The Viability Program offers business planning and technical assistance to enterprises that keep Vermont's working landscape in production. These include: farm businesses of all sizes and sectors; food businesses that process, store, market, or distribute local agricultural products; and forest products businesses such as maple producers, consulting forestry firms, loggers, sawmills, craftspeople and wood manufacturers.
The Viability Program also offers ownership succession planning for all the business types listed above. Additionally, the program provides forestland ownership succession planning assistance to families who own forestland in Vermont.
Notice of COVID Response & Recovery Services beginning April 2020:
To support the resilience and long-term success of Vermont’s producers, the Viability Program is offering disaster response support to businesses with urgent needs related to COVID-19. For more information, see our COVID Response & Recovery Support page.
The Viability Program provides a range of services, from in-depth long-term business planning to short-term specialized assistance, including:
- Business Planning
- Enterprise Analysis
- Financial Record-keeping and Management
- Marketing and Sales
- Human Resources Management
- Management Coaching
- Retirement & Ownership Succession Planning
How it works
The Viability Program matches participants with advisers who have the specific skills to meet their needs. The Viability Program contracts these advisers to provide on-site, one-on-one, custom-tailored assistance for participants. Services are provided free of charge, following a $75 enrollment fee for first-time clients and a $300 enrollment fee for return clients. In some cases, if the scope of work is larger than what the program can cover, participants will need to contribute to the consultancy fees.
After participating in the Viability Program, more than half of participants report a high level of strategic planning skills, and almost all participants exit the program with a clear vision for where their business is going. Participants routinely report they are able to place more energy on the quality of their work, and personally, half report that they find themselves satisfied with their ability to balance workload and family life. More information can be found in our annual reports.
The Viability Program's 1-on-1 business advising is open to farms, food businesses and forest products businesses of all types and sizes, so long as:
- the owner(s) is year-round Vermont resident, currently operating the business in Vermont,
- the owner(s) is actively involved in the day-to-day management of the business,
- the owner(s) has at least two years' experience managing the current business,
- the business has grossed at least $15,000 in the most recent tax year,
- for food businesses there is an added requirement that these businesses must be primarily involved in adding value to Vermont agricultural products, and
- for forest products businesses there is the added requirement that these businesses must be primarily involved in the harvesting, production, processing, storage, marketing, and/or distribution of local forest products.
The sole eligibility for forestland succession planning is that the participating family own forestland in Vermont.
Recent Success Stories
Kaiser Farm Conservation, Stowe
Conservation of a 49-acre farm in Stowe's Nebraska Valley by the Vermont Land Trust and the Stowe Land Trust enabled young farmers Andrew and Annie Paradee to purchase the Kaiser Farm, where they plan to raise vegetables, lambs, and laying hens. More than 200 Stowe households contributed to local fundraising for the project.