PROJECT LAUNCHED TO HELP VERMONT FOOD BUSINESSES WITH TRACEABILITY REQUIREMENTS
Vermont Farm Viability Program and Mad River Food Hub have completed first phase of a food traceability project
The Vermont Farm Viability Program and Mad River Food Hub have partnered to research food traceability strategies for small-scale food processors. The goal of this research is to identify how best to ensure small-scale food processors in Vermont, especially food businesses using food hub facilities, have an affordable, easy to implement, and easy to use lot tracking system (the method used to follow products from production to consumption) in order to meet government and market-enforced traceability requirements. Achieving this vision is critical to a strong and growing food system for Vermont that allows Vermont producers to meet the demand, both locally and regionally, for Vermont produced products.
Find all the info on the Vermont Food Safety Task Force website
RECIPIENTS OF 2013 FARMER IMPLEMNTATION GRANTS ANNOUNCED!
The Vermont Farm Viability Program held its eighth round of grant-making to farmers who have completed the program. Over $260,000 was requested from 46 applicants, and twenty grants totaling $75,000 were awarded to the following businesses:
Dawn Andrews and Jonah Bourne, Provender Farm -
cultivating forks and a tractor
Lila Bennett and Dave Robb, Tangletown Farm -
Greg Bouchard, Bouchard Farm -
Milking parlor and barn upgrades
Jeff Carpenter, Zach Woods herb Farm -
drying shed upgrade
Cheryl and Mark Cesario, Meeting Place Pastures -
John and Lauren Cleary, Cleary Family Farm -
Greg Finch, Vermont’s Family Farm -
sheep handling and loading system
Kara Fitzgerald and Ryan Wood-Beauchamp, Evening Song Farm -
Nicole Foster, Bridport Creamery -
cheese production equipment
Liz Guenther, Three Cow Farm -
Josh Karp and Maria Schumann, Cate Hill Orchard -
cheese and cider processing room construction
Bonnie and Oliver Lewis, Earth Sky Time Farm -
Paul Limberty, Dragonfly Sugarworks -
improving vacuum system
Suzanne Long and Tim Sanford, Luna Bleu Farm -
winter storage construction
Jeremy and Leslie Michaud, Kingdom Creamery of Vermont -
dairy processing equipment
Rob Rock and Eric Seitz, Pitchfork Farm -
equipment to improve mesclun production
Harvey Smith, Smith Family Farm -
Marjorie and Brett Urie, Shadagee Farm -
farmstead cheese plant construction
Chris and Annie Wagner, Green Dream Farm -
Adam Wilson and Corie Pierce, Bread and Butter Farm -
cattle handling/winter water system improvements
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WCAX: High Demand for Vermont Dry-Cured Meats - 10/31/2012
October 24, 2012
Contact: Liz Gleason 802-828-3370
Study Confirms Strong Market for Vermont Produced Dry-cured Meats
Demand for pork products produced in Vermont is strong, and Vermont producers are expanding to meet this demand. Cured meats in particular, such as prosciutto and coppa, are a sector with significant growth. To provide support for these expanding operations, the Vermont Farm Viability Program, with funding from the Vermont Agricultural Innovation Center and the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board, commissioned a report on the market opportunities for Vermont producers of cured pork products.
The report, “Vermont Dry-cured Meat Marketing Study,” was researched and written by Jeff Roberts, an independent consultant and writer who authored “The Atlas of American Artisan Cheese” in 2007. After interviewing sixteen producers, wholesale buyers, and retailers around the Northeast, Roberts affirmed that local, regional, and national markets for dry-cured meats “are strong and growing…wholesalers and retailers of all sizes are enthusiastic about a renaissance of American artisan dry-cured meat products. In some ways, this contemporary community resembles the emerging artisan cheese renaissance of twenty-five years ago.”
While the demand among consumers and retailers for Vermont-produced cured meats is high, in order to realize the market potential for dry-cured meats, the report emphasizes that:
- Vermont producers must make a distinctive product to consistent high quality standards.
- Producers should consider engaging chefs in product development, as they are often a best first stop for a producer looking to sell new items.
- Different markets have different price points; for example, the majority of retailers interviewed would like to double the money they spend to buy a cured product.
- While there are many traditional cured products that utilize the whole carcass, most buyers and chefs are currently looking for better-known types of dry-cured meats.
- To increase sales of Vermont products, buyers plan to move incrementally because of a need to educate consumers and patrons.
