The Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets (VAAFM) announced the availability of grant funds for the purpose of enhancing the competitiveness of Vermont specialty crops including fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, horticulture and nursery crops. These funds are awarded through a competitive review process guided by industry, nonprofit and government stakeholders. Interested applicants may download the Vermont Specialty Crop Block Grant Program Request for Proposals on the Agency’s website.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) awards Specialty Crop Block Grants to the 50 States, the District of Columbia, and U.S. Territories. In Vermont, the Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets administers these funds to enhance the competitiveness of Vermont specialty crops. VAAFM plans to award approximately $200,000 in Specialty Crop Block Grant Program (SCBGP) funds in 2015. Visit the website for further details on the federal program.

VAAFM encourages projects proposing innovative partnerships that will develop new knowledge to strengthen specialty crop producers’ operations, and, in partnership with statewide specialty crop industry stakeholders, has identified the following (unranked) program goals for 2015:

• Economic impact across Vermont’s working landscape
• Environmental stewardship
• Farm viability and profitability

Applicants must submit a letter of intent by April 3, 2015. A review committee will invite the top-ranking projects to submit full proposals, which must be submitted by May 15, 2015.

For more information about grant opportunities visit
• The Vermont Working Lands Enterprise Initiative’s Funding Opportunities page
• USDA AMS’s Grant Programs page