Below is a collection of business, financial, production, and technical assistance resources to help working lands entrepreneurs further their business goals. We think this selection of resources, from both the Viability Program and our partners, will be useful to connect entrepreneurs in various stages of business to information and technical assistance providers. Please contact the Viability Program with questions. If we are unable to enroll a business in our program, we can provide references to technical assistance and resources that may be a better fit. We extend our thanks and appreciation to all the partners, lenders, technical assistance providers, and business owners who have helped develop, use, and refine these resources.
Viability Program Publications
2019 Viability Program Annual Report: The Vermont Farm and Forest Viability Program of VHCB provides a report to the state legislature about our work each January. Click the report title to access the report, which shares an overview of our programs in the last year, data about the impact of our services, and stories of recent clients and their achievements. Funders of the Viability program include the State of Vermont, USDA-Rural Development's Rural Business Development Grant program, USDA-NIFA's Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program, the Northern Border Regional Commission, Commonwealth Dairy, and private foundations.
A 2018 Exploration of the Future of Vermont Agriculture: This paper, produced by UVM Extension and VHCB, is intended to inspire and support discussions about the challenges posed by ongoing trends in Vermont agriculture, and how best to think about ways to respond. Our analysis of this issue is that a variety of factors are combining that threaten VT’s agricultural economy, community, and culture. We see existing activities (e.g., land conservation easements and technical assistance) as highly valuable, but not sufficient to fully address anticipated trends. Therefore, we believe new approaches must be identified, evaluated, and implemented, in addition to sufficiently investing in existing high-impact approaches.
FY19 Water Quality Grants Report: VHCB administers funds from the State of Vermont's Capital Construction and State Bonding Act for the water quality grants program. These grants help farmers implement capital improvement projects which have a positive impact on milk quality and milk production. This report lists grants made in FY19, and summarizes the impact and reach of the grants program.
2019 Dairy Improvement Grants Progress Report: With funding from Commonwealth Dairy, the Viability Program administers the Dairy Improvement Grant program. These grants help Vermont farmers make improvements in milk quality or milk production. This report describes grants made in the 2019 program year, profiles recent grantees, and summarizes the impact of the grants on Vermont dairy farms.
Viability Program Guidelines and Resources
The following materials outline our guidelines for participation in the Viability Program's services.
The following financial templates and planning spreadsheets have been developed by the Viability Program. The spreadsheets are available to the public for download and use.
Financials Workbook -- Vegetable and Diversified Farms
Financials Workbook -- Dairy and Livestock Farms
Small Business Planning for Loggers, developed by UVM Extension with support from VT Working Lands Enterprise Board
Planning and Analysis in Timber Harvesting (PATH), a spreadsheet utility for logging businesses
Business and Financial Assistance Resources
There are many other business assistance programs in Vermont beyond the intensive business planning services provided by the Viability Program. The list below will connect you with some of those resources. Our core service provider partners also offer services in addition to those they provide through the Viability Program. The "early stage business development" section includes resources targeted to new farmers.
Vermont Small Business Development Center
Vermont Regional Development Corporations
Business Assistance at the Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund
Water Quality Business Assistance from UVM Extension's Farm Viability Program
Vermont Logger Education to Advance Professionalism
Vermont Maple Business Modules, developed by UVM Extension
There are a number of financial resources available to working lands entrepreneurs in Vermont, ranging from loans to grants. The Capital Continuum graphic from the Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund (VSJF) illustrates the spectrum of financing available to Vermont businesses and the 2020 Vermont Farm and Food Business Financing Inventory produced by VSJF lists capital providers who help to finance farm and food businesses, including debt, equity, and royalty financing, as well as various grant programs. This inventory may also be relevant to forest and wood products businesses. The organizations listed below provide financing to a range of stages of business development.
USDA Farm Service Agency
Vermont Agricultural Credit Corporation, a program of the Vermont Economic Development Authority
Yankee Farm Credit
The Food, Farms, and Forests Fund at the Vermont Community Loan Fund
The Flexible Capital Fund at the Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund
Community Capital of Vermont
Milk Money VT
Vermont Farm Fund
Agricultural Grant Writing Resources, an evolving list of private grant writing consultants for hire compiled by the Viability Program
Early Stage Business Development
The following pages will connect new and beginning farmers to a variety of resources.