The report also includes detailed information on local and regional producers and buyers, desired product characteristics, national market pricing and volume, demand, and potential concerns. In light of these findings, current and potential producers in Vermont will need to evaluate their cost of production to identify appropriate markets.
The Vermont Farm Viability Program (VFVP), a program of the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board, provides in-depth business planning and technical assistance to Vermont farmers and agriculturally related businesses. The mission of the program is to enhance the economic viability of Vermont farms. Over the past few years, the program has enrolled a growing number of diversified farms raising hogs. The program has also worked with over 30 businesses that process, aggregate, and distribute Vermont agricultural products, including slaughterhouses, meat processors, and value-added producers.
Businesses positioned to play key roles in the expansion of cured meats were interviewed for this report. For Robin Morris, owner of the Mad River Food Hub, the report confirmed his belief that there is a strong market for Vermont-produced cured meats—MRFH is adding a curing room to respond to this demand. Vermont Salumi, a quickly growing start-up, will be able to rent the curing room at MRFH to increase their production of cured pork products selling at local and regional markets. Black River Produce, a distribution company expanding their capacity to market Vermont meats, will provide a pivotal role in bringing Vermont products to the regional marketplace.
Roberts concludes that the demand for local foods in Vermont will support increasing production of cured meat: “Because of the excellence of Vermont craft beer, artisan cheese and other foods, coupled with strong local consumer support, prospective new producers can take advantage of the knowledge, interest, and opportunities to create distinctive high-quality charcuterie.”
Download the report. For more information on this report or the Vermont Farm Viability Program, please contact Liz Gleason at 828-3370 or email@example.com.
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WCAX Series: The New Face of Farming
Part 1: Molly Smith interviews Vermont Farm Viability Participants Laura Olsen and Mari Omland of Green Mountain Girls Farm in Northfield, and Oliver and Bonnie Levis of Earth Sky Time Farm in Manchester.
Part 2: Vermont Farm Viability Program Director Ela Chapin and Chuck Ross, Secretary of Agriculture, Food and Markets are interviewed.
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Flood Relief Resources for Farmers
Farm Disaster Relief Fund
Farm First News
by Myra Handy, Farm First Director
The 2nd Annual Milk House Project wrapped up in November with nine prize winners! The Milk House Project is an annual event that VT dairy farmers are beginning to look forward to. During the summer, Farm First sent an informational poster for your milk house. This year's theme was “Tips for Working successfully in a Family Business.” Farmers called Farm First to report that they displayed it for everyone working on the farm to see. During the call, we collected your feedback on what is helpful about Farm First, and what the program could do better. In thanks for your help, each caller was entered in a drawing.
This year, very generous prizes included a night’s stay each at The Inn at Montpelier and at West Mountain Inn in Arlington, 5 Farm Safety Gift Packages including a book on management, safety vests and first aid kits from the Agency of Agriculture, Dinner for Two at Mister Ups in Middlebury, and a Free Health Screening for a family from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Vermont. We congratulate the winners and give a huge thanks to the donors!
Don’t forget to call Farm First (1-877-493-6216) anytime 24/7 for any concern.
- Family or relationship conflict?
- Trouble with employees?
- Grinding your teeth, snapping at people or animals, losing sleep, feeling anxious or blue?
- Grieving over a loss of a loved one, a valued role or a piece of property?
- Worried about finances or legal issues?
If you, or someone in your family, are experiencing any of the above or any other kind of stress, you are in the majority, the norm; you are not abnormal.
Call Farm First. It’s confidential and free!
Farm First Topic for the Day~ Manage Stress, Increase Farm Safety
How you experience stress depends on a number of factors:
- Age and past experience with stressful situations
- Type of farming operation
- Time and energy demands from off-farm jobs
- Availability of opportunities for supplementary income
- Emotional support from family members
- Shared goals of spouses
- Flexibility and adaptability
Are you stressed? Take this Quiz:
For each statement, consider whether you feel this way a) rarely, b) sometimes, or c) often.
__1. I feel tense or anxious.
__2. People or animals make me feel irritable.
__3. I drink, smoke, or take drugs to relax.
__4. I have tension headaches or pain in the neck or shoulders.
__5. I have trouble going to sleep or staying asleep.
__6. I find it difficult to concentrate on what I’m doing.
__7. I have a difficult time finding time or being able to relax.
__8. I feel sad or depressed for no good reason.
__9. I feel tired even after I rest or sleep.
__10. I argue with family or co-workers.
__11. I give others the “silent treatment” when I’m upset.
Scoring the Stress Quiz:
Give yourself 0 points for every “a” answer, 1 point for every “b” answer and 2 points for every “c” answer.
