Credit on the next steps

For all documents related to this grant please visit the following link: REAP Grant PDF

Farm Credit East Contact
Heather LaPierre, Grant Coordinator
Heather.LaPierre@farmcrediteast.com
607.645.2042
394 State Route 29, Greenwich, NY 12834-2650

For even MORE grant opportunities through REAP, visit:

REAP Value Added Producer Grants

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Natural Resources Conservation Service Funding (NRCS)

NRCS assists sugar makers by providing conservation technical assistance (it all starts with a walk in the woods!). This assistance can lead to funding through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) under the Farm Bill or Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). NRCS conservationists work with landowners and managers to implement energy and forestry conservation practices on the farm. Examples of how NRCS can help upgrade inefficient equipment with more efficient technology includes reverse osmosis (RO), evaporators, and high efficiency pre-heaters. Other funding recipients have received support to make their lands more resilient to weather events and erosion.

The program funds a wide variety of projects from equipment to land management - call your Vermont representatives today to learn more. Better yet, find your Farm Services Agency office (FSA) by clicking HERE and tap into important support for your working lands!

Luis Aponte
Assistant State Conservationist for Partnerships
Luis.aponte@usda.gov
802-881-7984

Trevor Saylor
Public Affairs Specialist
Trevor.saylor@usda.gov
802-881-9738

Your local USDA Service Centers are designed to be a single location where customers can access the services provided by the Farm Service Agency, Natural Resources Conservation Service, and the Rural Development agencies. 
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Efficiency Vermont Rebates:

Efficiency Vermont wants to help reduce sugar maker energy usage and/or fuel consumption - resulting in benefits for the land and for your operation. 

They currently have rebates for maple equipment including Reverse Osmosis systems, Variable Frequency Drives (with Vacuum Pumps) and Efficient Sap Preheating. These rebates can be accessed through the Efficiency Vermont website or give them a call at (888) 921-5990 to receive one on one assistance. 

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Agency of Agriculture and State Grants:

 

First things first, if you have never applied for a grant with VAAFM, you will want to register for access to their web grants portal. You can find their online form here: https://agriculturegrants.vermont.gov/register.do. Registration can take a few days, so it’s best to register ahead of time, in anticipation of future applications. 

Each grant program is generally announced with a “Request for Applications” (RFA). While usually a lengthy document, it’s always an important read to understand who is eligible for each program, the associated timelines and the purpose of the funding. These RFAs are shared well in advance of the application deadlines in order to give you time to review them and ask any questions you might have, and still submit your application on time. You can find the annual calendar of funding opportunities on VAAFM’s website: https://agriculture.vermont.gov/grants/calendar.

Working Lands Grants: https://workinglands.vermont.gov/news/wleb-fy24-business-awards

The Working Lands Enterprise Board (WLEB) announced 51 awards to working lands businesses and organizations in 2024. The $2,329,561 in awards will support those who are earning a living off the land.

To view the 2024 receipts, visit: https://workinglands.vermont.gov/node/453

“The challenges the farm and forest economy sectors face are significant, which is why my Administration continues to prioritize investments in the rural regions of our state,” said Governor Phil Scott. “These awards are important to growing our economy and making it more affordable for those working the land.”

In the upcoming fiscal year 2025, $1 million will be available for agriculture and forest businesses and organizations. Applications will open in the fall, and include the following:

Business Enhancement Grants
The Business Enhancement Grants program will open in the fall. Award amounts are generally $20,000 - $35,000 for successful applicants with project areas in market development, research and development, infrastructure development, energy, and workforce training and development. Individual businesses with a variety of structures (sole proprietorship, corporations, LLCs, etc) are eligible to apply. In the last round of Business Enhancement Grants, eligible projects included market development, research and development, infrastructure development, energy-focused projects, and workforce training and development with $450,000 in available funding. You can find more about these grants here: https://agriculture.vermont.gov/agency-agriculture-food-markets-news/working-lands-enterprise-initiative-opens-business-enhancement

Trade Show Assistance Grants
Are you a sugar maker who sells wholesale and is looking to grow your out-of-state business through trade show exhibits? VAAFM offers 50% matching grants between $2,000 and $5,000 to assist with travel and accommodation expenses, booth design and marketing assets, registration fees, booth fees, and other costs. You can find more details on the VAAFM website: https://agriculture.vermont.gov/grants/tradeshow. 

Specialty Crop Block Grant Program (SCBG)
Annually, the Agency offers a competitive grant program to disburse SCBG funds. Where do these funds come from? The Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) is part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). AMS offers programs and services that create marketing opportunities for U.S. producers of food, fiber and specialty crops (maple is considered a specialty crop). AMS awards Specialty Crop Block Grants to Vermont (and the other 54 states, territories and the District of Columbia) and VAAFM administers the funding. Any business, organization, or individual can apply to the Vermont SCBG Program, but projects must benefit more than one specialty crop business, organization or individual to be eligible. You can find more about these grants here: https://agriculture.vermont.gov/grants/specialtycrop

Other Grants and Assistance through Vermont Agencies
There are a whole host of other funding opportunities that are not specific to maple, but might fit your operation - including barn preservation (for barns older than 50 years) and diesel emissions reduction. You can find information on those opportunities through links on VAAFM’s website here: https://bit.ly/otherVTfunding


Agency Contacts:

Madison Berry
Specialty Crop Program Coordinator
Contact for Specialty Crop & Maple ADG
Madison.Berry@vermont.gov

Clare Salerno
Working Lands Program Coordinator
Contact for all Working Lands Grants
Clare.Salerno@vermont.gov

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2023 Flood Resources

Many of us, our friends and neighbors have been impacted by the recent flooding in Vermont. See below for some resources that might be of use to you as you prepare for future weather events, assess damage and request assistance, and look to help others in Vermont who have been affected. The state has a list of frequently asked questions here

If you have other resources that you'd like us to share on this page, please get in touch with Allison (802-777-2667) or Heather (802-917-2032).

Federal Major Disaster Declaration

President Biden has approved Governor Phil Scott’s request for a major disaster declaration for Vermont to assist individuals and communities recover from historic flooding from July 7-12, 2023. After the declaration was signed the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) released a fact sheet for Vermont disaster loans for businesses, that details what may be available and at what interest rates. While the fact sheet includes a lot of information, we know there will be many questions.

The SBA Disaster Team will be opening offices in Vermont to work with businesses through the application process. Businesses should engage with the SBA team PRIOR to submitting an application. It is imperative that applications are fully accurate prior submission, or they will be kicked back.

Vermont's Agency of Commerce and Community Development (ACCD) will share more on the location of these in person offices and how people can access them once it is determined next week. General information on how these loans work can be found on the SBA website.

The Governor today also requested that the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) issue a disaster designation for the State of Vermont to open the availability of low-interest USDA Farm Service Agency emergency loans to farms and farmers.

Preparedness

Assessment & Assistance

Pitch In With Assistance

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