Vermont New Farmer Project
Women's Agricultural Network at the University of Vermont (WAgN)
Farm Business Development Programs in Vermont
Resource Guide for Vermont's New and Aspiring Farmers
Course Materials from the UVM Farmer Training Program
NOFA-VT Journey Farmer Program
The Carrot Project's Financial Management Resources for New Farmers
Beginning Farmer Program at the Intervale Center
The following resources can help farmers seeking farmland, or landowners seeking to lease their land to a farmer. These pages offer listings of farmland available for lease or purchase, as well as connections to individualized technical assistance from organizations like Land for Good.
Land for Good offers two hours of free consultation to assist with land access
Vermont Land Link
New England Farmland Finder
UVM Land Access and Tenure Toolshed
Vermont Land Trust's Farmland Access Program
Build a Lease Tool from Land for Good
Farmland Tenure Online Resources Guide from Vermont Law School
Resources for Mature Businesses
The following resources may be useful to later stage businesses, especially those who are considering retirement and land transfer.
Vermont Family Farm Succession Resources from the University of Vermont
Transfer the Farm Videos and Case Studies from UVM Extension
Toolbox for Farm Transfer Planning from Land for Good
Farm and Food Legal Resources from Vermont Law School
The following studies were commissioned by the Viability Program or completed by our partners. They include market research, value chain analysis, financial analysis, and production guidance for a number of agricultural products and markets.
Specialty Cheese Market Research Report (Atlantic Corporation for the VT Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets, 2019)
Vermont Sheep Wool: Value-Added Products from Raw Wool (Kimberly Hagen and Suzy Hodgson, UVM Center for Sustainable Agriculture, 2019)
Grass-fed Beef Value Chain Research (Rosalie J. Wilson and Allen Matthews, 2017)
Direct Market Pricing Study (NOFA-VT, 2016)
Supply Chain Development for Vermont-grown Frozen Blueberries (Intervale Center, 2016)
Supply Chain Development for Vermont-grown Organic Mesclun (Intervale Center, 2016)
Scaling up Egg Production (University of Vermont Extension and Intervale Center, 2015)
Vermont Vineyard Feasibility Study (University of Vermont Extension, 2015)
Vermont Producers and Wholesale Markets Survey Results (David Conner and Jennifer Porter, 2014)
VT Cured Meat Market Research (Jeffrey P. Rogers, 2012)
Vermont Agriculture & Food System Plan 2020
In response to the ongoing dairy crisis and other significant changes happening within Vermont’s agricultural and food sector, and a desire to stimulate more rural economic development as well as regional market access for Vermont products, the Legislature passed and Governor Scott signed Act 83 (S.160) in May 2019. This Act calls for the development of a report with recommendations to stabilize and revitalize Vermont’s agricultural industry.
Vermont Agriculture & Food System Plan 2020 (Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets, Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund, 2020)
These studies, completed by our partners, perform Vermont-specific analyses of the cost of production of a variety of products.
Growing Elderberries: A production manual and enterprise viability guide for Vermont and the Northeast (Rosalie J. Wilson, 2016)
UVM Extension Maple Benchmark Study (UVM Extension, 2016)
NOFA Cost of Production Project (NOFA-VT, 2016):
Cost of Production Workbook
Cost of Production - Carrots
Cost of Production - Lettuce
Cost of Production - Onions
Cost of Production - Winter Squash
Cost of Production - Potatoes
Whole Farm Financial Ratios
Crop Profitability Comparisons
Tips for Tracking Cost of Production
This is a collection of reports completed to answer questions about a specific agricultural sector.
Storage and Distribution Report for Local food in the Northeast Kingdom (Rosalie J. Wilson, 2016)
Storage, Aggregation, and Distribution Report for Local Food in the North Country (Rosalie J. Wilson, 2015)
Lot Tracking Software Needs Research (2014)
Research and Resources from our partners
Many of our partners maintain comprehensive lists of their own research and resources. We encourage you to dig in and explore each of their collections!
Research done by the Intervale Center
NOFA-VT’s Resource Library
UVM Extension’s Farm Business Management Program Resource Library
Resources from Land for Good
Resources from the Center for an Agricultural Economy
Publications by the Vermont Woodlands Association
Resources, Links, and Suggested Readings from Vermont Coverts
Research and Tools from Rose Wilson