0-5 points: You probably are handling stress well.
6-11 points: You could benefit from some stress reduction techniques. Call Farm First for assistance.
12 points or more: Your stress is causing significant difficulties. It may be time to develop new strategies to cope with job and family pressures. Call Farm First for assistance.
What can you do to reduce stress?
- Recognizing your symptoms of stress is the first step.
- Talk with family and friends or a counselor from Farm First.
- Take time to relax every day. Do you find time for a break? Make the time.
- Do aerobic exercise three times a week to the point of sweating for at least 20 minutes.
- Eat nutritious foods daily (regular meals, more vegetables, fruits, protein, whole grain bread, water, less high-glycemic foods such as soda, juice, candy, cake, cookies, ice cream).
Article written by Myra Handy, Farm First, a program of Invest EAP, with additional information from Safe Farm, an Iowa State University Extension project. December 2011.
The Vermont FarmViability Program is a proud sponsor of the Farm First Program, a confidential VT Dairy Farmer counseling assistance program. to contact Farm First, call 1-877-493-6216.
August 19, 2011
Contact: Ela Chapin 828 2117
Photos available at: www.vhcb.org/viability/photos
VHCB’s Farm Viability Program Helps Farmers Increase Profits, Expand & Diversify
Montpelier – Farmers around the state are benefiting from in-depth, one-on-one business planning services provided by the Vermont Farm Viability Program. Since 2003, the program, which is administered by the Vermont Housing & Conservation Board, has enrolled more than 375 farmers and ag-related businesses, providing on-farm business and financial planning as well as technical assistance ranging from veterinary services to marketing consultants. The program can help farmers to solidify their business skills, examine their farm’s profitability, plan for an expansion or diversification, transfer the farm to a new generation, and more.
Agency of Agriculture Secretary Chuck Ross said, “The Farm Viability Program is making a real difference for farmers across the spectrum—from dairy to beef to vegetable farms and for value-added producers like cheese makers—this program is giving farmers the benefit of an inside look at business planning decisions that can increase profits. As a result, farms are expanding, diversifying, and hiring help—all good indicators for the industry and for Vermont’s economy.”
Among the farms that have enrolled in the program are Millborne Farm in Shoreham, a dairy farm also producing yogurt drinks, Stony Pond Farm in Fairfield, where Tyler and Melanie Webb specialize in dairy and beef, and Bread and Roses Farm, a vegetable farm run by Westford native Chris Siegriest.
Millborne Farm, Shoreham: Gert and Arda Schut moved to Shoreham in 1999 by way of their homeland, the Netherlands, where they felt hindered from starting their own farm by a quota system. They farmed in Connecticut for 10 years before moving to Vermont and building up their herd to 160 cows. The Schuts began thinking about diversification in the early 2000s and enlisted the help of UVM’s Food and Nutrition Department to develop a drinkable yogurt, which they began to produce on the farm in 2005, using milk from their own herd.
The yogurt business grew, but slowly, and in 2009 the Schuts enrolled in the Farm Viability Program to work with Al Curler, a consultant with UVM Extension, to develop a marketing plan for the yogurt. Following development of the plan, the Schuts were successful in expanding their drinkable yogurt operation tenfold—they are now utilizing 30,000 pounds of their own milk each week to make their own product and two other yogurt drink products packaged for private labels.
A $6,000 implementation grant from the Farm Viability Program in 2010 matched with their own funds enabled the Schuts to purchase an additional processing tank and a large walk-in cooler to help them expand their value-added enterprise. Producing their own yogurt has allowed the Schuts to operate at a profit and provide employment for seven people while also helping them weather downturns in milk prices.
Tyler Webb built this new farm building for direct marketing with assistance from the Vermont Farm Viability program.
Stony Pond Farm, Fairfield: Stony Pond Farm is a small dairy and beef operation established in 2004 by Tyler and Melanie Webb. Tyler enrolled with the Farm Viability Program in 2005 to produce a business plan for the young farm, giving the couple a solid understanding of how to get their operation off to a sound start. Since then, the Webbs have established a very successful farm business specializing in dairy and beef cows. Using their business plan, the Webbs are refining and improving their operation as they continue to consider diversification strategies for the future.
