Deadline: 21 November 2023
This opportunity is part of a onetime appropriation, in part developed by the Governor’s Commission on the Future of Agriculture, focused on high need agricultural sectors of meat, maple, and produce.
The Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets recognizes that one of the greatest barriers for agriculture operations in the state is access to capital to invest in infrastructure. Maple Agricultural Development Grants (Maple ADG) will provide funding for projects that will develop, grow, and sustain Vermont maple operations. These grants will focus on three funding priorities: climate resilience, operational efficiency, and/or food safety and quality.
All applications must explain how their project directly impacts their business in at least one of the following ways:
- Climate Resilience
- Climate change, including shifting weather patterns, unpredictable seasons, and major natural events, has impacted the entire agricultural sector. Through Maple ADG funds, VAAFM will invest in projects that allow producers to remain productive and sustainable even in the changing nature of the landscape.
- Examples of climate resilience projects include but are not limited to:
- Infrastructure improvements to combat extreme or unusual weather, such as new or improved roads.
- Switching to renewable or longer-lasting energy sources such as solar.
- Improving an operation’s power grid to be more efficient or sustainable.
- Implementation of climate-informed sugarbush management.
- Expansion of taps into red maple sugarbush.
- Operational Efficiency
- The viability of an operation often depends on its ability to remain efficient with both time and funds. Many things can hurt efficiency, from labor shortages, to aging equipment, to damaged tubing, and more. Some efficiencies can also be found from adding new technologies to the operation. This funding priority focuses on lasting efficiency improvements.
- Examples of operational efficiency projects include but are not limited to:
- Improved maple processing equipment, such as reverse osmosis machines or upgraded boilers.
- Addition of refrigerated storage tanks to allow batch maple processing or storage.
- Upgraded tubing or vacuum systems for better sap flow.
- Installation of remote vacuum system monitoring software.
- Food Safety & Quality
- For maple products, safety and quality pose unique challenges not found in other agricultural sectors. Older equipment may introduce contaminants that are not safe for human consumption, while even new equipment may be difficult to sanitize. Quality, or adherence to maple grading, can also be an ongoing barrier to customer retention or market access.
- Examples of food safety & quality projects include but are not limited to:
- Replacing or upgrading equipment that contains lead or brass components.
- Expansion or renovation of sugarhouses to separate outside food and drink from processing areas.
- Construction of upgraded sugarhouses or boiling areas.
- Investment in potable water, electricity, or other resources to sugarhouses.
- Available Funds: $543,750
- Minimum & Maximum Award: $15,000–$100,000
- Project Length: Grants will be awarded for up to 24 months.
The Agriculture Development Grant program aims to improve the Vermont agricultural economy in the following ways:
- Increase sustainability and viability of Vermont-based maple businesses.
- These funds aim to make it easier to start and keep agricultural businesses in Vermont. Applicants may choose to focus their objectives on keeping their business based in Vermont or developing opportunities for workers to remain in the state.
- Increase the production or sales of Vermont-based maple businesses.
- Increasing the impact of Vermont maple, both for the state and the producers themselves, is another goal of these funds. Applicants may choose to focus their objectives on growth metrics, whether that is sales or production based. Objectives may be focused on in-state or out-of-state sales.
- Increase the safety and quality of maple produced in Vermont.
- Food safety and quality is a growing focus across consumers, producers, and regulators. These funds aim to make food safety an achievable goal for operations of all sizes.
Projects must be related to maple production and processing. They should involve infrastructure, equipment, and/or training improvements. This includes, but is not limited to, projects focused on:
- Enhancing or implementing maple tapping techniques.
- Upgrading collection, processing, or packaging equipment.
- Improving storage, transportation, and distribution systems.
- Completing equipment, infrastructure, or technology upgrades.
- Implementing new sugarbush management practices.
- Improving food safety and/or maple quality.
- Replacing brass or lead equipment with food safe materials.
- Improving climate resiliency or sustainability.
- Contracting staff training or technical assistance.
- Enhancing the efficiency and quality of maple operations.
- Applicants must own or operate a maple production or processing business that is active in the state of Vermont. This includes those who produce or sell maple syrup for wholesale, retail, or direct-to-consumer sales, or who produce value-added products.
- Vermont-based maple processors and distributors are eligible.
- Ineligible applicants include:
- Retail only operations, such as grocery stores.
- Technical service providers or researchers who do not produce or process their own maple product for sale.
- Both start-up maple businesses and agricultural businesses looking to diversify by adding maple endeavors are invited to apply.
For more information, visit Vermont Government.