Since completion of their business plan, Stony Pond Farm has been awarded two implementation grants. A grant of $6,000 was awarded in 2009 and allowed for construction of a hoop house for their growing herd of cows. With the latest implementation grant of $3,500, Webb is finishing construction of a new, multi-purpose farm building. While sales at the farmers market and beef sales to wholesale accounts are booming, soon local customers will be able to purchase beef right on the farm. Now, with a central location for on-farm sales, Webb can increase his business potential and also be in a position to accommodate future value-added farm products. On Saturdays, the Tyler and Melanie can be found grilling their wildly popular grilled hamburgers at the Burlington Farmers Market!
Contact info: Tyler Webb 827-3693
Bread and Roses Farm, Westford: At Bread and Roses Farm, Westford native Chris Siegriest and Laura Williams lease acreage between the Westford Green and the Lamoille River where they grow vegetables under the community supported agriculture (CSA) model. They have grown the business to offer 70 full-sized shares and they remain the only CSA in Westford. Additionally, the farmers have a strong social mission: they produce vegetables to fill 50 smaller shares for residents at a local senior housing development and offer subsidized shares through donations from other shareholders and a cost-share agreement with NOFA-VT.
Chris and Laura completed a business plan with the Farm Viability Program in 2010, working with staff at the Intervale Center. According to Chris, “The Program was incredibly helpful for our business, especially in financial planning and analysis. Mark [Canella] helped walk us through our first loan, so we could establish a line of credit for the business which we used to purchase a bed shaper.”
In 2010, Chris and Laura applied for an implementation grant from the Farm Viability Program. An award of $3,000, matched with their own funds, helped them purchase a cultivation tractor. Chris erected a greenhouse in 2010-2011 that is now pumping out vegetables that were spared exposure to the heavy rains this spring when many direct-seeded crops were lost.
Contact Info: Chris Siegriest 802-233-4781
The Vermont Farm Viability Program works with private consultants and service providers such as the University of Vermont, The Intervale Center and NOFA-VT to deliver services. To produce a written business plan, farmers enrolled in the Farm Viability Program meet and work together with a consultant for approximately one year. In the second year, the program provides additional technical assistance and help updating the business plan. 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 to increase profits and meet production goals. Examples include consultations on keeping better production or financial records, financial benchmark analysis, meetings with crop or animal health specialists, new product 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 to implement the business plan, when funding is available.
The Farm Viability Program accepts applications quarterly, with the next upcoming deadline on March 31, 2012. To request an application, call 828-3370 or visit the website, www.vhcb.org/viability.html. Funded by the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board, the Farm Viability Program is a collaboration with the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets with funding assistance provided by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, USDA Rural Development and private foundations, including the John Merck Fund.
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June 17, 2011
Contact: Ela Chapin 802-828-2117
Vermont Farm Viability Program Awards $88,520 to Ag-Related Businesses
Montpelier –The Vermont Farm Viability Program announced today the award of $88,520 in grants to ten businesses that process, market, store, or distribute Vermont farm products such as meat, fruit and vegetables. The grants range from $2,300 to $16,250 and will be used to fund capital improvements, particularly to target expansions in meat processing and vegetable and fruit processing, storage and distribution, as well as to make food safety improvements at these facilities.
Secretary of Agriculture Chuck Ross said, “By providing funds to expand the capacity of ag-related business to process Vermont products, we can build Vermont’s infrastructure to meet the growing demand for fresh, locally produced products. Vermont is at the forefront in successfully marketing our high quality agricultural products.”
The grants were made in conjunction with a round of grants to non-profit organizations by The Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund to implement strategies relevant to the Farm to Plate initiative, a 10-year strategic plan to strengthen Vermont’s food system. Both sets of awards target businesses or organizations that are hubs of agricultural activity.
According to VSJF Executive Director Ellen Kahler, “These awards will ultimately nurture the growth of many different farms and food-related businesses in Vermont, benefiting more than the grantee organization.”
The ten businesses that were awarded Farm Viability grants represent a wide range of value-added enterprises that provide services to or aggregate products from a total of approximately 200 Vermont farms. All grant recipients match grant funds at least dollar for dollar; the $88,520 in grant funds will leverage over $224,000 of primarily private funds.
Vermont Salumi in Plainfield is an artisanal sausage and cured meat business started in 2010 by Pete Colman. Colman sources pasture-raised, heritage breed, Vermont pork and local ingredients for his products. He was awarded $9,250 toward the purchase of equipment for production and packing improvements as the company moves towards securing a commercial processing license and addresses food safety requirements. Working with the Farm Viability Program, says Colman, has “facilitated accurate business planning along with equipment and systems implementations that will fuel rapid and well calculated growth in Vermont Salumi. The Farm Viability grant is essential to building Vermont’s viable agricultural business models! "
The Putney Mountain Winery began in the early 1990s as Charles Dodge’s hobby. It grew from experiments in homemade sparkling apple wine to a business with seven employees producing several varieties of fruit wine. Today, Kate and Charles Dodge source pears, currents, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, and rhubarb from Vermont growers. An award of $5,825 will enable them to purchase equipment to increase the efficiency of the pasteurization and bottling systems for their newest product, a non-alcoholic sparkling cider, Putney Bubbly. The new equipment will allow the small winery to produce 1,200 bottles of Putney Bubbly per day—three times the amount possible with current equipment.
Charles Dodge said: "Putney Mountain Winery handcrafts its award-winning fruit wines with world-class fruit grown in the 'Napa Valley for Apples,' the Upper Connecticut River Valley. Recently we have begun to create extraordinarily flavorful Vermont sparkling fruit juices. The grant will enable us to produce our sparklers with much greater efficiency."
Vermont Refrigerated Storage in Shoreham (VRS) stores up to 220,000 bushels of apples per year for 7 Vermont orchards and currently provides refrigeration and freezer space for approximately ten other Vermont food and farm businesses. Vermont Refrigerated Storage will use a grant of $16,250 towards installation of a digital inventory management and accounting system to improve storage quality, increase efficiency and address food safety protocols. David Dolginow, VRS analyst and operator, writes of the grant:
“Tracking food from farm to plate is tricky but important business. Our Farm Viability Grant will help our apple and vegetable storage (and soon-to-be processing) facility more easily and accurately trace food items straight back to the block from which they were picked. With the support of the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board’s Farm Viability Program, we at Vermont Refrigerated Storage will take one more step toward helping develop a more viable regional food system.”
The Royal Butcher in Randolph is a federal- and state-inspected slaughterhouse. Since it was established in 2003, owner Royal Larocque has continually worked to increase processing capacity and upgrade the facility. A grant award of $10,000 will allow for construction of an addition with a new cooler and freezer and reconfiguration of the cutting and wrapping rooms.
Westminster Meats is a new, federally-inspected slaughterhouse and processing facility in southern Vermont, offering slaughter and meat processing services to custom and commercial producers of all types of meat. With a grant of $10,995, owner Dan Mandich will purchase a double-chamber, vacuum-packing machine, increasing the efficiency and capacity of their packaging services, and allowing Westminster Meats to offer larger cuts of meat and hire additional meat cutters.
The Mad River Food Hub in Waitsfield is a new processing, storage, and distribution facility, state-inspected for meat processing, that will be available for daily or hourly rental to local producers and business owners. A grant of $10,000 will support the purchase of equipment for the food processing rooms.
“We are grateful to VHCB for the award of this Farm Viability Infrastructure Grant to fund equipment in the two meat processing rooms and the vegetable kitchen, in turn supporting local farm and value-added producers.”
Parmelee Farm Mobile Unit, Randolph Center
Clark Parmelee raises poultry, beef, and pork on his farm in Randolph and will begin to offer mobile poultry slaughtering services to farmers raising chickens in central Vermont. A grant of $5,000 will help to cover the cost of purchasing the mobile unit and associated equipment.
Sharon Beef is a federally inspected commercial and custom slaughterhouse and processing plant in Sharon. Owners Darryl and Brenda Potter also operate a custom smokehouse – Smokin’ Bones – next door. Darryl has worked at Sharon Beef for 30 years in various capacities and has owned the facility for several years. The Potters received a grant from the Farm Viability Program in 2010 to purchase a Cryovac machine that enabled the business to offer vacuum-wrapping to their customers. With the addition of this equipment, they now have the opportunity to upgrade their labeling process, and the Potters applied again for funding to upgrade to a thermal printer for improved labeling of the meat they cut. They were awarded $2300 towards the cost of the thermal printer, which will benefit Sharon Beef by saving time, and will benefit Sharon Beef’s clients by improving the clarity and accuracy of labels and thus increasing the value of their meat products.
Grow Compost in Moretown began in 2009, using municipal and agricultural waste to produce compost on their farm. Owners Lisa Ransom and Scott Baughman said they will use a $10,000 Farm Viability grant to transition to Aerated Static Pile Management, a method of compost production that will increase the efficiency of their operation.
According to Lisa and Scott, “These funds will allow Grow Compost to do the good work we do in a more efficient way to benefit our local farms, our local community and the health of soils in Vermont.”
Holton Farms in Westminster recently transitioned from a commercial vegetable farm to a diversified organic vegetable CSA. The majority of the CSA shares are distributed in New York City. Seth Holton and Jurrien Swarts will use an $8,900 Farm Viability Program grant towards renovation of an existing barn, expanding cooler and storage space and adding space for value-added processing of local fruits and vegetables.
Jurrien Swarts said, "The grant money is extremely important to our farm. We'll use the money to build a GAP-certified pack house and cold storage facility that will also ultimately house a commercial kitchen. The combined facility will enable us to prolong the shelf life of our vegetables and maximize the value of our crops."
The Vermont Farm Viability Enhancement Program is a partnership of the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board and the Vermont Agency of Agriculture. Funding assistance is provided by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) with support from Senator Leahy, USDA Rural Development and private foundations, including the John Merck Fund. The program provides business planning assistance and implementation grants to farmers and ag-related businesses. More than 350 Vermont farmers and 35 ag-related businesses have used the services of the Farm Viability Program since it was established in 2003. To learn more about the program, see www.vhcb.org/viability.html.
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May 18, 2011
Contact: Ela Chapin 802-828-2117
Vermont Farmers to Benefit from $157,700 in Grants and Technical Assistance
Montpelier – The Vermont Farm Viability Program announced today the award of $95,000 in grants and $62,700 in technical assistance awards to Vermont farmers to assist them in implementing their farm business plans completed through the program. In this latest round of funding, 21 farmers around the state received grants ranging from $650 to $7,000. An additional 21 farmers received technical assistance awards ranging from $700 to $4,000 to cover the cost of consulting with specialists. Among the implementation grants presented:
Manchester Center - At Earth Sky Time Community Farm, Oliver and Bonnie Levis grow vegetables and orchard fruits and run a commercial kitchen to make value-added products such as breads, spreads, pickles, and a new product, the VT Goldburger, a veggie burger made with Vermont produce. Following completion of their business plan in 2009, Oliver and Bonnie applied for a Farm Viability Implementation Grant in November 2010 to upgrade their farmstand and to purchase veggie burger production equipment. They were awarded $7,000 towards a total project cost of $20,000.
After purchasing the equipment, Oliver said, “Though we have been making VT Goldburgers in our farm kitchen for several years, we had neither the equipment we needed to ramp up production or a clear understanding of what the veggie burgers cost us to make. The Farm Viability Program helped us get a handle on the finances of the project, and the grant funding for equipment purchase made our regional product launch a reality. We are thrilled that VT Goldburgers are now available in 15 natural food co-ops in Vermont, New York and Massachusetts. Thanks to this program we are utilizing thousands of pounds of organic VT grown produce and supporting our farm with year-round income.”
Hinesburg - Linsday Harris and Evan Reiss own The Family Cow Farmstand, a small grass-based dairy farm. They sell state-certified raw milk directly to customers from their farmstand and by delivery. Lindsay and Evan started Family Cow in 2008. They wrote a business plan through the Farm Viability Program in 2010. They applied for an Implementation Grant in November 2010 to renovate their milk room and improve the milk handling system. They were awarded $4,000 in February towards the $8,676 project, quickly set to work, and completed the project in April. The grant helped to fund a new sink, bulk tank, dishwasher, floor, and washable ceiling.
Lindsay said of the renovations, “We are really happy with how our project came out. It has already made our day-to-day farming operation a lot safer, easier and cleaner.”
Three of the farmers receiving technical assistance awards to work with specialists were:
- Ray Shatney and Janet Steward (Greenfield Highland Beef, Plainfield and Greensboro Bend) received an award to cover development of promotion materials for the farm and consultation on their watering system;
- Reynolds and Celia Hackett (Hackett’s Orchard, South Hero) will receive consulting on the intergenerational transfer of their orchard;
- An award to Jeremy Michaud (Clair-A-Den Farm, East Hardwick) will cover the costs of construction engineering for a new on-farm value-added processing facility, Kingdom Creamery of Vermont.
The Farm Viability Program accepts applications for business planning assistance quarterly. To request an application, call 802 828 3370 or see www.vhcb.org/viability.html. Farmers who complete business plans with the program are eligible to apply for implementation grants to help with capital expenses or additional technical support to launch new on-farm projects identified in the business planning process. The technical assistance awards pay for consultants to work one-on-one with farmers to further the goals of the business plan, such as meeting with crop or animal health specialists, planning for new farm enterprises, estate or farm transfer, or to develop ideas for value-added processing, for instance. There is a $75 fee to enroll in the Vermont Farm Viability Enhancement Program. Aside from this enrollment fee, business planning and technical assistance services are provided free of charge if your farm is chosen to participate.
The Farm Viability Enhancement 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), USDA Rural Development and private foundations, including the John Merck Fund. In addition to private consultants contracting with the program, consultants are provided by the University of Vermont, the Intervale Center, and NOFA-VT. More than 350 Vermont farmers have used the services of the Farm Viability Program since it was established in 2003.
May 12, 2010
Contact: Ela Chapin, Program Director 828 2117
Vermont Farm Viability Program Awards $65,000 to Five Ag-related Businesses
Montpelier – The Vermont Housing and Conservation Board announced today grant awards made by the Vermont Farm Viability Program to five meat, poultry and grain processing businesses totaling $65,000. Secretary of Agriculture Roger Allbee said, “With producers all over Vermont raising more grain, poultry and meat in response to the increasing demand for local foods, processing facilities are stretched to the limit. These grants will enable businesses in Westfield, Sharon, Bridport, West Glover and Morrisville to purchase equipment, expand facilities and increase capacity, enhancing the processing infrastructure of Vermont’s food system.”
Vermont Rabbitry in West Glover has marketed high quality fresh rabbit meat throughout Vermont and New England since 1987. In 1992, Brown’s Custom Meats was established, adding services including butchering and packaging of beef, pork, veal, lamb and goat. With a $15,500 grant matched with his own investment and a bank loan, operator Phil Brown anticipates doubling his capacity to process rabbits and significantly increasing his capacity to process other locally raised meats. Equipment will be upgraded, allowing him to offer vacuum packaging of custom meat and a wider variety of products including rabbit sausages and ground rabbit to be sold in meat cases across the state.
In Bridport, Gleason Grains is an organic milling facility on a small farm operated operated by Ben and Theresa Gleason. The largest operation of its kind in Vermont, the mill facility was built in 1988. The Gleasons raise soybeans, black beans, seed clover, hay and wheat on 100 acres of land. They process the wheat to provide whole wheat flour, pastry flour and wheat berries to customers including bakeries, food co-ops, health food stores, an internet business, a brewery, CSAs, schools and restaurants. In 2010, the Gleasons expect to double the amount of wheat they are processing through a collaboration with three Addison County farmers. In order to process the increased yield, Gleason Grains will use a $15,500 grant from the Farm Viability program to expand and upgrade the current mill facility, storage and drying facilities.
Butterworks Farm in Westfield is a farm and milk processing business, producing bottled heavy cream and yogurt and raising corn, soybeans, sunflowers, barley, oats, wheat and peas on 200 acres of owned and leased land. A $14,000 Farm Viability grant will be matched by Anne and Jack Lazor to purchase equipment for hulling whole oats and spelt grain and producing rolled oats and spelt flour to be sold through Vermont Food Coops. Butterworks Farm will offer grain processing services to area farmers to encourage more farmers to raise grains in order to meet a growing demand for locally grown foods.
Darryl and Brenda Potter will purchase a cryovac wrapping machine for vacuum packaging at their slaughterhouse, Sharon Beef, where they process beef, lamb, pork and bison for farmers and producers in the agricultural communities of Vermont and New Hampshire. A $15,500 grant, matched with a construction loan and in-kind labor will allow the Potters to make structural and lighting improvements to their facility and install the new machinery. Offering cryovac packaging will increase processing business for commercial customers that are looking for a professional presentation of meat for retail sales. The Potters plan to maintain their current slaughter capacity but to increase the number of customers using their processing services who currently take their meat elsewhere for packaging.
In Morrisville, Spring Hill Poultry Processing began operating in the summer of 2009, leasing a mobile processing unit outfitted by the Vermont Agency of Agriculture in response to the scarcity of poultry processing facilities. Operator George Eisenhardt will make improvements to the mobile facility to accommodate a doubling of demand for his services. With a $4,500 grant he will add refrigeration capacity, improving services and reducing costs of the mobile poultry processing.
The Ag-Related Business Implementation awards are funded by private foundations including the John Merck Fund. The Vermont Farm Viability Program offers business planning and technical support to Vermont farmers, supporting and enhancing the viability of agriculture in Vermont. Farmers and ag-related businesses that complete business plans with the program are eligible to apply for implementation grants. The Farm Viability Program is operated by the Vermont Housing & Conservation Board, in collaboration with the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets. For more information, please contact Director Ela Chapin at 828-2117 or see www.vhcb.org/viability.html
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 29, 2009
Contact: Ela Chapin, Viability Program Director: 828 2117
Anthony Brault 744-2271 Brault’s Market, Troy
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Vermont Farm Viability Program Awards
$40,000 to Meat Processing Facilities
Montpelier -- The Vermont Farm Viability Program announced today $40,000 in grant awards to meat processing facilities in Troy, Randolph, Barre and Enosburg. The grants are the first round of a new funding opportunity for “agriculture-related businesses,” established to develop and invest in agricultural infrastructure and to improve the viability of agriculture-related businesses. Two subsequent rounds of grant funding will be announced later this year and in 2010. Eleven processors with combined requests of $183,600 applied for $40,000 of available funding. The grant funds are supplied by a private foundation.
Four operators ranging from small custom processors to larger commercial processors will use grant funding to expand facilities and increase efficiency, resulting in greater availability of meat processing services for farmers and others raising livestock. The grant recipients are: Brault’s Market in Troy, The Royal Butcher in Randolph, Vermont Smoke and Cure in South Barre, and the Enosburg Meat Market. Three of the four offer retail sales on site.
“The importance of these funds to meat processing facilities in the state cannot be underestimated. We have seen a tremendous increase in demand in people looking to buy local. I call it a renaissance of the past—knowing where and how your food is grown is again becoming an important aspect to consumers when buying food,” said Secretary of Agriculture Roger Allbee. “These grants will give meat processors in Vermont the ability to expand and improve their facilities to help meet the increased demand for Vermont products. With improved processing facilities, farmers have the potential to increase what they produce and it opens new market options to them.”
Brault’s Market, providing custom and commercial meat processing and a retail market in Troy, will construct an addition, increasing their processing area and retail space. The Royal Butcher, a meat processor, butcher shop, retail store and bottle redemption center in Randolph, will expand and improve their processing area. Vermont Smoke and Cure, a smokehouse and processing facility in South Barre distributing ham, bacon and sausage throughout New England and beyond, will purchase processing equipment to increase their production capacity. The Enosburg Meat Market, a retail meat market and custom cutting shop, will construct an addition, adding processing and cooler space while creating separate processing areas for game and farm animals.
Upcoming Implementation Grant rounds are announced to farmers that have completed business plans with the Viability Program and to agriculture-related businesses. Farmers and ag-related businesses can find out more and apply by visiting www.vhcb.org/viability.html or by calling Program Director Ela Chapin at 828-2117.
Workers at Brault's Market in Troy
Farm Financials Workbooks
These workbooks incorporate a variety of important financial templates and spreadsheets in one Excel workbook, linked together so that many pieces of information automatically fill in. They have been created primarily for the use of farm business planning educators and consultants and the farmers they are working with, but we have chosen to make this document free and accessible to all farmers and the general public.
Dairy/Livestock Financial Workbook
(download Excel file "financialsdairylivestock.xls")
Vegetable or Diversified Financial Workbook
(download Excel file "financialsvegetableordiversified.xls")
The Farm Financials Workbooks were created by Ela Chapin and Ethan Parke at the VT Housing and Conservation Board, with assistance and contributions from UVM Extension and the Vermont Farm Viability Program’s network of service providers. Special thanks go to Alan Curler, Dennis Kauppila, Tony Kitsos, Steve Paddock, Glenn Rogers, and Rosalie Wilson, who provided helpful feedback and great suggestions along the way.
Two Studies Examine Market Potential
for Ground Beef and Farmstead Cheese
In 2005 the Farm Viability Program received a grant from the Argosy Foundation to conduct studies aimed at assessing and improving the markets for innovative, value-added, and diversified agricultural products. Two studies were commissioned—one on a Vermont ground beef product, the other on Vermont farmstead cheese. Each study found significant market potential for farmers interested in these enterprises, as well as challenges. Next steps include collaborative efforts with the Agency of Agriculture and other interested parties to enhance production and distribution opportunities. To read either study, click on the links below.
(Adobe Acrobat files for download with free Acrobat Reader software)
Vermont Ground Beef Marketing Study
Vermont Farmstead Cheese Study
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